~ Il Duomo ~
I have had the chance to see Italy twice already and although my list of places requiring even a first visit is pretty long, there is something that keeps pulling me back to the country of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verdi and Miuccia Prada. Following the Gothic thread of the week, my thoughts travel back to Milan and its exquisite cathedral, Il Duomo. Built over no less than 600 years, Il Duomo is a unique example of Gothic architecture, casting towards the sky an impressive number of 135 spires and housing some of the most wonderful stained glass windows that I have ever seen.
Il Duomo is the heart of a city, and yet Milan draws its magnetism from an extensive collection of treasures, among which the Sforzesco Castle which houses the Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo, the Theater Museum of La Scala, and the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper can be viewed.
I like to discover a city without a map and without a clear destination in mind. I take a left or a right mostly based on the esthetic of the street and allow the flow of the place to guide me. This is how I found La Brera, my favorite place in Milan, and this is how, eventually, I landed in the square of Il Duomo.
Stay: The Gray
Eat: Da Claudio (seafood), Bagutta (traditional Italian) , Cucchi (pastries), Jamaica (bar)
See: Il Duomo, Sempione Park, Via della Spiga (luxury fashion mile)
~ Inside Il Duomo ~
~ Sforzesco Castle ~
~ Via della Spiga ~
~ La Brera ~
Until next time,
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
One of the places that are currently on my “must-see” list is Moustiers Sainte Marie, a small village confined between rocky cliffs and jade waters at the entrance to the grand canyon of Verdon in southern France. Moustiers boasts lovely medieval houses perched on steep cliffs, winding narrow alleys, arched passages, exquisite water fountains and numerous ceramic shops as is expected in the capital of faïence. The village is also known for hosting one of the great pilgrimage churches of the Middle Ages, Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, and for the four-foot golden star swinging on a chain between the two robust summits that overlook the community. According to a legend, the star is a votive offering dedicated to the Virgin Mary by a crusader who, while imprisoned in the land of the Saracens, promised to suspend a star from the rough peaks above Moustiers if he survived.
As if the above attributes were not sufficient to rouse one’s interest, Moustiers is located in the Upper Provence region and offers fantastic opportunities for gastronomic exploration in surroundings that are covered in thousands of olive trees and bathed in lavender perfume.
Stay: La Bastide de Moustiers (chef Alain Ducasse’s inn)
Eat: La Bastide de Moustiers, Le Santons
See: Moustiers, Verdon gorges, the lake of Sainte Croix, the neighboring village of Valensole
Until next time,
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
Living in New York City, I have suffered lately from a nature abstinence crisis and since a vacation is not an option at the moment due to a long list of work related commitments, I turned to images of places I once visited and would love to go back to. Cinque Terre, the Ligurian Riviera in Italy, has been on my “dream list” while I was a teenager and in 2007, when I finally visited the area, my heart doubled in size trying to capture as much as possible of the five villages.
If you are looking for a destination that is far from the crowds of modern-day tourism (for now, at least), where replenishing your oxygen supply involves walking among lost in time gardens and pastel houses perched on steep cliffs at the edge of beautiful sea water, then head to Cinque Terre.
Stay: Hotel Al Terra di Mare - Levanto
Eat : Miky Ristorante – Monterosso al Mare
See (top 3): Sentierro Azzurro (Blue Trail), Monarola ,Vernazza
*Unfortunately, two of the villages, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, have been badly damaged by rain-triggered landslides in October 2011.
Until next time,
Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Via dell’ Amore
Posted in TRAVEL
Tagged Cinque Terre, do, eat, ideas, Italy, Liguria, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, see, stay, travel, Vernazza