.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Catania’s Carnival is for Kids!

00 Carnival, Catania

My wife and I visited Sicily during an especially cold February. Our visit began in Palermo, followed by a one week road trip around the island, ending with several days in Catania. Unbeknown to us before we arrived, our visit to Catania coincided with Carnival.
Carnival dates to the Roman Empire and, although it is not a religious celebration, occurs just before Lent.  It’s most commonly celebrated in Catholic countries so it makes sense it would be popular in Italy.  The most famous Carnival celebration in Italy is in Venice; however many smaller celebrations can be found throughout the country.  Carnival is popular in Sicily and is celebrated in a variety of ways — special food, parades, …

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“Pic of the Week”, April 9, 2021: Etoile D’or Catania, a Sicilian Cafe

03 Cafe Etoile D’or Catania

It was surprisingly cold and damp when we visited Sicily a few Februaries ago. After walking about Catania for a few hours, it was always nice to stop for a cup of coffee and a pastry, to rest and warm up some.
A most pleasant finding was this fine bakery/cafe/snack bar in Catania, which we visited daily while in that city. The place exuded elegant 19th century charm, like so many in Europe. Here we met a wonderful cafe employee who was very kind to us but whose name currently eludes me. He treated us like welcome members of his family. 
The place specialized in a large variety of fresh-baked pastries and snacks (like pizza and buns with meat). Everything looked great …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 12, 2021: A Produce Shop in Brera

01 Fruit Market Brera neighborhood (2)

While exploring the Brera neighborhood of Milan, my wife and I came across this rather nice fruit/produce shop.
While not a farmer’s market, I was impressed with the freshness and high quality of the produce, and how attractively it was displayed.
(Clock on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Catania’s Great Cathedral, Sicily

00 Catania Cathedral (4)

Catania Cathedral faces the city’s main square, and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As you stand in Catania’s main square and look at the exterior of the cathedral, you’ll be impressed by its beautiful Baroque features.  The many lovely marble figures decorating the exterior and grounds of the building add to its uniqueness.  It’s easy to see why the cathedral is one of Catania’s most popular buildings — both during daylight hours and at night.
Catania Cathedral is also known as Saint Agatha Cathedral in honor of a young Christian martyr named Agatha who was killed at this site in the third century.  Agatha was said to have been a beautiful and pious young girl born into a good family.  …

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Da Vinci’s Magnificent Last Supper, Milan

00 Last Supper

One of the main reasons we picked Milan as a travel destination was our desire to see Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest work, the “Last Supper”.
It’s not easy getting the opportunity to see this masterpiece in person.  There are a limited number of timed tickets issued for viewing of the Last Supper, so it is vital that you try to reserve your tickets just after they are issued because they sell out  quickly — often within a day or so of being released.  I got up in the middle of the night to buy ours — successfully, thank goodness.  If you can’t arrange the purchase of your tickets in advance, it is likely you can take a city tour in Milan …

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Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

04 Gallerie Victor Emanuelle II (15)

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a beautiful shopping arcade in Milan near the Duomo, is the oldest shopping mall in Milan and one of the oldest in Europe.
In 1860 the government of Milan held a competition for the redevelopment of the area between the Duomo and the Scala Opera House.  The winning design was submitted by Bolognese architect, Giuseppe Mengoni.  The first stone of the mall was laid in 1865 by King Victor Emmanuel II, after whom the arcade is named.   The Gallerie was opened for business about 2 years later, but work on the structure continued for another decade, especially on the grand entrance from Piazza del Duomo.  In a sad note of irony, Mengoni fell to his …

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A visit to the fascinating Frari Church, Venice

05 Frari Church, Venice (8)

One of the great places to explore when visiting Venice is the Franciscan church of Santa Maria dei Frari (St. Mary of the Friars, commonly known as the Frari Church).  
As with many things in Venice, the Frari Church is an old building.  The church was originally constructed between 1236 and 1338, then rebuilt in Gothic style two centuries later.   It’s considered a minor basilica and is dedicated to the Assumption of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice


While the church is well known for its spacious architecture, it is best known for the many fine monuments and terrific works of Venetian Renaissance art it displays.  This beautiful art is still situated exactly where the artists knew it would be placed and where it …

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Lunch at Madrid’s San Miguel Market

01 Madrid’s San Miguel Market (1)

We  stumbled upon this market as we were wandering around Madrid, rather than my usual method of researching and then visiting.  Our first glance of the San Miguel market is what you see above.  An attractive building of steel and glass that, to me at least, seemed inviting. 

Mercado de San Micuel is close to the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.  The market opened in 1916 and while not large, is spacious, bright and quite lovely.  About ten years ago, after a change in ownership and a remodel, the market transformed from a general market to an upscale venue that focuses on premium food products.  As such, it’s a popular place for locals and tourists to pick up lunch or a snack …

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