Welcome to the ‘city within a city’ – Rockefeller Center. The project started with the intention to build a new opera for the Metropolitan Opera but was changed due to the drop out of the Metropolitan after the stock market crash in 1929. John D. Rockefeller Jr. stated “It was clear that there were only two courses open to me. One was to abandon the entire development. The other one to go forward with it in the definite knowledge that I myself would have to build it and finance it alone.” Thank god he chose the second option.
But those mundane facts give no hint of the excitement to be found within those boundaries. Built on top of underground corridors, known as ”the catacombs” which stretch from 47th Street to 51st Street, the area is home to restaurants, shops, NBC Studios, a skating rink and much more.
Take a stroll around the plaza and watch the ice skaters, or join in! From the plaza level (the rink is sunken) above the skaters you can see the giant, prone Prometheus sculpture.
Above the gilded Prometheus – bringing fire to mankind – is the massive 70-story RCA (now General Electric) tower, housing the Rainbow Room and the observation deck. The Rainbow Room is on the 65th floor and makes for a memorable meal to accompany unforgettable Art Deco décor.
The observation deck, Top of the Rock, has re-opened after a 20-year closure in 2005 and the view is simply breathtaking. On the 20 foot wide viewing area people have the chance to enjoy a 360 degree view of New York City.
The deck sits on top of the famous Raymond Hood designed RCA Building which is now named GE Building due to the acquisition of RCA by General Electrics. Home to the well-known, and still going strong, Radio Corporation of America, the tower is an architectural landmark. It is also well known for the famous picture of workers lunching on a steel beam without harnesses taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932.
Should you be visiting during the Christmas holiday period, you can watch the lighting of the 50 foot (or more) Christmas tree here. Don’t forget to walk around and spend some time taking in the sights, including the huge Atlas statue bearing a ringed world on his shoulders.
Shops line several of the ground level buildings, including the popular Nikon House which attracts photographers from all over the world. All around are ample opportunities to find things and people worth snapping, as well. This part of the complex is heavily frequented.
But the shops and restaurants don’t stop at ground level. In the Underground Concourse fast food and other dining, clothing boutiques, card stores and a blizzard of other stores can be found. For those who missed it uptown, the Metropolitan Museum has a store in the complex as well.
Due to the nearby subway entrances running through the concourse, travel to and from the Center is easy from any part of the city.
The Las Vegas Strip is popular all over the world for its glamorous hotels and casinos. The Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas is one of the most elegant complexes and was inspired by the Lake Como resort of Bellagio in Italy. Gambling, entertainment, dining and accommodation are first class at the five diamond establishment.
The hotel was featured many movies but most prominently in Oceans Eleven and Oceans Thirteen which starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt as part of a team of gentleman thieves who intended on robbing casinos. A fictional vault of the Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas was indeed robbed in that story! The hotel was opened in 1998 and cost a staggering $1.6 billion to build. The interior is luxuriously furnished with fountains and the lobby ceiling is decorated with colorful hand blown glass flowers.
The grounds are also worth visiting and the 18 acre artificial lake at the front of the hotel is the location for the much loved Fountains of Bellagio display of music and lights. The musical extravaganza is repeated throughout the day and features a variety of music including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Aaron Copland and Gene Kelly. The natural world is also on show at the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens which has free admission and the gardens are open 24 hours a day.
The Bellagio rooms contain a flat screen TV with pay per view movies, mini bar and an in room safe. There are numerous market stores in the Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas complex including Tiffany and Chanel. Guests can choose between six different swimming pools. Dining at the Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas is also an experience. There are several restaurants including the award winning Le Cirque, a French cuisine experience by the lake. Japanese and Chinese restaurants are also first class and there is a traditional steakhouse.
The Spa and Salon offers a variety of treatments for guests of the Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas including facials, yoga and water massages. Fitness equipment is also available to have a good workout. A personal instructor is on hand to give advice.
The poker room attracts professional poker players, who take advantage of the high table limits and call it “The office”. The Bellagio has hosted several tournaments of the World Poker Tour. It is rare for a Las Vegas hotel to have a permanent show but the Cirque du Soleil’s production of ‘O’ is outstanding. It’s an aquatic show featuring synchronized swimmers, divers and acrobats. It’s a combination of street theater, folklore traditions, martial arts and circus fire stunts.
The astounding Cirque du Soleil is a world famous acrobatic act… and still so much more. If you have an image of an old time circus with clowns and acrobats, be prepared for a shock. Cirque du Soleil has all this and much more but in a form that you have never seen before.
With dozens of artists – tumblers, fire-eaters, clowns and others – the show has many of the traditional entertainers but that’s already where the similarities end. The difference is immediately visible the very moment you see the entertainers. Carefully crafted makeup and costumes, it has to be seen to be appreciated. Deep blue or orange suits with tie-dyed designs, Chinese red capes and kaleidoscope makeup are only the beginning of a wonderful experience.
The performers are the best acrobats from all over the world. Displaying their talents inside huge arenas that seat over 1,600 they astonish audience members with their skills. But those skills are in service of the most unusual, individual and innovative choreography you can imagine.
Whether it’s the Aerial High Bar act making death-defying leaps that seem as if they truly can fly or the Alexis Brothers with their amazing tumbling the shows never let up for a moment. For 90 minutes at the Mystere Theatre, the audience is agog with wonder as they watch how the show unfolds. At the MGM the KA show dazzles the eye. The O performance is as wondrous as its title signifying ‘everything’.
One of the highlights of the Cirque du Soleil are definitely the dancers. Combining traditional movements from their native countries with modern twists and turns that surprise at every step, the artists leave you with something to remember for a long time after the show has already ended
But the show isn’t all just traditional high wire acts, comedy or dancers in new costumes. Every show has its own theme that weaves and tangles and then resolves like a complex detective story. It might be necessary to attend a show several times to unravel all the mystery that’s packed into the performance.
Performances can be crowded. Once an insider tip, Cirque du Soleil has taken the center stage in Las Vegas and became an important part of the whole ‘Vegas experience’. Like many shows in Las Vegas, ticket prices are a bit high but a web search might yield a discount with one of the many available Las Vegas Vouchers.
Well worth the price, the Cirque du Soleil is an unforgettable theatrical experience. Don’t miss seeing it in the Desert City of Lights. Whether O, KA or Mystere, or any of the several other shows that are brought forth over the months and years, Cirque du Soleil will always leave you guessing what’s next and asking for more.
MGM has a long and glorious tradition as an entertainment company. After its foundation by Marcus Loew in 1924 it became on of the leading film studios in Hollywood. MGM was always known for having a large variety of stars and also of putting them in one big movie like “Grand Hotel” in 1932 with stars such as Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. But in the last decades of the previous century, the company branched out to other forms under the lead of Kirk Kerkorian. The MGM Grand is one excellent sample.
Completed in 1993 and located on the Strip – a four miles long boulevard filled with the largest casino, hotel and resort properties in the world – this 30-floor hotel covers almost 7 acres and houses over 5,000 rooms. In addition, the site offers a 380,000 square foot convention centre, the CBS Television City in Las Vegas and one of the largest casinos in town. At over 170,000 square feet you’ll find more games than anywhere else.
If you’re in the casino you should grasp the opportunity and enter the Lion Habitat. Behind glass walls you can observe lions lounging on an artificial savannah so close that you might think you could reach them. They’re changed on a regularly basis and have a permanent home at the owner’s ranch about a dozen miles outside of Vegas.
Watching the lions is free and you can take a picture (without a flash of course) with the animals in the background, then walk over to the gift shop and buy something to support them. A portion of the proceeds goes to preserve these majestic creatures.
The perception of Las Vegas and the MGM Grand in particular, changed over the past 20 years. The city came a long way from its gambling image to a city which offers all kind of sources for family-friendly amusement. The MGM Grand carries that theme to its pinnacle.
There’s the elegant La Femme production that celebrates the ‘artistry of the nude’, with 13-ballet trained dancers. The show is in the tradition of the Crazy Horse in Paris and is equally tasteful. It’s also possible to do your own dancing at the MGM recreation of the popular New York Studio 54. Undoubtedly tamer than the original, it offers plenty of opportunities for getting a ‘high’ in a drug-free way.
The world famous Cirque du Soleil offers its dazzling hire wire show KA at the MGM. Combining world-class acrobatics with epic-scale theatre, KA tells the tale of Imperial Twins on a journey to fulfil their destinies. If you want to narrow down a Cirque du Soleil performance to just one source, it would be an Asian theme. It offers an array of martial arts moves elegantly combined with the troop’s world-renowned acrobatics.
The hotel itself is a form of high-wire entertainment for guests. After the First World Hotel in Malaysia the MGM Grand is the largest hotel in the world if it comes to rooms. Besides the over 4,000 regular rooms, there are 751 suites but that’s not where it stops. The Skylofts are 51 luxury rooms within the hotel that offer butlers, catering and every form of pampering imaginable. But there is the small matter of the fee – between $800 to $6,000 per night – to contend with. Better bring some lion-sized plastic.
Are you fed up with the daily grind? Are you struggling to face work, day in and day out. Wouldn’t you just love to get away from all the stresses of life and escape to a sunnier clime?
If the stresses of life are getting you down and you need a break away from things, why not think about a holiday to Turkey? The country of Turkey, widely regarded as a fusion between east and west, has an extensive coastline dotted with numerous stretches of beautiful beaches. Temperatures in the peak summer months reach a balmy 26C but can be higher in the event of there being a heat wave.
Getting to Turkey is very easy now with direct flights to Turkey from regional and hub airports throughout the UK and Ireland. Whether you want to fly to Turkey from London, direct to Antalya from Manchester or direct from Newcastle to Bodrum, there are flights available. You’ll also be pleased to know that flights to Turkey don’t have to cost the earth either, you will be surprised at just how affordable they have become. As the low cost airlines also fly into Turkey you can rest assured that prices will continue to stay competitive.
Hotels in Turkey are plentiful, as is the availability of apartments on a self-catering or half-board basis. In Turkey there are many privately owned villas that are also available to rent for a week or longer, depending on the owner. The beauty of renting a villa in Turkey is that you often get your own private swimming pool and much more privacy.
If you want a break away for you and your someone special, then why not go on holidays to Turkey. Affordable, sunny and with plenty of choice, Turkey is the ideal spot for a holiday in the sun!
Palermo is a metropolitan cosmopolitan city. It is really quite a big city, as far as cities go in Sicily and should be a destination of interest for the traveler. It has a unique contrast of ancient and modern day city buildings and monuments throughout.
Restaurants in Palermo
As Sicily’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Palermo offers great dining as well as great shopping opportunities. Though there are really good restaurants throughout Palermo, they are not very easy to find.
In general, we would suggest that you try the ones on the side streets instead of the ones near Via Amari and via Cavour which might be described as “tourist restaurants”.
The best restaurants and bars in Palermo include Antica Focacceria, Il Bagatto, Piazza Marina, La Cambusa Trattoria, Genio Trattoria, and Il Goliardo Trattoria-Pizzeria.
For the tourist, it might be good to note that the Piazza Olivella, hidden from the eyes of the casual tourists walking the main streets, is one of Palermo’s most popular spots. It’s the square near the archeological museum and San Filippo Neri church in a rectangle formed by via Cavour, via Roma and via Maqueda near the Teatro Massimo. About thirty dining places, including bars, are located in the square itself and also along via Orologio, via Bara and all’Olivella and the surrounding streets.
Cin-Cin is an elegant restaurant and one of Palermo’s culinary treasures, routinely ranked by critics as one of the city’s favorite dining spots. Cin-Cin’s cuisine is a highly-evolved yet traditional Sicilian cooking. If you want to find refined Sicilian cuisine you’re ready for an enchanting dinner at Cin-Cin, whose essential menu features grilled appetizers, superb main courses of beef, seafood and pasta dishes. The setting is serene: Cin-Cin occupies a number of rooms that allow an intimate ambience; a pleasant environment to enjoy a great meal.
Throughout Palermo there are excellent pastry shops and bars that serve ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches. If you want to sample these tempting delights in a leisurely setting, we suggest the charming outdoor cafes on Via Principe di Belmonte. Located in the best shopping district, Via Belmonte is closed to traffic.
Shopping at Palermo
The city doesn’t just offer great cuisine and fascinating history. Palermo also has some great shopping facilities and many better shops are conveniently located in the city’s centre around via Maqueda and via Liberta, especially on the side streets where you’ll find shops that sell everything from antiques to Sicilian-made specialty goods like crafts, ceramics and jewelry.
Famous sights at Palermo
Beyond this are the many landmarks, monuments and buildings to visit in Palermo. The Cathedral, Chinese Villa, Magione Church, Martorana Church, Mount Pellegrino, Politeama Theatre, Quattro Canti, Royal Palace, St Francis Church, St. John of the Hermits, Teatro Massimo, and Zisa are some of the many sights. As well, Mondello is a beautiful beach that can be visited during the day or night. It is not only a beach, but also a tourist and vacation spot as there are many shops and restaurants along its boardwalk. During the day it’s a lovely place to go for a swim or just to take a walk, and at night its beautiful lights along the water are dazzling.
Via Liberta Quarter
Via Liberta Quarter is a great area to visit. This area has a variety of landmarks and sights including Mount Pellegrino, Saint Rosalie’s Shrine, Chinese Villa, Favorita Park, Villa Trabia, and Ficuzza. It is also the area where Mondello beach is located, so be sure to make a trip there.
Mount Pellegrino offers amazing panoramic views of Palermo but it is most famous for the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalie, located near the summit along winding roads that travel through woods of Mediterranean stone pines. The Chinese villa, which is also located in this area, is a beautiful ancient home built in the Oriental style. The Chinese villa is located in the Favorita Royal Park and the nearby Pitre Folk Museum is open to the public. Favorita Park or the Royal Park is a vast wooded area, and rabbits and migratory birds are seen here occasionally. The Park is owned by the City of Palermo, and is an attractive entrance to Mondello Beach.
Sahara Hotel Las Vegas says: Screw You!
When going on a conference business trip and staying at a hotel for more than a week you definitely want a good experience, a short trip back and forth to the conference and all kinds of other attractions like shows, bars restaurants. That’s the reason why I chose the Sahara at the end of the north-strip to visit the Webmaster World – just 15 minutes to the convention center by the monorail was great last year – and so was my service.
But they proved me to be a jerk for booking 8 nights the second year in a row with them, just because I was too lazy to shop around and their rates were really cheap during the week.
Day 1 of the Dirt Horror at the Sahara Las Vegas
I arrived on Friday night and found my bathroom be – well, dirty… had that ugly long black hair near the washbowl and the whole room looked as if it wasn’t really cleaned. I thought – oh heck – they’re going to do it anyway next morning.
Day 2 of the Sahara Dirty Room Horror – Saturday
Nothing was done on Saturday during the day and when I went out Saturday night I though – hmm they are probably going to make my room in the evening as people are out then anyway…just to find out in the morning hours of Sunday when I came home that NOTHING changed.
Day 3 of the Sahara Dirt Desaster – Sunday
On Sunday I really thought – hey, I’m here at the Hotel the 3rd day and nobody gave a shit about my room, so I might have to ping somebody to do it finally. So I looked around and found that old and wasted Mexican lady on my floor and asked her nicely to make up my room when I leave in the afternoon. She looked in my eyes and confirmed that by even repeating the time to do it
Guess what – I came home at night and nothing was done, so I called up the frontdesk, called up the housekeeper service and told both that my room hasn’t been made up for 3 days in a row… both told me that they are going to take of that, and that of course THEY are not the responsible persons for that but that they will hand it to the ONEs that ARE responsible and that they’ll make up my room the next morning..
Day 4 of the Sahara Dirty Room Massacre
Believe it or not, the other day on Monday nobody showed up at my room as well.
I was really pissed off and called them up again. Again it was in the night hours but they promised to do it the next day and even sent somebody up to bring fresh towels (wohooo – we got fresh towels after paying 4 nights in a row) and I went to bed as I needed to get up.
Note that by Monday I suddenly got a strange allergic itching skin on my hands – which I definitely never had before in my life and as I write this it still itches a bit and looks infected. I must tell you that I finally believe that the lack of hygiene at the Sahara Hotel is responsible for that.
Day 5 of the Sahara Room Dirt Overkill
I got up early on Tuesday as the Webmaster World started and I was pretty sure that the cleaing is going to work out as I looked up that Mexican housemaid again and told her to make my room. After a really long day at the conference, a fabulous dinner at the Envy / Renaissance with folks like Chris Boggs, Andrew Goodman, Bill Slawski and others as well as some drinks with some of my clients I came home to my room at 1.30 in the morning – hoping to get some chilling sleep to be fresh during the next conference day.
What I saw was the whole mess I left behind – the 4 day old towels on the floor, a bed not really made up fresh for 5 days and NO SIGN of any work being done to that room… man I was pissed off… I mean the Sahara is cheap and you have to be ready to live in 15-20 year old furniture there… but what the heck was going on with the service? The really pissed me off that day as the only thing I wanted to do is SLEEP!
So once again I called up the front-desk and told them my problem. They handed me over to the housekeepers where I spoke to a lady who said she is NOT RESPONSIBLE and that she cannot do anything. So I called up the front-desk again just to speak to yet another clerk there and hear that the manager is only available at OFFICE HOURS and I must call at that time to file my complaint – but there should be a manager at housekeeping. So I called housekeeping a 2nd time just to speak to the same non-responsible lady again. When I called the front-desk the 3rd time to get ANYBODY responsible on the line I suddenly spoke to a rather nice sounding lady who suddenly showed SOME KIND OF CUSTOMER CARE – while all the other jerks before where just FINGERPOINTING at each other.
She took up my complaints, promised to inform the manage the other day as I certainly didn’t have the time and will to use my valuable time at the conference to contact Mrs. Hotel Manager when she finally showed up at her desk. Then they even sent up the night-maid at 2 in the morning to make up my bed, do basic cleaning of the room and made me feel confident that I am not the only person feeling annoyed by totally screwed up hotel operations at the Sahara.
Day 6-8 of the Sahara Hygiene Disaster
After spending more than 30 minutes calling back and forth thru the organizaton the room service worked fine from Wednesday thru Friday of my stay so I felt a bit more relaxed about it and was pretty sure that the more professionally acting lady really took care of my complaints and will consider the refund I asked her for to make up with the hassles.
Altough she mentioned that the management will come back to me eventually the next days they didn’t – so sign of that – and that certainly should have been a sign to me.
Day 9 – Payday for the Sahara Hygiene Disaster
So checking out on Saturday I expected a little gift, a refund on my invoice, at least a “we are sorry for the inconvenience” or what ever that clerk might have to do in such a situation.
Instead the lady printed my invoice, said thanks and turned away. Which really made me think – THAT’S IT ? Take my money and run?
So I asked her about my complaints and that I didn’t find any kind of compensation for that.
She was BLANK. Knew Nothing.
And after 10 minutes waiting for her after disappearing in the back room I heard that the manager on duty is on the phone and might get back to me soon. SO I told her that I’m leaving in 15 additional minutes and if they would be able to handle a 4 day old complaint in that time span.
Well – another 10 minutes later that big, unhealthy looking lady with her greasy hair and cheesy suite troubled her body thru the doors to approach me – probably double my own weight (and that is already a bit) to ask “SO YOU COMPLAIN YOUR ROOM WASN’T OK THE LAST DAYS?”
Well – After explaining the whole story again you read ALREADY and I told the others before already she said again I should have contacted her MYSELF during the office hours, which I still refused having to do – after all I issues SEVERAL COMPLAINTS to her employees.
What she did again – and that’s obviously the bad culture at the Sahara was fingerpointing back to her employees that they didn’t tell her ANYTHING and again that it is NOT HER FAULT that they didn’t tell her.
And anyway – she meant that it’s been a week ago that I got the bad service and should have told her EARLIER. Ignoring the fact of my multiple complaints in the past. Ignoring the fact that she was calling me a dumbass for ONLY complaining to the personal directly communicating with me.
HELL – who’S fault is it anyway if not the hotel manager’s if I get bad service, non-exististant complaint management and finally hit the wall to complain a last time during checkout just to hear NOT MY FAULT again?
Funny thing is that by that time that big ugly Mrs. “I am Yabbba Manager” already turned her displeasing back to me to say “goodbye sir…”
I got her back to ask if THAT IS IT. That I waiting for more than 20 minutes that day, more than 4 days after my complaints just to hear at least the ONLY responsible person tell me that it’s not my fault and that nobody would ever care if I would feel good about the stay, will ever come back or eventually tell the whole world about this finger pointing “not my fault” behaviour even by the highest people in the Hotel’s organization.
She replied with a simple and rude – “Yes sir, SCREW YOU – that’s what I said – good bye”.
I took that receipt, turned to the other clerk lady with “Has been a pleasure” and went off to the airport shuttle.
This lady certainly looked unhealthy, greasy and I wasn’T really sure if she’s 28 or 48 – heck, her bad physical condition is not even the case for some 58 old ones. But I figured that this is not the type of unhealthy looking you just get from bad eating habbits in stress jobs, lack of workout or some kind of wrong genes.
This “hotel manager” probably pissed of unhappy guests like me every day – dozens of them. And it seems to be a direct order to her employees to block of all complaints in early stages.
I am happy to be out of there and I certainly feel sorry for having picked this hotel a second time, as it definitely spoiled the otherwise amazing experience of the Las Vegas WebMasterworld 2006
And most important – I want to beware you of going thru the hassles that I’ve been to.
This was the worst experience in 15 years of business travel and 33 years of leisure travel.
The Vatican City, is actually one of the smallest cities unto itself and is the smallest independent nation in the world. It is the official home of the Pope of the Roman Catholic church and yearly it attracts millions of people and for many different reasons.
Every twenty five years it is said that to pass through the gates of the Vatican is to be forgiven for all of your sins, and all those of your loved ones forever. The year 2000 was the last occurrence of this event. So be sure to visit again in 2025. Some people visit to get a glimpse of this historical site that is the pinnacle of the Roman Catholic religion, others to see the Pope himself and yet others to view the amazing architectural design and construction of the church and the amazing sculpture and art inside.
The entrance to the Vatican is quite masterful, and grand. There is a great circular open space that is surrounded by great roman pillars that are so perfectly designed that if you stand in front of one you can not see the ones behind it, as they are so perfectly aligned. This is not only a very powerful design but also this was created without the use of modern day equipment to make the approximate measurements that were needed to make the columns so perfectly aligned in this way.
Another fascinating fact is that the Vatican City actually has its own postage stamps and issues its own coins. It is actually even declared a separate region from Italy, basically its own country and so therefore has its own postage stamps and coins. Image this tiny region with its own postage stamps and coins is actually mainly one grand building, a church and the home of the Pope. The Vatican City has its own post office, commissary or supermarket, bank, the automatic teller machines ones in the world to use Latin, and railway station.
The view of St. Peter’s Square from the top of Michelangelo’s dome is a completely unobstructed view of the Vatican City. However the view of St. Peter’s square in the early morning is exquisite. The lights surrounding and shinning on the building are just breath takingly beautiful.
The Vatican City is itself of great cultural and artistic significance. The buildings within its boundaries such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine chapel are home to some of the most beautiful art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini, and Michelangelo. The Vatican library and the collections of the Vatican Museums are of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance in the world.
The art which is most famous in the Vatican City are the paintings created by Michelangelo. Michelangelo created two of the most influential fresco paintings in the history of Western art, on the ceiling and on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, called the Last Judgment. Later in life he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Entering St. Peter’s Basilica, ensure that your upper body is fully covered, and that includes your shoulders. It is not permitted for people to enter the Basilica without their shoulders covered as respect to the holy place, so make sure that when you visit you are wearing something with sleeves. As you enter the building, there are usually many people in line with you waiting to enter.
Your first glimpse of the inside of the great doors is the art and architectural design, the beautiful dome ceiling covered in painting and stain glass, and the golden alter. This church really represents the head of the Catholic Church as it is so beautifully and masterfully designed and decorated, by the most highly talented artists in history. You will not be disappointed by the amazing creation of the Vatican City.
At the travel office at our hotel in Venice, we were advised to spend a day visiting the twin islands Murano and Burano. Their amazing surroundings and the atmosphere are so similar to Venice’s, that we won’t even realize we left the city. The islands are also well known for their industries. Murano is famous for the murano glass blowing industry, while Burano is famous for its lacework.
Both of the islands lie north of Venice. Murano lies about 2 miles north of the city and comprises five little islands clustered together, while Burano lies near Torcello. We took a vaporetto from Piazalle Roma to get to the islands.
Glassmaking first existed as industry in Venice and by the 10th century was widespread in the city, becoming the city’s foremost industry by 1200. But after 1217, the city leaders required the furnaces to be moved to Murano in order to protect Venice from fire. Also they passed a lot to forbid the import of glass and entry of foreign glass in the city. These moves gave Venice the monopoly in the glass industry over Europe. Around the 17th century, the popularity of the Murano glass began to decline but a businessman named Antonio Salviati, started selling the glass outside Venice, hence boosting the industry as well as tourism.
The glassworkers were allowed to wear swords and enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venice state, while the glassworkers’ daughters were allowed to marry into Venice’s blue-blooded families. But on the other hand, the glassmakers weren’t allowed to leave Venice. The reason was very simple: they were the only craftsmen in Europe who knew how to make mirrors and who developed refined technologies for producing glass (smalto – enameled glass, aventurine- glass with threads of gold, millefiori – multicolored glass- and lattimo – milk glass)
We also found out that the glass was made to be functional, not decorative but the pieces always came out more beautiful than planned. They are indeed a work of art and usually are displayed rather than used. Today they produce jewelry and other decorative objects as well (paperweights, figurines, vases and tableware), all bearing a very high price tag and considered luxury items all over the world.
We found all that information at the Glass Museum (Museo Vetrario), located in the Palazzo Giustinian, right near the island’s center. Also many glassworks can be visited and most of them date from the medieval times.
While on the island we also visited the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato, which is known for its twelfth century Byzantine mosaic pavement. Also legend has it that it houses the bones of a dragon slain by Saint Donatus.
On Burano, we first went to the Lace Museum . We found out that needlepoint lace was born in Venice in the 15th century. It actually derives from embroidery and is inspired by the stitches that create transparency in the design (in Italian, punto tagliato).
The industry became so popular that a School of Lace was founded in 1872. Later on the lace lost its popularity and the school had to close. Now the building houses the Lace Museum. Within the museum we admired all the laces produced over the centuries, as well as drawings, personal journals, photographs and work techniques.
Burano is also known for its colored houses, very famous among artists. We were told that if someone wants to paint the house, the owner must send a request to the government and they’ll respond which colors are allowed in the lot.
While on the island we also visited the Oratorio Santa Barbara and the Church of San Martino.
Ever since I’ve read Shakespeare’s “Rome and Juliet” (and later seen the movie) I’ve dreamt of visiting “fair Verona”, the Italian city home to the world’s most famous lovers. Even though Shakespeare had never been to Italy, the tragic story of two lovers from Verona was well known and written before Shakespeare.
With my girlfriend Natalya, this was sort of a great honeymoon destination. Altough it was hot as hell (as one can imagine in summer) the experience was amazing and every corner of a picturesque street made me feel like I was there when the action in the play took place.
Fortunately before cruising there by car from Padua, I looked up some information about the city Verona. A good idea is to always check out the city’s official website (in this case the portal commune ). Good thing I used to take some Italian lessons when I was younger! Also I’ve looked up information about the landmarks related to Romeo and Juliet (two excellent sources: Let Romeo & Juliet Show You Verona, Italy and Romeo & Juliet, Verona) and was dieing to find a cozy romantic restaurant for the perfect dinner.
Verona is the second largest city after Venice, in the region called Veneto (in the North of Italy). It’s one of the few Italian cities to best preserve the historical heritage. Verona is home to the Roman Amphitheater (also known as The Arena), which dates back to the first century A.D. A lot of interesting buildings caught our eyes, among them: Palazzo Barbieri (where the Town Hall is), Gran Guardia Palace, The Roman Theatre and Palazzo Guastaverza.
After reading through some travel booklets, we decided to start our meeting with the most famous lovers of all times, by first visiting Juliet’s House (It., La Casa de Giulietta). It is one of the locations I’ve been dieing to see in a long while. The house is located in Via Cappello. The building is breathtaking: tall with mellow brick façade, dating from 13th century. Too bad the house is not opened for the public. Though Shakespeare never mentioned to balcony in his play (only said that Juliet’s window was “above”), it’s probably the most important landmark related to Juliet’s house. Just below the balcony we admired the bronze statue of Gulietta and we even managed to take a picture with it. Rubbing the right breast is said to bring luck…guess what we did? It’s amazing how many people queue up to do that!
Hand in hand, we started walking along the narrow streets, packed with ancient buildings with terracotta roofs. We were trying to find Romeo’s House. It took quite a bit of searching until we found the House of the Montagues (Romeo’s house) on Via Ponte Nuovo, just close to Piazza Erbe. Unfortunately the house is in such bad condition that no one is allowed inside. But our booklet read that the house was built in the 14th century, with Gothic elements.
A little sad to see that Romeo seems to be of less importance for the municipality, we decided to look for Juliet’s tomb. It’s located in the monastery of Capucins, in Via del Pontiere, near the river. There isn’t much left of the old monastery, only the cloisters and the chapel. Within the grounds we saw the stone sarcophagus, on a stone floor covered by a dim light. It seemed to be the perfect resting place for a tragic heroine. I only wondered why we couldn’t get a hold of Romeo’s tomb.
Strangely enough we were told that newlyweds have their wedding photos taken at the site of the tomb. And someone even told us we could have our own wedding there as it is one of the top 10 locations to get married.
Our “encounters” with Romeo and Juliet were pretty much finished and we were searching for some romantic things to do. We were told that the view from Torre dei Lamberti is magnificent and we could see the most beautiful panoramic view of the city from the top. So we headed to Piazza dei Signori and entered through the courtyard of the Mercato Vecchio (Engl. Old Market ) and we took the stairs to the top. The view was indeed magnificent. A romantic place to end a romantic day. Or maybe not…
I surprised my girlfriend with a romantic dinner at a secluded cafe, just near Piazza Erbe.