Tag Archives: 2016


Ballenberg is an open museum with a 100 original, century-old buildings from all over Switzerland, original gardens and fields. It is a working museum where people are in period, bake break, make sausages, make cheese and pretend they live in the centuries past. There are also 250 domestic animals on display as well.  This is […]

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This is the last stop in Switzerland.  Apparently I can’t count to 5 so I booked us in for 4 nights. Needless to say a day before check out we needed to find a room for one more night.  Booking.com to the rescue and this is how we ended up in this village.  Dating back […]

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Thun is a small city of about 45,000 residents.  The area of what is now Thun was inhabited since the Neolithic age mid 300 BC. Like most Europe and Switzerland it was conquered by Rome in 58BC.  In 1819 a Military School was founded in the city, which later developed into the main military school in […]

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Lausanne Cathedral

The construction of the  Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne began as early as 1170 by an original unknown master mason. Twenty years later another master mason restarted construction until 1215. Finally a third engineer, Jean Cotereel, completed the majority of the existing cathedral including a porch, and two towers, one of which is the current […]

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The city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva, 62 kilometres northeast of Geneva. Lausanne has a population  of 146,372, making it the fourth largest city in Switzerland. Lausanne is a focus of international sport, hosting the International Olympic Committee, which recognizes the city as the “Olympic Capital”. Since 1994 the Court of Arbitration for Sport and some 55 international sport associations […]

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Magdalena Hermitage

Directly overlooking the Lake Schiffenen is a carved out cave measuring 120 meters which was chiseled out in the rock by two hermits around 1700.  The floor, as it was recently discovered, is actually a fossilized sandstone dune from prehistoric times. The dwelling in the cliff was later expanded to its current size by the hermit Johann Dupré and his […]

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Fribourg Cathedral

The Gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Fribourg  dominates the centre of the medieval town. The main church was started in 1283 and completed by 1430. The tower was completed in 1490. It is 76 metres tall and houses 11 bells.  Originally a parish church, in 1945 it became the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva […]

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Fribourg is located on both sides of the river Saane, and is an important economic, administrative and educational centre on the cultural border between German and French Switzerland. Fribourg also has one of the most prestigious universities in Switzerland.  Its Old City, is one of the best maintained in Switzerland. There is a very old funicular […]

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We have arrived in Switzerland.  Once you pass the tunnels and the trains the views open up – no matter where you look the vistas are spectacular.  Interesting note, in Italy, the fastest drivers on the highway are either from Germany or Switzerland.  The posted highway speed is 130km/h the Swiss will do 150 to 160km/h.  The moment […]

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Milan dates back to 400BC.  Today Milan is the 2nd largest metropolitan city in Italy. The population of the city proper is 1.3 million, while its urban area with a population estimated to be about 5.5 million  is the 5th-largest in the EU. Milan is the main industrial and financial centre of Italy, it has the 3rd-largest […]

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Ciao Roma!

The only thing on the agenda for today was to take it easy and relax and eat less. Failed on all three accounts.  We stopped at Eataly, an old train station that has been converted to a 5 story Italian Shop with 18 or so restaurants.  The store has pretty much everything you can imagine […]

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Villa Borghese

Our schedule for today is very relaxed.  A nice stroll through the Borghese gardens towards the Spanish Steps and a bit of shopping.  The Borgheses were  a wool merchant family from  Sienna.  The head of the family, Marcantonio, moved to Rome in 1541 and this Sienese family rapidly gained access to the upper echelons of Roman […]

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Revisiting Rome

After the morning museum trip and an extensive siesta from the unyielding and relentless heat, we set out for a lap around Rome.  Last time we were here the Trevi Fountain was being renovated and cleaned, which apparently is done once every 50 years or so. There are over 2000 fountains in Rome but this one […]

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MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, is a national museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome and is about 5 min walk from the gorgeous apartment we are staying in. The museum was built on the old and decommissioned military compound site.  This spectacular building was designed by Zaha Hadid who passed away this […]

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Villa Cimbrone

Imagine owning the entire mountain top of a peninsula on the Amalfi coast.  Small villa, pool and massive gardens.  Originally built in the 11th century the villa was rebuilt and reconstructed over the years passing from one family to the next.  The most extensive rebuilding and renovation was done at the start of the 20th […]

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Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.  The city was lost and forgotten for about 1500 years.  It was […]

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Path of the Gods

We set out for a short walk, from the village of Agerola to Priano – it turned out to be about 8.5km.  Path of the Gods is one of the most famous and most spectacular trails in Italy with stunning view of the Amalfi coast and its towns, mainly Positano, Priano and Amalfi.  There are […]

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The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state, located on the French Riviera. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco has an area of 2.02 km2  and a population of about 37,800; it is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. […]

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Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard), is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France. The basilica was build on the foundations of an ancient fort. The fort was located at the highest natural elevation in Marseille, a 149 m (490 ft) limestone outcrop on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille. The basilica […]

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Marseille is the oldest continuously inhabited city in France, it is a second largest city in France after Paris and the centre of the third largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon.  Humans have inhabited Marseille and its region for almost 30,000 years, it was the first Greek settlement in France.  It is […]

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After the city folk found their way of the forest, we immediately stopped in the first available town to have some well earned gelato.  Lourmarin is a small village of 1000 people which has been settled for at least a thousand years, and was probably a Neolithic campsite before that.  A dominating fortress was first […]

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Roussillon, Vaucluse

Roussillon is a tiny but a picturesque village of about 1300 residents.  It is famous for the rich deposits of ochre pigments, mostly red, yellow and orange,  found in the clay near the village. The large quarries of Roussillon were mined from the end of the 18th century until 1930. Roussillon is located within the […]

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Today, after lazing around after breakfast, and then lounging by the pool for a couple of hours,  we decided to take a little lavender drive through Provence.  As it turns out we are a bit late to the lavender party as the first harvest has already been taken and the new  flowers are not going to […]

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Aix Cathedral

The cathedral is located on the route of the Roman road, the Via Aurelia. A fragment of a Roman wall and the columns of the baptistery seem to be the origin of the legend that the church was built on top of a Roman temple dedicated to Apollo.  According to the Christian tradition, the first […]

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Aix-en-Provence name comes from a Roman consul, Sixties Calvinus, who gave his name to Aquae Sextiae, “the Baths of Sixties,” a site of thermal springs in 123BC. Aix-en-Provence has about 140,000 residents and is generally considered a university town.  There are great many sights to see here.  The Cours Mirabeau is a wide thoroughfare, planted with […]

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The origin of this town dates back to 800 BC.  More importantly though the town was taken by Romans  in 123 BC and as Romans do they build a lot of cool buildings. The Gallo-Roman theatre, the arena or amphitheatre, necropolis, Arles Obelisk and Barbegal aqueduct and mill to name few.  Most of the old Roman buildings are being […]

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Second stop on the way to the Abbey is the village of Gordes.  We really happened upon it simply because of its spectacular and dominating hill-top presence.  Like most villages in this region, it has strong ties to the Roman empire.  First castle here was built in 1031 and the first abbey in 1148.  The […]

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Bagno Vignoni

Our last tourist stop on this trip is the ancient village of Bagno Vignoni located in the heart of Tuscany, in the Val d’Orcia Natural Park.   At the heart of the village instead of the usual piazza is the “Square of sources” – a huge hot springs pool dating back to the sixteenth-century.  This spot was […]

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Vitaleta Chapel

If you have ever seen a calendar of Tuscany, postcards or even some promotional material chances are you have seen Vitality Chapel in at least one of the pictures.  The chapel of Our Lady of Vitality originally built around 1590 is located on a private property on the road between Pienza to San Quirico d’Orcia and […]

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Back to Siena

This is our third visit to Siena.  We always find something new to see and to do. After two hectic days of driving around and looking at towns and villages today we are taking it easy.  This time around in Siena, we decided to climb the Torre del Mangia which is 88m in height – same […]

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Sant’Anna in Camprena

Sant’Anna in Camprena is in the heart of Tuscany – about 6km from Pienza.  It is a monastery from the 15th century perched on the top of hill with spectacular views of the rolling Tuscan hills.  The buildings are beautiful, the garden is huge and the food is simply amazing.  Having said that this place would be nothing if it […]

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Foiano della Chiana

Relatively speaking this is a large town compared to some of the smaller villages we visited.  There are about 10K people living in Foiano della Chiana today.  This is also an agricultural town which used to be surrounded by marshes on three sides, and not a hill top town like all others.  If it was […]

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Liciagnano is a remarkable preserved medieval walled village of about 3500 people.  It’s strategic high altitude and its location on the road between Sienna and Arezzo meant that between 1200 and 1500AD it was it was continually the subject of battles between these cities, involving also Florence and Perugia.  It is as beautiful as it is picturesque  and it […]

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Monte San Savino

Monte San Savino is a small town of about 8000 people and it is famous for two things.  First, it was one of the first urban settlements in Tuscany, Italy, which  originated around 1100.  Second Giulio Salvadori a poet and a literary critic was born there.  An interesting thing about Salvadori is that he covered to Christianity  in 1885. […]

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Back to Arezzo

Really we are back in Arezzo for views, wine, food and of course gelato.  We found an amazing wine bar with an even more amazing food. Luckily we got the second last table and had a phenomenal lunch.  There must have been no less than 25 to 30 people that were simply turned away because the […]

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Today is day two of – what else can we eat?!, I mean what other wonders of cultural significance can we find on a morning drive across Tuscany.  First stop, Cortona.  Some say the first settlement started 273 years after the great flood.  The earliest recorded history is from the 7th century BC.  Cortona then […]

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Last on the list today was a town of Radicofani. About 1100 people live in this village with has been restored in the 1990.  The village is dominated by a massive fortress on the top of the hill with a 37m tower.  There are two sets of defence walls at the fortress one pentagonal and […]

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Some of the oldest human settlements of central Italy were discovered at the base of Monte Cetona, such as the early neo-Paleolithic Gosto cave (40–80th century BC) and Lattaia cave (9–10th century BC).  The town of Cetona developed around 900 AD around the fortress which to this day is privately own.  Next to the Cetona is a small hill […]

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San Quirico d’Orcia

Today we started a medieval tour of Tuscany.  First stop a small town of San Quirico d’Orcia located half way between Pienza and Montalcino.  The town gain it’s notoriety in medieval times as it was on a pilgrimage route connecting  northern Europe to Rome.  Today the town is a host to a 3 day wine tasting extravaganza where 17 local […]

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Radda In Chianti

Located about 11 km from Castellini in Chianti is an even smaller village of Radda with 1700 inhabitants.  It still takes about 20 min to drive here because the roads are narrow and twisty and suicidal when wet.  The town is nice, the views simply spectacular and my shoes are still soaking wet, and I swear to […]

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Castellina in Chianti

Castellini is a small village in Tuscany located between Florence and Sienna.  The first settlement in the area dates back to 800BC and the current village dates back to 1100s. Perched on the top of a hill and surrounded by olive trees and vineyards this is a quaint little town with great wine, cheese and olive oils which […]

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