“Miraculous” Loretto Chapel Stairway (Santa Fe)

Most non-parishioners come to Loretto Chapel to marvel at the spiral staircase. A fascinating legend surrounds its construction. Originally, when the chapel was built in 1872, there was no stairway to the choir loft.  The nuns prayed to St. Joseph to intercede. At the end of nine days, a carpenter appeared at the church who... Continue Reading →

Byodo-In Temple (Kahaluu, HI)

You might have seen it on an episode of Lost, a stand-in for a temple in South Korea. It is the temple of Byodo-In, a half-size replica of its namesake in Uji, Japan, built in 998 AD and considered a national treasure and a UN World Heritage Site. The temple here is built mostly with... Continue Reading →

St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican, Italy)

After dinner, the tour group returned to Vatican City to see arguably the most famous church in all of Christendom. Huge throngs of people were already flooding St. Peter's Square. Burial site for its namesake and numerous popes as well as papal basilica, St. Peter's Basilica is not only a destination for the Catholic faithful... Continue Reading →

Siena Duomo (Italy)

The most striking and imposing architecture in Siena is its Duomo. We were taken there by our guide Annalisa. After some background information, she left us there to explore it on our own. Like any religious structure of this size, it took many years to complete. It's difficult not to be impressed by its scale,... 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 →

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 →

Verona (Italy)

In Varenna, we took our first bus on the tour. Today's destination is The Dolomites in the Italian Alps, but not before a stop in historic Verona. Verona has a tumultuous history of wars and conquests by foreign invaders and has many architectural treasures that earned it the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.... Continue Reading →

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