Travels in Italy: Tuscany – Florence (May 28-29, 2015)

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Map of Tuscany (Tuscana) region of Italy (courtesy of Google Images)

Map of Tuscany (Tuscana) region of Italy (courtesy of Google Images)

Attractions:

  • Galleria dell’Academia
  • Duomo
  • Piazza della Signoria
  • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Palazzo Pitti (Palatine Gallery)
  • Uffizi

Upon our arrival to Florence, our tour director took us to the Galleria dell’Academia, where we met our local guide. Founded in 1563, the Academia was the first school of drawing, painting, and sculpture in Europe. Today, it houses several Renaissance pieces by Florentine artists, including Michelangelo’s David and Boticelli’s Madonna del Mare. After hearing and reading about these famous works, it was a breathtaking experience to walk and gaze up at the magnificent works of art made by the local Florentine artists.

Galleria dell’Accademia - David

Afterwards, we were taken to the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore)—the iconic cathedral of the city—and briefed on the history of the cathedral but we did not go inside. Then we were allowed to spend the rest of the time on our own.

Brunelleschi's Dome

We explored the streets of Florence and visited the Piazza della Signoria, where the David was originally placed before being moved to the Academia for safekeeping. It now exhibits sculptures of Roman emperors. For dinner, we tried the famous Florentine steak at Ristorante Boccadama in located in the Piazza di Santa Croce. It was seasoned perfectly! Continue reading

Travels in Belgium: Brugge (June 4-5, 2014)

Brugge Main Square

Attractions:

  • Historical Market Square
  • Lace Jewel shop
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Belfry overlooking the market square
  • Canal boat cruise
  • Church of Our Lady with Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child
  • Memling Museum at St. John’s Hospital and Apothecary (Sint-Janshospitaal and Apotheek)
  • Groeingemuseum and Arentshuis

The sounds of hooves pounding echo on the cobbled stones. From our sheltered carriage, we watch the passersby and the medieval buildings along the canals zip by. Our carriage rounds the bend and stops at Lover’s Lake. Swans and ducks mill around the area, herding their young and gliding along the canal’s murky waters. It is a romantic haven for those who enjoy watching people and nature in harmony.

Lake of Love

During our tour, we stayed two nights in Brugge (Flemish) or Bruges (French and English)—a picturesque town that once was an important cloth market in the 14th century until the economy went downhill in the 16th century. Today, it is a thriving historical center. During our first night, we went on a galloping ride through the town in a horse-drawn carriage towards Lover’s Lake, where we stopped for pictures. Continue reading