Monday, 28 October 2013

Grande Finale

Back to Milano for some additional museums. The train ride was very comfortable. After lunch, went to the roof area of the cathedral. Seeing Gothic architecture up close is impressive.


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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Verde and his Environs

Today we traveled to area where Verde lived and did much of his work. Once he became an established composer, he built a house and took 40 years to complete it. He also acquired large amounts of land to farm.

An unusual sundial on the side of his home.

A theater was built in his honor in his home town, but he never went into it because he thought the money should be spent on schools instead. In fact he appears to have been quit a philanthropist as he funded a home for retired musicians in Milan.

The interior of the very small theater of Buseto.

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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sabbioneta and Mantua

These two towns were the small city states common in the 1500s in Italy. Each ruler built very lavish palaces and had lavish collections of Roman art. As each lost control either through war or lack of a male heir, the collections were disbanded.

A typical ceiling.

Some fresco work.

This hall which is as long as a football field. It was filled with art work. The frescos are still intact.

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On the Trail of Correggio

We spent the day in Parma. The morning was spent at several churches that have ceilings painted by the artist Correggio. He was able to create an interesting perspective that made it appear that you are looking at a very three dimensional scene.

This one is John the Baptist ascending.

Here the use of perspective is even more extreme.

The evening was spent at a concert of Verdi pieces by students at a local conservatory.

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Day for Mosaics

We traded to Ravenna which is on the east coast of Italy. As such it was one of the early Christian sites with churches dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries.
The two we visited were built by the same man and decorated extensively with mosaics. They were hard to photograph because the windows are covered with alabaster which gives a orange light to the interior.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Bolognese and Bologna

We started the day learning how to make the sauce and then tasted it at lunch.

Some of the ingredients.

A lecture on Nabucco, which was very helpful as this opera house did not provide English titles. The singing was great, the staging not so.

The interior.

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Monday, 21 October 2013

Vinegar and Wine

Perhaps an unusual combination, but we spent the morning tasting both. The vinegar was traditional balsamic, one of which was aged for 12 years.

Getting a sample of one of the varieties.

It really goes well with gelato.
Next stop was a winery that produces Lambrusco, a sparkling red. Driving through the country in the fog, the red of the grape leaves provided some color.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Another Day, Another Opera

After the late night, we slowed the pace and traveled to the next town to see a Romanesque church that was part of the pilgrim route to Rome. The exterior has many nice carving that tell the story of Christ as well as the pilgrims.

This is the story of the martyr for whom the church is named. After he was beheaded, he carried it to the site of the church for burial.

The evening was the opera Il Masnadieri (The Bandits) a rarely performed one of Verdi's works. Much shorter and faster moving.

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After an introduction to the opera of the evening, many of us went to Milan early to either do some roaming around or shopping. Must say with the exception of the Cathedral one could be in any major city.

The entrance and main square of Milan.

The interior is equally as impressive, with beautiful stained glass and frescos.
After lunch we headed to the church where Leonardo di Vinci's last supper is located in hopes of getting tickets for later in the trip. No luck, so another attempt at getting them on line.

This was our night for La Scala, which is the opera house where most of Verdi's opera had their premier. A very impressive hall.

As the performance lasted over 4 hours we did not arrive home until 3AM.

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Saturday, 19 October 2013


The first days adventure was to the town of Cremona. It is known for its violins. Stradivarius worked here and there are currently several hundred workshops in town.
The visit included the Violin Museum which has just opened and has some nice interactive displays as well as a very extensive collection of violins from the early makers.
We were treated to a concert using two different ones and even to my tin ear there was a real difference in them.

An interesting sculpture outside the museum.
After a 2 and half hour lunch, we toured the main church in town. A several century building project.

Some statuary above the entrance.
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Friday, 18 October 2013

Our Hotel

After an 8 hour plane ride and 2 hour bus trip, we arrived at our home for the next 12 days. The hotel is basically the village of Tabino. We are the various buildings that would have been the Medival town associated with the feudal castle.

The castle which is the private residences of the owner of the hotel.

A part of the hotel. We are in 3 of the 5 buildings.

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Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Armenian Genocide

Yesterday was a day of contrasts. We started with a visit to the Armenian church equivalent of the Vatican. Had lunch at a workshop for children.
The final stop was the memorial to the 2 million killed in 1915 by the Turks who wanted all ethnic Armenians out of eastern Turkey.

Entrance to the church complex

Rug weaving

The memorial to the Genocide.

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Friday, 10 May 2013

No bus ride today

Today we spent the entire day hiking at one of the ski areas in the lesser Caucas mts. All the spring flowers were blooming and the views were spectacular especially as we could see all the tall peaks in Georgia.

Some spring flowers.

The high peaks of Georgia.

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A Little History

Yesterday was rainy, so we had to change the itinerary and did get back to the gold museum. The pieces rival any from the Egyptian tombs.

Today we visited one of the sites where these pieces came from. It is a city carved from the rock.

The final event of the day was a visit to the Stalin museum in Gori where he was born. Little mention is made of how badly the Georgian people were treated during his time. The day is also the one when the liberation after WWI is celebrated and some of veterans were having lunch where we did.

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Day of Wine and Churches

Today was spent in east Georgia which is the wine producing area of the country. During the Soviet era, wine was a major export. They are trying to reestablish that industry.
Wine according to some history originated in this area. Much of the early history of Georgia is also tied to the area around Tevli, thus the many churches, monasteries, and academic centers.

This church is what remains of a city that was a capital before the Persian invaded the country in the 12th cent.

- Estate of one of the wine producers.

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Monday, 6 May 2013

A hike to a shrine on the hill

Woke up Monday to this view out the window.

The small church is one of oldest original ones in the country and is at about 6000 ft above sea level. We drove up and then walked down.

Skirts were required to enter the chapel, so here we are in the latest fashion.

The route down was filled with wild flowers.

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Up into the Caucas Mountains

Sunday we started the long climb into the Caucas Mts. which form the northern boarder of Georgia, separating it from the Russian state of Chechnya. Even thought the road is a major truck route, in some places it is not really paved.
Along the way we stopped at several historic churches.

- The first capital of Geogia, now a World Heritage site.

The church at this site.
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Off to Georgia and Armenia

The first day started after a brief night. We arrived from Munich on a flight that landed at 4 AM. We then checked into the hotel and "slept" for a couple of hours, had breakfast and the went off to see the sight of the capital Tblisi. Georgia has an interesting history as it sits between Turkey, and Russia. It has been conquered many times, but remains fiercely independent.
The country is very religious and we arrived on the Saturday before Easter, so people were in church.

- Procession to church.
This also meant that several museums we were to see were closed.
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