2015-Italy – Venezia

25min in a train from Padova – and you are in Santa Lucia station in Venice, with the Grand canal and fancy palaces all here in front of you! I guess Venice is super beautiful for everyone and everyone has to find his own connection with it. As usual – we walked a lot, entered most of the churches that we came upon on our way, tried to listen to Rick Steve’s advice to get lost in the far ends of Venice in order to avoid crowds which were still thick, but I didn’t find that special feeling of “aw” I was expecting. It is amazing, no doubt, but not my thing…Too much beauty, too tramped by tourists, and no good energy… Maybe it was too sunny, too bright :-). Maybe – too crowded and too commercialized. But – everyone wants a piece of it, so you get what you get, and it really looks perfect in pictures. I would say – it is a photographer’s paradise! So I am placing some well known views of Venice, but also some back streets where we were alone or almost alone. Here is the new modern bridge close to train station:IMG_0690 IMG_0702 IMG_0745 IMG_0779First of all we headed towards St. Marcus square – and that is where the crowds are. Here are some fashions I noticed:P1010332And a very unusual for Venice square with red benches:P1010328In St. Marcus square I stood in a big  line to get to the church, which is marvelous, very byzantine, very golden mosaics:P1010335 P1010340 P1010345But then we didn’t go to the Dodge Palace – not enough time and not enough space in our ‘impression boxes” to see all those riches and beauties. The city was beautiful enough. So we went towards “the tail” – travel books consider that Venice is in the shape of a fish – so they tell you of places whether they are in the tail side or head side, etc. And over there the promenade by the sea was almost empty, what a joy!:IMG_0824 P1010359 P1010361 P1010362 P1010367 P1010377Notice – no cars! That makes it an artist’s and photographer’s paradise!IMG_0867 P1010316

IMG_0716 P1010369 P1010384 P1010388This is the Arsenal.

P1010394Then we returned towards the docks and looked if we can take a boat to San Giorgio Magiore basilica, which is built by Palladio, but there was no time for that trip, so we admired it from a distance:IMG_0871 P1010400 P1010421When the sun was setting – the view was outstanding! Maybe it is normal for Italy to have such crystal clear skies in March, good.

While wandering in the maize of the streets we saw some strange things, like the Communist party headquarters:IMG_0827And some little exquisite stores like this:P1010407But a day is too short…On the way back we crossed Academia bride and saw the last rays of sun hitting Santa Maria del Salute:P1010410IMG_0900


P1010414And that was it, we were heading towards the train station… P1010428 P1010434 IMG_0905Was it easy to not get lost – well, we used the GPS in the phone. Without that you would need more than one day to see this much of Venice. Of course. we saw very little. we didn’t enter any museums, of which there are plenty, any palaces, some of which have exhibits and are open to public. Too much for a day…







2015-Italy – Padova

From Vicenza we took a train to Padova – 20 min trip only! 4.05e. Here we stayed at an apartment right by the train station  – it was called Loft Padova: a.viviani@archiworld.it, phone 39-3472-98812. This was a separate loft with a kitchen, bedroom and a sitting room, and also -with a lot of books! Art books, architecture books. Eloisa and Andrea run it and Andrea has his studio right by – so it is comfortable to come and not have him drive to let us into. I highly recommend to stay there! While it is not right in the center of the city and you can hear train doors closing and opening , but the apartment is very spacious, very pleasantly designed and decorated. We felt very comfortable. And the center is very close by foot. The reason we wanted to stay by the train station- we planned to go to Venice for a day from there. It was convenient. So the same evening we went for a walk, through the narrow streets of ghetto towards the biggest jewel of Padova – Basilica of St.Anthony:  IMG_0680P1010295


Creative Italians make such graffiti on the walls:IMG_0685

All the stores by that street had freshly brought mimosas:P1010293

Again St.Anthony’s Basilica -a little later when the sun started to go down – the church turned into a flaming masterpiece of architecture. it very much reminded me of our mountains in Zion NP in Utah – the setting sun paints them in the same colors every evening for a very short time-  some 5-10 min.:P1010304IMG_0673St.Anthony’s basilica holds the grave of St. Anthony. It is a big pilgrimage site and all visitors try to touch the grave and ask St. Anthony for favors. I did, too. While walking by the white marble grave you see at least some 8 extraordinary reliefs on marble with the scenes of St. Anthony performing his miracles. Here is one of them – I liked the peculiar face of one or major characters of the scene:P1010465Padova is known for its second to the oldest University in Europe. At those times several liberal professors and students split from the University of Bologna and came here to establish a new and liberal educational facility in 1222! Galileo Galileo was the most prominent professor there. The first Anatomy Theater was built there in 1594 with a way to hide a dead body very fast in case the Inquisition was coming to check. but we didn’t visit the theater this time. neither the Aula Magna, just the corridors and the inner yards and one of the aulas. Students graduate in the university every day.  Traditionally they wear a wreath and are very happy surrounded with their happy families and friends, their pictures being taken:IMG_0925 IMG_0930 IMG_0936Their friends prepare for them some text, hopefully funny with pictures and caricatures – and the celebrated graduate has to read the texts loud and clear  -fro everybody’s enjoyment. It is a pity not ours, we didn’t understand…IMG_0945

Across the street from the main university building is a very famous Cafe Pedrocchi built in 1831. Famous meeting place for scholars, it was a scene of student uprising in 1848. Now – a fancy restaurant in two of its rooms and a more regular down to earth cafe in one of them. Each of the three rooms are decorated in one of Italian flag colors:P1010439 IMG_0918 IMG_0914Else – I visited the very good art collection the Eremitani Town museum,  which is by an ancient Roman amphitheater. There in the park there is also a very famous Capella degli Scrovegni – all painted by Giotto in 1303-05. They try to preserve the frescoes and let in only a very limited number of people, and they do it in groups, so I was lucky that the tourist season hadn’t kicked in yet. The line was not too long. And it is very worth seeing the chapel. But no pictures were allowed, so be it. The magnolias were already starting to bloom:P1010449

Besides other ruins left by ancient Romans there is their Forum, which is now turned into a very spacious park with fountains and an abundance of sculptures:P1010469 IMG_0957 P1010471The central part of downtown has three joining squares, here is one of them:P1010441The cathedral doesn’t not look very big or impressive, but it has very outstanding frescoes in the Baptistery on the right:P1010456And again another view of St. Anthony’s in the morning and at night:P1010463 P1010472And again – they were burying their nobility by the main street – just in the air – a very strange custom 🙂IMG_0938












2015-Italy – Villas

Vicenza is also known for the elaborate villas that are built in the vicinity. It would take several days and a car to visit more of them. But we went up the hill to the South of the city and were rewarded not only with two villa sights but also a very fancy and maybe a very sacred church  -Santuario di Monte Berico (St. Mary is believed to have appeared there twice in 1428 after the city was stricken with plague), so we climbed the hill on some important pilgrimage path:IMG_0595 IMG_0601 IMG_0607


The Santuario has a museum – and to our astonishment – there are guns in that museum…Church and guns together…They can be seen on the far wall of the the gallery walk.P1010288

The covered loggias – I guess it is for the pilgrims not to get wet during rain and also to create jobs for people while they were built. There are also frescoes in each stop between a flight:P1010274Then we turned to a path or street that was like carved into stone or more likely – built with very high walls from both sides -so no views…Just a romantic walk in old walls:IMG_0626Here we see the very famous Villa that would be interesting especially for Americans – it is called La Rotonda and president Jefferson has built his summer house exactly based on Palladio’s architecture of this villa! And exact twin. It is called Monticello in the US, located not far from Washington D.C.  This time La Rotonda was closed so Andrei took a picture through the gate :-).  Meanwhile I visited Villa Valmarana Ai Nani – in translation – The Gnomes villa – because there is a story that at some point gnomes were guarding it. If I am wrong in my memory – go and check 🙂 !

P1010283 IMG_0621

10e and you can see the fresco-ed walls of this small villa.  Freascoes are by Tiepollo  -amazing artist…Good they let you take pictures. I took also a couple in the rooms that were not so valuable, but funny in their own historic way:IMG_0637 IMG_0638 IMG_0639

So imagine how rich Italians lived – all the walls painted in frescoes, all…I guess they had a lot of time to look and look around. Visiting Villas is a way to see the surrounding landscape. As I said – the street is all enclosed by walls, so only by entering a villa garden one can see the views:P1010275

While walking we noticed a helicopter flying and landing in one of the gated houses…I suppose rich people still live there and they are afraid: IMG_0644 P1010287


IMG_0641And we never felt any danger…maybe our feeling are not sharp enough…Or maybe they are on the habit of enforcing their homes and gardens since Roman or Barbarian times, maybe it is a useful habit to keep.







2015-Italy – Vicenza

A day and an evening in Verona and on we went – a short train ride to Vicenza – so praised by Rick Steves! Yes, it is a pilgrimage city for architects, I agree with him.  Vicenza is created by architect Palladio, so it has a very uniform and harmonious look. Lots of beauty, lots. Several museums, but we managed to visit only one. We spent only one night there, so we saw the city in the evening glow and got the impression, but definitely have to come again. We slept in Michelle’s apartment in a convenient location going from the train station to the center. The room was on a very high floor – so the city and the surrounding hills were a fantastic view! It was called on the internet: B&B Venere House, Viale Milano 37, 39338-5653600. The apartment was very large, you couldn’t feel that someone else lived there, the hostess served us breakfast, she spoke English and gave us some advises of what to see.  So I highly recommend to stay there. The house is seen on the right, the second tallest house:P1010271

And here is what we saw that afternoon and the eve. You enter downtown though this gate:IMG_0483

P1010198This is Park Querini:P1010212 P1010220 P1010222IMG_0531

There are a couple of parks on both sides of the center, there is a river loop, everything that makes a nice city!P1010224Palladio museum and the interesting ceiling fresco:P1010227


P1010229 Piazza Erbe  with the most impressive buildings.P1010230 P1010234 P1010237P1010241 P1010242 P1010246Piazza Signori:P1010249






There are two baby heads in front of art museum in Piazza Matteotti. Across the street there is this very famous Olimpic Theater, which we haven’t seen yet. P1010261P1010263

Teatro Olimpico is in this building:IMG_0516 IMG_0511 And the peculiar chairs in one of the cafes. I wonder – does one feel like sitting in someone’s lap or like being the lap :-).




2015-Italy – Verona

We went to Italy in March of 2015. And it was a very good time to go – the weather was just perfect for walking in towns and museums and “churching” out. It was also a good time because of crowds of tourists were still not there. They come later in spring. And in all 14 days we traveled- we got rained only on the last day and only little sprinkles.
Yes, I used the cheap flight and came to Bergamo with Ryanair from Vilnius. Lithuania. We planned to meet with Andrei in the train station, for he flew directly to Milano – but because of the snowstorms in the US his flight were messed up and we met in the apartment in Verona. So lets start from there- it was a perfect room in a big apartment that the owner rents by rooms. Some have private bathrooms, and two rooms share one in the corridor by the rooms. There is also a kitchen and they prepare and leave wonderful breakfast items for the guests to serve themselves. We found it through internet. It is called Verona Maison B&B, the tel: 39345-0866427, info@veronamaison.it, and I highly recommend it! Priced well depending on season, close to the train station and to the center. Yes, and using trains was really comfortable, once we learned to buy tickets and look for schedules in the automatic machines in the stations. With the exception of the last trip back to Bergamo from Florence – that day the cheaper train company was on strike, nobody knew what was going on and kept selling tickets for the trains that were not running that day. So check strike schedules on-line before a train ride.
So here it is – Verona. I didn’t expect to be so mesmerized by Verona. Well, I guess Italy is beautiful all over, but some cities are closer to ones heart than the others. Some need to get used to, some attract at once. So Verona was “at once” thing. The river makes a loop and that is a very attractive feature for a city. Here are some views, we walked a lot, both sides of the river, climbed the hill on the other side for a full city view, checked as many churches as we could, looked into the nice fashions in shop windows and old graves hanging high above street level, also the monuments of famous people, listened to street musicians and ate some good pizza. And here is the main Market square :


On the left are the graves of nobility raised high up with little chapels on top.





Dante looks kind of angry because all the tourists are going to see and touch Juliet but not him…








Street fashions…