Rome – The eternal city

Rome has a history that spans for more than two and a half thousand years. Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC. But the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. It is referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).

Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable immensity of its archaeological and artistic treasures as well as for the charm of its unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views and the majesty of its magnificent parks. The most significant resources are the museums, aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historic buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum.

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome situated between Colosseum and Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate the victory of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius. Dedicated in 315 AD, it is the largest Roman Triumphal arch which spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph. The last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, it is 21 m high, 26 m wide and 7 m deep. It has three archways.

Rome - The Arch of Constantine
Rome – The Arch of Constantine

The Colosseum also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an oval Amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome. Built of concrete and sand it is the largest Amphitheatre ever built. It is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus. The colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contest and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas. Despite in ruins due to earthquakes and stone robbers the colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.

Rome - The Colosseum
Rome – The Colosseum
Rome - The Colosseum
Rome – The Colosseum
Rome - The Colosseum
Rome – The Colosseum

The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome and perhaps one of the most famous fountains in the world. Its height is 86 feet and width is 161 feet. The fountain has appeared in many notable movies. Already in the fifteenth century a small Trevi Fountain was built here during the papacy of Nicholas V. In 1732, Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square to replace the existing fountain. The fountain, which is designed like a monumental triumphal arch, was built against a wall of the Palazzo Poli. The central figure on the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides shell shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing abundance and the statue on the right represents health. Above the two allegorical statues are the bas reliefs, one on the left shows Agrippa, the general who built the aqueduct that carries water to the fountain. The bas relief on the right captures the moment the virgin points to the source of the spring. The allegorical statues on the top, in front of the attic, symbolize the four seasons. Crowning the top is the coat of arms of pope Clement XII.

It is believed that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain’s water basin. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder with your back to the fountain. You are not supposed to look behind you while you are tossing the coin but the fountain is so large it is basically impossible to miss. An estimated 3000 euro coins were recovered from the fountain every day which is used by the Municipality of Rome to finance a special supermarket that serves the poor in Rome with the help of the Italian Red Cross.

Rome - The Trevi Fountain
Rome – The Trevi Fountain
Rome - The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome – The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome - The Trevi Fountain, coat of arms of pope Clement XII
Rome – The Trevi Fountain, coat of arms of pope Clement XII
Rome - The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome – The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome - The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome – The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome - The Trevi Fountain, details
Rome – The Trevi Fountain, details
This guy, dressed as a Roman centurion was pausing for photos with the tourists
This guy, dressed as a Roman centurion was posing for photos with the tourists

Saints Vincent and Anastasius at Trevi is Baroque church located near the Trevi fountain, built from 1646 to 1650. It is notable as the place where the embalmed hearts of 25 popes from Sixtus V to Leo XIII are preserved. The church was reconstructed on the order of Cardinal Mazarin, whose triumphantly presented coat of arms and cardinal’s hat supported by angels, is focus of the façade composition. It is rumored that Mazarin’s niece, Marie Mancini, a mistress of Louis XIV of France, is also portrayed on the façade, in the central female mascaron.

Rome - The church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius near the Trevi Fountain
Rome – The church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius near the Trevi Fountain
Rome - The church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius near the Trevi Fountain, details
Rome – The church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius near the Trevi Fountain, details

The Piazza del Quirinale and the Palazzo del Quirinale sit atop Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. The major structure in the piazza is the huge obelisk with fountain that sits in the middle. This is known as the Dioscuri Fountain and features the 18 feet tall sculptures of Castor and Pollux as horse tamers. These statues – Roman replicas of Greek originals from the 5th Century BC, once stood at the entrance of the baths of Constantine. The 14 m tall central obelisk once held a place of honor at the entrance to the mausoleum of Augustus. The Statues were placed here in 1588 by pope Sixtus V. The obelisk was added in 1786 and the fountain’s granite basin was added in 1818.

Palazzo del Quirinale
Piazza del Quirinale
Palazzo del Quirinale
Piazza del Quirinale
Palazzo del Quirinale
Piazza del Quirinale
Palazzo del Quirinale - Details
Piazza del Quirinale – Details
Palazzo del Quirinale - Details
Piazza del Quirinale – Details
Palazzo del Quirinale - Details
Piazza del Quirinale – Details
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale
Around Piazza del Quirinale

The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale. See these statues which are installed in 1866.

The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale
The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale
The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale
The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale
One of the statues around the steps
One of the statues around the steps
Statues around the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale
Statues around the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale

Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column that commemorates emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, built near the Quirinal hill north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 AD, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians. The structure is about 98 feet in height and 115 feet including the large pedestal. The structure is made of a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons with a diameter of 12 feet. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps, provide access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan’s Column weighs 53 tons. Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle but after construction, a statue of Trajan was put in place but this statue disappeared in the Middle Ages. On December 4,1587 the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St Peter which remains to this day.

Trajan’s Column  and the Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Trajan’s Column and the Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Trajan’s Column  and the Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Trajan’s Column and the Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Trajan’s Column, the pedastal
Trajan’s Column, the pedastal
Trajan’s Column - another view
Trajan’s Column – another view
Trajan’s Column - another view
Trajan’s Column – another view
Around Trajan's Column, the ruins
Around Trajan’s Column, the ruins
Around Trajan's Column, the ruins
Around Trajan’s Column, the ruins
Trajan's Column - another view
Trajan’s Column – another view

The Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II) is a monument built in honor of Victor Emanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It is located between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. It was completed in 1925 and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian statue of Victor Emanuel and two statues fo the goddess Victoria riding quadrigas. The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification.

National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II - Details
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II – Details
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II - Details
National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II – Details

Few more snaps from Rome….

Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View
Rome - Street View
Rome – Street View

The Square of Miracles – Pisa (Italy)

The Piazza dei Miracoli (English: Square of Miracles) is a walled 8.87 hectare area located in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy. It is recognized as an important center of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Considered sacred by the Catholic Church, its owner, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices – the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistery, the Campanile (world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa) and the Monumental Cemetery. The whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cathedral
At the heart of the Square of Miracles is the medieval cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption. The church is known also as the Primatial, the archbishop of Pisa being a Primate since 1092. The construction of the Cathedral began in 1064 by the architect Buscheto which set the model for the distinctive Pisan Romanesque style of architecture. The mosaics of the interior, as well as the pointed arches, show a strong Byzantine influence. The church contains the bones of St Ranieri the patron saint of Pisa and tomb of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII. Pope Gregory VIII was also buried in the cathedral, but a fire in 1595 destroyed his tomb.

The Baptistery
The Baptistery, dedicated St John the Baptist, stands opposite the west end of the Cathedral. The round Romanesque building was begun in the mid 12th Century. The architect was Diotisalvi, whose name is mentioned on a pillar. However the construction was not finished until the 14th Century, when the loggia, the top storey and the dome were added in Gothic style by Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. It is the largest baptistery in Italy, with the a circumference measuring 107 meters. Taking into account the statue of St John the Baptist atop the dome, it is even a few centimeters taller than the Leaning Tower.

The Bell Tower (The Leaning Tower of Pisa)
Of course the most famous structure in the square is the Bell Tower, commonly known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is located behind the cathedral. The last of the three major buildings on the square to be built the construction of the bell tower bean in 1173 and took place in three stages over a period of 177 years, with the bell chamber only added in 1372. Five years after construction began, when the building had reached the third floor level, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on the south side. The building was left for a century, which allowed the subsoil to stabilize itself and prevented the building from collapsing. 1272, to adjust the lean of the building, when construction resumed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. The seventh and final floor was added in 1319. By the time building was completed the lean was approximately 1 degree (2.5 feet) from vertical. When measured in 1990, the lean was 5.5 degrees. As of 2010, the lean was reduced to approximately 4 degrees.

The Monumental Cemetery
The Monumental Cemetery also known as Old Cemetery, is locate at the norther edge of the square. This walled cemetery is said to have been built around shipload of sacred soil from Calvary, brought from the fourth Crusade by the archbishop of Pisa in the 12th Century. The construction started in 1278 by architect Giovanni di Simone over the earlier burial ground. The cemetery was only completed in 1464. The outer wall is composed of 43 arches. There are two door ways.

Other than the square of miracle and these monumental buildings there are much more to explore outside the walls of the square. Outside the walls of the square there are ethnic markets which sell souvenirs and other curios.

The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background
The Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background
The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral
The Pisa Cathedral - View of the Dome
The Pisa Cathedral – View of the Dome
The Pisa Cathedral - The Facade
The Pisa Cathedral – The Facade
The Pisa Cathedral door
The Pisa Cathedral door
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Pisa Baptistery
The Pisa Baptistery
The Pisa Baptistery - Details
The Pisa Baptistery – Details
The Monumental Cemetery
The Monumental Cemetery
The Monumental Cemetery
The Monumental Cemetery
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square - A photo session
Around the walls of the square – A photo session
Around the walls of the square
Around the walls of the square

Turin – Home of the Holy Shroud

Turin, the capital city of the Piedmont region of Italy is an important business and cultural center of northern Italy. The city is located on the western bank of the Po River and surrounded by western Alpine Arch. In India Turin is well known for being the headquarters of the automobile manufacturer FIAT which was a favorite brand in India in the last decades. Above all Turin is well known for the Holy Shroud of Turin believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus.

The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin. The shroud is respected by many Christians of several traditions, including Catholics and Protestants. The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. More recently, Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI have both described the shroud of Turin as “an icon”, and Pope John Paul II called the shroud “a mirror of the Gospel”.

The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 4.4 meters. Its most distinctive characteristic is faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hand folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the mid plane of the body and point in opposite directions. The image of the “Man of the Shroud” has beard, moustache and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 2 in). Reddish brown stains are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus. The details of the image on the shroud are not easily seen with the naked eyes, but they can be more clearly revealed through photography.

The origin of the shroud and its images are the subject of intense debate among theologians, historians and researchers. Diverse arguments have been made in scientific and popular publications claiming to “prove” that the cloth is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus.

Irrespective of all these controversies millions of visitors flocked to Turin when the Shroud was kept on public display from 10 April to 23 May 2010 at the chapel of Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. Pope Benedict XVI came to Turin to visit the Shroud on May 2, 2010 and delivered a touching Meditation of the Holy Shroud. I was lucky enough to be in Turin on 20th May 2010 and view this rare display of the Holy Shroud. As authorized by Pope Francis the Shroud was put on public display from April 19 to June 24, 2015 and more than two million visitors came to Turin from around the world. On June 21, 2015 Pope Francis visited Turin to see the shroud and made headlines around the world. The next public exhibition of the shroud is scheduled to occur in 2025.

Turin Cathedral featuring the Chapel of the Holy Shroud
Turin Cathedral featuring the Chapel of the Holy Shroud
The Bell Tower of the Turin Cathedral
The Bell Tower of the Turin Cathedral
The Holy Shroud in its temperature controlled, bullet-proof case
The Holy Shroud in its temperature controlled, bullet-proof case

Other than the Holy Shroud, there are more to explore in Turin including its buildings from the Roman times. In the 1st century BC, probably 28 BC, the Romans created a military camp later dedicated to Augustus. The typical Roman street grid can still be seen in the modern city, especially in the neighbourhood known as the Quadrilatero Romano (Roman Quadrilateral). The Palatine Gate represents the primary archaeological evidence of the city’s Roman phase, and is one of the best preserved 1st Century BC Roman gateways in the world. Together with the ancient theatre’s remains, located a short distance away, it is part of the so called Archaeological Park opened in 2006.

The Palatine Gate
The Palatine Gate
The entrance to the Roman theatre ruins
The entrance to the Roman theatre ruins
Palazzo di Citta, the City Hall of Turin
Palazzo di Citta, the City Hall of Turin
The statue in front of the city hall
The statue in front of the city hall
Piazza san Carlo and equestrian monument of Emmanuel Philibert  the Duke of Savoy
Piazza san Carlo and equestrian monument of Emmanuel Philibert the Duke of Savoy
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin Street View - Tram
Turin Street View – Tram
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - The equestrian police
Turin – The equestrian police
Turin - Street View
Turin – Street View
Turin - Street View
Turin – Street View
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
Turin - Street View
Turin – Street View
Turin - Architecture
Turin – Architecture
View of Alps from Turin
View of Alps from Turin
View of Alps from Turin
View of Alps from Turin
View of Alps from Turin
View of Alps from Turin

Venice – The city of canals and gondolas

Venice (Italian: Venezia) is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world for its art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 visitors a day, often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the world. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was 600 years ago which adds to its fascinating character. It comprises a group of 117 small islands that are separated by 177 canals and linked by 409 bridges. These are located on the Venetian Lagoon which stretches along shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. The lagoon and part of the city are listed as World Heritage Site.

The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wooden piles. Most of these piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations rest on plates of Istrian limestone placed on top of the piles and building of brick or stone sit above these footings. Submerged by water, in oxygen- poor conditions, wood does not decay as rapidly as on the surface. Most of these piles were made from trunks for alder trees, a wood noted of its water resistance. The alder came from Slovenia and Croatia.

Beyond the road and rail land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains (as it was centuries ago) entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe’s largest urban car-free area, a city functioning entirely without motor cars and trucks.

Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style, the most famous of which is the Gothic style. Venetian Gothic architecture is a style combining the use of Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Ottoman influences. This style originated in the 14th century Venice, where the confluence of Byzantine style from Constantinople met Arab influence from Moorish Spain.

The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which belongs to the 13th to 18th century and demonstrate the art created by the Republic of Venice. The noble Venetian families face huge expenses to show off their richness in suitable palazzos. A visit to Venice is incomplete without a ride through the Grand Canal.

Venice Architecture - View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal
Venice Architecture – View from the Grand Canal

Piazza San Marco (English: St. Mark’s Square) is the principal public square of Venice, where it is generally known just as “la Piazza” (The Square). The square is dominated at its eastern end by the great church of St. Mark along with a bunch of few other historic buildings including the Doge’s Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale) and Palazzo Patriarcale, the seat of the Patriarch of Venice. Opposite to this, standing free in the Piazza, is the Campanile of St Mark’s church (Italian: Campanile di San Marco), the most recognizable symbols of the city of Venice. The tower is 98.6 meters tall. The tower is capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel. The tower reached its present form in 1514.

Piazza San Marco - The bell tower and the church behind that
Piazza San Marco – The bell tower and the church behind that
Piazza San Marco - The bell tower
Piazza San Marco – The bell tower
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco (Winged Lion the symbol of San Marco)
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco (Winged Lion the symbol of San Marco)
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture - Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture – Around Piazza San Marco
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
I saw this couple dancing in the square
I saw this couple dancing in the square
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture
Venice Architecture

The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, weddings, funerals or for ceremonies. Many gondolas are lushly fitted with velvet seats and Persian rugs. Less well-known is the smaller sandolo. At the front of each gondola that works in the city, there is a large piece of metal called the fero (iron). Its shape has evolved through centuries, as documented in well-known paintings. Its form, topped by a likeness of the Duke’s hat, become gradually standardized, and was then fixed by local law.

Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondola
Venice – The gondola
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - Canal side restaurant
Venice – Canal side restaurant
Venice - The couple on a gondola ride
Venice – The couple on a gondola ride
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Venice - The gondolas
Venice – The gondolas
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side view
Canal side view
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Canal side views
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice - Canal side view
Venice – Canal side view
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - The curio shop
Venice Street View – The curio shop
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - The Restaurant
Venice Street View – The Restaurant
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - The photo session
Venice Street View – The photo session
Venice Street View - Intimate moments
Venice Street View – Intimate moments
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - The artist
Venice Street View – The artist
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - The musician
Venice Street View – The musician
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View - An art installation
Venice Street View – An art installation
Venice Street View - The shop selling masks
Venice Street View – The shop selling masks
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View
Venice Street View

Large luxury cruise liners are a familiar scene in Venice. The city relies heavily on cruise business. It is estimated that cruise ship passengers spend more than 150 million euros annually in the city.

Luxury Cruise Ships - A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships – A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships - A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships – A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships - A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships – A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships - A familiar scene in Venice
Luxury Cruise Ships – A familiar scene in Venice

Florence – The Birthplace of Renaissance

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It was the center of Medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the world at that time. Florence is considered to be the birthplace of Renaissance and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and various monuments. It is an important city of Italian fashion.

The Arno River which originates in the Apennines passes through the city of Florence where it flows below the Ponte Vecchio and Santa Trinita Bridge. The river flooded the city of Florence in historical times. The most recent was in 1966 which collapsed the embankment in Florence, killing at least 40 people and damaging or destroying millions of works of art and rare books.

Arno River passes through the city of Florence
Arno River passes through the city of Florence
Arno River passes through the city of Florence
Arno River passes through the city of Florence
Bridge over Arno River
Bridge over Arno River

The Palazzo Vecchio (English “The Old Palace”) is the town hall of Florence. Originally it was called Palazzo della Signoria after the Signoria of Florence the ruling body of the Republic of Florence.

The Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio
Florence Cityscape
Florence Cityscape
Another view of the Palazzo
Another view of the Palazzo
A replica of Michelangelo's David at the entrance of the Palazzo
A replica of Michelangelo’s David at the entrance of the Palazzo
Baccio Bandinelli's Hecules and Cacus at the entrance of the Palazzo
Baccio Bandinelli’s Hecules and Cacus at the entrance of the Palazzo
Hecules and Cacus, more detailed view
Hecules and Cacus, more detailed view
Hercules and Cacus backside view
Hercules and Cacus backside view
Hecules and Cacus, more detailed view
Hecules and Cacus, more detailed view
The First Courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio designed in 1453 by Mechelozzo
The First Courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio designed in 1453 by Mechelozzo
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
More Detailed view of the First Courtyard
Lemon Trees with Fruits
Lemon Trees with Fruits

The Loggia dei Lanzi also called the Loggia della Signoria is a building on a corner of the Palazzo adjoining the Uffizi Gallery. It consists of wide arches open to the street. The arches rest on clustered rectangular columns. The wide arches appealed so much to the Florentines, that Michelangelo even proposed that they should be continued all around the Piazza della Signoria. The Loggia dei Lanzi is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art. On the steps of the Loggia are the Medici Lions, marble statues of the lions, heraldic symbols of Florence.

One of the Medici Lions
One of the Medici Lions
Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvento Cellini in bronze
Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvento Cellini in bronze
Detailed view of Perseus with the head of Medusa
Detailed view of Perseus with the head of Medusa
Hercules & Nessus
Hercules & Nessus
Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus - a much restored Roman sculpture
Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus – a much restored Roman sculpture
Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus - Backside view
Menelaus supporting the body of Petroclus – Backside view
Rape of the Sabine Women by Flemish artist Jean de Boulogne
Rape of the Sabine Women by Flemish artist Jean de Boulogne
Rape of the Sabine Women - more details
Rape of the Sabine Women – more details
Rape of the Sabine Women - more detailed view
Rape of the Sabine Women – more detailed view
Rape of the Sabine Women - more details
Rape of the Sabine Women – more details
The Rape of Polyxena, sculpture by Pio Fedi
The Rape of Polyxena, sculpture by Pio Fedi

On the back of the Loggia are five marble female statues (three are identified as Matidia, Marciana and Agrippina Minor). They were discovered in Rome in 1541.

One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the five female marble statues on the back of the Loggia
One of the decorative sculptures inside Loggia dei Lanzi
One of the decorative sculptures inside Loggia dei Lanzi
On the left side the main entrance of Palazzo Vecchio and on the right Loggia della Signoria
On the left side the main entrance of Palazzo Vecchio and on the right Loggia della Signoria
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria - Back view
Neptune Fountain on Piazza Della Signoria – Back view
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city
Various sculptures around the city

Piazz della Repubblica is a city square in Florence.

Piazza della Republica
Piazza della Republica
Piazza della Repubblica with the inscription which reads "The ancient centre of the city / restored from age-old squalor / to new life"
Piazza della Repubblica with the inscription which reads “The ancient centre of the city / restored from age-old squalor / to new life”
A merry-go-round in front of Piazza della Rebubblica
A merry-go-round in front of Piazza della Rebubblica
Piazza della Repubblica - The arch from inside
Piazza della Repubblica – The arch from inside

The National Central Library of Florence is the largest in Italy and one of the most important in Europe along with the one in Rome. The library was founded in 1714 when scholar Antonio Magliabechi bequeathed his entire collection of books, encompassing approximately 30,000 volumes, to the city of Florence. Unfortunately during the flood of the Arno River in 1966, nearly one third of the library’s holding were damaged. The subsequent Restoration Center which was established to restore the collection could manage to save many of the books. However some items are lost forever.

The National Central Library Building
The National Central Library Building
The National Central Library Building
The National Central Library Building

The main tourist attraction of Florence is the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (in English “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers”). This is the main church of Florence and the most prominent structure in the city. It is ordinarily called “Il Duomo di Firenze”. The construction of the church begun in 1296, in the Gothic style with the design of Amolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.

The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s bell tower. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO world heritage site covering the historic center of Florence. This is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral and the Bell Tower
The Florence Cathedral and the Bell Tower
The Florence Cathedral - Side view
The Florence Cathedral – Side view
The Florence Cathedral - One of the doors
The Florence Cathedral – One of the doors
The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral - The Baptistery of St Jon
The Florence Cathedral – The Baptistery of St Jon
Baptistery of St John - Details
Baptistery of St John – Details
The Florence Cathedral - One of the doors
The Florence Cathedral – One of the doors
The Florence Cathedral - The facade
The Florence Cathedral – The facade
The Florence Cathedral - The front view
The Florence Cathedral – The front view
The Florence Cathedral - Another view
The Florence Cathedral – Another view
The Florence Cathedral - Another view
The Florence Cathedral – Another view
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
An open air restaurant
An open air restaurant
Feeding the pigeons
Feeding the pigeons
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
The wooden door
The wooden door
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
The roadside shop selling memorobilas
The roadside shop selling memorobilas
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
A grocery shop
A grocery shop
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape
Florence cityscape

Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) is a square with a panoramic view of Florence located in the Oltrarno district of the city. This square was designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi and built in 1869 on a hill just south of the historic center.

The square dedicated to Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, has bronze copies of some of his marble works, the David in bronze. Poggi designed the loggia in the neoclassical style that dominates the whole terrace, which today houses a restaurant. One will get an amazing aerial view of the city of Florence from this terrace.

Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo
Aerial view of Florence dominated by the Florence Cathedral from Piazzale Michelangelo
Aerial view of Florence dominated by the Florence Cathedral from Piazzale Michelangelo
Aerial view of Florence dominated by Palazzo Vecchio from Piazzale Michelangelo
Aerial view of Florence dominated by Palazzo Vecchio from Piazzale Michelangelo
Arno river with Ponte Vecchio as seen from Piazzale Michelangelo
Arno river with Ponte Vecchio as seen from Piazzale Michelangelo
The watch tower of Palazzo Vecchio as seen from Piazzale Michelangelo
The watch tower of Palazzo Vecchio as seen from Piazzale Michelangelo