Newport, Isle of Wight, a Second Look

On the green in the middle of the town stands a memorial to the last little chimney sweep to die here, and just a few miles away a lovely old pub is the site of the last hanging to take place.  I’m in Newport, the main town on the Isle of Wight, sometimes referred to … Continue reading Newport, Isle of Wight, a Second Look

Whitehall Palace – Banqueting Rooms

Mari's Travels with her Camera

To London last week with the British Guild of Travel Writers for our Annual Summer Outing which this year included a visit to the Banqueting House in Whitehall, a tour on a Big London Bus and a Cruise on the River Thames with City Cruises, the boat that allows you to get off at any stop along the route.  The open-top bus tour and the river cruise took place in blazing sunshine and although London sights are familiar, the landmarks and historic sites never fail to thrill.

London Bridge

The Banqueting House is the last surviving part of the Palace of Whitehall*.   It was once the greatest palace of its time in Europe, almost totally destroyed by fire in 1698, but I knew nothing of its history until this visit.

The Great Hall © Historic Royal Palaces/Peter Li
A view of the great hall and its ceiling decorated with paintings by Sir Peter Paul Rubens…

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Whitehall Palace – Banqueting Rooms

a banquet was composed of little snacks and desserts, eaten after diners had finished the main course and were waiting for the entertainment to begin.  A banqueting house was a separate little house or room, highly decorated and situated a short walk away from the main dining hall in order to aid digestion.  The Banqueting House of Whitehall Palace was the biggest and grandest of them all.

In the Footsteps of The Impressionists

Looking through some images last night reminded me of a trip I took a few years ago visiting the places where the Impressionists had painted (sometimes standing exactly where they had stood as they worked), places like Rouen, Honfleur, Etretat and Le Havre in N. France.  The idea behind the trip was to look at … Continue reading In the Footsteps of The Impressionists

Serpotta’s Stucco in Palermo

Palermo is this year’s Italian City of Culture.  The city has stunning architecture, beautiful churches and art that is equal to that in many other parts of Italy, but for me, Palermo's gem is the baroque Oratory of the Rosario in Santa Cita. Tucked away in a back street of the capital, this exuberant masterpiece … Continue reading Serpotta’s Stucco in Palermo

Majolica – Made in Faenza, Italy

Becky’s lovely Tavira vase post reminded me of the beautiful ceramics we saw a few years ago on a trip to Faenza in Italy, the town between Bologna and Florence which produces work of great originality from old, traditional, designs and occasional new designs.  These ceramics go by different names, depending on who is speaking … Continue reading Majolica – Made in Faenza, Italy

The Violin Makers of Cremona

Mari's Travels with her Camera

I went to Cremona last winter and two things from that trip I remember clearly: one was how cold it was, so cold that I had to buy a woollen hat from a street trader who charged me an outrageous €20 for a very inferior product:  the second, but most important, was my meeting with violin maker, Stefano Conia, a master luthier, an intense young man who makes violins with passion, violins that are bought and played by some of the world’s finest musicians.

Cremona has been important in Italy’s cultural life since Roman times, located as it is on the banks of the Po River, a major junction for trade and commerce.  The narrow streets of the city are rich in history, the red brick medieval towers and the Renaissance buildings shading the many statues of its famous sons, Antonio Stradivari and Claudio Monteverdi.

Statue of Claudio Monteverdi, in Cremona Statue of Claudio Monteverdi, in…

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Strasbourg – Cross Roads of Europe

goods from the Baltic, Britain, the Mediterranean and the Far East poured across the borders to be traded for wines, grain and fabrics and just like today, when the languages of the 46 member states can be heard in the squares and streets of the city, traders speaking a dozen different languages, met and conducted business.  People from different countries working together and mingling in Strasbourg’s squares means that the city continues to be the crossroads of Europe.

MONTPELIER, France

If there’s a city in France that can offer more in the way of enjoyment, relaxation, places to visit outside the area, and great sight-seeing inside it, than Montpelier, then I have yet to find it. Often called the sunshine capital of France because of its average of 300 sunny days per year, Montpelier lies just 11 km from the Mediterranean coast.

Rome: View of the Forum at Night

Rome and the Tiber

Castell Sant'Angelo across the Tiber - Photo Mari Nicholson The Tiber has been the soul of Rome since the city’s inception, and it could be said that Rome owes its very existence to this strategically important river on whose banks the first settlements were built.  The two sides of the river are joined by more … Continue reading Rome and the Tiber