A View From the Way to Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy.

The Weekly Travel Postcard – Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy.

A view from the Way to Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy. You can see river Sesia flowing at the bottom of the mountain.

A view from the Way to Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy. You can see river Sesia flowing at the bottom of the mountain

Here is an amazing view from the way to Sacro Monte di Varallo (Sacred Mountain of Varallo), in Italy. It is a very beautiful place I have visited a few years ago. At the top of the Sacro Monte is a sanctuary with a magnificent view on the surrounding mountains and the town of Varallo Sesia in the province of Piedmont, in northern Italy.

This religious complex founded in XVth century (1491) by Franciscan Bernardino Caimi is the oldest so called “Sacro Monte” and was the inspiration for creating many similar places of devotion.

It is situated on a natural terrace on side of Monte Tre Croci (the mountain of 3 crosses), at the altitude of  600 m above sea level and 150 m above the old town of  Varallo.

Beside the main church there are many smaller chapels displaying live-size figures depicting the last days of life on Earth, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The figures are really well done with very natural facial expressions and lots of details. I am attaching one sample depicting Jesus Christ falling under the cross.

Jesus Christ falling under the cross, Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy.

Jesus Christ falling under the cross, Sacro Monte di Varallo, Italy.

I will probably write more about this place in the future.

I am just getting ready for my travel to Europe and will try to keep this blog going as long as I will have access to the Internet. Stay tuned and subscribe to my Light Vision blog so you won’t miss future updates.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding some of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles and postcards soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Milan , Italy.
  2. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  4. Lake Garda, Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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A Weekly Travel Postcard – Another View from Locarno, Italy.

A Weekly Travel Postcard – Another View on Lake Maggiore, Locarno Area.

Lake Maggiore, Locarno area, Italy.

Lake Maggiore, Locarno area, Italy.

Here is another view on Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) in Italy. You can also see my other postcard from this place in my previous post. I will write more about my stay there, to stay tuned and subscribe /follow my blog, so you won’t miss future updates. While in this area, we have visited very interesting place unique to XV century culture of this region – Sacro Monte – an original looking sanctuary with life-size figures.

I am sorry I write here less often, but I am very busy at the moment getting ready for my trip to Europe. I will try to write much more once there, if only I will be able to connect to the Internet.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Milan , Italy.
  2. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  4. Lake Garda, Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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A Weekly Travel Postcard – Locarno, Northern Italy.

A Weekly Travel Postcard – Locarno, Italy.

Locarno in northern Italy.

Locarno in northern Italy.

Here is my Weekly Travel Postcard for you from Locarno in northern Italy. I will be writing more about Locarno area soon so stay tuned by following/subscribing to my blog.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Certosa di Pavia – religious complex with beautiful church and monastery, Italy.
  2. Milan , Italy.
  3. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  4. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  5. Lake Garda, Italy.
  6. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  7. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  9. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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A Weekly Travel Postcard – Parma Area, Northern Italy.

A Weekly Travel Postcard from the Province of Piacenza, Italy.

A house in Parma area, province of Piacenza in Northern Italy.

A house in Parma area, province of Piacenza in Northern Italy.

Today I would like to present to you as a Weekly Travel Postcard one of my pictures taken in a little village close to Parma, in the province of Piacenza in Northern Italy.  It is located pretty close to the Certosa di Pavia I have already told you about in my previous article.

I have noticed this interesting looking house, typical to this region, during our evening walk from the hotel where we have stayed overnight. The houses here are mostly build from brick and some natural stones. As you can see even a fence was constructed in the same way. The roof is made of reddish-orange clay tiles, as most of the roofs in Italy. There are grapes growing in a sunny spot in the garden and some red hollyhocks along the fence. Climbing roses would be typical to this area, as well as wisteria. I thought it was a nice, charming house and I took a picture.

It is a very quiet area with lots of fields around and just a few houses. Many of them have beautiful flowers, blooming trees and shrubs in the garden and in front of the house.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Certosa di Pavia – religious complex with beautiful church and monastery, Italy.
  2. Milan , Italy.
  3. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  4. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  5. Lake Garda, Italy.
  6. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  7. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  9. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Certosa di Pavia Monastery Complex in Northern Italy.

Tourists approaching the church in Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Tourists approaching the church in Certosa di Pavia Complex, Italy.

As I have already mentioned to you in my recent weekly postcard, when I was in Italy a few years ago, I have also visited beautiful old monastery Certosa di Pavia. It is a monastery and church complex in northern Italy located near a small town with the same name, 8 km north of Pavia and about the same distance from the capital of Lombardy region, Milan (Milano).

Approaching the Certosa di Pavia complex from the main entrance. Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Approaching the Certosa di Pavia complex from the main entrance. Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

My Impressions from Visiting this Church and Monastery.

I was quite impressed with the sophisticated beauty of this church and monastery area and particularly by very elaborate church facade and general design of the complex, including 2 beautiful cloisters. The inside of the church is also very elegant and I especially liked the Gothic design of the church structure, as well as impressive Renaissance style tombs with life size marble figures, which almost looked as they were just asleep.

Certosa di Pavia, front of the church. Northern Italy.

Certosa di Pavia, front of the church. Northern Italy.

Unfortunately the monk who let us into the church didn’t allow us to take any pictures inside. I found it very strange since photography is allowed in most of Italian churches which often contain even much greater works of art. Besides a lot of art in this church was made of stone, so I don’t think it could be harmed by being photographed.  Of course because pictures were not allowed, I have not enjoyed visiting this church as much as I could. I am sorry I can not show you any pictures of interior of this building to encourage you to visit it as well.

Tourists admiring front of the church in Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Tourists admiring front of the church in Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Luckily taking pictures was permitted once we have exited the church and proceeded to admire two nearby beautiful cloister areas, as well as visited a sample cell of a monk. The cloisters are really beautiful with a view onto the church, where we have admired additional arches rising along its structure. It was also interesting to see how monks once lived. Each one of them had a separate simple room with basic furniture. I like the interesting design of a folding table with when folded back was covering several shelves inside a solid wall. Each cell had a fireplace to keep the occupants warm during colder part of the year. If front of each cell was a small garden where monks were growing a variety of vegetables, medicinal herbs and fruits, or could just enjoy the nature and meditate.

Details of the front of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Details of the front of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

After leaving the cloisters, we went to visit a store run by monks from this monastery, located in one of buildings within the complex. They were selling there some souvenirs, including herbs and herbal liquors. I have purchased one of them which was supposed to be good as aperitif for a digestion. I have tried some Italian “apperitivo” also called “amaro” or “amaretto” before and they were very good, but the one I have purchased there was so bitter I was not able to drink more than about 1/2 teaspoon. It still have it as a curiosity from this trip and let some brave guest try it if they like to experience it. Perhaps it is good for the liver and digestion, but I wish the monk who has sold it to me would worn me about its so bitter taste. It would be a good idea to let visitors taste the herbal liquors first, so they could buy what they were looking for. Some more friendly attitude of the monks towards tourist would certainly help with sales and attracting more visitors to this beautiful religious complex.

One of the building in the complex where the giftstore is located. Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

One of the building in the complex where the giftstore is located. Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

The History of this Religious Complex.

The main entrance to the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

The main entrance to the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

The building of Certosa di Pavia religious complex was initiated in 1396 when the lord and the first Duke of nearby Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, has commissioned its building to the architect Marco Solari, who was also a chief of the works of the amazing Milan Cathedral (Duomo of Milan). 

Details of the front of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Details of the front of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Gian Galeazzo Visconti has chosen this location as Visconti’s family mausoleum, to be placed inside the church. The complex was located on the border of a big hunting area belonging to the Visconti family. Certosa di Pavia is one of the largest monasteries in Italy and probably one of the most beautiful. The church initially designed by Marco Solari in Gothic style, was later redesigned, in then wildly spread in Italy, Renaissance style and finally consecrated about 100 years later in May, 1497After Marco Solari, 2 other Solari’s family architects have worked on the church redesigning it in Renaissance style – Marco’s son – Giovanni Solari directed the work on the church from 1428 to 1462, and he was followed by his son – Guiniforte Solari. Giovanni Solari also had another son – Francesco, who also was an architect.  After the architects from Solari family, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo continued directing the work on the church. He was Francesco’s Solari’s student.  The lower part of the facade was finally completed about 10 years after the consecration of the church – in 1507.

A view on one of the cloisters and side of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

A view on one of the cloisters and side of the church, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

It is interesting that the monks from Carthusians order (founded by St. Bruno), who were placed in the monastery and were taking care of the church, had a contract with Visconti in which they have promised not only to take a good care of the complex, but also use part of the revenue from the lands they obtained from Duke to improve it. They kept their promise and over the centuries have worked not only on maintaining it but have also added many works of art.

A details from cloister area, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

A details from cloister area, Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

Later the church and monastery was in the possession of Austria, various monks orders and Italian State.  Carthusians have lost it when in 1782 Emperor Jospeh II of Austria was taking possession of many monasteries in Italy and expelled the Carthusians from the complex. In 1784 the monastery and the church was in the hands of the Cistercians order and then under care of the Carmelites from 1789. They were there for about 20 years, when in 1810 the monastery was closed till finally the Carthusians got it back about 33 years later in 1843, so almost after 60 years from the time they were expelled.

Angel with swan and dolphins fountains in one of the cloisters area, Cetosa di Pavia, Italy.

Angel with swan and dolphins fountains in one of the cloisters area, Cetosa di Pavia, Italy.

In about next 23 years they have lost it again since in 1866 Italian State has declared the complex a National Monument and sequestrated it. In the meantime some Benedictines monks lived there till 1880. Currently the monks living in the monastery are from Cistercians order and they are there since the 1960s.

The Copyright Info.

Old lavatory in one of the cloisters area. Certosa di Pavia, Italy

Old lavatory in one of the cloisters area. Certosa di Pavia, Italy.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please subscribe to this blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

Inside of a monk's cell with cleverly designed folding table and fireplace on the side to keep occupants warm. Certosa di Pavia monastery, Italy.

Inside of a monk’s cell with cleverly designed folding table and fireplace on the side to keep occupants warm. Certosa di Pavia monastery, Italy.

 

A view from one of the cloisters area, Certosa di Pavia religious complex, northern Italy.

A view from one of the cloisters area, Certosa di Pavia religious complex, northern Italy.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Milan , Italy.
  2. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  4. Lake Garda, Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Weekly Travel Postcard – Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Weekly Travel Postcard – Lake Maggiore, Italy.

A view on Lake Maggiore, in northern Italy.

A view on Lake Maggiore, in northern Italy.

Here is my Weekly Travel Postcard – Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) in Italy. I was in this area almost 3 years ago and it is really great looking place perfect for summer vacation. You can enjoy there a variety of sports, hiking and exploring the nearby towns admiring monuments, shopping, or just relaxing walking along the lake and seating in numerous restaurant, bars and cafes.  I will write more about this place to stay tuned and subscribe to/follow my blog, so you won’t miss future updates.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Milan , Italy.
  2. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  4. Lake Garda, Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Weekly Postcard – Certosa di Pavia Monastery, Italy.

 

Here is my weekly postcard for you. This picture of  little angel with stylized dolphins comes from Certosa di Pavia Monastery in Italy.  I plan to write more about this interesting and beautiful place soon, so stay tuned. You can subscribe or follow my blog to receive automatic updates.

 

Little Angel Fountain in Certosa di Pavia Monastery, Italy.

Little Angel Fountain in Certosa di Pavia Monastery, Italy.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Milan , Italy.
  2. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  4. Lake Garda, Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Visiting Milan – Milano, Italy.

While in Northern Italy a few years ago, I have also visited Milan (Milano in Italian). I have been there before, but this time I was able to see more of the Milan Cathedral.

About Milan – General Info.

Milan, the capital of Italian province Lombardy, is one of the biggest and richest Italian cities and it fact also the second richest city in the European Union, following Paris. The population of Milan is 1,369,000 and including Metropolitan area it is more than 4 millions. This European city is not only famous for its monuments, particularly magnificent Milan Cathedral and The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, but as a center of art, especially opera, and it’s also leading in fashion, commerce, education and tourism attracting about 9 millions visitors per year.

Milan’s climate is humid, subtropical or temperate oceanic and similar to most of the Northern Italy’s inland plains, with hot, humid summers and cold, foggy winters.  Despite this fact, it seems there is less rain than in many other European cities because the nearby Alps and Apennines mountains form a natural barrier protecting the city from bad weather coming from the North and the sea. During the winter temperatures can fall below Zero (0 °C -32 °F) and snow is possible.

 Sforza Castle ( Castello Sforzesco).

One of the entrances leading to the Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

One of the entrances leading to the Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

We have started our visit by passing through the gates leading to the Sforza Castle area (in Italian Castello Sforzesco). The castle was build in 15th century by Francesco Sforza, who was a duke of Milan and it stands on the remains of the 14th century fortifications. It was enlarged and renovated in 16th and 17th centuries and at that time it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. It went through further renovations around the end of 19th and at the beginning of 20th century under the direction of and Italian architect Luca Beltrami.  Presently the castle hosts several city’s museums and art collections.

Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

 

Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

Sforza Castle area, Milan, Italy.

La Scala Opera (Teatro alla Scala).

We have continued our tour passing by the famous La Scala Opera (Teatro alla Scala) and visiting adjacent to it La Scala Museum.  La Scala is classic style building erected between 1776 and 1778. It was renovated in 1907, with a current layout and the total of almost 2,000 seats.  The building was severely damaged during the World War II because of heavy bombing  in 1943. Fortunately La Scala was rebuilt and it reopened in May 1946,

Many of the greatest opera artists and other famous singers have performed in this classic style building during the last 200 years.  La Scala is not only one of the most famous opera theaters, but also many of the best ballets in the world have appeared there. The building is hosting La Scala Theater Chorus, La Scala Theater Ballet and La Scala Theater Orchestra and attached to it Museo Teatrale alla Scala.

A streetcar in frond of La Scala Opera, Milan, Italy.

A streetcar in frond of La Scala Opera, Milan, Italy.

Leonardo da Vinci in Milan.

We were passing by Piazza della Scala admiring a monumental sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci.

Piazza della Scala with the monument depicting Leonardo da Vinci.

Piazza della Scala with the monument depicting Leonardo da Vinci.

As I have mentioned, Leonardo has created in Milan one of his most famous paintings – The Last Supper  It was painted  between 1495–1496 and commissioned by Leonardo’s patron – Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie.  The painting depicts the last meal of Jesus Christ with his apostles in the moment when he said: “One of you will betray me”.  The consternation his words have caused is well visible in the gestures and facial expressions of his companions, as you can see in the image of this painting below.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy. This photograph is a courtesy of Wikipedia, public domain.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

While walking towards the Milan Cathedral, we have passed through the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Its glass dome and cast iron roof covers the street connecting Piazza della Scala with Piazza del Duomo, where the Milan Cathedral is located. It is beautifully designed and hosting many elegant stores, bars, restaurants and cafés.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a great architectural achievements of its time. It was one of the first shopping malls and the biggest of the kind when it was build. It was designed in 1861 and constructed under the direction of Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.

Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

Under the top of the dome there are some beautiful large scale paintings.  On the ground under the central octagonal dome, there are four mosaics depicting the coat of arms of the three capital cities of the Kingdom of Italy (Turin, Florence and Rome), as well as Milan’s. The mall was pretty crowed when I was there. It is very popular meeting place not only for local people, but also admired by many tourists and a great passage way between two major important Milan’s landmarks.

Allegoric paintings and sculptures under the dome of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

Allegoric paintings and sculptures under the dome of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

 

A closer look at one of the frescos under the dome of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

A closer look at one of the frescos under the dome of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

 

Another painting under the dome of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

Another painting under the dome of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

The Milan Cathedral.

Finally we have arrived at the Piazza del Duomo and were able to see the magnificent Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano).

A view on the Milan Cathedral from Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Italy.

A view on the Milan Cathedral from Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Italy.

This Gothic style cathedral is really an amazing work of art with was build over almost 600 years under the direction of various architects. The construction of the church started  in 1386 and it was finally considered completed in 1965, when it was officially inaugurated on January 6th. However the work on the cathedral is not really done since even now there are some unfinished details to be completed, and in the meantime the church needs some repairs. When I was there about 4 years ago, I have seen some construction going on the roof.

The facade of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

The facade of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

This cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity (Santa Maria Nascente). It is the largest church in Italy, even larger than the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and it is the fifth largest in the world.

A view from the roof of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

A view from the roof of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

I am very impressed with the design of this cathedral. It is amazing that despite the fact that it was build over almost 6 centuries and under the direction of so many architects and following a variety of designs, the cathedral looks quite uniform and harmonious.  I was also amazed to see so many elaborate details, especially those constructed at so great height. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to create so many works of art and other architectural details working on such huge size building. It is great that it is possible to even go onto the roof of this church to admire artistic details and to see a wonderful view of the city.

Another view from the roof of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

Another view from the roof of Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

 

A view from the roof of Milan Cathedral on the Piazza dell Duomo and the Gallery of Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

A view from the roof of Milan Cathedral on the Piazza dell Duomo and the Gallery of Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy.

 

Tourists on the roof of Milan's Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

Tourists walking on the roof of Milan’s Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

Finally it was time to leave and I descended from the cathedral to the Piazza del Duomo.

Tourist on Piazza del Duomo in front of the Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

Tourist on Piazza del Duomo in front of the Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy.

Is Milan Worth Visiting and How to Get There.

Milan is certainly worth visiting and easily reached by a variety of public transportation, or just driving on major highways. It is one of the most important European transport nodes and it has five major railway stations, including Milan Central Station, which is one of the busiest railway stations in Italy. Since 2009 there are also two high speed trains lines between Milan, Rome Naples and Turin, allowing considerably shortening the travel time between these cities.

Milan has 3 international airports, with the main Malpensa International Airport, the second busiest airport in Italy. It’s located 45 km (28 mi) from central Milan, but it connects to the city by the “Malpensa Express” railway service.  With the rapid transportation system in Milan consisting of the network of underground trains, buses and streetcars, it is very easy to move around the city by public transportation.

Please allow enough time to visit Milan since there are so many interesting things to see. Just exploring the view of  the cathedral will take you at least a few hours, especially if you would like to go onto the roof. You need to buy a ticket and there could be big lineups, especially if you will go there during the summer.

What I wish there would be more of in Milan are benches where one can just sit and relax. I think there should be many of them along the streets and on squares, particularly those with attract so many tourist each year.  Right now it seems very hard to find a place one can just comfortably sit down, unless you go inside a church or into some bars or restaurants.

The Copyright Info and Following this Blog.

This article and all photographs in this blog post are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding some of the pictures from this article and many more images from Italy to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and seeing my photographs from this beautiful part of of Italy.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Mantua, Italy.
  2. Visiting Lake Garda, Italy.
  3. Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona, Italy.
  4. City of Lugano, Switzerland, on the border with Italy.
  5. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  6. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  8. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – Part 1 and Part 2 on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Weekly Travel Postcard – Milan Cathedral, Italy.

Weekly Travel Postcard Series.

I would like to start posting here once per week some of my best travel pictures, which I will present to you as Weekly Travel Postcard. Here is the first one.

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Italy.

This first Weekly Travel Postcard depicts the view of the roof of Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Italy.  It certainly is amazing work of art. I plan to write an article and post many more photographs from Milan on this blog so stay tuned.  I encourage you to subscribe to Light Vision blog to receive automatics updates.

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Italy.

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Italy.

The Copyright Info.

All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding most of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Mantua – the Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  3. Lake Garda, Italy.
  4. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  5. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  6. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – on my Vibrant Garden blog.

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Visiting the Historic Mantua, Italy – “Sleeping Beauty” – Very Significant City During the Renaissance Period.

One of the main features of the old town of Manuta - Palazzo Ducale standing on Piazza Sordello, Italy.

One of the main features of the old town of Manuta – Palazzo Ducale standing on Piazza Sordello, Italy.

While I was traveling in Northern Italy a few years ago, I have also visited a historic city of Mantua (in Italian Mantova) located in Po Valley, almost the equal distance between Venice (Venezia) and Milan (Milano) and very close to Verona. The old part of Mantua was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site. I have spent there only a few hours and was able to see some of the most important historic landmarks of this town.

Mantua, located in the Lombardy region of Italy,  is quite well preserved, full of historic building, works of art and other monuments, but somehow it is not really very popular and crowded with tourists, as many other historic places in Italy. Some local people even call Mantua “Bella addormentata” – the Sleeping Beauty. Indeed the city seems a bit asleep with lack of crowds and all these historic buildings, which seem as they were frozen in time.  You might remember that Mantua is actually the town where Romeo, from William Shakespeare’s  “Romeo and Juliet” story, was banished for killing Tybalt.

By the way, Lombardy (Lombardia in Italian),  one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy, is situated in the North-West of the country. With the surrounding mountains, many alpine lakes and numerous monuments, Lombardy is one of the most beautiful and richest parts of Italy.  Its surface of 23,861 km2 (9,213 sq mi) makes Lombardy the 4th largest region of Italy. About 10 million people live there, which is around 1/6th of Italy’s population. Lombardy’s capital is Milan and it is the second-largest city in Italy.  It is also a region of famous Italian lakes of glacial origin, which are situated in Lombardy’s  northern highlands. They are lakes Maggiore, Lugano (both shared with Switzerland), Lake Como, Iseo, Idro and finally Lake Garda, which is the largest in Italy. I have visited several of them when traveling in Northern Italy and I have already written on this blog about my visits to Lake Garda and Lugano.

A view on the front of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua from Piazza Sordello, Northern Italy.

Short History of Mantua.

This city has very long and interesting history reaching back to Etruscan times in 6th century BC, and even further to the legendary times around 2000 BC, when it was founded. Etruscans believed that the city was re-founded by Ocno, whose name derives from Mantus, the Etruscan god of the underworld – Hades. The city was conquered by Romans during Punic wars.  They have confused the name Mantus with Manto, a daughter of prophet Tyresia (Tyresias).

Buildings in Ducal Palace complex, Mantua, Italy.

Buildings in Ducal Palace complex, Mantua, Italy.

 

Buildings in Ducal Palace complex, Mantua, Italy.

Buildings in Ducal Palace complex, Mantua, Italy.

The ancient famous poet Publius Virgilius Maro  (Virgil) was born near Mantua in 70 BC.

The city went through many wars being invaded by Goths, Byzantines, Longobards and Franks. In the 11th century it belonged to marquis Boniface of Canossa. The last ruler of this family, the countess Matilde of Canossa, according to legend, has ordered the construction of the oldest still standing church of Mantua’s, “Rotonda di San Lorenzo” (1082). It is believed that this church stands in the place where once the temple of the Roman goddess Venus was located.

You can see this antique church in the picture below. I have visited it and noticed that, as other churches in this Roman style, its intriour is pretty dark since only very little light is able to get in through a few very small windows. There was a little artificial light but not enough to take any good pictures with my camera without using flash or tripod. The church has very little decor and some remains of old frescoes are still visible.

Rotonda di San Lorenzo, Mantua, Italy.

Rotonda di San Lorenzo, Mantua, Italy.

Back to the history of this city, after the death of Matilde, the city was so called “free commune”.  In 1198 Alberto Pitentino has changed the course of the river Mincio creating around the city 4 artificial lakes, which reinforced its natural protection from possible outside invaders.

Exploring the ineriour courtyard of Palazzo Ducale area in Mantua, Italy.

Exploring the ineriour courtyard of Palazzo Ducale area in Mantua, Italy.

One of the most prominent families related to this city is Gonzaga, who ruled Mantua for more than 200 years, starting in the 14th century.  Under their rule, Mantua had one of its best periods, when it has become an important center of the Renaissance culture and one of the most prominent cities of this era.  During this time many of city’s architectural landmarks and works of art were created. Gonzaga were investing in developing the city directing the creation of many buildings. They were avid art collectors and sponsors attracting numerous artists to Mantua. Many of the monuments still remaining in the city were created, or redesigned during this period.

One of the orchards besides Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, italy.

One of the orchards besides Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, italy.

Weak and vicious Vincenco II was the last ruler from the direct line of Gonzaga family. After his death in 1627, the city slowly declined under the Gonzaga Nevers, a French branch of the family. During the war for the succession over Mantua, in 1630 with the army, a terrible plague was brought to the city.  It was a huge disaster for Mantua and its citizens, from which it has never recovered do the previous splendor. The last ruler from this French Gonzaga’s line, Duke Ferdinand, when escaping from Mantua to Venice after his defeat, carried away about a thousand of pictures. When he died in 1708 he was declared deposed and his family lost Mantua forever.  The new rulers were the Habsburgs from Austria.

A view on the Cathedral of Saint Peter (Saint Pietro) in Mantua, Italy.

A view on the Cathedral of Saint Peter (San Pietro) in Mantua, Italy.

 

Piazza Sordello with the view on the the Cathedral of San Pietro (Saint Peter) in the background, Mantua, Italy.

Piazza Sordello with the view on the the Cathedral of San Pietro (Saint Peter) in the background, Mantua, Italy.

 

Postcards, guidebooks and souvenirs sold on the Piazza Sordello in Mantua, Italy.

Postcards, guidebooks and souvenirs sold on the Piazza Sordello in Mantua, Italy.

Mantua had again some good period when it was ruled by them and it was then, when the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, the Scientific Theater and many palaces were build. During Napoleon wars it was shortly part of France and in 1814 it again belonged to Austria.

"Torre dell' Orologio" (Clock Tower) at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy.

“Torre dell’ Orologio” (Clock Tower) at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy.

 

A close-up of the "Torre dell' Orologio" at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy. This is a very interesting clock from the XIV century, which not only shows time of the day, but also many astrological aspects. It moves through lunar phases, celestial spheres, planets and zodiac signs. It was very popular and had great influence on human life of this era helping people to determine when to sow seeds, bottle wine, get married or travel. This clock was one of the first mechanical clocks which was build.

A close-up of the “Torre dell’ Orologio” at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy. This is a very interesting clock from the XIV century, which not only shows time of the day, but also many astrological aspects.  It moves through lunar phases, celestial spheres, planets and zodiac signs. It was very popular and had great influence on human life of this era helping people to determine when to sow seeds,  bottle wine, get married or travel.  This clock was one of the first mechanical clocks which was build.

 

A detail from the "Torre dell' Orologio" at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy.

A detail from the “Torre dell’ Orologio” at the Piazza di Erbe, Mantua, Italy.

 

After further wars for the Italian independence and unification of the country, finally in 1866  Mantua was united with Italy by the king of Sardinia.

The house of a merchant Boniforte da Concorezzo, build in the middle of XV-th century. It was one of the most beautifully decorated houses I have seen in the Mantua's Old Town.

The house of a merchant Boniforte da Concorezzo, build in the middle of XV-th century. It was one of the most beautifully decorated houses I have seen in the Mantua’s Old Town.

 

Close-up of some details from the house of a merchant, Old Town, Mantua, Italy.

Close-up of some details from the house of a merchant, Old Town, Mantua, Italy.

One of the Most Beautiful Mantua’s Churches – the Basilica of Sant’Andrea.

One of the buildings I was the most impressed with when visiting Mantua, was the Basilica of Sant’Andrea. It is a Roman Catholic church and cocathedral. It is one of the most important works of architecture of 15th century Renaissance era in  Northern Italy. The building of this church was commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga and started in 1471 following the design of famous architect Leon Battista Alberti,  one year before his death. This site was previously occupied by a Benedictine monastery, of which the bell tower from 1414 still remains. The building of the Sant’ Andrea basilica was finally completed 328 years later.  When designing this church, Alberti was inspired by the Roman basilicas  and triumphal arches, which he incorporated into the facade and interiour design. His project of this church has become an inspiration for many architects and designs of churches that followed.  Despite changes and addition done to the design after Alberti’s death, the basilica is considered as one of Alberti’s most important works. It looms over the Piazza Mantegna.

I was particularly impressed with very elaborate relief around the doors of this church. It was depicting mythological events and many animals were presented in great detail, as you can see in several of my pictures below.  I was not able to find information who has designed this door. Was it Alberti or somebody else?

A beautiful door leading to the Basilica of Sant'Andrea on Piazza Mantegna in Mantua, Italy. You can see many detail from the relief surrounding this door below.

A beautiful door leading to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea on Piazza Mantegna in Mantua, Italy. You can see many detail from the relief surrounding this door below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interiour of the church was also very impressive and elaborate, but the dim light and only short time I was able to spent there, didn’t allow me to take pictures good enough to present them here.

Is Mantua Worth Visiting?

To summarize, Mantua, even if not as famous as some near-by cities like Milan, Venice or Verona, is certainly worth visiting, especially if you already are in Northern Italy. It could make a great day trip from Lake Garda, Milan or Verona.  There are many more interesting places to see there, which I was not able to visit myself in the short time I was in this city. Perhaps I will be able to return to explore it further.

The Copyright Info.

This article and all photographs in this blog post are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding some of the pictures from this article and many more images from Italy to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and seeing my photographs from this beautiful part of of Italy.  I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.

You May Also Like to Read:

  1. Visiting Lake Garda, Italy.
  2. Sanctuary of Madonna Della Corona, Italy.
  3. City of Lugano, Switzerland, on the border with Italy.
  4. Gardens of Versailles, France.
  5. Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  6. Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
  7. Niagara Parks Botanical GardenPart 1 and Part 2 on my Vibrant Garden blog.

 

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