Cinque Terre (Italy)

It is believed that Rick Steves put Cinque Terre on the American tourist map when he sang the praises of these five quaint Ligurian coastal towns in his popular tour guide on Italy. The Italian Riviera, as this stretch of coastline is called, now attracts hordes of tourists annually. The reason these towns (Riomaggiore, Manarola,... Continue Reading →

Piazza dei Miracoli (Italy)

One of the most recognizable structures in all of Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. En route to Cinque Terre, we made a brief stop in Pisa with storm clouds threatening above. The crowds were large, as you might expect at one of Italy's iconic sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After walking... Continue Reading →

Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence, Italy)

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers), a cathedral built in the Gothic style, is a treasure of Florence that showcases two important artistic achievements. The first is an impressive octagonal dome that was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, a master goldsmith by trade. Two amazing facts about the dome: because... Continue Reading →

Michelangelo’s David (Florence, Italy)

On our arrival in Florence, Robin, our guide, took us first to the Accademia Gallery where one of the most celebrated works of art is housed, Michelangelo's David. What a literally towering achievement it is, a 17-foot sculpture carved out of a single block of marble. Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he started,... Continue Reading →

Piazza della Signoria (Florence, Italy)

Out in a public space in Florence are sculptures that are considered to be masterpieces. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the openness and public trust.┬áIt was surprising to find a body double of one of the great works of Renaissance art. Michelangelo's David originally appeared in the square of the Palazzo... Continue Reading →

St. Mark’s Basilica (Venice, Italy)

St. Mark's Basilica is one of the most recognizable places in Venice, if not as the church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, then surely for the tens of thousands of pigeons that flock around its plaza. The cathedral has a commanding presence in the square, once the Doge's chapel but now an ornate cathedral.... Continue Reading →

Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore (Venice, Italy)

Almost everyone notices them, though they are not part of Venice itself. The church and bell tower on San Giorgio Maggiore gleam across the waters separating the island from Venice. The attraction is not visited nearly as much as Venice itself. It requires a short vaporetto ride from the Piazzetta. The church was designed by... Continue Reading →

The Dolomites (Italy)

Italians speaking German? Italian villages that look Austrian? These are not so odd in the northeastern part of Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige) that belonged to Austria before 1919. This region is the home of the Dolomites, a spectacular mountainous region that is in the South Tyrolean province and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we arrived... Continue Reading →

Canals of Venice (Venice, Italy)

What could evoke a better sense of place than the canals of Venice? More than any other single attraction, they make this city what it is, the destination of the millions of tourists who come here annually. Coursing through the piscine shape that outlines Venice, the canals flow like its lifeblood, rising and falling with... Continue Reading →

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