Archaeology, BLOG, History, Italy, Travel

Haunting Images That Will Put Pompeii On Your Bucket List

One of the intrinsic benefits of luxury travel is getting to wander off the main tourist path and visit places that can are stimulating from an intellectual point of view. The ancient city of Pompeii on Italy’s west coast is just such a place. It experienced a catastrophic ending, and within 1 day, it was completely buried for the next 2,000 years. Today, it can be visited on foot thanks to over a century of archaeological excavations. After reading her story, I encourage you to add Pompeii to your bucket list.

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

GETTING HIGH IN FLORENCE: 7 Climbs to get Stunning Photos

Cameras have evolved into a permanent must-have part of our mainstream culture. Whether it is a part of a smart phone, or a high-end DSLR, we use them to communicate online and off, for email and social media, for business and education. This article will show you how to get stunning photos when you get to Florence, Italy. 

When traveling, cameras have become as ubiquitous as a passport. Even more so, because some of us carry more than one type of camera.

Getting good photos in Florence, Italy: If photography is of interest to you, then you know how important it is to find good angles from which to shoot. Most guidebooks have terrific photos, but they don’t often let you know from where they were shot. Here are a few of the places in Florence where you can climb up to take great scenic shots of this wonderfully ancient city. As you can see, a picturesque palette awaits your climb. Some may require you to purchase a ticket, some are free, and some may require you to enjoy a local Tuscan vino!   😉

But no matter which you choose, you will enjoy this rare perspective into the ancient past from above.

Il Duomo

Simply entering this formidable structure inspires awe. And the climb to the top will only add to your amazement. Looking down over the city from the Duomo will give birds-eye views from every direction. BONUS: The unusual part of this view is that Giotto’s Bell Tower, or The Campanile, stands tall right across the same piazza from you. Which means that if you and a friend each climb one of these structures at the same time, you will be able to get a great shot of each other from these lofty heights!

 

Giotto’s Bell Tower (il Campanile)

In addition to marvelous views of the city and the Arno from all sides of Giotto’s architectural wonder, next door you will get an up-close view of Brunelleschi’s great architectural creation, il Duomo. This view comes complete with its own scintillating shot of the cupola that is the crown of the city. From atop the north side of the Campanile, you can look down on the eight-sided Baptistery in the foreground, and further away you will see another dome: the Cappella de’ Medici (the Medici Chapel) resting quietly in the near distance. If you decide to scale the 414 steps to the top of this Campanile (Bell Tower) you will see all of Florence. From there, it is easy to imagine that you are looking back through time to the ancient past.

 

Palazzo Vecchio

After climbing a mere 223 steps to the top of the Palazzo Vecchio tower, a feast for your eyes awaits you at every single rest level where tiny windows give you a break and a glimpse of what lies below you. Looking southwest from the top of the crenellated tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, you will acquire a terrific view of the Bargello: Initially built as a seat for law enforcement, it later became an infamous prison where from its crenellations, you might have seen a few bodies dangling upside down as a direct message to those that might wish to break the law. Looking southward, the main scenic feature is the Church of Santa Croce (below). With a large piazza out front, you will find musicians and street performers of every kind. But inside is where all the bodies are buried – literally. From a Dante cenotaph to Donatello, and from Florence Nightingale to Michelangelo, this church has become the final resting place for many famous folks.

 

Piazzale Michelangelo

is a medium-effort walk from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. But whether you hike it or you take the #12 Bus up the hill, be sure to bring a picnic basket. This is one of the more popular places to end your day and to watch the sun set over the city.

 

This view, taken from atop the Westin Excelsior Hotel on the Arno River (Piazza Ognissanti, 3, Firenze) is clearly fantastico! Day or night, rain or shine, this panorama is quite a sight to behold. Take the elevator to the top (8th) floor, go through the bar and out the glass doors to get this sumptuous feast for your eyes. The 8th floor doesn’t seem very high, but when you are in an ancient city where most structures are a mere 2-3 stories, 8 floors is plenty high!

 

Hotel La Scaletta

is a gem in a hidden treasure chest! A bit tough to find: Once you have located the correct building (near the Pitti Palace) you will climb a few steps, take a rickety little 2-person elevator to the top, walk through a small lobby into a restaurant, go out the back door, up some steps to a roof-top bar, then up one more precarious narrow flight to the rooftop. There you will find a couple of small cafe tables waiting for you to savor the wine & cheese along with these fantastic views of the historical center of the city (below), and the Observatory over Boboli Gardens behind you. A VERY romantic way to enjoy the sunset.
(Hotel La Scaletta: Via Guicciardini, 13 – 50125 FLORENCE

 

Vasari Corridor

This view from inside of the Vasari Corridor secretly looks down over the heads of the unsuspecting tourists as they shop for gold jewelry on the famous Ponte Vecchio The mysterious Vasari Corridor also gives rare views of the Arno and the backstreets of the city as it winds its way over the tops of the buildings between the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi Gallery.

Patty Civalleri is the author of FLORENCE ~ A Traveler’s Guide to its Gems & Giants. Click to Get it NOW on Amazon.

 

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

What is the 1 WORD That Seduces Travelers into Repeatedly Returning to Florence?

By Patty Civalleri

There are many reasons why people find their way to Florence, some of which may be by accident. The simple facts that Florence is “on the route” between Rome and Venice, or it is “included in the Italy package” are some of the more common ways that people get to Florence.

Most time-constrained tourists tend to breeze through as many destinations that can be compressed into their limited holiday period. This often means that they are forced to zip into a city, find the best place for food and drink, look at a few buildings on the streets, then check it off their bucket list. “Yup, I’ve been there, and done that,” they say. But have they really?

The opportunity to stay longer in any single destination is truly a luxury that many travelers do not possess. But if you travel because you want to learn more about the world (besides just its restaurants), and you want to come away feeling smarter and more enlightened, then Florence is your destination.

But why is it that so many people find that Florence has become their ‘favorite city in the world?’ And why is it that so many travelers repeatedly return to Florence even as the rest of the world continues to beckon?

As difficult as it may seem, it is this one single scary word that holds the draw for so many people: no matter how you look at it, Florence simply has some of the coolest and most seductive HISTORY” in the world.

Sure, every country has cool history. But Florence holds the key that connects so many of those little dots in our heads that were left by our school teachers so many years ago.

Let me show you. I’ll start simple, then get more fun as we go. Did you know:

  • that Florence is the Capital of Tuscany? Surprisingly, few people are aware of this.
  • that a bunch of familiar guys came from Florence?
    • Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Galileo, Raphael, Dante, Machiavelli, the infamous Medici family, and scores more
  • that most of these guys actually knew each other?
  • that the combined genius of these men (along with many more great guys), turned history on its ear and yanked the Western World out of the Dark Ages?
  • that this ‘yanking’ from the Dark Ages into an enlightened age of ‘free thinking’ is what we all know of as The Renaissance?
  • that the “Pirate Pope” was from Florence?
  • that the original “Bonfire of the Vanities” occurred in Florence?
  • that Michelangelo hid underneath a chapel – for 3 months – to avoid imprisonment? And that while in there, he drew all over the walls to stay sane? And that you can visit this tiny little self-imposed prison/chamber?
  • that the Bargello Museum used to be a prison where they would among other things hang prisoners by their feet from the crenellations over the streets to warn people not to commit crimes?
  • that the Ponte Vecchio Bridge is the only bridge that remains intact after the Nazis bombed all other bridges in Florence?
  • that Leonardo da Vinci would visit his ‘secret woman’ each time he returned to Florence?
  • that the famous artists Filippo Lippi was kidnapped from the area and sold into slavery?
  • that Raphael is the King of ‘selfies’?

Florence is truly the veritable who’s who of familiar names and events in Western History. In fact, her history reads  like a Hollywood Magazine of the ins, outs and drama that has impacted our life in the West for the next 600 years.

This is why so many are compelled to return every few years. The city beckons and seduces with factoids and stories that will send you home as the smartest person in the room!

A stay in Florence can keep you busy every hour of every day that you spend there. Oh, and the restaurants and bars are pretty nice too!

Patty Civalleri, Author
“FLORENCE Gems & Giants”

 

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Art | Art History, BLOG, Italy

How to Make a Bronze Statue in 7 Easy Steps

This technique is called ‘the Lost Wax’ method. It is the method that Master Andrea del Verrocchio used to create his timeless sculpture of “David” among others. This method was widely used during the Renaissance period, and is still used by some masters today.

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Art | Art History, BLOG, Italy

Master of the Masters

Andrea del Verrocchio

(pron “ver-OH-kee-oh”)

Born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de’ Cioni, he was trained under a master goldsmith, Giuliano Verrocchio, from whom Andrea took the name, which translates to “true eyes.” He grew up with Lorenzo d’Medici (aka, Lorenzo the Magnificent) as a close friend. Although a bachelor for life, he lived with and supported his sister and her children.

For quite some time, Verrocchio was considered to be one of the most important artists in Florence. Lorenzo and Piero de’Medici were

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BLOG, Italy, Travel

What are some lesser-known sights to see when visiting Florence, Italy?

 Note: I wrote this to answer the question in the Quora.com website.

The answer to this question depends upon your personal interests, so I’ll throw out a few of my own favs.

A fantastic place from which to see the sunset over the city: Piazzale Michelangelo. You can either walk up to it, or take a local bus, but bring a picnic and enjoy the end of the day. One of the 2 full-sized copies of Michelangelo’s “David” stands overlooking the sunset as well.

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Art | Art History, BLOG, History, Italy, Travel

10 Fun Things You Should Know About the Florence Renaissance

Sure. We all know the names: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli, Dante, Raphael, Galileo, the Medici, Machiavelli, Donatello, and many more.  But did you know that they were all from the city of Florence? And did you know that most of these guys actually knew other?

There are so many fun things about that period of time that will tickle your fancy so much, that once you know them, you’ll want to hop on a plane and go to Florence. Tomorrow morning.

There are so many interesting facts that I wrote a whole book about them. But for this post, I’ll stick to the first 10 quickies that pop into my head as I write this. You can find the book right here on Amazon.

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Archaeology, BLOG, Egypt, History

Egyptian Archaeologists Dig Up Mounds of Ancient Treasures

October 6, 2016
For Immediate Release
by Patty Civalleri


Archaic Roman Winery, Baths, a New Prayer Temple, and the King Tut Debate

Santa Ana, Ca – Egyptian Archeologists Dr. Mostafa Waziri and Salah Elmasekh will visit Southern California this month to reveal the latest important archaeological discoveries in a public forum to be held at the Bowers Museum on October 23rd. Included in the topics will be the recently-unearthed ancient Roman winery and baths, a new prayer temple, the Avenue of Sphinxes, and current news about the search for Queen Nefertiti behind King Tut’s tomb.

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BLOG, Travel

6 Steps of Time Traveling

People love to travel. There is something inherent in our wiring that titillates our curiosity about that grass which grows on that other side of the fence. Does its lushness make us dream of living over there? Are there more flowers among those blades than there are on our side of the fence? Does it get more -or less- sunshine? Can it justify my decision to continue to live where I do?

For over 15 years, I have had the pleasure of traveling around the globe with some of the best scientific and historical minds in the world. Together, we have visited the tiny nooks and crannies left vacant long ago by people of our ancient past. And with them, I have traveled not just globally, but through time.

Yup, time travel.

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Archaeology, BLOG, History, Peru, Travel

Peru: The Lost MOCHE Civilization – pt 1

When you get the call, it is difficult to say ‘no’.

“Hey Patty, are you available to disappear for a couple of weeks into Peru?”

“Sure,” I replied. “But we’ve been there already, so why are we going again?”

“We know you’ve already experienced the touristy side of Peru when you went to the Alta Plano, Cuzco, Lima and Macchu Pichu. This time we’re going to Peru’s northern coastal region. We’re going to explore some incredible sites that were once occupied by the ancient and enigmatic lost Moche civilization.”

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Archaeology, BLOG, Egypt, History, Travel

The ABABDA: A Vanishing Culture

The California Science Center, already well-known for their creative and inspiring collection of Brain Food, recently sponsored the Cleopatra Exhibit in 2013. Throughout the afternoon, I  sported memories of footprints in the Sahara sand, the shape of the Queen’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid, and watching as my son started at the top of a huge dune and rolled a quarter-mile down – almost swiftly into the Nile!

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