Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

1. The marble facade

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations. The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

2. Medieval and Renaissance art

The interior of the cathedral has a mixture of the Renaissance and Medieval architecture. This mixture has been a result of the fire of 1595. After the destruction of most of the Medieval parts of the cathedral, they were rebuilt in the Renaissance style as it was popular back then.

The surviving Medieval pieces include Tomb of Emperor Henry VII, originally sculpted by Tino di Camaino, and the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, which has been recently placed in its original place after being found dismantled.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Baptistery of Pisa – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 3rd, 2018

Baptistery of Pisa - Keep Calm and Wander

Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), on the west coast of Italy, the Baptistery of Pisa forms one of the four buildings. In fact, it comes second in the chronological order, neighboring the Duomo di Pisa, the cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It is an ecclesiastical building, and throughout history, it has played a keen role in the religious scene in Pisa. This actually shows in the multiple architectural veils that it is draped in. The lower side has arches and pillars that hint towards the Romanesque style, but the upper levels show a stark Gothic style with pointed figures and closely spaced pillars.

The entrance to the edifice is covered with ornate pillars and reliefs, in which the upper one depicts the life of Saint John and the middle one shows Christ flanked by Saint John and Madonna and surrounded by several angels.

The Baptistery of Pisa – Where Galileo Was Baptized

This baptistery is famous for its architecture and also for the following things.

1. The Acoustics: Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano have done an outstanding job by designing the interior that it facilitates reverberations or acoustics. Anyone standing below the edge of the dome can have his voice echoed. Every 30 minutes, one of the employees would sing loud to demonstrate the power of its acoustics.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

More About Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 23rd, 2018

Florence - Dolly Travels

Buona sera,

Now I can settle down. Mexico won their first World Cup game, defeating Germany, so we are more relaxed. The kids went to a bar to watch the game. I had to do some more walking through my favorite Italian city. I finally stopped and watched the last two minutes of the game, before coming back to the apartment.

Saturday morning, we decided to follow Rick Steves’ audiotour of the Renaissance Walk. We fought our way through the crowds around the Duomo, continued down via Calzaiuoli to Piazza Signoria, then across the Ponte Vecchio.

We stopped for a snack and cold drinks after the walk…the most expensive snack we have had. But I needed a break from the crowds.

On our walk back to the city, we stayed on the Oltrano side of the river, until we came to the next bridge, Ponte Grazie.

Later in the afternoon, the kids made a visit to Bargello galleria. There is so much to see in Florence. Danny and Heather had their list of places to see. They have more stamina than I do, so I simply walked all around my favorite city, watching the children at play, following some of the streets I know so well.

This morning, after breakfast, we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is quite a hike, but we made it. The view from up there is incredible; it made the walk worthwhile.

We walked down the hill, following the paths, and soon we were back in the city proper. We stopped for some lunch, then it was time to go home and take our afternoon nap. These one-hour naps are becoming quite the habit, but so necessary, especially after being out in the humid heat of the day.

Now we are all unwinding at home, making our plans for tomorrow, our last day in Florence.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

From Orvieto to Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 15th, 2018

Orvietto - Dolly Travels

Buona sera, tutti,

I realize that I haven’t told you about Orvieto yet. When we left Rome, we went to the hill town of Orvieto, in Umbria. This ancient town sits like a mushroom above the Umbrian valley. It is a lovely old city, with its stone walls and ancient building. The city itself dates back to 900 B.C. This turned out to be not the best trip I have ever made to Orvieto: no one reason, but several things happened that no one had control over. First, the funicular that is supposed to take passengers from the train station up to the old town, was broken. We had to go on a bus. Then the shuttle bus from the little station was not running (so we were told), so we walked about a mile, pulling our luggage behind us. By the time we got to our hotel, we were tired and starving.

However, pizza was not far away. After a good late lunch, I had to take a nap, while Danny and Heather went exploring. Dinner that night consisted of gelato.

The following day our activity was thwarted, also, for we had planned to take a bus to the city of Bagnoreggio and walk to another ancient city, Civita. This could not happen, for the rains and thunderstorms came. I did not want to walk across that footbridge from Bagnoreggio to Civita in a thunderstorm. The walk is scary enough to me in good weather. Heather had her heart set on doing a hike through and around the mountain that Orvieto sits upon. Off they went; several hours later, after walking 3 miles and climbing or descending 43 sets of stairs, they emerged back into town, soaking wet.

I stayed in town, walked up and down a few of the streets, found a place for cappuccino and spent the morning writing. After that, I visited this beautiful cathedral. The Gothic facade is spectacular.

We ended our evening with dinner at Trattoria da Carlo, with a typical regional menu. Carlo not only was our chef, but our waiter as well, along with his Mama and one other waiter. The pasta was homemade with choices of different sauces; simple meat dishes but very tasty. After dinner, we took another quiet stroll, then off to bed for us, to be ready for our train ride into Florence on Thursday morning.

Once again, all three of us were hungry when we arrived in Florence, so first item on our agenda was lunch. We went across the street to one of my favorite places, the L’OK Cucina e Ristorante…eight years ago, when I first started hanging out there, it was the OK Bar. Now Christina owns the place, has enlarged it and turned it into a first class dining establishment.

I was going through cooking withdrawal, so after lunch, we went to the Conad market and bought food to cook for dinner. I think we all enjoyed our simple home-cooked meal, then relaxed while watching the World Cup game on television in our own living room.

Later, we took an evening stroll. The weather was a bit breezy, but sweater weather.

Today, we started by visiting the Galleria Accademia, where the kids got a first look at David. He stands on a pedestal that is about 6 feet tall, and the man himself is 17 feet tall. Massive and impressive, of course.

I love it that so many of the merchants remember me. It makes me feel like a really am a Fiorentina.

After our lunch, at home, of fresh bread, salami, cheese and fruit, we are all ready for our siesta. We will venture out again this evening, for the “passiagetta”, or our version of that walk, while we find more good places in Florence. The kids are enjoying Florence so much that we may not take more than one side trip. There is just too much to see and savor in this Renaissance city, my true second home.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Orvieto Gay Travel Resources

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , August 4th, 2018

Inside the Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations.

The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Pisa Views from the Leaning Tower – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 14th, 2018

Pisa Views

Yes, it is possible to climb to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. You just don’t pose like you’re saving the leaning tower from falling with your tiny hands but you have to climb and see what’s up there. The views aren’t really impressive but climbing a leaning tower is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You don’t get to experience that anywhere else, right? Perhaps, this might be the only leaning tower you’d ever climbed on.

Before Climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa

First, you have to buy a ticket. The ticket booth is on the left side, across the green lawn. When buying, choose a time that’s convenient for you. They limit the number of people going up there for security reasons. When you’ve paid, go to the room next door and leave your things in a locked safe. They won’t allow backpacks or bags. Just bring your camera, phone or valuable things, like your wallet. Be sure to line up 10-15 minutes before your time.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

San Gimignano – Dolly Travels

Author: , March 12th, 2018

San Gimignano - Dolly Travels

Good morning, everyone,

Today I am thinking of San Gimignano. This is one of the hill towns of Tuscany. True to its designation, there are hardly any flat places in this town.

To get there, one would take a bus from Florence, change buses in Poggibonsi. You might have to wait about a half hour for the next bus, but you will have time for a cappuccino at the little cafe in the bus/train station. That is about an hour and a half trip, and a pleasant one. San Gimignano is probably the most accessible of all the hill towns, so it is a busy place. I have never taken the train to Poggibonsi, as I would still have to take the bus up the hill to San Gimignano. My bus ticket gets me all the way to San Gimignano.

Once you get to San Gimignano and get off the bus, you walk through a stone archway, up an old stone street, until you come to the main piazza.

As you walk through town, don’t expect any flat ground, for there isn’t any…well, in front of the restaurants where the tables are set up, that is pretty flat. But most of the time, you will be either walking uphill or downhill. The picture above is deceiving, for it really is going uphill.

This is a city of towers. There are 14 towers still standing, surviving from the 13th century. Tourists can now climb one of the towers. I tried it once, and had to turn back, as the staircase was built of see-through steel grating, and as the stairs spiraled up and up and up, it scared the heck out of me to look down the way I had traveled, and I could see the stone floor so far below me.

You can see the people on the tower on the right. If you don’t have a fear of heights, like I do, this is a marvelous experience, to be able to look over the countryside, and if the weather is absolutely clear, you can see all the way to Florence, for that city is only 25 miles away, as the crow flies, I do believe.

San Gimignano is busy, as I said, for many tourists are there in the daytime. I would love to stay overnight there one of these trips, and see how it feels in the evening and I would enjoy the quiet of the nighttime up there.

When I am in San Gimignano, I find places like this. I don’t feel the need to shop, unless it is at a shop where I can buy the salami that is made from the cinghiale, the wild boars that roam in the countryside nearby. That is one cold cut that I really enjoy.

However, for the most part, I wander through the cobblestone streets, through the tunnels, up the hills, and find neat little staircases.

At the main piazza, appropriately named Piazza dell Cisterna, there is the old well. This used to be the gathering spot for the locals, for most people had to come there to draw their water. It still seems to be the gathering spot for tourists, as it makes a perfect Meeting Point. Everyone should know where the well is.

There are many good restaurants and cafes in San Gimignano. There are gelato shops as well, and as I mentioned before, shops that sell the salami and cheeses. This town is also noted for its very good white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The red wine from this area is not so tasty; if you are a red wine drinker, order a Chianti from the other side of Tuscany, the area between Florence and Siena.

San Gimignano - Dolly Travels

Some of the salami with different cheeses and grissini, the little thin bread sticks. So yummy.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of San Gimignano; enough of a glimpse that you will want to go see this town for yourself. Despite this being such a touristy town, it still retains the old world feel, and if you venture through town, go up to the Rocco, a view point that has you looking south over the countryside, then go down away from the center, you will probably feel as I do, that this is a perfect hill town.

I will leave you now with this little slice of Italy. Arrivederci, until next time, when I will tell you about some other place that I love and will visit again in June.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

Florence Skyline from Torre de Arnolfo – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 17th, 2017

Florence Skyline from Torre de Arnolfo - Alain

Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance. The city, wherever you go, is full of incredible art from the middle ages. You’ll find works of Dante, Michelangelo, Giotto, Boticelli and other Italian masters in one city. Stunning frescoes? Check. Incredible sculptures? Check. Amazing architecture? Check. Great literature? Check. My dilemma was: Where do I start?

The narrow, cobblestone streets had me feeling that I was truly in ancient Italy. The city was once tagged as the “Athens of the Middle Ages.” Much of the things to do and see here are concentrated in the Historical Centre, a UNESCO-World Heritage Site. In the middle of it, you’ll find the stunning Florence Cathedral which the locals refer to as “Duomo.” From here, it’s an easy walk to the Academia where you’ll find Michelangelo’s original statue of “David.” You can also walk to Uffizi Gallery and marvel at its colossal statues outside the building. Nearby, Ponte Vecchio has been there for centuries and you might find something to splurge your money on.

Where to see the spectacular view of Florence skyline. The best view of Florence would be on the top of Torre de Arnolfo. It’s got the best view of the city’s skyline. Most of the postcards you see and buy were taken from here.

A Day in Florence. Yes, it is possible if your purpose is just to see the usual tourist attractions in the Historical Center. You can do these sights: Academia, Duomo and Baptistry, Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. I have to warn you though that the queue at the Academia is brutal. So you better start there. Be the first in the queue in the morning. And oh, I find the gelato here in Florence better than the gelatos in any city I’ve been in Italy. Don’t be shy to get a large scoop!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Florence Gay Travel Resources

The Stunning Facade of Florence’s Duomo – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 15th, 2017

Florence's Duomo - Keep Calm and Wander

The stunning facade of Florence’s Duomo is one of its kind. It’s a great example of the Renaissance style which was born in Florence, Italy. Duomo, as the locals call it, has a longer name: Catedral Santa Maria del Fiore. In English, it is translated as, “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers.” For lazy tourists who have problems remembering places, it would be known as Florence Cathedral.

The Stunning Facade of Florence Duomo. The whole facade of the church isn’t your typical church you see all over Italy or Spain. Its polychrome marble panels are bordered with hues of pink and green. The exterior is plastered with so many sculptures and frescoes of various sizes. Incredible patterns and amazing craftsmanships are ubiquitous wherever you stand. They can be dizzying if you’re fixated on them.

Gothic or Renaissance? Well, I was told that in its early construction, the church was designed as Gothic. But as it progressed, its Renaissance style became evident, too. Both styles were blended and resulted in a classical masterpiece which Florence is so proud of.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Florence, Again – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 4th, 2017

Duomo - Florence - Dolly Travels

Frank and I have been busy, seeing some of the places we have enjoyed before, in Florence, and finding a couple of new and interesting places. Both of these new places will go into our “favorites” collection.

Sunday, we had some drizzling rain in the morning. However, right next door to us (almost), was the Museo Degli Innocenti. This museum was totally redone and finished last year, so we are now able to visit it for the first time. I was quite impressed. Local architect, Jacopo Carli and his group, did the re-design, and I want to say, “Molto buono lavoro, Jacopo.”

This place, called the “Ospedale degli Innocenti”, was started sometime around the year 1445, and the building is part of the S.S. Annunziata complex, with the church at the north end of the piazza, the convent, which is now a hotel, at the west side, and the Ospedale at the east side of the piazza. The Ospedale was begun as a foundling home, where children could be left for any reason, to be cared for by the nuns. The only requirement was that the child had to be small enough to fit into the opening on a turntable that carried the child into the Ospedale. The story of this operation is told through displays within the museum, and is very well done.

Later, the rain had stopped, so we fought the crowds and walked down the via Calzuoili toward the Piazza Signoria.

On Monday, we wandered and took in more of the ambience of the city, without visiting any museums.

Yesterday, we visited the Uffizi Galleria, which has the largest collection of Italian art in the world, and next to the Vatican Museum in Rome, the largest gathering of tour groups, I am sure. Once again, we saw what we wanted to see, and got out of there.

Then last night, we went to the Teatro delle Sale, for a concert. This was such a unique experience, that it deserves its own blog post.

We are returning to the Teatro tonight, for another concert. So, tomorrow, look for the post on that Teatro. This was another place I had seen every time we came to Florence, and never found out how great it was.

So, Arrivederci, for now we are on our way to the Accademia Galleria, to see David. We only have 6 days left to see things. Time is flying by.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Tuscany Gay Travel Resources