“Pic of the Week”, April 7, 2023: Porta Nuova, Palermo

00 Porta Nuova, Palermo

This tall and impressive gate was built in the 15th century at a time when Palermo was surrounded by a city wall.  The gate was called “Porta dell’Aquila” (Gate of the Eagle) but the people of Palermo called it “Porta Nuova” (“New Gate“), and that name has stuck.  The gate was reconstructed in the 16th century to honor Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s conquest of Tunis from the Ottoman Empire.  The gate was destroyed by a fire caused when lightening exploded a gunpowder store in the upper levels in 1667; an exact copy was reconstructed within 2 years.
Porta Nuova is close to two of Palermo’s most popular attractions, Palazzo dei Normanni and Capella Palatina, but …

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Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, April 7, 2023: Porta Nuova, Palermo
.All Trips / Europe / Food / Italy

More Almond Art

01a Marzipan, Cafe Etoile D’or Catania

I’ve previously published a post on “The Art of the Almond, featuring some of the beautiful marzipan creations we came across in Venice.  While sorting through my photos from Sicily, I found a few more nice examples.
Marzipan is made of ground almonds (almond meal) mixed with a sweetener like sugar or honey.  Marzipan is molded into the shape of fruit and vegetables and colored accordingly, producing these beautiful creations.
As with many things in life, the illusion is better than reality.  In my opinion, these creations look better than they taste — too nice to eat.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

A Religious Procession in Palermo


Sometimes you encounter unexpected sights while rambling around the streets of a city.  While wandering Palermo in Sicily early one February afternoon, we came across this religious procession.  I don’t speak the language, so it was unclear to me what was being celebrated.  But the icons appear to be old and of an Orthodox nature.
After I took a few still photos, I switched to video mode and captured this amateur footage, to give you a feeling for what the experience was like.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)

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.All Trips / Europe / Spain

Doors of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

00 Doors, La Sagrada Familia

One of my favorite buildings in the world is La Sagrada Familia.  In today’s post I thought I’d share photos of some of the doors and entrances to this beautiful (still unfinished) cathedral.
The photo above features what will be the cathedral’s main entry when the building is completed, and is known as the Doorway of Majesty.
The first completed entrance to the cathedral was themed after the Nativity, and the doors at this entrance show some imaginative details:

Even this more traditional cathedral entrance has an interesting skylight feature….

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“Pic of the Week”, March 10, 2023: A Courtyard in Cordoba


We sought shelter in this courtyard when the clouds opened and a heavy downpour began while we were exploring the streets of Cordoba.
It was a pretty courtyard, bricks, stonework and white plaster walls with dozens of colorful flowers growing in small matching pots on the walls.  There were a few shops around the courtyard, but these didn’t interest us.  It was such a cool place to be that when the downpour stopped, it almost seemed a shame to leave.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, March 10, 2023: A Courtyard in Cordoba
.All Trips / Europe / Malta

A Stay at the Hotel Phoenicia, Valetta, Malta

09 The Phoenicia, Valletta

My wife and I visited Malta several years ago during the winter months.  It was a nice time of year to visit as the weather was very pleasant, hotels were offering discounts, and it wasn’t hard to get a table at a restaurant.
We decided to splurge a little and stayed at the Hotel Phoenicia, a five star accommodation just outside the gate of old Valetta in Floriana, near the Triton fountain.  This was both a good and bad choice.  The location, facility and grounds were terrific.  The food and service were below par for a hotel of this quality, and I’d not stay there again if we ever return to Malta.

(The Hotel Phoenicia, Valletta)

That said, I thought I

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The Critters of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

00 La Sagrada Familila

Gaudi’s fabulous La Sagrada Familia cathedral is well known for its innovative architecture.  Gaudi was a fan of nature and tried to incorporate elements of it in his buildings.
While visiting La Sagrada Familia, I notice a veritable zoo’s worth of animal designs incorporated into the structure.  Some, like a turtle bearing a pillar or reptiles crawling the exterior of the building are quite obvious.  Most subtle and interesting were the insects and other small creatures incorporated into some of the metalwork around the doors.

(Exterior detail of lizard, La Sagrada Familia)

Look carefully at the images below and see how many different types of critters you can see in and on the great

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Sicily’s Colorful Cart Art

00 Sicilian carts (1)

Sicilian carts have a long history, dating to the time of Greek occupation when they were used to haul goods inland.   They were especially popular around a hundred years ago, until they were all but completely replaced by automobiles and trucks in the 1950s.
What makes these carts unique is their colorful decorations.  Some carts have carvings, some have have paintings, all of which tell stories about Sicilian history and folklore.
We came across this collection of carts and related art while walking in an alley in Palermo.  I thought it interesting that even three-wheeled trucks had decorations similar to the carts.

(Carretto_Siciliano. Courtesy of Filippo Piazza and Wikimedia)

I found the photo above on Wikimedia, which shows how lovely the carts and horses …

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