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Updates – September

Another busy one….it started the first day of the month with mom’s birthday…..my daughter boyfriend contributed to the celebration dinner with this sooooo good appetizer, canapes with cannellini beans and bacon

my daughter with her famous zucchini and speck pie

I baked some mini pizzas….

a lasagna pan….

and some tasty asparagus

My mom baked her favourite cake, with pineapple and rhum.

One of my collegue, after years of partnership, decided to marry, so one day we had lunch all together to celebrate her…..for once, no problems, no resentment, no hierarchy, just happy faces….

The second-last day of this so very beautiful, unusual and interesting exhibition, my daughter and I hurried to visit, and I’m so glad we did! “A tea with Queen Elizabeth II” at the Glauco Lombardi Museum in Parma, is an idea of Marina Minelli, journalist and historian, with a true passion for crowned heads around the world. In the two ground floor halls of the Riserva Palace, more than three hundred pieces of ceramics (created by companies such as Wedgwood, Spode, Burleigh, Royal Albert, Mason’s, Churchill, Royal Doulton, Aynsley) tell the story of the royal family starting with Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II’s great-grandmother, whose long reign not only coincides with the exponential growth of manufactories in the famous Staffordshire district, but it also paves the way for the great celebrations both political and familiar of an ever-popular and beloved dynasty.
Memorials, or as they call it overseas, ceramic commemoratives are one of the key elements of this relationship. Mugs, cups and teapots decorated with symbols of the monarchy or with the faces of real royal characters favor the popular sharing of events related to the dynasty because through these objects the subjects can symbolically take part in a celebration and do it through the English rite for excellence: the afternoon tea.

On display there are objects dedicated to Edoardo VII, Prince of Wales for all his life, but king only for nine years, and then to his son Giorgio V, celebrated in potteries along with his very royal wife Mary, at the coronation in 1911 and later for the Silver Jubilee in 1935. By the end of 1936 his heir Edward VIII decided to abdicate to marry the woman who has been dating for years and abdication not only deeply marks British history but also risks sending the ceramic factories to bankruptcy. The production of coronation items has already begun and hundreds of manufactures must suddenly head back, store mugs and cups with the face of the former king and create new ones with the reassuring image of George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

(below, Marina, exceptionally present for the day, explaining to us what we were admiring)

Young Elizabeth II continues the heritage of the royal family after his father’s death on February 6, 1952, and his coronation on June 2, 1953 represents not only the beginning of a new kingdom, but the rebirth of a country that bravely endured Hitler’s bombs but still carries the heavy signs of a devastating war. The amount of memorabilia produced for the occasion is directly proportional to the popular enthusiasm for the new kingdom and it attests not only to the importance of the Westminster ceremony, whose ritual is unchanged from the Middle Ages, but also to the economic and social recovery of England and its industries after the nightmare of the conflict and the restrictions on rationing. Other items will be produced in the years to come for the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, for the birth of their children and grandchildren, for the jubilees of the queen and for her nineteenth birthday celebrated in 2016.

There are also postcards, newspapers and magazines in English, French and Italian from the 1950s to the present, which help to rebuild the events of the period. In addition, some special services for the Coronation of 1953 and the Silver Jubilee of 1977 have been used to set up vintage tea tables and dining tables.
For this event – notes Francesca Sandrini, the museum curator – there is also some contribution coming from the collections of the Museo Lombardi, that made available two of its pieces, never exposed to the public and yet consistent with the exhibition proposed, such as a beautiful desk service decorated with jasperware medallions and a great print of Queen Victoria’s crowning in 1838.

(below, Marina explaining how to set up a true english tea table)

After the visit, all the presents were invited to have a real english tea, equipped with all the options….cakes, muffins, scones, biscuits and two classics, battenberg cake and clotted cream….

It really was an amazing experience, loving all that’s english as we do!

And then it was my birthday…..I celebrated it first having lunch with two of my collegues/friends at our favourite vegan restaurant…..

That night I had dinner with my family….and I got some gifts…..

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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Austria

We crossed the border to Austria and drove till the Millstatter See (lake Millstatter) where we found a nice B&B in Seeboden, Haus Hatrieb, with a nice view from our balcony….

We felt immediately at home, being in Austria is just like home, and the beauty of the place helped a lot

And the lake in itself was a real pleasure to enjoy

One day we drove through a beautiful valley till the Ossiacher See……last time we were there was in 1995….

Ossiach Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery now one of the venues of an annual music festival called “Carinthian Summer” and it houses also a very good hotel…..the attached church…is still a church…

In 878 the East Frankish king Carloman of Bavaria dedicated the Treffen estates around Lake Ossiach to the Benedictine monastery of Ötting. In the late 10th century the lands passed to the Bishops of Passau and later to Emperor Henry II, who conferred them to a certain Count Ozi, affiliated with the Styrian Otakar dynasty and father of Patriarch Poppo of Aquileia. A church probably already existed at Ossiach, when Count Ozi about 1024 established the Benedictine abbey, the first in the medieval Duchy of Carinthia. The first monks probably descended from Niederaltaich Abbey in Bavaria. Ozi’s son Poppo succeeded in removing the proprietary monastery from the influence of the Salzburg archbishops and to affiliate it with the Patriarchate of Aquileia, confirmed by Emperor Conrad II in 1028. Upon the extinction of the Styrian Otakars in 1192, the Vogtei of Ossiach according to the Georgenberg Pact passed to the Austrian House of Babenberg. In 1282 it finally fell to the Habsburgs.

Ossiach Abbey was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1783, after which the buildings were used as a barracks. In 1816 the premises were largely demolished. Between 1872 and 1915 the few remaining buildings were again used as a barracks and as stabling. Since 1995 the premises have been owned by the administration of Carinthia.

According to legend, King Bolesław II the Bold of Poland, after he was banished in 1079 for the murder of Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów and had fled to Hungary,  wandered through Europe and found peace at last when he arrived at Ossiach in 1081. There the king is said to have lived in the remote monastery as a mute penitent for eight years humbly doing the meanest and lowliest jobs, until on his death bed he told his father confessor who he was and what he had been doing penance for. The legend is documented since the 15th century; whether Bolesław actually ever lived at Ossiach could not be conclusively clarified. Bolesław’s alleged tomb is embedded in the northern side of the church wall, a Roman marble relief depicting a horse with the Latin inscription: REX BOLESLAVS OCCISOR SANCTI STANISLAI EPISCOPI CRACOVIENSIS (“Boleslav, King of Poland, Murderer of Saint Stanislav, Bishop of Cracow”).

The church since the dissolution has served the local parish. Two stained glass windows were donated by Karl May in 1905, though according to recent research the popular writer had probably never visited Ossiach. The Romanesque church itself was first mentioned in 1215, built on the groundplan of a basilica, with the tower above the crossing. Restored in a Late Gothic style after a fire in 1484, the abbey, a member of the Benedictine Salzburg Congregation from 1641, was extensively altered in the Baroque period, including stucco decoration of the Wessobrunner School.

We had lunch at the same restaurant of 22 years ago (now completely renovated), and in the afternoon we just relaxed enjoying the view….

Another short drive was through another beatiful landscape towards Osstirol region and the village of Matrei……

…..just to have lunch at a place we already love and appreciated over the years….

We spent our last day in Austria driving along the Drava valley…..

so to reach the village of Spittal…..

We’ve been there already recently, in 2015, so I just wandered around taking more pictures, enjoying the sights….for more about the castle, read here….

And with that our vacation was over….sadly enough…but we came back home with a lot to fill our photos’ album and our souls….

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Around Slovenia

Slovenia is really a beautiful country to discover on a motorbike, roads well maintained, good rest areas, and so very green! We enjoyed so very much driving along the Isonzo valley….

Can you see me below?….

We visited the village of Kranjska Gora, in the north of Slovenia.

Every year, the Kranjska Gora resort hosts several major sporting events, including the World Cup ski jumping and ski flying competitions in Planica and the Vitranc Cup alpine skiing competition. Kranjska Gora also plays host to various entertainment, cultural and folklore events. What is special about Kranjska Gora’s ski offerings is the diversity of its ski runs, which provide excellent skiing opportunities for anyone from beginners to top-class skiers and are accessible practically from the doorstep of the resort town’s hotels. Kranjska Gora’s surrounding areas offer over 40 kilometres of well groomed cross-country ski trails, and the slopes of the surrounding mountains excellent opportunities for off-piste skiing, ice climbing and tobogganing.

During the summer months, the most popular activities are hiking and trekking. Kranjska Gora has a wide diversity of routes, from the easiest recreational ones to serious trekking routes suitable only for experienced and appropriately equipped mountaineers accompanied by a mountain guide. One of the routes particularly worth mentioning leads to the two Martuljek waterfalls. Another interesting route, known as the Triglavska Bistrica River Path, runs through the Vrata valley, past a string of natural attractions of the Triglav National Park. A number of scenic high mountain routes start from Vršič, Slovenia’s best known mountain pass. Kranjska Gora also provides numerous opportunities for mountain biking. The lovers of adrenaline-fuelled experiences can go on an attractive downhill ride in the area’s mountain bike park or visit the Besna Pehta summer toboggan run.  For golf lovers there is a practice field at the confluence of the Pišnica and Sava rivers.

The beginnings of tourism in Kranjska Gora go back to the year 1902, when the Razor Hotel was opened as the first hotel in the area, followed by the establishment of the Kranjska Gora Resort Society two years later, whose purpose was “to promote the circulation of foreigners in Kranjska Gora”. At the beginning, the hotel mainly hosted tourists, who came to Kranjska Gora for its healing climate, hiking and mountaineering. After the Slovenian Mountain Society was established, the number of visitors to the mountains increased. Again, the Razor Hotel was the place where the Mountain Rescue Service of Slovenia was founded in 1912.

If you are a lover of Late Gothic art, you should definitely see the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Originally it was named the Church of Our Lady of the White Gravel, but only a brick belfry in the Romanesque style was preserved.

In 1510, today’s church was designed by master Jernej Firtaler from Villach. The Corinthian influence is particularly visible in the nave arch, which is decorated with intertwined ribs and is the most interesting arch of this type not only in the Upper Sava Valley, but also in Slovenia. In front of the church stand the busts of men, important to the Upper Sava Valley – Josip Lavtižar, Simon Robič and Lovrenc Lavtižar.

We could only imagine the atmosphere of the village in winter, all covered with snow….

We had a nice day on the banks of Lake Bled…..

The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin. It is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 29.5 m (97 ft), and it has a small island. The lake lies in a picturesque environment, surrounded by mountains and forests. Medieval Bled Castle stands above the lake on the north shore. The Zaka Valley lies at the west end of the lake. The World Rowing Championships in 1966, 1979, 1989, and 2011 were held at Lake Bled.

The lake surrounds Bled Island. The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, built in its current form near the end of the 17th century, and decorated with remains of Gothic frescos from around 1470 in the presbyterium and rich Baroque equipment. The church has a 52 m (171 ft) tower and there is a Baroque stairway from 1655 with 99 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are held there regularly. Traditionally it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride up the steps on the day of their wedding before ringing the bell and making a wish inside the church.

After the mountains and the lake, it was time for the sea….

Koper is a city in southwestern Slovenia, with the other Slovenian coastal towns Ankaran, Izola, Piran, and Portorož, situated along the country’s 47-kilometre (29-mile) coastline, in the Istrian Region, approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) from its border with Italy. Having a unique ecology and biodiversity, it is considered an important national natural resource. The city’s Port of Koper is the major contributor to the economy of the eponymous city municipality. With only one percent of Slovenia having a coastline, the influence that the Port of Koper also has on tourism was a factor in Ankaran deciding to leave the municipality in a referendum in 2011 to establish its own. The city is a destination on a number of Mediterranean cruising lines, with the season spanning from March to December.

The city of Koper is officially bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian as official languages. Sights in Koper include the 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Loggia in Venetian Gothic style, the 12th-century Carmine Rotunda church, and the Cathedral of St Nazarius, with its 14th-century tower.

Sadly this was also our last day in Slovenia…..we came back with so many amazing memories of this new (for us) country that left us the feelings that’s so much more to explore…..

But our vacation wasn’t over…..we were then ready for Austria!

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Ljubljana #3

The central square in Ljubljana is Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg).

It’s no exaggeration to say that Prešeren Sqaure is not only the centre of Ljubljana, but truly the spiritual centre of the Slovene nation – and more practically the defacto meeting point in the city. It is part of the old town’s pedestrian zone and a major meeting point, where festivals, Ljubljana carnival, concerts, sports, political, and protest events take place. It was renovated in 2007. To the south, across the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), it is connected to Stritar Street (Stritarjeva ulica), which leads through a symbolic town gate formed by the Kresija Palace and Philip Mansion towards the city’s town hall at the foothills of the Castle Hill. At the eastern side of the square, a bronze statue of the Slovene national poet France Prešeren with a muse was placed in front of the Central Pharmacy. One of his poem, “A Toast”/ “Zdravljica” became the national anthem. The poet’s statue is symbolically faced by the statue of Julija Primic, his great love, mounted on the facade of a building located across the square, in the Wolfova ulica.

The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is a Franciscan church; Its red colour is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. Since 2008, the church has been protected as a cultural monument of national significance of Slovenia. Built between 1646 and 1660 (the bell towers following later), it replaced an older church on the same site. The early-Baroque layout takes the form of a basilica with one nave and two rows of side-chapels. The Baroque main altar was executed by the sculptor Francesco Robba. Many of the original frescoes were ruined by the cracks in the ceiling caused by the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895. The new frescoes were painted in 1936 by the Slovene impressionist painter Matej Sternen.

 

The front facade of the church was built in the Baroque style in 1703–1706 and redesigned in the 19th century. It has two parts, featuring pilasters with the Ionic capitals in the lower part and pilasters with Corinthian capitals in the upper part. The sides of the upper part are decorated with volutes and at the top of the front facade stands the statue of Our Lady of Loretto, i.e. Madonna with Child. It has been made of beaten copper by Matej Schreiner upon a plan drawn by Franz Kurz and Thurn und Goldenstein. The faces and the hands were modelled by Franc Ksaver Zajec. The statue replaced an older wooden statue of a Black Madonna in 1858. The facade also has three niches with sculptures of God the Father above the main stone portal, and an angel and the Virgin Mary in the side niches, work by the Baroque sculptor Paolo Callalo. There is a stone entrance staircase in front of the church. The wooden door with reliefs of women’s heads dates to the 19th century.

Ljubljana Cathedral or St. Nicholas’s Cathedral (stolnica sv. Nikolaja), serves the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located at Cyril and Methodius Square named for Saints Cyril and Methodius by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and Town Hall.

The site of the Cathedral was originally occupied by a three-nave Romanic church whose earliest mention dates back to 1262. After the fire of 1361 it was re-vaulted in the Gothic style. When the Ljubljana Diocese was established in 1461, the church underwent several alterations and additions. In 1469 it was burnt down, presumably by the Turks. Between 1701 and 1706, a new Baroque hall church with side chapels shaped in the form of the Latin cross was built to a design by the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo. As the church’s dome was only built in 1841, originally a fake dome was painted on the arch above the centre of the cross. The surviving Baroque interior decoration notably includes frescoes by Giulio Quaglio (painted in the periods 1703-1706 and 1721-1723), Angelo Putti’s statues of four bishops of Emona situated beneath the beams of the dome (1712-1713), Putti’s painting of Dean Janez Anton Dolničar (1715), who initiated the rebuilding of the church in 1701, Francesco Robba’s altar angels in the left part of the nave (1745-1750) and brothers Paolo and Giuseppe Groppelli’s altar angels in the right part of the nave (1711). A host of other works of art were added later. One of the more interesting is the dome fresco painted by Matevž Langus in 1844. The most outstanding 20th century additions include Tone Demšar’s main entrance door relief depicting the history of Slovenia, commissioned to mark the 1250th anniversary of Christianity in Slovenia, and Mirsad Begić’s side doors with portraits of bishops.

Only a tourist train leaves Prešeren Square every day, transporting tourists to Ljubljana Castle.

The castle of Ljubljana is just one of the castles in the city but certainly the biggest one and also the most visited. Built in the middle of the 15th century, today it is a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners also. No wonder. It offers an outstanding view over the city, a romantic athmosphere and a place of numerous cultural events. Guided tours of the castle are conducted every day. The castle is depicted on the city’s coat of arms, along with a dragon on top.

When in 1335 the Habsburgs took over the area of today`s Slovenia, they demolished the fortress of the Spanheim family, which stood on the hill, and in the second half of the 15th century started building a new one that still stands today. At first it consisted of only walls, towers and wooden barracks but through centuries the castle got the shape that it has today. Its main purpose was to defend against Turkish invasions, which were the most frequent in the 15th and 16th century. Besides, peasant rebellions were not rare as well. In the 17th and 18th century the castle had the function of a military hospital and an arsenal. When in 1809 Napoleon brought freedom and cultural and national enlightment to the citizens of Ljubljana, the war with the Habsburgs broke out. During this war the Pipers tower was demolished and a new wooden one erected on the place of today`s stone one. After the French had left, the Habsburgs used the castle for jails.  Several famous people were jailed in the castle, including the Italian revolutionary Silvio Pellico, the Hungarian Prime Minister Lajos Batthyany and the Slovene author Ivan Cankar. The jail period lasted until the end of the Second World War, when first Italians and after their capitulation Germans took over the management of the castle. Until 1963 ostracized citizens of Ljubljana lived on the castle in terrible conditions. In the 70s the renovation began and today the castle is a popular tourist destination for home and foreign visitors.

The castle Chapel of St. George, on the basis of a document of the year 1489 emitted by the emperor, was consecrated to St. George, St. Pancracio and the Empress Helena. The original entrance to the chapel was in the north; it was reached along thirteen steps and is in use to this day. The original Gothic chapel had openings in the ceiling, counted four gothic windows and a balcony from which the nobles listened to the Holy Mass. This construction was restored in Baroque style and in the year 1747 they added images of the shields of the governors.

Above the Chapel stands the panoramic tower….

….if you’re brave enough to climb the many, many steps inside, you’re awarded with a beautiful view over the castle courtyard, and the amazing view of the city…

Can you recognize some of the places I told you about…..from ground level?

We walked one morning through the east part of town, past more stunning buildings…

…..to have lunch in a very special place, enjoying some beautiful music…

…..before reaching the nice Tivoli Park, where we spent a lazy afternoon….

Tivoli City Park is the largest park in Ljubljana. It was designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard and now covers approximately 5 km2The park was laid out during the French imperial administration of Ljubljana in 1813 and named after the ParisianJardins de Tivoli. Between 1921 and 1939, it was renovated by the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. Within the park, there are different types of trees, flower gardens, several statues, and fountains. Several notable buildings stand in the park, among them Tivoli Castle, the National Museum of Contemporary History and the Tivoli Sports Hall.

 

We had a great time in Ljubljana, and we highly recommend a visit there, history, magic places, good food and beers, and so very nice people….

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Ljubljana #2

A simple walk through Ljubljana it’s a really nice experience…..especially along the river banks, full of restaurants, bars and shops…

Below, Novi trg. The name Novi trg, which originally referred to a separate urban area on the left bank of the Ljubljanica river, is now used in reference to an open space in the centre of Ljubljana’s elegant quarter extending between the Križanke Summer Theatre, Vegova ulica street and Dvorni trg square. Settled in the 12th century, the area was only incorporated into the city and its walls in the 14th century. A new city gate was built near the present Dvorni trg square and named Vice Duke’s Gate (Vicedomska/Fištamska vrata) after the nearby Vice Duke’s Palace (Vicedomska/Fištanska palača), which stood on the site of the present University of Ljubljana building. The buildings surrounding Novi trg notably included the Carniolan provincial estates palace called Lontovž, which occupied the site of the present Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Auersperg Palace, Ljubljana’s most beautiful Baroque palace, destroyed in the earthquake of 1895. The site of the latter is now occupied by the National and University Library, built by the architect Jože Plečnik between 1936 and 1941. The building located at the top of the square, at No. 3 Gosposka ulica street, is Barbo Palace (Barbova palača), built at the beginning of the 1750s on commission from Count Barbo von Waxenstein. It was designed by the architect Matija Persky on the model of Viennese palaces of the time.

You have to walk with your nose up to see all the beauty on the city old buildings…..

(below St. Jacob Church)

(below,the oldest students residence)

(below, Ljubljana Opera House) The theatre building, constructed in 1892, has a varied history. At the turn of the 20th century it housed first the German Theatre (Nemško gledališče) and then the Provincial Theatre (Deželno gledališče). 1918 saw the establishment of the theatre’s opera and ballet ensembles and orchestra, which, after the Second World War, began to tour outside the country and receive international acclaim. The Opera House’s façade has two niches adorned with Alojzij Gangl’s allegorical statues of Tragedy and Comedy. The building’s characteristic appearance is mainly due to the richly adorned front façade with Ionic columns supporting a majestic tympanum above the entrance. The allegorical sculptures in the tympanum represent Poetry and Glory, and the figure with a torch above them – another work by Alojzij Gangl – an allegory of Genius. The stone pedestals in front of the building support the busts of the Slovenian theatre artists Anton Verovšek and Ignacij Borštnik sculpted by France Kralj in 1921, and the pedestal by the side of the building Stojan Batič’s portrait sculpture of Julij Betetto.

Republic Square, at first named Revolution Square, is the largest square in Ljubljana. It was designed in the second half of the 20th century by Edvard Ravnikar. On 26 June 1991, the independence of Slovenia was declared here. The National Assembly Building stands at its northern side.The four-storey building is externally austere. A freestanding cube, is inlaid with Karst marble, with green Oplotnica granite below each window. The only decorative element is the two storey main portal – four oak doors surrounded by statues by Zdenko Kalin and Karel Putrih which represent working people.

Congress Square (Kongresni trg) is one of the most important centers of the city. It was built in 1821 for ceremonial purposes such as Congress of Ljubljana after which it was named. Since then it became an important center for political ceremonies, demonstrations and protests, such as the ceremony at creation of Kingdom of Yugoslavia, ceremony of liberation of Belgrade, protests against Yugoslav authority in 1988 etc. The square also houses several important buildings, such as the University of Ljubljana Palace, Philharmonic Hall, Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Slovene Society Building. Star Park (Park Zvezda) is located in the center of the square.

(below, the University of Ljubljana)

Town Hall (Mestna hišaMagistrat), located at Town Square, is the seat of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. The original building was built in a Gothic style in 1484. Between 1717 and 1719, the building underwent a Baroque renovation with a Venetian inspiration by the architect Gregor Maček, Sr.

Near Town Hall, at Town Square, stands a replica of the Baroque Robba Fountain. The original has been moved into the National Gallery in 2006. The Robba Fountain is decorated with an obelisk at the foot of which there are three figures in white marble symbolising the three chief rivers of Carniola. It is work of Francesco Robba, who designed numerous other Baroque statues in the city.

The Vodnikov square was built after the devastating earthquake of 1895, when an old monastery housing a diocesan college and a library had to be pulled down. The space gained was dedicated for use as an outdoor market. The square was named after the Slovenian poet Valentin Vodnik, whose monument by Alojzij Gangl had stood on its site since 1889. Across the street from the monument, which gives the square a special character, a walking path leads to Ljubljana’s castle hill. From Monday to Saturday, the square is the site of Ljubljana’s Central Market (Osrednja tržnica), which stretches from the Dragon Bridge across the Pogačarjev trg square to the Triple Bridge. The lower, riverside end of the square is occupied by a monumental colonnade building designed by the architect Jože Plečnik’s. The building houses a covered part of the Central Market and thus serves its original purpose.

The National and University Library, whose archives contain, among other things, a rich collection of medieval manuscripts, incunabula and Renaissance prints, was built between 1936 and 1941 to designs by Jože Plečnik. It is considered to be the architect’s most important work in Slovenia. It stands on the site of the former Ducal Court (Knežji dvorec), a 17th century Baroque palace destroyed in the earthquake of 1895. The building’s exterior reflects Italian influences. Its characteristic façade, combining bricks and stone blocks in variable finishes, was modelled on Zuccari Palace (Palazzo Zuccari) in Rome. Each of the two handles on the main entrance door is decorated with a head of Pegasus, a winged horse symbolically guiding visitors to the realm of knowledge. From the vestibule, a door leads to the famous monumental central staircase with 32 pillars of black Podpeč marble and further on to the library’s grand reading room. The reading room’s most outstanding details are Plečnik’s chandeliers and a couple of glass walls allowing light to reach wooden reader desks and books from two sides. The Library’s side entrance is surmounted by a bronze statue of Moses by the Slovenian sculptor Lojze Dolinar.

(below, the Glasbena Matica, the music cultural association house)

I was in Budapest some years ago, and the majesty of Ljubljana reminded me a lot of the hungarian capital, I was so impressed by the history among all those beautiful buildings and streets and squares…

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Historic facts

Trieste is a few km from the slovenian border. We crossed it one day, just to see once more, if necessary, that war is really a madness from any point of view and at any time……

We started this particular journey on italian ground, at Redipuglia War Memorial, a World War I memorial located on the Karst Plateau near the village of Fogliano Redipuglia. It is the largest war memorial in Italy and one of the largest in the world, housing the remains of 100,187 Italian soldiers killed between 1915 and 1917 in the eleven battles fought on the Karst and Isonzo front. The name Redipuglia seems to have origin from the slovenian word “sredij polije” meaning “middle earth”….

The Memorial of Redipuglia was built on the slopes of Mt. Sei Busi and designed by architect Giovanni Greppi and sculptor Giannino Castiglioni, it was opened on 18th September 1938 after ten years of construction. This massive monument, also known as Memorial “of the Hundred Thousands”, accommodates the remains of 100.187 soldiers who fell in battle in the surrounding areas; some of them had been initially buried on Colle Sant’Elia nearby.
Strongly advocated by the fascist regime, this monument intended to celebrate the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers as well as provide a dignified resting place to those fighters who could not be buried in the cemetery of the Undefeated. It is structured on three levels, symbolising the army descending from the sky, led by its Commander towards the Path of Heroes. On the top, three crosses evoke Mt. Golgotha and the crucifixion of Christ.

Leaving your car in the esplanade before the Memorial, the visit can kick off past the chain of the destroyer “Grado”, an Austro-Hungarian vessel seized by the Italians after the war. Heading towards the tomb, you walk along the “Path of Heroes”, a paved road lined by 38 bronze plaques indicating the villages on the Karst that were contended during the Great War.
At the end of this fascinating walk, you can see the majestic tombs of the generals, including the one of the Commander of the Third ArmyEmanuele Filiberto Duke of Aosta, who had expressed his wish to be buried here. The tomb consists of a 75-tonne block of red marble from the Camonica Valley. On the side, there are the granite tombs of five generals: Antonio Chinotto, Tommaso Monti, Giovanni Prelli, Giuseppe Paolini and Fulvio Riccieri.

Behind the tombs, 22 large steps (2.5m high, 12m wide) rise, containing the remains of 39857 identified soldiers in alphabetical order. Each burial niche is surmounted by the wording “Present” and can be reached via the lateral stairs leading to the top. In the centre of the first large step, you can find the niche of the only woman buried here, a nurse named Margherita Kaiser Parodi Orlando, while the 22nd step accommodates the remains of 72 soldiers from the Navy and 56 from the Customs Corps.

At the end of the lateral stairs and the large steps, two large tombs covered with bronze plates contain the remains of over 60 thousand unknown soldiers. Past them, you can reach the top of the memorial and visit a small chapel which houses a “Deposition” and the panels of the Stations of the Cross by sculptor Castiglioni. Three bronze crosses stand above the chapel.

In the rear of the last large step there are two museum rooms: inside, you can admire pictures of the first Memorial of Redipuglia, documents, war relics and paintings by Ciotti that used to decorate the tomb of the Duke of Aosta, originally located in the chapel on the top of St. Elias Hill. On the top, at Height 89, you can see an Observatory and a model of the area showing the borderline as of 24th October 1917, the day of the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo.

After the visit, in what seemed a surreal mood, we crossed the border to Slovenia heading towards Caporetto (once on italian soil), Kobarid in slovenian, and after lunch we visited the local museum.

The Kobarid Museum, awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for the year 1993, tactfully presents the most extensive story about the First World War on the Slovenian territory by means of photos, maps, models, weapons and personal items of soldiers as well as a documentary film. This story speaks about the ferocity of mountain warfare in the Julian Alps, about the Isonzo Front, and the 12th Isonzo Battle in particular. It was one of the greatest mountain encounters in the history of warfare in which the joint German and Austro-Hungarian forces defeated the Italians by employing new military tactics, pushing the enemy westwards all to the river Piave. The damnation of wars and suffering they bring to the mankind is at the heart of the Museum’s message.

This museum is devoted almost entirely to the Soča Front and the ‘war to end all wars’. Themed rooms describe powerfully the 29 months of fighting, and there’s a 20-minute video (available in 10 languages) that gives context. There are many photos documenting the horrors of the front, military charts, diaries and maps, and two large relief displays showing the front lines and offensives through the Krn Mountains and the positions in the Upper Soča Valley. The Krn Range Room looks at the initial assaults along the Soča River after Italy’s entry into the war in May 1915. The White Room describes the harsh conditions of war in the snowbound mountains. The Room of the Rear describes life behind the battle lines (hospitals, soldiers on leave from the trenches) – a sharp contrast to the Black Room’s photographs of the dead and dying. Finally, the Battle of Kobarid Room details the final offensive launched by the Austrian and German forces that defeated the Italian army.

Why Hemingway? The 1917 Battle of Caporetto, where the Italian retreat, was documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms.

There are also some very old finds on display in some rooms, found while excavating the ground after the battles, that tell the story of the region………..

….ages before others men fought and died on the same ground….

It was a stressful day, full of horrible images, but sadly I’m sure we’ll have to suffer many more wars before maybe, one day, human race will eventually learn the lesson….

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Trieste

Last summer, for our vacation, we decided to go east….first stop was Trieste.

Trieste is a city in northeastern Italy, with the only free port and free zone combination in Europe. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city. It is also located near Croatia some further 30 kilometres (19 mi) south. Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste and throughout history it has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures. Trieste was one of the oldest parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, belonging to it from 1382 until 1918. In the 19th century the monarchy was one of the Great Powers of Europe and Trieste was its most important seaport. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest, and Prague). In the fin de siècle period at the end of the 19th century it emerged as an important hub for literature and music. Trieste underwent an economic revival during the 1930s, and Trieste was an important spot in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs after the Second World War. Today, the city is in one of the richest regions of Italy, and has been a great centre for shipping, through the Port of Trieste, shipbuilding and financial services.

We reserved a one-bedroom residence in the city center, and our choice couldn’t have been better….and the location was perfect to visit the city, by bus or by feet….

Walking through its street, looking up and all around, you can really see the old, fancy and elegant world that once was, and how much history has passed from here…

Since the second millennium BC, the location was an inhabited site. Originally an Illyrian settlement, the Veneti entered the region in the 10th-9th c. BC and seem to have given the town its name, Tergeste, since terg* is a Venetic word meaning market. Still later, the town was captured by the Carni, a tribe of the Eastern Alps, before becoming part of the Roman republic in 177 BC during the Istrian War. Between 52 and 46 BC, it was granted the status of Roman colony under Julius Caesar, who recorded its name as Tergeste in Commentarii de Bello Gallico, his work which recounts events of the Gallic Wars. In imperial times the border of Roman Italy moved to bigger area. Roman Tergeste flourished due to its position on the road from Aquileia, the main Roman city in the area, to Istria, and as a port, some ruins of which are still visible. Emperor Augustus built a line of walls around the city in 33–32 BC, while Trajan built a theatre in the 2nd century. At the same time, the citizens of the town were enrolled in the tribe Pupinia. In 27 BC, Trieste was incorporated in Regio X of Augustan Italia. In the early Christian era Trieste continued to flourish. Between AD 138 and 161, its territory was enlarged and nearby Carni and Catali were granted Roman citizenship by the Roman Senate and Emperor Antoninus Pius at the pleading of a leading Tergestine citizen, the quaestor urbanus, Fabius Severus.

The city was witness to the Battle of the Frigidus in Vipava valley in AD 397, in which Theodosius defeated Eugene. Despite the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in Ravenna in 476 and the ascension to power of Odoacer in Italy, Trieste was retained for a time by the Roman Emperor seated at Constantinople, and thus, became a Byzantine military outpost. In 539, the Byzantines annexed it to the Exarchate of Ravenna and despite Trieste’s being briefly taken by the Lombards in 567 in the course of their invasion of northern Italy, held it until the time of the coming of the Franks.

In 788, Trieste submitted to Charlemagne who placed it under the authority of their count-bishop who in turn was under the Duke of Friùli. From 1081 the city came loosely under the Patriarchate of Aquileia, developing into a free commune by the end of the 12th century. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Trieste became a maritime trade rival to the Republic of Venice which briefly occupied it in 1283–87, before coming under the patronage of the Patriarchate of Aquileia. After committing a perceived offence against Venice, the Venetian State declared war against Trieste in July 1368 and by November had occupied the city. Venice intended to keep the city and began rebuilding its defenses, but was forced to leave in 1372. By the Peace of Turin in 1381, Venice renounced its claim to Trieste and the leading citizens of Trieste petitioned Leopold III of Habsburg, Duke of Austria, to make Trieste part of his domains. The agreement of voluntary submission (dedizione) was signed at the castle of Graz on 30 September 1382. The city maintained a high degree of autonomy under the Habsburgs, but was increasingly losing ground as a trade hub, both at the expense of Venice and Ragusa (Dubrovnik). In 1463, a number of Istrian communities petitioned Venice to attack Trieste. Trieste was saved from utter ruin by the intervention of Pope Pius II who had previously been bishop of Trieste. However, Venice limited Trieste’s territory to three miles (4.8 kilometres) outside the city. Trieste would be assaulted again in 1468-1469 by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. His sack of the city is remembered as the “Destruction of Trieste.”Trieste was fortunate to be spared another sack in 1470 by the Ottomans who burned the village of Prosecco, only about 5.3 miles from Trieste, while on their way to attack Friuli.

Following an unsuccessful Habsburg invasion of Venice in the prelude to the 1508–16 War of the League of Cambrai, the Venetians occupied Trieste again in 1508, and were allowed to keep the city under the terms of the peace treaty. However, the Habsburg Empire recovered Trieste a little over one year later, when the conflict resumed. By the 18th century Trieste became an important port and commercial hub for the Austrians. In 1719, it was granted status as a free port within the Habsburg Empire by Emperor Charles VI, and remained a free port until 1 July 1891. The reign of his successor, Maria Theresa of Austria, marked the beginning of a very prosperous era for the city.

In the following decades, Trieste was briefly occupied by troops of the French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars on several occasions, in 1797, 1805 and 1809. From 1809 to 1813, Trieste was annexed into Illyrian Provinces, interrupting its status of free port and losing its autonomy. The municipal autonomy was not restored after the return of the city to the Austrian Empire in 1813. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Trieste continued to prosper as the Free Imperial City of Trieste, a status that granted economic freedom, but limited its political self-government. The city’s role as Austria’s main trading port and shipbuilding centre was later emphasized with the foundation of the merchant shipping line Austrian Lloyd in 1836. By 1913 Austrian Lloyd had a fleet of 62 ships comprising a total of 236,000 tons. With the introduction of the constitutionalism in the Austrian Empire in 1860, the municipal autonomy of the city was restored, with Trieste becoming capital of the Austrian Littoral crown land.

In the later part of the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII considered moving his residence to Trieste or Salzburg because of what he considered a hostile anti-Catholic climate in Italy following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly established Kingdom of Italy. However, the Austrian monarch, Franz Josef I, rejected the idea. The modern Austro-Hungarian Navy used Trieste as a base and for shipbuilding. The construction of the first major trunk railway in the Empire, the Vienna-Trieste Austrian Southern Railway, was completed in 1857, a valuable asset for trade and the supply of coal.At the beginning of the 20th century, Trieste was a bustling cosmopolitan city frequented by artists and philosophers such as James JoyceItalo SvevoSigmund FreudZofka KvederDragotin KetteIvan CankarScipio Slataper, and Umberto Saba. The city was the major port on the Austrian Riviera, and perhaps the only real enclave of Mitteleuropa (i.e. Central Europe) south of the Alps. Viennese architecture and coffeehouses dominate the streets of Trieste to this day.

In 1882 an Irredentist activist, Guglielmo Oberdan, attempted to assassinate Emperor Franz Joseph, who was visiting Trieste. Oberdan was caught, convicted, and executed. He was regarded as a martyr by radical Irredentists, but as a cowardly villain by the supporters of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Franz Joseph, who reigned another thirty-five years, never visited Trieste again.

Molo Audace, formerly Molo San Carlo, is a place dear to the hearts of Trieste’s inhabitants. This walkway extending about 200 metres out to sea is a magical place for a stroll and a breath of fresh air at any time of day and in any season, a place of enchanting autumnal sunsets, when the buildings on the shores are tinged with red. If you fancy a real challenge you can run to the wind-rose at its far end, and try to remain standing against the Bora winds of up to 100 km/h! The pier was built between 1743 and 1751 on the wreck of the San Carlo, a ship that sank in the harbour. Originally 95 metres long and connected to land by a small wooden bridge, the pier has been gradually lengthened and now measures 246 metres. In 1922 the pier was renamed Molo Audace in honour of the destroyer Audace, the first ship of the Italian Navy to arrive in Trieste, on November 3, 1918.

From the pier, you can have a wonderful view of maybe the best known attraction of Trieste, as shown by hubby in the photo above…..

Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy Square) is the main square in Trieste. Located at the foot of the of San Giusto, the square faces the Adriatic Sea. It is often said to be Europe’s largest square located next to the sea. The square was built during the period when Trieste was the most important seaport of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and includes the city’s municipal buildings and other important palaces. Before 1919 it was known as Piazza Grande, or Great Square. The local Slovenes still refer to it as Veliki trg (Great Square), both in daily speech and in the media. In the last decade, the term Trg zedinjenja (Unity Square) or Trg zedinjenja Italije (Unity of Italy Square) has also become popular, especially in official documents. The square itself has occasionally been used as a concert venue, with Green Day using the square as a venue for a show on their 99 Revolutions Tour in 2013. The attendeance was of 12.000 people . In 2016, it was used by heavy metal band Iron Maiden as a concert venue (it was the third of three italian dates): the concert was sold out with over 15.000 fans. The square is also occasionally used for visits of foreign heads of state and meetings. In November 2013 President of Russia Vladimir Putin met Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta there for bilateral talks. In July 2017 (just a week before our arrival) a trilateral meeting attended by Angela MerkelEmmanuel Macron, and Paolo Gentiloni was held there, as well as the fourth Western Balkans Summit. Between 2001 and 2005 it was completely renovated and the buildings overlooking it were renovated as well. The stone paving was replaced by thin sandstone slabs, the Fountain of the Four Continents was placed in its original position opposite the Town Hall’s main entrance and, on the sea side, a blue led lighting system was set up in remembrance of the ancient small sheltered harbour, filled in between 1858 and 1863.

Looking at the square from the sea side, from left to right, the square is overlooked by the following buildings: the palace of the Austrian lieutenancy, now the seat of the Prefecture, characterized by mosaics that now depict the coat of arms of the House of Savoy that replace the original ones, which depicted the Austro-Hungarian imperial coat of arms…………

 

….then Palazzo Stratti, where the historic café Caffè degli Specchi is situated, and Palazzo Modello

the Town Hall, the tower of which is topped by two bronze figures, “Mikeze e Jakeze“, that strike the hours; before the entrance, the Fountain of the Four Continents, which was built between 1751 and 1754, had to represent Trieste as the city favoured by fortune thanks to the establishment of the free port. The world is represented by four allegorical statues that recall the features of the people who lived in the four continents known at that time (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).

Palazzo Pitteri, the oldest building in the square, Palazzo Vanoli, which houses a prestigious hotel

and the palace of the Austrian Lloyd shipping company, then Lloyd Triestino, and now the seat of the Region.

What hit me while visiting the ground floor of the Town Hall was a piece of stone from the ruins of the World Trade Center of New York, placed there to commemorate that tragedy on the occasion of the  “2017 World Trade Centers European Regional Meeting”, held in february….

If you plan to visit the square, you absolutely have to wait till sunset, to enjoy the most amazing nature show, as the sun and then the lights, color everything in gold…..with a hint of blue recalling the sea…

You have to walk for 8 km from the city center (or take a bus, as we did) to discover another very touristic attraction…..

…..the gardens and Castle of Miramare….we didn’t visit the inside (a very long line discouraged us) but we just strolled around enjoying the sun and the peaceful surrounding…..

Miramare Castle is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico, based on a design by Carl Junker. The castle’s grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park of 22 hectares (54 acres) designed by the archduke. The grounds were completely re-landscaped to feature numerous tropical species of trees and plants.

In 1850, at the age of eighteen, Maximilian came to Trieste with his brother Charles and, immediately afterwards, he set off on a short cruise toward the Near East. This journey confirmed his intention to sail and to get to know the world. In 1852 he was appointed an officer and in 1854 he became Commander in Chief of the Imperial Navy. He decided to move to Trieste and to have a home built facing the sea and surrounded by a park worthy of his name and rank. According to tradition, when the archduke was caught in a sudden storm in the Gulf, he took shelter in the little harbour of Grignano and he chose that bare rocky spur of limestone origin as the setting for his home. The whole complex, purchased for the first time at the beginning of March 1856, was called Miramar, after the name of Prince Ferdinand of Saxony’s residence in Pena, Portugal.

The architectural structure of Miramare was finished in 1860. The style reflects the artistic interests of the archduke, who was acquainted with the eclectic architectural styles of Austria, Germany and England. The craftsman Franz Hofmann and his son, Julius, were entrusted with the furnishing and decorations. Hofmann, who worked in the city of Trieste, was a skilful artisan who was willing to follow Maximilian’s suggestions. Both the artisan and his patron had a similar cultural formation and they were well acquainted with the eclectic tendencies of the time. The work, steadily supervised by Maximilian, was finished only after his departure in 1864 for Mexico where he was appointed Emperor, and where after a brief reign he was shot in Querétaro in June 1867. Maximilian intended to create an intimate atmosphere in the castle in the area reserved for his family – an area which he wanted to be in contact with nature, reflecting both his own spirit and that of an epoch.

 

On the ground floor, destined for the use of Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, worthy of note are the bedroom and the archduke’s office, which reproduce the cabin and the stern wardroom respectively of the frigate Novara, the war-ship used by Maximilian when he was Commander of the Navy to circumnavigate the world between 1857 and 1859; the library, whose walls are lined with bookshelves and the rooms of the Archduchess with their tapestry of light-blue silk. All the rooms still feature the original furnishings, ornaments, furniture and objects dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Many coats of arms of the Second Mexican Empire decorate the castle, as well as stone ornamentations on the exterior depicting the Aztec eagle. The first floor includes guest reception areas and the Throne Room. Of note are the magnificent panelling on the ceiling and walls and the Chinese and Japanese drawing-rooms with their oriental furnishings. Of particular interest is the room decorated with paintings by Cesare Dell’Acqua, portraying events in the life of Maximilian and the history of Miramare. Currently, the rooms in the castle are mostly arranged according to the original layout decided upon by the royal couple. A valuable photographic reportage commissioned by the archduke himself made accurate reconstruction possible.

Miramare Park, which at one time had no vegetation, and has now a surface area of 22 hectares (54 acres), as far as the botanical aspect was concerned, a gardener, Josef Laube, was called in but was replaced in 1859 by Anton Jelinek, a Bohemian who had taken part in the frigate Novara’s expedition around the world. The park, on which work began in 1856, represents a classic example of a mixed, artificial implantation of ligneous forest-trees and bushes and it succeeds in blending the charm of a typically Northern environment and a Mediterranean context. In contrast to the baroque garden, the English one – on which Miramare is modelled – introduces a new relationship with nature, resulting from a different sensibility towards the material world. This is why, when strolling along the paths in the park, you can breathe in an atmosphere that is tightly bound up with the life of its owner and his romantic relationship with nature, which was typical of his epoch.

Before 1856, the park area was bare, with only some shrubs and thorny bushes. Today, on the other hand, there is a group of different species of trees that are, for the most part, of non-European origin or in any case, that are not native to the area. Within a period of ten years, cedars of Lebanon, North Africa and the Himalayas were planted, along with firs and spruces from Spain, cypresses from California and Mexico, various species of pine from Asia and America, to which some exotic specimens, such as the giant sequoia and the ginkgo biloba, were added. Miramare was conceived as a private garden and not as a park. In fact it does not have a monumental entrance or a driveway up to the castle. It was a garden of wonders, not intended for public use, even though the archduke opened it to the public a few days per week. Watercourses, pools, twisting paths, trees placed according to natural models, some grassy areas, are typical of English gardens. The roughness of the ground favoured the irregular lay-out of the promontory, combining the artificial transformation with the natural environment.

The park is also characterised by the presence of some buildings included in Junker’s project: the Castelletto – inhabited off and on by Maximilian and Charlotte – on which work began at the same time as work on the castle; the greenhouses, intended for the growing of the plants to be placed in the park; the ruins of the chapel dedicated to Saint Canciano, in whose apse is preserved a cross made from the wood of the frigate Novara, which was laid up in 1899; and lastly a little house, used nowadays as a coffee-shop, the “Swiss house“, placed at the edge of the swans’ lake.

Up until 1954, Miramare became the headquarters for German, New Zealand, British and American forces of occupation respectively. Finally in 1955, the complex was reopened to the public under the name Miramare Park, whose management was entrusted to the Sopraintendenza per i Beni Architettonici ed il Paesaggio e per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Today the gardens play host during the summer season to spectacles such as the musical “Sissi“, reliving the story of the Empire in its natural setting, and various concerts.

It was sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful place, but we were confident that the next stages of our trip would have reserved other surprises…..

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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