Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Vinci, Italy - birthplace of Leonardo

This photo was taken from the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, Italy. It is located in the Florence Province of Tuscany. Vinci is actually where Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 (hence the name "da Vinci" or "from Vinci" - since he was an illegitimate child, he was not able to take his father's last name). A little background information for those who don't already know exactly what that Leonardo da Vinci is so famous for: he is a primary example of a "Renaissance Man", otherwise known as polymath - is a person who excels in multiple fields, particularly in both arts and sciences. He is known to have been not only an engineer and an artist, but also an anatomist and physiologist just to name a few of his other other fields of expertise. I consulted Wikipedia to get some more detailed facts: "Leonardo is famous for his paintings, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, as well as for influential drawings such as the Vitruvian Man. He designed many inventions that anticipated modern technology, such as the helicopter, tank, use of solar power, the calculator, etc., though few of these designs were constructed or were feasible in his lifetime"
Although most of Leonardo's inventions were not built during his lifetime, IBM has helped make little models, which are on display at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Guidi Castle in Vinci, Italy. The museum also has copies of his drawings, however does not have any of his original works. I found this rather strange, but the museum was definitely still worth visiting. The town was very quiet unlike nearby Florence, which is bustling with tourists at all times of the year. Somehow Vinci doesn't quite make it to most tourists' itineraries. Sometimes I like to go to these less touristy places to get an idea of how their inhabitants actually spend their days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sunset in La Spezia, Italy

Spectacular colors on a special coastline. These intense red-oranges and yellows that blend into deep blue daytime tones are found only on the clearest winter days in Liguria, since it is generally rather hazy there. It's defnitely not your tropical island sunset, but Italian sunsets can surely hold their own. This shot was taken of La Spezia from Tellaro.

The Liguria Region is made up of 4 Provinces: (starting from France) Imperia, Savona, Genova, La Spezia. La Spezia the part of Liguria that borders Tuscany, and has notable similarities, such as the abundant pine trees almost surrounding the large, vast beaches. The Cinque Terre are found in this province - about halfway between Genoa and La Spezia - and are part of a National Park which includes all five of the lands (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore), Portovenere, and 3 small islands just off the coast (Palmaria, Tino, Tinetto). It has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

This is the view from the San Pietro Church in Portovenere (Portovenere is very close to La Spezia). There is a memorial outside the church dedicated to Lord Byron (the poet) who is said to have swum from this exact spot to the Cinque Terre.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ala di Stura - Valli di Lanzo - Torino

As you may be able to see in the second picture, Ala di Stura is 58 km from the city of Torino (it is in the Province and Region of Turin). It is not far from where the Olympics took place, although hardly anybody has ever heard of this tiny town tucked away in the Valli di Lanzo (Lanzo Valleys). Not much is known about its origins other than the fact that it existed during the Middle Ages - it is mentioned in a document that dates back to 1267. There is supposedly a great waterfall in Ala di Stura, but we were not able to get to it because the snow was too deep to venture that way.

The snow shoes, tea pots and buckets hanging on the outside of "Caffe Maronero" are interesting (first photo). The style really makes it clear that you are in the mountains. The houses there (like most other buildings in the Italian mountains) is more similar to the Northern European architecutre and so different than ones you find just slightly closer to Turin. It was very surprising for me to see how different the lifestyle is just a little under 40 miles from Turin!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sestri Levante, Italy

Since I spend most weekends at my house in Sestri Levante, it seems fitting that the first real post on my blog is dedicated to this quaint town. While Portofino and the Cinque Terre are probably the most well known destinations on the Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante is a favorite among Italians. In the past few years, it has become almost impossible to walk in town on the weekends. The narrow streets are packed with people that come for a weekend stroll and stop leisurely check out the trendy shop windows or to get an ice cream or piece of focaccia. Note: the focaccia you find in Liguria is like no other focaccia you will ever eat. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by in Recco to try their specialty: Focaccia al formaggio. It is made with stracchino (a very soft, mild cheese), which is spread between almost paper thin dough. My favorite is focaccia pizzata, which adds just a touch of red sauce, capers and olives on top. One of the most famous restaurants for focaccia al formaggio is Manuelina, but if you don't feel like having a meal you can probably find it in just about any bakery in Recco.

Getting back to the topic of this post, I will just give a brief description of the photo I put up in the test post. It is the peninsula of Sestri Levante, with its beautiful Baia del Silenzio (also known as "Portobello").

Check back soon for more photos of Sestri and many other places in Italy!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sestri Levante photo

This is a photo of Sestri Levante's beautiful Baia del Silenzio, otherwise known as Portobello. More posts coming soon!

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