Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"Tutte le strade portano a Roma" - Italian proverb.

Rome was once the center of the world. Its construction icons and works of art are the witnesses of a historical past that influenced all eastern civilization. If it was not enough to make it mandatory a visit to the eternal city, differently from other city capitals that not always mirror the culture and way of life of their countries, Rome is the heart of Italy.

The quantity of historical monuments and works of art in museums, churches and basilicas in Rome and in the Vatican is a challenge for the visitors planning capacity, as I could confirm in my visit in May 2006. Although the regions of the center of the city and the ancient center must be explored on foot, the subway or taxis may be used for longer distances.

The Pantheon, in the center of the city, is the most preserved ancient construction of Rome. The building has a cylindrical structure with a huge hemispherical dome (bigger then the Basilica of Saint Peter). The dome has a radius that equals the height of the supporting cylinder. Built as the temple of all gods around 110 AD, it was transformed into a church in the 17th century.

At the top of the dome, the Pantheon has a circular opening - the "oculo" - that lights the interior of the building.

The Pantheon is situated at the Piazza de la Rotonda, surround by typical roman constructions.

The Spanish Steps, close to the Square of Spain, attracts many visitors who like to seat on the steps and watch the time and people go by.

The Fontana de Trevi is the biggest and most famous spring of Rome and is always full of tourists. If possible, the visitor must also visit the spring by night and appreciate the artificial illumination.

A place of combats between gladiators and fights between savage animals, in the ancient times, the Coliseum is till today the most magnificent construction of Rome. It is a unique experience to visit its internal alleys, passages and stairs, where the Romans used to gather and watch the shows.

In the ancient center are situated the ruins and constructions of the Roman Forum, the political, social and commercial center of ancient Rome. Among the ruins are the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Setimo Severo, the foundations of the Basilica Julia and the three remaining columns of the temple of Castor and Polux.

In the ancient center is also situated the Palatino Mount, where Rome may have been founded. It has been, for centuries, the place of residence of Roman emperors and aristocrats.

Close to the ancient center, you can find the monument to Vitorio Emanuele, the first king of the unified Italy.

The Basilica of Saint Peter, with its 186 meters of extension and with a dome of 136 meters of altitude, dominates the Vatican and houses many works of art of artists like Michelangelo and Bernini.

A visit to the Vatican Museum is mandatory. Among the works of art of the impressive collection of the museum are Michelangelo's paintings at the Sistine Chapel and Rafael's paintings on the private chambers of Pope Julio II. The decoration of the various chambers and some construction details surprise the visitor like the decoration of the Vatican library and the double helicoid stair.

The colorful borough of Trastevere - "beyond the (river) Tiber" - has an active night life and a concentration of restaurants and bars.

Rome with its agitated life, historical monuments and remains of the old Roman empire scattered all over the city, is a never ending source of images for the photographer.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


"Gli errori sono necessari, utili come il pane e spesso anche belli: per esempio la torre di Pisa" - Gianni Rodari.

The inclined Tower of Pisa is of the most famous architectural icons of Italy. It is, in fact, the tower bell of an impressive group of buildings of the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) in the city of Pisa.

Pisa is located in the Tuscany region and is just one hour away from Florence, by train. From the central station, the Campo dei Miracoli can be reached by taxi or bus. If you prefer to walk, the distance may be done on foot, as I did in May 2006.

The bell tower (Tower of Pisa), the church (Duomo) and the baptistery are the evidences of a richer era when Pisa dominated the trade in East Mediterranean Sea. This one of the most beautiful group of buildings of Italy, but the tower has been attracting almost an exclusive attention of visitors because of its peculiar inclination.

The tower was built over a sandy soil between the 12th and 14th centuries. The inclination started during construction and reached a critical point in 1995. In a recent work of engineering, the inclination was reduced, making the tower safe again for visitors. It is possible to climb to its top and appreciate the magnificent view.

The visitor that goes to the Campo dei Miracoli, having just the tower of Pisa in mind, will be surprised with the grandiosity and beauty of the baptistery.

If possible, the photographer should reserve a whole day for the Campo dei Miracoli in order to capture the changing of light from dawn to dusk over such interesting group of buildings. The reward is guaranteed.

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"Meglio una cosa fatta che cento da fare" - Florentine proverb.

Florence possesses an impressive collection of works of art of the Renaissance in museums, churches, palaces and squares. Some of these works are icons recognized by all mankind and produced by some of the most famous artists of history. Besides that, the city is in Tuscany, an Italian region famous for its historical traditions and views. Considering all that, I could not leave Florence out of my journey to Italy in May 2006. The historical center of the city is relatively compact and all attractions can by explored on foot.

The Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, with its huge dome, forms with the bell tower and the baptistery a group of buildings that is a symbol of Florence. The church is the fourth biggest of Europe and stands out on the historical center of city.

The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of the social e political life in Florence along the centuries and is always crowded with tourists.

Constructed in the Middle Ages, The Palacio Vecchio is situated at the Piazza della Signoria and houses Florence's city hall, till today. Its majestic tower is one of the symbols of the city.

Among famous statues located at the Piazza della Signoria, like Perseus and The Rape of the Sabine Women, you can find a copy of Michelangelo's David, beside the entrance of Palacio Vecchio, at the exact place the original statue was till 1873.

The original Michelangelo's David, with 5,2 meters of altitude, is inside of the Galleria dell'Accademia. For many visitors, the appreciation of this master piece and icon of mankind is the high point of a visit to Florence.

The Uffizi Museum is the largest art museum of Italy. There you can appreciate the main collection of Italian Renaissance paintings: among them the Birth of Venus and Primavera from Botticelli.

The Pitti Palace, former residence of the Medicis, shows a collection of works of art accumulated by generations of one of the most powerful families of Europe. The palace lies amidst the extensive Boboli Garden, with symmetrical geometrical patterns.

The church of Santa Croce is decorated with frescos of Giotto from the 14th century. There you can find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileu and Maquiavel.

The Arno River cuts Florence and is crossed by many bridges. The oldest of them and the only one that was not destroyed during World War II is the Vecchio Bridge, which houses jewelry stores and is always crowded with tourists.

Not far from the center of the city, you can appreciate views of the Tuscany region with its typical cypress trees and constructions.

From the Piazzale Michelangelo, you can get a special view of the historical center of Florence, specially at the end of the day when it is possible to capture fine images of the Arno River and its bridges, under the light of sunset. Another copy of Michelangelo's David is located at the square.

A visit to Florence is a special opportunity for the photographer, considering its unique gathering of cultural, historical and architectural characteristics.

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"Venezia è come mangiare un'intera scatola di cioccolata al liquore in una sola volta" - Truman Capote.

Venice is a feast for the eyes. The city is unique for its channels, alleys, bridges, "piazzas" and one of the most important collections of works of art in museums, churches and palaces. During some days in May 2006, I had the privilege of visiting Venice and capture some images of this extraordinary city.

Venice is a city to be explored on foot. The transportation by boat must be used for long distances and for visiting the islands of Murano, Burano and Lido.

The San Marcos Square attracts a large number of visitors for its restaurants, live concerts and, mainly, for one of the most astounding groups of architectural icons of mankind. From the top of the bell tower, rebuilt in the 20th century, it is possible to have a 360 degree view of the city.

The Basilica of San Mark is one of the greatest constructions of Europe and mixes architectural styles of the east and west. The interiors are decorated with mosaics of the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Palace of the Doges (Palazzo Ducale), the ancient government headquarters, shows evidences of the rich past of the Venetian Republic in its sumptuous rooms and works of art.

The Great Channel is the main way of communication of the city. It cuts Venice from the Saint Lucia train station to the San Mark Square and it is always full of vaporetos (public transportation), taxi-boats and gondolas.

Two architectural icons of the city are located close to the mouth of the Great Channel: the church of Santa Marial della Salute, in baroque style and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, with its bell tower, which has a privileged view from San Mark Square.

The gondolas and the gondoliers nourish the dreams of the tourists and are a special attraction in Venice.

One of the best programs in the city is to get lost in the maze of alleys. In some parts of the city, away from the hordes of tourists, it is possible to observe the every day life of the Venetians.

At night, the city reveals other enchantments.

Venice possesses a unique architectural style and presents a never ending source of images for the dedicated photographer, who should consider a fine privilege the opportunity of visiting this city.

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