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Cultural Attractions, History, Hotels, Museums

Evora: The Alentejo’s Capital City

October 27, 2017

The Vasco da Gama bridge led us away from lively Lisbon to the rural beauty of the Alentejo.

An easy 90- minute drive southeast of Lisbon takes you to the expansive Alentejo region. Home to medieval villages, castles, palaces, pousadas, megaliths, wine producers, and vast agricultural lands, this beautiful area has something to please nearly all visitors. We made Evora, the capital of the region, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, our headquarters. This delightful small city is a great base from which to launch day trips to the many attractions in the area.

The Alentejo’s capital city is best explored on foot– wearing comfortable shoes, of course.

Remember to look up as you wander!

The historic city of Evora has interesting sites and several museums to explore. Just walking the winding streets is a fine way to spend a day, especially in the area around the Largo Conde de Vila Flor. After a pleasant stroll through the Praca do Giraldo, Evora’s bustling main square, we considered our options.

The busy Praca do Giraldo is at the heart of the city. Numerous shopping streets fan off from the Praca.

Cork is king in the Alentejo and is featured in souvenirs from sandals to handbags.

Portuguese pottery is also a popular souvenir.

Time was short so we had to make choices.  We decided to save the Contemporary Art Museum for our next visit and headed over to the Museum of Evora, which was hosting a Chinese porcelain exhibition along with its permanent collections.

The Museum of Evora is housed in a former Episcopal palace built in the 17th century.

Beautiful Azulejos tiles line the stone staircase inside the museum.

Teapots, serving pieces, jewelry and other treasures from China are featured in the current exhibition at the museum.

Placards describe the fine Chinese porcelain plates on display in Portuguese and English.

The museum features paintings from the 15th through 19th centuries, drawings, engravings, 17th and 18th century furniture, and Roman sculpture from the 1st and 2nd centuries.

The museum is known for it’s 17th and 18th century painting and sculpture. This piece is by Antonio Teixeira Lopes.

Religious articles, like St. Blaise’s arm reliquary from the 17th century, are part of the permanent collection.

Visitors can see this striking bronze sculpture, statuary, mosaics and other artifacts from the Roman era.

Interesting archeological finds from the Neolithic Age and a collection of silver and gold religious pieces, and jewelry are also on display. There were few visitors on the day we were there.

Antiquities from numerous ancient civilizations are on view.

Artifacts from the Roman era line a courtyard hallway.

Just outside the museum is the Roman Temple from the 1st century AD. Today, the ruins are undergoing restoration and are under wraps, but it is possible to see several of the Corinthian columns.

The Roman Temple which dates from the 1st century is mentioned in all the guide books, but until the restoration is complete, there isn’t much to see.

There is a small park behind the temple that offers nice views over the area beyond Evora and across the way you’ll find a lovely pousada, once a monastery that is now an upmarket hotel called Pousada dos Loios. Feel free to wander inside and take a step back into Portugal’s past. The restaurant here is open to the public.

Here’s a peek at the courtyard and restaurant at Pousada dos Loios.

This small park behind the Roman Temple provided a nice place to relax and enjoy the views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Many people line up at Evora’s Church of St. Francis to visit the Chapel of the Bones or Capela dos Ossis. The 16th century chapel displays the bones and skulls of monks. We’ve seen the creepy Capuchin Crypt in Rome so felt no need to stop in after our visit to the church. The public gardens beside the church were much more appealing.

Inside the Church of St. Francis.

The Chapel of the Bones is a popular tourist attraction inside the Church of St. Francis.

If you have time, stop into Evora’s Cathedral or Se.  It’s one of the largest medieval cathedrals in Southern Portugal and is said to be built on the site of a former mosque.

Here are the marvelously mismatched spires of Evora’s cathedral.

Close to the Church of St. Francis, you’ll find Evora’s morning market.  The market is indoors and was smaller than some we’ve visited, but we also arrived fairly late in the morning after many of the vendors had closed up shop.  Happily, there were several purveyors of tasty cheeses, cured meats, and fruits and vegetables still open.

Many vendors had already packed up and gone home by the time we arrived at the market but there was still plenty to choose from.

Everything you need for a nice picnic is right here–local pork products, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses and other tasty treats.

Evora has lodging options to fit many budgets and preferences. We chose to stay at two very different, but both delightful properties in and near the city. We began our stay at the lovely Albergaria do Calvario, just inside the walls of the city www.hotel@albergariadocalvario.com.

 

We enjoyed our stay at the small, well-located Albergaria do Calvario.

Located just inside the ancient Roman walls, it was easy to walk all around the city and access the freeway quickly for daytrips from our hotel.

The location made it easy to walk to Evora’s important sites as well as to dinner each evening. It was also convenient to reach the freeway for our day trips further afield. We’ll discuss dining and day trips in additional posts.

The comfortable bar area welcomes guests for drinks and light bites.

Ours was a large, comfortable room with a big balcony overlooking the hotel’s courtyard where many guests enjoyed breakfast, aperitifs, and conversation. Rooms vary substantially in size so be sure to explore your options when booking.

Our room was large and bright with a huge balcony overlooking the courtyard.

The marble used here is mined nearby. There is a Museum of Marble in Vila VIcosa we”ll visit next time.

There is no restaurant per se in the hotel, but they do provide a substantial breakfast buffet and have small meals, snacks, and drinks on offer in the bar. Anything ordered can be enjoyed in the courtyard, the bar area or one of the comfortable sitting areas.

This is just a small part of the bountiful buffet breakfast greeting guests each morning.

The courtyard provides a pleasant place to enjoy breakfast, drinks, or just relax.

Friendly staff are happy to help with restaurant bookings, excursion ideas or whatever you need to make your stay memorable.

The staff is extremely helpful and will even park and retrieve your car for you. Parking is available onsite at no additional charge. Laundry service is also available at a very reasonable price. The only thing we missed at this charming, small hotel was a pool, but we got that at our next hotel–Convento Espinhero.

Welcome to the Convento do Espinheiro.

We also spent several nights about 15 kilometers outside of Evora at the stunning Convento do Espinheiro. The converted convent was built in 1458 and is managed by www.starwood.com. The property has traditional rooms in the original buildings as well as two modern wings.

We had a large room in the modern wing of the hotel, complete with a nice balcony.

We enjoyed our stay in the modern wing where we had a very large room with a balcony and views over the property towards to the inviting swimming pool. After nearly 10 days of non-stop touring it was the perfect place to take break.

The pool provided the perfect place for relaxation, lunch, drinks and a refreshing dip.

There is also an indoor pool and a nice spa on site where I enjoyed a relaxing massage. There are tours given daily of the expansive Convento which covers the property’s fascinating history.

Ancient olive trees dot the property which dates back to 1458.

These stone benches have been here since the property was a functioning convent.

The complimentary tour includes a visit to the beautiful church (which is still in use), monk’s cistern where a complimentary wine tasting is held each evening, the former dining area and kitchen, as well as the vaulted storage cellar which now houses the hotel’s terrific restaurant.

Convento Espinheiro was one of the three wealthiest convents in Portugal. The church is still in use today.

The bells, one original, ring out to announce a wedding has taken place.

The wine cellar is housed in the monk’s former cistern, which was once filled with water.

A complimentary wine tasting take place each evening at 6 p.m. in the wine cellar.

We ate dinner there each night of our stay. The food is artfully prepared and beautifully presented by top-notch staff. Be sure to reserve for dinner or prepare to be disappointed—the dining room fills up. Should you choose to go offsite for your dinner and prefer not to drive, the helpful staff can arrange for a taxi into Evora.

Fresh local fish elegantly prepared is served with flair.

Luscious lamb chops with squash puree are featured on the menu.

Save room for dessert.

Where monks once stored their wine, olive oil and honey, hotel guests now enjoy a bountiful breakfast buffet. It is possible to enjoy your morning repast out on one of the terraces or in the courtyard area, as we did.

The former storage for olive oil, wine and honey, now serves as the hotel’s elegant dining room.

We also arranged to see some of the traditional rooms including the “royal suite” used by many honeymoon couples. It is truly spectacular in a beautiful old-world way and features a  contemporary bathroom and private rooftop terrace.

The “royal suite” often used by honeymooners offers old world charm and opulence.

The suite’s bathroom features modern fixtures like this free standing tub.

A private rooftop terrace, one flight up from the suite provides glorious views of the area around the Convento.

Next up, we’ll explore the Alentejo.  Join us for a few day trips and a wine tasting.

 

 

 

 

Art, California, Cultural Attractions, Museums, San Francisco

Hats Off to Degas–Lucas Shakes Things Up at SF’s Legion of Honor

September 4, 2017

San Francisco’s venerable Palace of Legion of Honor, part of the city’s Fine Arts Museums, is currently hosting the very popular Degas, Impressionism and the Paris Millinery Trade.

The extensive exhibition focuses on the impact of the millinery trade in Paris during the Belle Epoch era on the work of Degas and his contemporaries.  Paintings and pastels by Degas, Renoir, Edouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Toulouse- Lautrec and others, some never before shown in the U.S., are featured. In addition to the splendid impressionist paintings, included in the exhibition are 40 marvelous examples of millinery from that time period—in other words—hats!

Hats featuring flowers were popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. Silk, cotton, velvet and paper were all used to construct artificial flowers like those shown here.

Some patrons were definitely in the spirit of things.

These hats range in size and complexity from the sublime to over the top. One chapeau is topped with an entire owl, which had been preserved specifically for that purpose. There are plumes, beads, metallic wire, ribbons and flowers adorning these mostly enchanting toppers.

Plumage from domestic and exotic birds, including ostrich and owls, often were used to embellish luxury ladies’ hats.

These hats all sport fashionable feathers. The hat on the left features a complete owl while the one on the right has an African starling above its brim.

A visitor admires Manet’s “At the Milliner’s”–one of about 40 paintings and pastels in the exhibition.

Men’s hats are included in the exhibit too. There are fine examples including boater and bowler hats, along with a sketch of Degas himself in a top hat.

Bowlers and top hats, along with carrying cases, are part of the exhibit.

The 42 year-old Edgar Degas is shown here wearing a top hat.

The exhibition was quite crowded, mostly with ladies of a certain age, oohing and ahhing over the millinery creations. There were a few patrons sporting hats and we spotted several of the museum’s docents in the spirit of things– wearing lovely fascinators.

Feathered finery got a lot of attention from visitors.

We didn’t take a docent-guided tour but shared our table at lunch with a group of ladies from the San Jose area who had and raved about it. It is necessary to reserve a spot for a guided tour in connection with this exhibit.

This docent wears a fine fascinator for her presentation. Reservations for the free tours are essential for this exhibition.

Some of the Impressionist paintings in this exhibition have not been shown in the U.S. before.

Special exhibition tickets are required for the Degas exhibit, in addition to the general admission fee for the museum. This doesn’t seem to be keeping the crowds away at all downstairs. There were numerous tour groups vying to get close to the works during our midweek trip to the Legion of Honor.

Special exhibition tickets are required, in addition to general admission. The galleries became quite crowded at times.

Upstairs in the galleries featuring Rodin’s classic sculpture, visitors can enjoy near solitude—at least during our visit. Displayed with the August Rodin: The Centenary Installation, which honors the 100th anniversary of the artist’s death, you’ll find the provocative work of Sarah Lucas. Sarah Lucas:Good Muse is the first major exhibition of the UK artist’s work in the U.S.

The museum is best known for its ancient and classical European collections which includes paintings, sculpture, furnishings and porcelain.

Sarah Lucas’ work brings contemporary art and controversy to the Legion of Honor.

Sarah Lucas:Good Muse would probably be much more comfortable at the SFMOMA (SF Museum of Modern Art) than at the classically- focused Legion of Honor. The docent who provided a tour of the exhibition shared that many patrons and members of the museum were more than a little unhappy with Lucas’ work.

Giant plaster cast boots, soft sculptures and a series of Lucas’ yellow urinal sculptures are on display among the 50 bronze, plaster and marble works by Rodin.

Lucas’ sculptures, made from plaster, panty hose, florescent lights, a bedspring and mattress, cigarettes and other materials, allude to sexual interactions, availability, empowerment, and domestic responsibilities, according to the docent. She also pointed out examples where Rodin’s work related to the themes of Lucas’ pieces.

“Washing Machine Fried Eggs” invites discussion of women’s sexual and domestic roles.

Apparently the artist wanted to “bring color” to the galleries and chose to include a series of yellow urinal sculptures displayed atop small refrigerators, placed among Rodin’s classic sculpture. We found the juxtaposition interesting but could easily understand the contretemps. At the entrance to the galleries where Lucas’ work is displayed, there are signs warning that the art may not be appropriate for all viewers. We have chosen not to include photos of the most controversial work for that reason.

Electricity in this piece “keeps the energy up” according to the artist.

Degas, Impressionism and the Paris Millinery Trade closes September 24 and Sarah Lucas: Good Muse closes September 17. Go see these very different exhibitions for yourself and let us know what you think. A day at the Palace of Legion of Honor is always a day well spent.

California, Carmel, Family Fun, History, Monterey Bay, Motorcycles, Museums

Motorcycle Mania—Moto Talbott Collection

April 6, 2017

I’m not much of a motorcycle aficionado myself, but I have been married to one for enough years to recognize the distinctive sound of a Ducati from a distance. On our recent trip to California’s Monterey Peninsula, we drove up to Carmel Valley to indulge in some wine tasting and discovered the Moto Talbott Collection www.mototalbott.com. My husband’s delight quickly faded when he saw the motorcycle museum was closed, but fate smiled once again when founder Robb Talbott appeared in the courtyard.

Moto Talbott is a “must see” for motorcycle aficionados.

We had a nice chat, but Mr. Talbott was off to an appointment so no chance for a sneak peek behind the gates that day. We left with the promise to return later that week; my husband clutching the newly printed brochure Robb had kindly given him.

Rare, vintage, award- winning and beautifully restored motorcycles, all with stories to tell, await visitors to Moto Talbott.

Bright and early that Friday morning, we returned to Moto Talbott. In the courtyard were the museum’s newest acquisitions—two BMW Isetta 300s. Originally produced in Italy in the 1950s, Issetas are known as micro cars or “cabin scooters.” These two had been languishing in a hayloft in a Northern California barn for more than 40 years. Robb had picked them up just the night before.

These Isseta micro cars had just arrived after languishing in a hayloft for 40 years.

The Moto Talbott Collection has only been open since November 2016 but is already attracting motorcycle fans from all over. The collection is mostly motorcycles (more than 160 of them) but also features scooters, vintage transportation- themed toys, motorcycle memorabilia and more. The bikes are artfully displayed in a 6,000 square foot building with walls of snow barrier board trucked in from Wyoming and constructed by hand. Every detail has been carefully thought through.

This BMW is handsomely displayed against a handcrafted wall of Wyoming snow barrier board.

There are some real gems in the collection, including the Ducati Marianna that won the very last Motogira D’Italia in 1956 and is credited with saving the Ducati Company from possible closure. There’s a terrific photo of the wining rider, Guiliano Maoggi, with a cigarette clenched in his teeth on the wall above the bike, along with the fascinating story of his victory.

Visitors can learn about the last Motogiro d’Italia and the winning Ducati’s intriguing victory tale.

Steve McQueen’s 1931 VL Harley is there, as is a demonstration bike from WWII with the gas tank and engine covering cut away so soldiers training on it could learn what went where. This particular bike, which is quite a rare find, came to the collection complete with troop movement maps, gloves and a fully- functioning Thompson sub-machine gun, which has since been rendered inoperable.

Every bike has a fascinating story and a great deal of history behind it, including this rare WWII demo bike.

There’s a Vespa specially designed to promote Coach’s leather goods, a motorcycle that was buried in the backyard to protect it from certain destruction in a fire, race and award winners, beautiful restorations, trial bikes, rare and vintage motorcycles—they’re all here.

Each Coach logo was carefully hand painted on this promotional Vespa.

What really makes a trip to Moto Talbott special is the opportunity to learn the history and stories behind these bikes from the engaging and knowledgeable docents. We were fortunate to spend the morning with Rich Watson, former Economics professor at UC Santa Barbara and a lifelong lover of motorcycles. Rich could not have been more informative and entertaining. We were captivated by the intriguing tales he told, from his description of riders being impaled by enormous splinters during the American board racing days of the early 1900s to stories of unbeatable BSAs.

Engaging docents like Rich Watson enrich the visitor’s experience by sharing the stories and history behind the bikes.

These Indians from the early 1900s were used for American board racing– an extremely dangerous form of motorcycle racing not permitted for decades.

The impressive collection currently features road bikes and dirt bikes from 16 countries, from the Czech Republic to Mexico. MV Agusta, BSA, Bultaco, BMW, Indian, Harley Davidson, Kawaski, Maico, Gilera, Triumph, Honda—nearly every notable motorcycle company is represented here.

Road bikes and dirt bikes from around the globe are part of the collection at Moto Talbott.

The “Riders for Health” motorcycle under the orange vest traveled more than 80,000 kms bringing health care and aid to those in need in Zimbabwe.

The former proprietor of the highly regarded Talbott Vineyards and chairman of the board of the eponymous clothing company his family founded, Robb Talbott’s commitment to excellence and quality is as apparent in the Moto Talbott Collection as it was in his previous endeavors. The museum was at least three years in the making and was created so that he could “…share his passion for bikes and beauty… And mostly to share the stories of these bikes and their history.” The museum’s mission statement rings especially true after talking with Robb—”preservation, restoration and education…all driven by passion.”

Some of founder Robb Talbott’s vintage toys are displayed here.

We also had the chance to meet Bobby Weindorf, the museum’s curator and chief restorer.   Motorcycles have been part of Bobby’s life since he was 12 years old. His career was built on his passion: five years with American Honda’s factory road race and Supercross/Motocross teams; a dealership in Santa Barbara for 10 years, and several years in Italy working with motorcycle race teams. When asked about his three favorite bikes in the collection, he chose the 1977 MV Agusta 850SS because, “It’s big, powerful and makes a bold Italian statement,” a 1977 Hodaka Super Combat Wombat, “…cute dirt bike with an awesome name,” and a 1965 BMW R 69S in Granada Red, for it’s “pure elegance in a rare color…”

Moto Talbott is dedicated to preservation, restoration and education–and doing a spectacular job in all three area.

Bobby noted that Moto Talbott will continue to evolve: expanding and changing the collection, offering events, and continuing to educate visitors, preserving the “survivors,” and restoring the classic motorcycles that he and the others involved in this marvelous museum have worked so tirelessly to make accessible to motorcycle lovers from around the world.

Please visit www.mototalbott.com for the most current information on opening hours, events, and ticket prices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Architecture, Art, Churches, Family Fun, Firenze, Florence, History, Italy, Museums, Tuscany

Il Grande Museo del’Opera del Duomo: All About Florence’s Famous Duomo

October 3, 2016

Florence’s Il Grande Museo del’Opera del Duomo has nothing at all to do with opera. Instead, it is all about the work, or opera, involved in building, preserving and maintaining one of the most recognizable Renaissance buildings in the world—Florence’s Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

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A spectacular view of Brunelleschi’s dome from Caffe La Terrazza.

If you’ve ever wanted to see how Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome was constructed, learn what the other options were for the Duomo’s facade, or see the remarkable art treasures once housed in the cathedral, this is the place to come.

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Welcome to the recently reopened and reimagined Museo del’Opera del Duomo.

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Soaring galleries give visitors a new perspective on the superb sculpture on display at the museum.

Re-opened in October 2015 after years of restoration and reconstruction, the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo has an exquisite collection of sculpture, paintings and other masterworks displayed on three floors in 6,000 square meters of exhibit space, all designed to showcase the art to its best visual and historical advantage.

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A visitor gets an up close look at a statue in the museum.

Most of the works were at one time in, or outside the Duomo.

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These sculptures once graced niches in Giotto’s bell tower.

Some of the treasures to be found include the original North Doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Baptistry of San Giovanni along with the Doors of Paradise by Lorenzo and Vittorio Ghiberti. Replicas now hang on the Baptistry.

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Ghiberti’s stunning Doors of Paradise and North Door once graced the Baptistry of San Giovanni but can now be found inside the museum.

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Detail of door.

In all, the museum boasts 750 works of art covering 720 years of history.

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Arnolfo di Cambio’s stunning Christ with the Soul of Mary

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This exquisite silver alter features scenes from the life of John the Baptist and was created by Lorenzo Ghiberti, Betto di Geri, Bernardo Cennini, Antonio di Salvi, Francesco and Leonardo di Giovanni, Antonio del Pollaiolo and Andrea del Verrocchio.

Michelangelo’s poignant pieta, sculpture by Donatello including his magnificent Mary Magdalene as Penitent, and works by Andrea Pisano, Antonio Pollaiolo, Arnolfo di Cambio and other highly regarded Medieval and Renaissance artists are on display.

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Michelangelo sculpted this pieta for his own tomb. He later destroyed it. It was reconstructed and acquired by Cosimo de Medici In 1671 and placed in the Duomo in 1722. It was the next to last sculpture Michelangelo ever created.

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Donatello’s Mary Magdalene as Penitent draws many visitors.

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Sacred items and iconography are part of the museum’s extensive collection.

img_2108In the Cappella Musicale, or music gallery, you will hear enchanting sacred music, and find works by Luca della Robbia and others, as well as rare illuminated music books.

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Beautiful music fills this gallery where rare illustrated books, sacred objects and art treasures are displayed.

img_2164Brunelleschi’s dome, still considered a marvel of engineering, remains one of Florence’s most iconic monuments.

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Models of Brunelleschi’s dome show how it was built and why it remains an engineering marvel.

In addition to the art treasures, the museum contains original building materials, equipment and tools, dating back to the Duomo’s 15th century construction.

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Wooden pulleys, ropes and other original construction equipment used to build the Duomo can be seen at the museum.

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Original 15th century tools and equipment used to build the Duomo are displayed near a continuously running film that explores the design and construction.

Also featured are drawings and models of the dome and Giotto’s bell tower, which was begun in 1334, after Giotto’s death. An outdoor terrace offers splendid views of the dome.

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Brunelleschi’s wooden model of the dome fascinates visitors.

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A detailed model of the bell tower designed by Giotto is on display near beautiful stained glass windows created by notables including Ghiberti, Donatello, Paolo Uccelli and Andrea del Castagno.

Visitors to the museum will learn about the history of this spectacular cathedral, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and dedicated in 1412. The name Santa Maria del Fiore means St. Mary of the Flowers or Virgin of the Flowers. Once the largest church in all of Europe, today it is third in size, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.

img_2134A film called Courage to Dare about Florence during the Renaissance and the creation and construction of the Duomo runs continuously in the museum.

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A number of possibilities considered for the Duomo’s facade are on display, including this one.

Combination tickets can be purchased for the Duomo Museum, the Baptistery, the bell tower and the Crypt of Santa Reparta, named for the 7th century church that once stood on the site of the Duomo. There is no charge to enter the Duomo, but paid tickets are required for visitors who wish to climb the more than 400 steps to the top of the bell tower.

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The Baptistry of San Giovanni always draws crowds. Tickets are required to enter.

Appropriate clothing is essential for entry. In other words, no shorts, short skirts or skimpy, shoulder baring tops on women or men. Bulky bags and backpacks must be checked. Visit www.ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it for information on ticket prices, hours and tours.

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Admission to the Duomo is free but take care to dress appropriately or you will be denied entry.

On our visit, we also had free access to a photographic exhibition called Opera di Viva by Michele Pecchioli, which paid tribute to the hundreds of men and women who have worked to preserve the artistic integrity and cultural heritage of the building and the art works within for more than 700 years.

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Michele Pecchioli’s photographs pay tribute to the men and women who restore and preserve the art and cultural heritage of Florence’s iconic Duomo.

img_2560The photos feature the restorers, artists, employees and security guards who play a role in safeguarding these treasurers and ensuring public access to the works for years to come. Note: This was a temporary exhibition and may now longer be available for viewing.

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A close up of a security guard charged with safeguarding the priceless treasures at the Duomo and its museum.

When the sun begins to set in Florence, head over to Piazzale Michelangelo for another perspective on the Duomo —and enjoy the gorgeous vista across the Arno over the city.

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Some of the most spectacular views of Florence can be had from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful San Miniato al Monte across the street. It’s the oldest church in Florence, after the Baptistry.

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Florence’s Duomo viewed from Piazzale Michelangelo.

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The department store La Rinescente has a terrace restaurant with fine views of the Duomo, as well as drinks and light fare.

If you crave an aperitivo with your sunset and Duomo views, go to La Rinascente, the department store on Piazza Repubblica. Go directly up to La Terrazza on the top floor and you’ll find a little rooftop café/bar with great views of the city and the iconic dome. It gets crowded so get there early or be prepared to wait.

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Sensational sunset view over the Piazza della Repubblica from Caffe La Terrazza.

Cin Cin!

 

 

Art, Family Fun, Florence, History, Italy, Museums

Scarpe Diem: Florence’s Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

June 24, 2016

IMG_2791Descend the staircase in the stunning Palazzo Spini Feroni, which houses the flagship Ferragamo store and serves as company headquarters, and you’ll be greeted by walls of Salvatore Ferragamo’s strikingly beautiful shoes, artfully displayed, of course. Though they play a major role in the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, a marvelous small museum on Florence’s posh Via Tornabuono, there’s much more to see than fabulous footwear.

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Ferragamo’s shoes may themselves be considered works of art.

The Museum tells the story of the man, who grew up outside of Naples, the eleventh of 14 children and became “shoemaker to the stars”; the company, which became synonymous with beautiful and comfortable shoes that were widely imitated; and the city of Florence itself.

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Visitors can learn about Florence’s fascinating history at the museum.

Stunning masterworks of 17th and 18th century Florentine art, a look at the palazzo’s chapel with frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti, artful fashion, and company’s history are all part of the museum experience www.ferragamo.com/museo.

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There is much more to see than shoes at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo.

IMG_2800In addition to the innovatively designed shoes for which the company is known, the signed lasts created for Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren and so many other movie stars and well-known names, past and present, are on view along with Ferragamo’s leather working tools.

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Wooden lasts created for movie stars, royalty and other recognizable names hang on the museum’s walls.

The company’s history is cleverly presented in photographs displayed on racks like tourist post cards.

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These “picture postcards” give visitors a glimpse of the company’s past.

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Video and still photos tell the story of Salvatore Ferragamo and the company he created.

Beautiful sculpture, noteworthy paintings, historic books, documents, and more from the family’s extensive collection compete for visitors’ attention. Classical music such as Corelli’s Le Sonata per Violino, Violone e Cimbalo plays in various gallery spaces, adding to the ambiance.IMG_2824

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IMG_2807Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts rotating exhibitions. The current show, Across Art and Fashion poses the question, “Is fashion art?” and examines the relationship between the two.

IMG_7570The famous building, constructed in 1289, is itself part of the museum. Among other things, the Palazzo Spini Feroni was once home to the City Council when Florence was the capital of Italy. Salvatore Ferragamo purchased the Palazzo in 1938, after returning from America, and it has served as Ferragamo’s headquarters since that time.

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During it’s long and colorful history, the Palazzo Spini Feroni was home to Florence’s City Council, a hotel and art galleries before becoming Ferragamo’s headquarters.

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Salvatore Ferragamo’s widow, Wanda, was instrumental in creating the museum.

Through the efforts of Ferragamo’s widow and family members, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo was founded in 1995 after an exhibition at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi went on tour, hosted by New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the County Museum of Los Angeles, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and Sogetsu Kai Foundation in Tokyo among others. The traveling exhibition became the basis of the permanent collection at the museum.

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Phone or email for private guided tours.

Private guided tours can be arranged on the first Saturday of each moth at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by emailing museoferragamo@ferragamo.com or by calling +39 055 3562466. The museum also hosts special events. Check the website www.ferragamo.com/museo for details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art, Berlin, Dining, Family Fun, Germany, History, Museums

Treasures of Berlin’s Museum Island

February 26, 2016

Take a stroll through the Brandenburg Gate, down Unter den Linden, to the banks of the River Spree. There you’ll find some of the world’s most intriguing and important cultural treasures—the Ishtar Gate, the bust of Nefertiti and so many extraordinary antiquities, classical sculpture and masterworks, it is impossible to imagine they could all be in one place—but they are—Berlin’s Museum Island.

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Museumsinsel http://www.smb.museum is home to five separate historical museum buildings, each designed by a well-regarded architect of the time and now part of a UNESCO world heritage site. Here you will find the Pergamonmuseum, Altes (Old) Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum, and the Neues (New) Museum.

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The museums on Berlin’s Museumsinsel are a treasure trove of important paintings, sculpture, and antiquities from around the globe.

According to Visit Berlin, more than 3 million people come each year to view the collections that range from prehistory to 20th century art. Savvy travelers will want to purchase a Museum Pass, which provides entry to 50 major and lesser-known museums, including the five on Museum Island, over three consecutive days for one low fee. The price was 24 Euro when we visited in November. Passes are available at Berlin Tourist Info points, in the museums, and online at Shop.visitberlin.com.

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The magnificent Ishtar Gate, believed to date from 170 AD, was dedicated to Zeus and Athena. It was brought to Berlin from Western Turkey in 1903.

The long lines and crowded galleries attest to the fact that the Pergamon Museum is on nearly every visitor’s short list of places to visit in Germany’s capitol city.   It should be. The magnificent Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate, and marvelous sculpture and other works from ancient Sumeria, Babylon, Assyria, and modern day Iraq, Turkey and Syria are all on display here.  Restoration is underway on the Ishtar Gate, but it remains open for viewing. The Pergamon Altar was closed for restoration during our recent visit and will reopen in 2019. We were fortunate to see it several years ago.

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Detail from the Processional Way, which leads to the Ishtar Gate, at the Pergamon.

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Stunning Roman mosaics cover the floor in the gallery that contains the Market Gate of Miletus, built in the 2nd century AD in Turkey and excavated and brought to Berlin in the early 1900s.

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The stunning Aleppo Room at the Pergamon, seen through protective glass walls.

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Facade of the Caliph Palace Mshatta from Amman/Jordan from the 8th century. The 33 meter long, 5 meter high facade was brought to Berlin in 1903 to the Bode Museum. In 1932 it was reconstructed in the Pergamon.

We practically had the galleries to ourselves when we visited the Bode-Museum in November. This beautiful museum boasts art from the Byzantine and Roman Empires, a spectacular sculpture collection spanning from the early Middle Ages to the late 18th century, and one of the most extensive numismatic collections in the world. We could not understand why the Bode wasn’t full of people enjoying these art treasures.

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Pedro Roldan’s Our Lady of Sorrows (Mater Delorosa) at the Bode-Museum.

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The Bode-Museum is known for it’s sculpture collection. Friezes, sacred art and other cultural treasures are also on display.

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Don’t miss the extensive numismatic collection at the Bode. It’s one of the most comprehensive in the world.

The Bode also has a lovely café where we enjoyed a delicious and very reasonably priced lunch along with views over the Spree. The cafe balcony overlooks the museum’s grand entrance below.

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The comfortable cafe at the Bode was perfect for a light lunch.

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Save room for dessert!

If Impressionist works are more to your liking, visit the Alte Nationalgalerie, home to 19th century works by Renoir, Manet, Monet, and Cezanne, Adolph von Menzel and other well regarded artists of that time period. The Alte Nationalgalerie was the third museum to open on Museum Island.

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The Alte Nationalgalerie is home to a fine collection of 19th century paintings– part of Berlin’s State Art Collection.

Housed in one of Berlin’s most impressive neoclassical buildings, the Altes Museum was dedicated in 1828 by Friedrich Wilhelm III for “the study all antiquities and the free arts”. The museum’s permanent collection centers on classic antiquities covering Etruscan, Roman and Greek art and includes urns, vases, sarcophagi, friezes, pottery and sculpture.

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The Altes Museum is a popular destination for student and tour groups.

The 3300 year-old bust of Nefertiti is among the highlights at the Neues Museum, or New Museum. After sustaining significant damage during World War II, the building, which was designed by Friedrich August Stuler and constructed between 1843 and 1855, was abandoned. In 2003, extensive restoration began and the museum opened in 2009 with three main collections—Egyptian art from the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, prehistoric objects from the Museum for Prehistory and Early History, and classical antiquities. Visitors will find works from around the globe including the Middle East, North Africa, and Northern Europe at the Neues Museum.

For updated information on each of the museums on Berlin’s Museum Island and details on permanent collections, temporary exhibitions, admission, hours and directions, please visit http://www.smb.museum.

Note: The banner image is the Cathedral of Berlin known also as Berlin Dom, located on Museum Island.  In addition to church services, the Berlin Dom is open for tours. Numerous concerts and other events are also held there throughout the year. To the right is the Berlin TV Tower, constructed by the Soviets during the Cold War and now a popular tourist destination.

 

Art, Family Fun, Museums, New York

MoMA’s Must See Picasso Sculpture Closes Soon

January 3, 2016

In just over a month’s time, one of the most extensive and engaging exhibitions of Pablo Picasso’s sculpture ever presented in the United States will close. If you haven’t already visited the Museum of Modern Art’s marvelous retrospective of the painter’s rarely seen works, get your tickets and go see it before it closes on Feb. 7, 2016. http://www.moma.org

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A visitor examines Picasso’s Man With A Lamb (1943).

For the first time since 1967, New York’s MoMA presents one of the largest exhibitions of the painter’s three-dimensional work. The exhibit includes more than 100 sculptures plus photographs and works on paper, many never before displayed in North America. I was fortunate to see the exhibition during the Member Preview before it opened to the public in September.

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Left foreground, Woman with Child (1961), center rear, Head of a Woman (1957), right, Chair (1961). All three of these sculptures are painted sheet metal.

While Picasso was a formally trained painter, he was a self-taught sculptor and his work reflects the exuberance and personal relationship he had with the art form. He kept most of his sculptures in his personal possession rarely allowing these works to be displayed. One of the first and only times some of these pieces were presented publicly was in 1966 at a major retrospective at the Petit Palais in Paris when the artist was 85 years old. The following year, the MoMA staged Sculpture of Picasso in New York featuring many of the same works. Picasso’s sculptures have not been on public view on such a grand scale since.

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Insect (1951) was created from fired white clay and painted.

Picasso was fond of unconventional techniques and materials and frequently used found objects and materials including scrap wood, wire, metal and cardboard in his sculpture. Wicker baskets, pie tins, palm fronds, toy cars and many other scavenged items found their way into Picasso’s work. He used a bicycle seat and handlebars to create Bull’s Head, which was on loan from a private collection, for example.

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Bull’s Head, (Spring 1942) is a repurposed bicycle seat and handlebars.

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Left, bronze Pregnant Woman (1949). Right, Flowery Watering Can (1951-52) incorporates a watering can, plaster, nails and wood.

Museumgoers will learn that Picasso’s forays into sculpture were influenced by many sources including ceramics and woodcarvings by Paul Gaugin and Edgar Degas as well as by Oceanic and African sculpture. His themes run the gamut from political expression to family life. Just as in his paintings, women are frequent subjects in Picasso’s sculpture.

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Left, Bather (1931) bronze. Right, Head of a Woman (1932) plaster.

 

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Left, Woman with Vase (1933) bronze. Center, Head of a Warrior (1933) plaster, metal and wood.

He enjoyed reinventing and reimagining many of the same themes as the exhibition demonstrates. His Glass of Absinthe – six different polychromed bronze pieces each including an actual absinthe spoon, is a good example of this.

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Seated Woman (1947), Standing Woman (1945), Seated Musician (1950), and Seated Faun (1950) are among the small earthenware, terracotta and clay pieces in this display case.

Visitors to Museum of Modern Art http://www.moma.org will need timed tickets to see the Picasso Sculpture exhibition. Only members, corporate members and guests accompanied by members are exempt from this. Each day a limited number of tickets will be available for same day viewing but we strongly suggest that you get your tickets in advance to ensure you don’t miss this wonderful exhibition.

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Woman with Outstretched Arms (1961) painted iron and sheet metal.

Published in conjunction with the exhibition and available in the MoMA’s book and gift shops, the Picasso Sculpture catalog makes a beautiful souvenir that will allow you to revisit your favorite works again and again.

 

 

Berlin, Germany, History, Museums

Berlin: A Peek Behind the Iron Curtain

December 28, 2015

A Look at Life in the DDR (German Democratic Republic)

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The world, or most of it anyway, rejoiced when the Berlin Wall came down on Nov 9, 1989. Berlin’s DDR Museum ddr-museum.de gives visitors a chance to catch a glimpse of what life was like for those caught behind the Wall when it was erected in 1961.

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Interactive displays show career paths available to East German residents.

The museum has an actual Trabant which was the only car manufactured in East Germany. Though costly, constructed partially from cardboard, and with a waiting list that could take 6 years or more– these small sedans were in high demand. It’s not surprising that Communist Party officials preferred Volvos. Visitors line up to sit in the driver’s seat and take a video- simulated drive through the countryside and city streets of the former East Berlin.

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Visitors can take a simulated spin in a Trabant at the DDR Museum.

A typical East Berlin apartment has been recreated inside the museum giving visitors a very clear idea what home life was like, right down to to what usual furnishings would have looked like.

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Books, magazines, television and decor give visitors a glimpse into home life in East Berlin during the Cold War.

 

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Garden gnomes were a popular addition to patios and lawns.

Even an outdoor patio area has been included– complete with a lawn chair and the ever-popular garden gnome that apparently graced a good many gardens.

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See what’s cooking in a typical East German kitchen.

Food supplies were limited for most East German residents, as a glimpse inside a typical kitchen cupboard shows. Selections were extremely restricted and canned goods played a major role in menu planning.

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Kitchen cupboard contents show a heavy reliance on canned and packaged foods.

Party higher ups had access to all the best the West had to offer and more, of course.

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There was no shortage of Western goods for those at the top echelons of the Communist Party.

The DDR Museum has wardrobes full of clothing and advertisements of the “fashions” at the time– 10 to 15 years behind the styles those in the West were sporting.  The fabrics used were ugly and uncomfortable and because fasteners were expensive, most garments had neither zippers nor metal closures of any kind. Levi’s and designer wear were reserved for those at the top, as the exhibits show.

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Fashionista frauleins in frumpy evening fashions.

Leisure activities are also featured, particularly the East German penchant for nude bathing and sun bathing which was in direct opposition to Communist Party policies. The Museum portrays these activities as subversive acts undertaken by far more than half the population. Photos show happy naked families enjoying outings in the great outdoors.

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Life in the former GDR is captured in photos, films and video displays at the DDR Museum.

The museum also has news clips, videos and more that tell stories of daring escapes made to the West, including one failed attempt made inside the belly of a stuffed cow.  Sadly, many failed attempts are heartbreakingly documented, as are some spectacular success stories.

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A bleak, solitary cell is on display at the museum. Would be escapees could well have landed in a cell like this one.

Propaganda videos of East Berlin residents discussing their life experience are included and some of those filmed even complain that their housing is inadequate, though they are optimistic that their next family lodging will be more expansive.

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Military recruitment posters, Communist Party propaganda, social protocols– State sanctioned of course, are all part of the displays at the DDR Museum. It’s definitely worth a few hours to tour and explore this fascinating look at how people in the Eastern Sector really lived.

The DDR Museum is on the Berlin Welcome Card.

 

I Spy– the Stasi Museum

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The Stasi Museum is located in the secret police service’s former headquarters.

As we saw at the DDR Museum, life was not easy for most people trapped by the Berlin Wall in the East. Operating under the auspices of the Ministry of State Security, the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, made sure that any dissent, real, or imagined, was immediately quashed. Known for their horrific methods of dealing with dissidents or provocateurs, they were indeed a force to be reckoned with and the Stasi Museum stasimuseum.de shows in great detail exactly how this secret organization carried out their reign of terror against ordinary citizens and perceived “enemies of the State.”

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Residents watch construction of the “Wall” that divided Berlin from 1961-1989.

The Stasi’s responsibilities included recruiting spies to inform not only on those behind the Iron Curtain but also on Western residents and businesses. It was not unheard of for the Stasi to grab people off the streets on both sides of the Wall, using vans disguised as delivery vehicles.  The museum has an example of one of these and visitors can see how the inside of the van has been completely retrofitted into small individual prison cells.  Many who were picked up in these vehicles were never seen again.

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These ordinary looking vans were fitted out inside with individual cells for those unfortunate enough to be picked up by Stasi.

Neighbors were encouraged to report on one another as were family members, and as the records show, when the Berlin Wall crumbled, many relationships did too. It was not unusual for husband and wife to report on the other’s activities and when this came to light after Stasi records became public, divorces, already high in the East, increased dramatically.

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Informants were everywhere as the museum displays depict.

People were not paranoid to think that their activities were being monitored.  The Stasi photographed people at such mundane tasks as grocery shopping with cameras built into shopping bags.  The museum has examples of ties with cameras, belt cameras, cigarette packages that are actually cameras and more. Those old spy movies were not far from the truth.

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Cameras were built into everything from cigarette packets to watering cans during the Stasi’s reign.

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The tape on this radio indicates the only “approved” stations Stasi office workers were permitted to listen to.

A training film on view shows how agents would enter a home, photograph anything they found of interest, steal items and in some cases, deliberately move items around to make the person “under investigation” feel like they were losing their mind.  One case documented at the museum involved a psychologist who suffered from depression.  The Stasi regularly entered her apartment, moved things around, even substituted her tea bags with another brand, and did other strange things that eventually led to her suicide.

Another former DDR resident learned that the Stasi let the air out of her tires daily making her late to work—something that had puzzled her for a very long time. This was another kind of psychological sabotage in their large arsenal of such trickery—all documented at the Stasi Museum. The videos of the subjects of such subterfuge were fascinating.

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A “subversive” in custody measured, photographed and his “aroma” captured in the jar to the right.

The museum has plenty of exhibits that document those who were responsible for the devastation this corrupt government organization wreaked upon those on both sides of the Iron Curtain. In fact, visitors can see the office of Erich Mielke, the last Minister of State Security, which is presented almost exactly as he left it.

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This diagram shows exactly how Minister of Security Erich Mielke liked his breakfast presented.

Interestingly, many of the faces on displayed documents are blacked out likely because these individuals, who have never been prosecuted, are alive and well today.

For a chilling look at the Stasi’s operations, add this museum to your Berlin itinerary.

 

 

 

 

Art, California, Museums, Napa Valley, Outdoor Art, Restaurants, Wineries

Carneros: Art, Bubbles and Fine Dining

September 14, 2015
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This lovely path leads to the di Rosa Collection– one of the most extensive contemporary art collections in Northern California.

If you’re ready for a break from wine tasting and need to get off the well-trodden and always busy wine road that is Route 29, head over to the tranquil Carneros District and stop in at the di Rosa Collection www.dirosaart.org. This lovely property has been open to the public since 2000, when it was incorporated as a nonprofit public trust.

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The Gatehouse Gallery features rotating exhibitions of contemporary art.

Rene and Veronica di Rosa’s extensive contemporary art collection includes some 2,000 works by 800 artists including Richard Shaw, Bruce Nauman, Larry Sultan, John Buck, Allan Rath, Paul Kos, Viola Frey and many others and is considered to be one of the most important collections in Northern California.

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Book a tour to see the entire collection both inside the buildings and around the gorgeous grounds.

The works are displayed in three buildings and throughout the property. The modern Gatehouse Gallery is home to rotating exhibitions of modern paintings, sculpture, multi-media and interactive pieces.

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A recent exhibition in the Gatehouse Gallery.

 

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An interactive piece lets visitors…

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…blow giant smoke rings!

 

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Tongue-In-Cheek, a recent exhibition at Gatehouse.

Gallery admission allows access only to the current exhibition on view in the Gatehouse and is a self-guided proposition. To experience the entire collection, set aside 1-1/2 to two hours for the superb guided tour of the outbuildings, including the chapel, and the exquisite grounds. It is best to book the guided tour in advance to avoid disappointment.

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Take a tour and experience the art outdoors.

You’ll likely see peacocks racing through the tall grass around many of the sculptures including one of my favorites, “Field Hands.” You really need to experience this for yourself.  The catalog of the permanent collection, Local Color, makes a great souvenir or a gift for an art-loving friend. Be sure to check the website for hours of operation and the tour schedule.

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Outside art.

 

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Domaine Carneros is right across the road from di Rosa.

After your tour of the di Rosa Collection, go across the street to the elegant Domaine Carneros—it’s home to Tattinger’s California sparkling wines http://www.domainecarneros.com. Reservations are not required but there is a fee to taste.

Domaine Carneros-- Taittinger's California Sparkling Wine.

Domaine Carneros– Taittinger’s California Sparkling Wine.

Tours are also available by reservation via website or phone. There are numerous options for tasting from flights to single glasses. Take your glass out onto the beautiful terrace and enjoy the spectacular view across the vineyards of the Carneros District.

 

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Enjoy a drink in this pleasant lounge area at Farm.

One of my favorite dining destinations is in the Carneros, just a short distance away—Farm at the Carneros Inn http://www.thecarnerosinn. We have celebrated many memorable meals here and the last, which happened to be an anniversary, was no exception. Start with your libation of choice and relax outside on the comfy couches that surround the open fire. Depending on the hour, you’re likely to see children running happily around the lawn—much better here than in the dining room!

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The dining room is casual but elegant.

The menu at Farm changes often to reflect the restaurant’s commitment to local, seasonal and sustainable produce, fish and meat. The cuisine is contemporary Californian and the wine list draws almost entirely from California producers.

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The wine list focuses on Californian bottlings. Our somm gave us terrific recommendations like this Philip Staley 2012 Viognier.

Service is impeccable and the room is spare yet elegant. The restaurant is open daily for dinner only and reservations are a must.

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A complimentary amuse bouche began our dining adventure.

 

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Even a chicken breast is elevated to new culinary heights at Farm.

 

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The halibut was sublime.

 

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A chocolate lover’s dream dessert.

 

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A lovely finish to a beautiful meal.

The hotel also has a casual option called Boon Fly, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are only available at dinner. This is great place to stop if you want a quick and tasty lunch and are in the mood for a burger, salad or sandwich.

Mix it up a bit and add Carneros to your itinerary. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

 

 

Family Fun, Museums, Pacific Northwest, seattle

The Museum of Flight: An Aviation Adventure

July 28, 2015

Air Force One, the Concorde, the Space Shuttle Trainer, the first fighter plane, and many more remarkable aircraft are just a short drive south of Seattle in Tukwila, WA, home of the largest private non-profit aviation museum in the West.

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Seaplanes to space craft are all on display at the Museum of Flight.

The Museum of Flight http://www.museumofflight.org is located at the King County International Airport on Boeing Field and has more than 150 aircraft plus interactive exhibitions, rare photographs, films, newsreels, memorabilia and much more. Exhibits take visitors on a fascinating journey from the earliest days of aviation, to the moon, and back to the present.

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Military aircraft make up a significant part of the Museum’s collection.

After purchasing tickets inside the Museum of Flight, come back outside and climb aboard some of the most iconic aircraft to ever take flight.  The outdoor exhibits close before the museum does.

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The very first Air Force One jet.

Just outside on the Boeing Field, the first jet used as Air Force One, a specially constructed Boeing 707-120 called SAM (Special Air Missions) 970, is open for touring. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and numerous dignitaries traveled the world aboard this particular aircraft. Kennedy’s pipe rack, Johnson’s hat rack, the safe where the president’s secret nuclear codes were kept, “Press Section” seating and the president’s private quarters are all on view.

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This area was the president’s private sitting area and popular for naps, we were told.

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Personal memorabilia from several presidents are still onboard.

The world’s fastest commercial jet, one of only 20 Concordes ever built, is on display outside the Museum, too. Courtesy of British Airways, guests can tour this compact aircraft. We were surprised at just how narrow the cabin was.

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One of only 20 Concordes manufactured.

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Speed was more important than spaciousness on the Concorde.

At the other end of the spectrum, guests can visit Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, one of the most fuel efficient commercial airliners to take to the skies, according to the company.

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A wide array of aircraft are on display and open for touring. Helpful docents are on hand at most.

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There’s plenty of room to relax on this Boeing 787, at least in the forward cabins.

Also on the field is a US Air 737, which now serves as a theater for those interested in viewing Time Flies: Century of Flight.

Back inside the Museum, guests can trace the history of aviation from its earliest days right up to the present. The Red Barn, where the Boeing Company began, is part of the Museum today and gives guests an excellent historical perspective on the development of commercial aviation.

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Inside the Red Barn.

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Visitors can learn about the men and women at the forefront of aviation in America.

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Rare photographs, news stories, film clips and more tell the story of flight.

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Memorabilia from Boeing’s beginning.

The Museum has displays of every imaginable aircraft from the Taylor Aerocar III—AKA the “car plane”, which actually did take flight as a film clearly shows; to all manor of military aircraft, including the first fighter plane, the Italian built Caproni Ca.20; to planes used to deliver mail in Alaska and newspapers in the Midwest and much more.

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The Aerocar was one of my favorite aircraft. The wings folded into a handy trailer for driving after landing.

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There is a hole in the floor of the plane for the pilot to drop newspapers through.

There are even miniature planes. The Holtgrewe WWII Model Collection has more than 400 1/72 scale models of military aircraft used by most of the countries who became combatants in the second world war. Another marvelous miniature is the 1/10 scale model of the Montgolfier Brothers’ Balloon on display in the Museum’s lobby.

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A model of a Montgolfier Brothers Balloon greets visitors in the lobby.

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Military craft from many nations attract visitors’ attention.

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A Vietnam War era helicopter.

The U.S. Space Program is well represented, too. Visitors can track America’s race to space from its earliest days to the present. There are photographs, magazine and newspaper articles, films and news reels, exhibits on the animals used in space program, space suits worn by U.S. Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts, and a vast assortment of memorabilia from moon rocks to the cowboy boots worn by a famous test pilot. Apollo 17 Mission Models and the only Mars Viking lander still here on Earth are also at the Museum.

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Here’s how the cosmonauts suited up for space.

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Primates and pups launched before our first astronauts.

Guests can also walk through the Space Shuttle Trainer Crew Compartment where U.S. astronauts trained for every Shuttle mission. A separate 30- minute tour of the Trainer is available for an additional fee for visitors 10 years and older. Tours of the Boeing Field are also offered for an additional fee.

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Apollo 17 models are just some of the fascinating exhibits on space exploration.

There are numerous flight simulators, exhibits on every aspect of aviation including rocketry and “spacebots”, a research library, aviation advertising, and so much more for visitors to see.

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Aviation advertising from the days when flying was fun.

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An American Airlines advertisement.

There is so much to see and experience at the Museum that many visitors will not be able to enjoy all that is on offer in one day. Happily, discounted return tickets are available so take your time and come back again.