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June 18, 2007

bustling Bologna

Monday, June 18th
First a little more about my hotel. Hotel Porta San Mamolo is quite an interesting hotel. I had to pay close attention when shown to my room and later got lost a couple of times finding it. My room was on the second floor after walking through this maze of outdoor and indoor corridors. As I mentioned earlier, I thought there must have been a mistake as I asked for a single room, but this room was huge! There even was a couch in the room!! I was staying for one night but still there were tons of towels (the fluffy type) and soaps and shower caps, etc. The shower was wonderful and the bed was also huge!

I had been to Bologna a couple of times before; once on a day trip and once for an overnight stop. When making my itinerary this year, I thought about 4 days in Bologna but then decided on wanting one smaller place to stay instead of all cities (since my other stops would be Venice and Rome). I know that one night is definitely not “slow travel” but it would have been six hours and 3 train stops to Cortona and so I chose Bologna as my half way point.

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July 7, 2007

tour of the Clock Tower in Venice

Now to catch up on what I have not yet posted...

One of the highlights of my visit to Venice was my tour of the Clock Tower or Torre dell'Orologio. In order to take this tour, you must make a reservation in advance. Three English tours are offered each day. The cost is 12 euros. There are a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12 people per visit. I had some difficulty with my credit card making my reservation and was fortunate to have Katia to help me with this.

Sunday, June 10th
My tour was not scheduled until Wednesday. I was pretty excited about this tour and headed to see the clock tower early Sunday morning, the day after I arrived in Venice to take a few pictures. I was lucky to get a few shots before the crowds arrived. Here is one of my favorite pictures:

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Wednesday, June 13th
Wednesday morning finally arrived, the day of my Clock Tower tour!! I took a traghetto over to the the Rialto Market area to search out a bar that I read about for some coffee. I was not able to fine it but instead found a great little bar on the corner of Ramo de la Donzela. The only sign I could find was "Wine Bar", which was written on one of those little slates along with a list of drinks and things to eat outside the bar. After having a great coffee and a delicious pastry, I spent a little bit of time at the Rialto Market. I love looking at all the interesting fish and the delicious produce.

I then headed over to the Museo Correr. I arrived about 20 minutes before my tour. I gave my email reservation number to the man at the ticket office and was told that my ticket for the tour would also allow me to visit the Museo Correr. He suggested that I visit for a while and return just before 10am. My plan was to visit this museum in more depth later in the day but since I had a little time before my tour was to start, I entered the museum and spent a little time in a few of the rooms. I will talk more about the museum in a later post as I did return and spend quite a bit of time enjoying the many rooms and items on display.

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July 8, 2007

visit to the Basilica di San Marco

Wednesday, June 13th
After finishing my Clock Tower tour, now that I understood all about the different ways the time was displayed, I wanted to watch the time change and the bell rung by the Mori. I took another little video of the time changing and bell ringing but again, I need to figure out how to do the youtube thing before posting the video.

In addition to the time that is displayed with the numbers on the two wheels (see previous post), there are two more clock faces. The clock face on the front of the tower under the Virgin Mary displays the time of day, the Zodiac sign, and the current phase of the moon:

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The clock face on the back of the tower, which you can see when taking the street to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) I believe only displays the time:

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It was a little after 11 am. I realized there was only a tiny line to get into the Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark's Basilica). I hadn't planned to go into the Basilica as I had been before, but I couldn't resist with such a short line!

My first stop inside was to go up top where the horses are located to get yet another view of the Clock Tower as well as the rest of Piazza San Marco. It was pretty packed but I managed to find a few spots which were not so crowded. For those that don't know, the horses up on the balcony are replicas. The original horses are located inside and with no photos allowed.

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July 10, 2007

views from my 2nd tower of the day

Wednesday, June 13th
The island of San Giorgio Maggiore has always fascinated me.

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I have taken many pictures of this island from afar but I have never actually visited this island. After a wonderful lunch, I headed back to take a vaporetto to finally go into the church that dominates the island and to go to the top of the clock tower.

The vaporetto was a little tricky to find as there were either two or three docks close together (am having difficulty recalling the exact number now) and I was not sure which one would take me to San Giorgio Maggiore. I went to the wrong dock, but was redirected. I still was not sure if I was at the correct dock (which is why I am thinking there must have been three docks) but then saw the route on the board and knew I was in the correct place. The vaporetto for this route did not run as regularly as the others. Fortunately for me the next vaporetto was set to arrive in about 10 minutes. The boat was not too crowded. This allowed me to take some good close up shots of the island.

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July 18, 2007

the Two Towers in Bologna

Monday, June 18th
Bologna is known for its food, its porticoes and its towers. At one point in history, many have said that there were up to 180 towers in Bologna although more recent studies now suggest that the number is closer to 80 - 100 towers. Click here to see a panoramic picture of Bologna in the 11th century. Less than 20 towers remain today.

The two famous towers in Bologna are the Garisenda Tower and the Asinelli Tower. It is pretty difficult to get both towers from top to bottom in one picture. I took this picture on my walk over to the towers from the main piazza in Bologna

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Both of the towers are leaning towers. The Garisenda Tower is shorter, leans more, and is not available for climbing. It is the tower pictured above on the left. The Asinelli Tower is the taller of the two towers, the tower I climbed, and the tower pictured on the right. I have read that there are 498 steps to the top. I lost count on my way up. It definitely was a challenging tower to climb.

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March 29, 2008

"high"~ PhotoHunt

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When reading Leslie's Kaleidoscope post today, I was reminded of PhotoHunt, a cool photo posting idea, and thought I would give it a try.

Photo Hunt was started in March 2006 by TNCHick.com.

"A theme is given each Saturday. Post a photo that best represents the theme. New and old photos welcome."

This week's PhotoHunt Saturday theme is High:


It certainly looks like a long way up!! (Asinelli Tower in Bologna).
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From the top ~ looking down at the Garisenda Tower and the tiny people below.
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August 25, 2008

climbing the tower in Modena

I went to Modena for the first time this summer. The main purpose of my visit was to climb the tower, the Torre della Ghirlandina. If you don't know already, I love climbing towers. I took the one hour train from Bologna on a Sunday morning (the only day of the week that the tower was open for climbing).

I was surprised at how fast I fell in love with Modena. The colors of the buildings were quite similar to the colors of the buildings in Bologna and the architecture styles were also quite similar, but it seemed more open, more peaceful and a lot less crowded than Bologna. I also have to admit that I was a little bit in "city shock" after leaving tiny Acqui Terme and arriving in bustling Bologna a day earlier. Later after visiting a tourist packed Florence, my opinion of Bologna changed. I guess it is all relative. In the end, I loved all three places and oh would I give anything to be in Modena, Bologna, or Florence right now. Lucky Palma, lucky Sandra, lucky Anne, all who are heading back to Italy and will be in one of these three places very soon.

I took tons of photos and have lots to share of my visit to Modena. I will start with my tower photos since that is what drew me to Modena in the first place.

After leaving the train station and stopping in a bar for an espresso and the toilet, I headed for the centro. My heart skipped a beat as I experienced my first views of the tower. I knew in advance that it was being restored and so I was prepared to see it covered.

This first photo shows what the tower would look like if it was not covered.
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I'm not sure who this guy is and what he did to get a statue but I thought it was a cool photo. **Updated by Leslie: Alessandro Tassoni - a noble and a poet, did good works around 1600 in Modena.
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Finally, the Torre della Ghirlandina
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Continue reading "climbing the tower in Modena" »

February 18, 2009

torre degli asinelli ~ Bologna

Torre degli Asinelli ~ Reason #2 why I love Bologna.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love climbing towers. Bologna is not only known for its food, but it is also known for its towers. At one point in history, many have said that there were up to 180 towers in Bologna although more recent studies now suggest that the number is closer to 80 to 100 towers. Click here to see a panoramic picture of Bologna in the 11th century. It must have been amazing living in Bologna with all of these towers! I wonder how many could be climbed. I am guessing many of them, although probably not by the public. If you look carefully, you will notice that one of the towers in the photo looks like it is falling over.

Today, less than 20 towers remain in Bologna. The two most famous two towers are the Tower of the Asinelli (Torre degli Asinelli) or Asinelli Tower and the Tower of the Garisenda (Torre degli Garisenda) or Garisenda Tower. Both of these towers are leaning towers. The Garisenda Tower is shorter, leans more, is not available for climbing. The Asinelli Tower is the taller of the two towers and is the tower I climbed two years ago.

I was thrilled when I finally was going to climb this tower. It was one of the towers on my list to climb since 2000 when I first spent a few hours in Bologna. The Asinelli Tower is a very a challenging tower to climb. I believe there are 498 steps to the top although I can't confirm this as I lost count on the way up. I plan to write a post probably in March sometime about all of the towers I have climbed. I will talk more about how this tower compares to others in my future tower post.

If you want to learn more about these towers, Wikipedia has a nice article called "Towers of Bologna" and the New York Times has a Frommer's Review article called "Tower of the Asinelli (Torre degli Asinelli) & Tower of the Garisenda (Torre degli Garisenda)". You may need to subscribe to the New York Times for the second link to work.

After narrowing down my photos of the two towers and my climb to the top, I realized that there were still too many photos to post. I decided a slideshow (album) might work better. Some of the photos are from two years ago and some are from last year.

Torre degli Asinelli

June 29, 2009

a tower, a marching band, and a gtg

I am now in Lucca : ) Free wifi but no computer - so blog posts from iPod Touch...

The beginning of this post was written while on the train from Firenze to Lucca and the rest of this post was written while sitting in the lobby/breakfast room/general shared area of my B&B in Lucca waiting for my room to be ready. (Photos were added later)

Saturday, June 27th:
Earlier in the week, I saw this beautiful purple pashmina hanging on the door of one of the shops heading towards Piazza Santa Croce. I wasn't sure what shops would be open on Sunday so I went back early Saturday evening hoping that the shop would be open. It was already closed when I got there.

I wandered around the area and then went over one of the bridges and walked around the Oltrano side of Florence for a little while. The sun was beginning to set and it started to rain again.  I took some photos of the Ponte Vecchio bridge and then headed back towards my B&B for dinner.
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View looking the opposite way:
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I decided to try dei Frescobaldi, which was located right next to my B&B. I would give this place 5 stars for the food, but this place loses a few points in my book because it is one of the places where it seems to seat all of the Italians on one room and all of the foreigners in another room. I even asked if I could sit in the other room and was told that I needed a reservation. To confirm my suspicion, I walked past the window of the room where I saw a couple of free tables and one of the tables was still free.

However, the food and service were both wonderful. I ordered a pumpkin ravioli with a butter, sage, and crunchy amaretto sauce. It was one of those "wow" type of reactions when I took the first bite. I would have ordered more food but I was still full from lunch. I only had just enough room for a gelato.  I went back to Grom and discovered the perfect combination - caffe & pistacchio.  

I was really tired Saturday night and fell asleep right after returning to my B&B. I was awakened suddenly at 2 am by the rude people staying in the room next door. They had the TV blaring so loudly that I could hear every word as if it was on in my room. They also were very loud and kept me awake until 3:30 am. I even tried drowning out the sound with my iPod but nothing worked.

Sunday, June 28th:
The skies were blue and the weather was perfect for my last day in Florence. After breakfast, I climbed my first tower of 2009 - the Giotto Bell Tower, which is located next to the Duomo. There are 414 or 494 steps to the top (I can't remember which now).

Although it is a tall tower, there are many stops along the way (various levels of the tower) where you can stop to catch your breath I was at the very top of the tower when the bells started to ring all over Florence. It was incredible!!

I took a little video that I hope comes out. While on the level below where the bells are located, the bells began to ring. I think I might have lost a few decibels of hearing, but stood right there videoing the bells ringing. I spent about an hour and a half hanging out on the different levels of this tower.

Views from the tower:
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Continue reading "a tower, a marching band, and a gtg" »

July 6, 2009

my amazing tower climb in Pisa

Tuesday, June 30th:
After arriving in Pisa at the little train station, I headed straight for the Piazza dei Miracoli (also known as the Campo dei Miracoli) where the tower as well as the beautiful cathedral and baptistery are located. Even though there are tons of tourist shops set up and many visitors in this piazza, it is still incredibly beautiful. I walked around and took a few photos. I then walked over to the ticket office, well marked and is located at the end of this long beautiful orangeish yellow building, to see if I could pick up my reserved tower ticket early.

There was no line when I arrived at the ticket office. I showed the man my reservation paper and he gave me my ticket. It felt like holding gold in my hands! I could already feel the excitement building.

Since my reservation was not until 5:40 in the afternoon, my plan was to visit the city of Pisa and then return later in the day to visit the other sites near the tower. I decided I might as well purchase a cumulative ticket while I was there. Of the many options, I decided on visiting the Baptistery, the Cathedral, and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (all sites I have visited back in 2000). The man told me I made a good choice visiting the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo .

I noticed when I was leaving the ticket office that the sun was located perfectly for some nice photos of the Baptistery. I also saw that it was close to 11:30. I timed it perfectly. Every 30 minutes, the doors of the Baptistery are closed and a man sings or chants a few vowel sounds and the entire place echos. I timed it perfectly. This is the second time I have seen this. I took a little video and will post it later on when I return home.

After leaving the Baptistery, I headed towards some of the streets Gloria from Slow Travel indicated in her article, Pisa - The Town Today. Pisa is a wonderful town. Piazza dei Cavalieri is a beautiful square and should not be missed. There are many interesting streets and buildings in Pisa. I took tons of photos during my 90 minute walk through this city before meeting Gloria for lunch. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at
Osteria i Santi. I ordered a delicious spaghetti with seafood dish.

After lunch, we walked around a bit and she showed me some of her beautiful city. I was so fortunate and am very grateful to Gloria for the time we spent together. It is wonderful getting to see a town from a local's perspective. I walked with her across the river to meet her husband. I said goodbye to Gloria and thanked her and then headed back over the the river.

It started to sprinkle off and on. I began to worry that the weather would turn nasty and my view from the top would not be very good. I wandered down some more streets to check out more of the buildings Gloria pointed out, got lost at one point, and took lots of photos along the way.

As I arrived back at the Piazza dei Miracoli, the weather started to clear up. The sun was behind the tower in the morning so I did not take many photos of the tower yet. I went to a few spots where there are great views of the tower as it leans. I took some photos (I think I took 4 GB total of my day in Pisa) and then went inside the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. This is a beautiful little museum, which houses quite a few treasures. There are also very unique views of the tower from the courtyard of this museum.

It was now getting close to my reservation time. I went back over to the ticket area where there is a set of guarded lockers to leave all of your bags, purses, etc. during your tower climb. After putting all of my belongings except for my ticket and my camera inside the locker, I sat on the bench and waited. I was early but was surprised no one else was showing up to wait. Good thing I asked at one point where I was supposed to be waiting. I was told that I needed to wait at the entrance of the tower for the tour. I thought that the meeting point was at the locker site. When I got to the tower entrance, there was a small group of people waiting. Time moved very slowly for the next 10 minutes.

Finally, it was our turn to go into the tower. It was sort of a mad rush at first as people started down the few steps to the entrance. I waited patiently until someone let me into the line. I was surprised that a guide was not joining us. I savored every step as I walked up the first set of steps of the tower. The steps are circular and I believe are made of the same stone that the tower is built out of. Many of the steps have indentations on one side where I guess everyone tends to step due to the lean. I really could not feel that much of a lean. There were a few little openings along the way with great views. You can see how the tower is tilting more from the windows. When you hold your camera straight, the horizon is not straight.

About half way or maybe three quarters of the way up, there is a doorway that leads out the the outside of the tower (of course there is a barrier so that you won't fall off the tower). A woman with a badge, who was not very friendly, was standing at the opening. Everyone was told to walk around the tower. There is a walkway at this opening that circles the tower from the outside with a netting on the outside. When you get to the end, there is a gate and you have to return back to the doorway. I figured out later on that this is the point where the people from the previous tour are descending while all of us on the present tour are climbing up to the top. The woman could have just explained this to us (that this is the waiting point) instead of confusing everyone.

Finally, we were allowed to climb the rest of the way to the top. This was the best part of the climb. The lean of the tower was a little more evident but not again as much as I imagined. The next doorway leads back out to the edge. There are a few steps at this point that are a little spooky to step out onto and this was the only spot that was a "whoa!" moment. This is the level with all of the bells and was my favorite spot to stand and admire the view and the structure of the tower.

As I started to take a few photos, this guy in a blue uniform told me that I should go to the top (one short flight up) because I only had limited time. I walked up the narrow set of stairs and stood at the very top of the tower. There is a flag at the top of the tower and you can really see how one side is lower than the other, although I don't think it really shows in the photos. There is a guard rail around the tower so no one can fall off. I took a few photos and then went back down to the bell level while everyone else stayed at the top. I think there were about 12 people in my group.

I spent the rest of the time taking photos of the bells and the view from this level. I asked the guy in the blue uniform to take a photo of me by one of the bells and then I snuck a photo of him. He was very nice. We ended up chatting for a short while before our time was up. I lingered a little bit longer at each window on the way down, taking a few more photos. I would have stayed up there for hours if I could have. The climb definitely ranks up there as one of my to 10 experiences in Italy. I will definitely post photos when I return home.

Before heading back to the train station, I still had the Cathedral to visit. The inside of this church is definitely worth a visit. I took a few photos but am not sure how well they came out as it was pretty dark inside.

As I walked towards the porta (door) that is one of the the entrances to the Piazza dei Miracoli, I took a little video of the area and a few more photos. I could have stayed there for a few more hours but wanted to get back to Lucca before dinner time. If you read my train post, you know but my fall...

After returning to my B&B, cleaning up my cut on my knee, and icing my knee and my foot, I went back to Trattoria da "Leo" for dinner. I was surprised that the owners remembered my name. I was greeted with a friendly Ciao! I ordered fettuccine alle melenzane (spaghetti with eggplant and a tomato based sauce). It was sooooo good!

Perfect way to end a wonderful day in Pisa.

November 28, 2009

"technology"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

Technology of the Torre delle Ore clock tower in Lucca and how the bells ring…

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Continue reading ""technology"~ PhotoHunt" »

December 5, 2009

"curved"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


The top of the Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Tower) in Verona:

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March 13, 2010

"spriral"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


Two of my favorite tower climbs have spiral staircases:

This staircase leads to the top of the Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio) in Venice.
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This staircase leads up to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa).
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March 14, 2012

views from above

Saturday, June 11th:
Saturday was my last full day in Venice. I got an early start on the day, skipping breakfast at my B&B, although Wenyu insisted on making me a quick espresso and giving me a brioche to take on the go. My goal was to try to get to Piazza San Marco before the hordes of tourists arrived. This is the best time of day to enjoy this amazing piazza.

I took a bunch of photos and then decided to go to the top of the Campanile (bell tower). I have only been to the top of this bell tower once before, back in 1999 during my first visit to Venice. I was one of the first people in line, got right up to the top, and then spent about 90 minutes enjoying the view and taking photos. I probably would have stayed longer but towards the end of my time up in this cool bell tower, the skies turned black and the cold wind started whipping through the windows. Most of us were not dressed for this change in the weather. Everyone jumped in line to take the elevator back down. I had to wait a little bit for my turn. Meanwhile, I took photos of the bells.

As you will notice, the skies were pretty ominous by the time I made it back to the vaporetto. I made it back to my B&B just in time before the skies opened up. Not sure if you can see the rain in the last photo, the view from my room at my B&B.

I took too many photos to share in a blog post so I decided to make a video instead. If you double click on the video, it should open up into a full screen.

I did quite a bit on my last full day in Venice. More blog posts to come...

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