Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nature History Art and Typical Foods of Abruzzo Italy

The Abruzzo Region is located in central Italy and is known as “Europe’s Green Region” for its many National and Regional Parks. It is also home to the highest peak in the Apennine chain - 3,000 meters - and a rugged territory with several plant and animal species that have avoided extinction, including the chamois, wolf and Marsica brown bear, the eagle, lynx, otter, griffin, as well as species otherwise typical of northern tundra like the rodent snow vole and the charming dotterel all of which biologists define as glacial relicts.
These residues of flora and fauna that inhabited the Mediterranean area during the last Ice Age owe their survival to the high altitudes of the Abruzzo mountains. But you don’t have to choose between the sea and mountains because here you will find everything, from the Tronto river at the northern geographical and also historical boundary with Marche, down as far as the Trigno and the border with Molise, the coast offers mile upon mile of wide sandy shores, steep bluffs and maritime pine groves.
From the Tronto to south of Pescara, the coast is uniform: a steady golden strip, wide and welcoming soft sands; from the mouth of the Foro river, the coastline changes to cliffs, rich with harbors, reefs, coves and long sections of shingle, that roll back into wide sandy beaches as you reach Vasto and the Molise boundary. So the characteristic feature of this shore is variety, with settings and environments for all tastes. This twofold peculiarity of the riviera, as well as the very geographical conformation of the Abruzzo hills, create a tourist district that is utterly unique and which offers some truly exclusive aspects: a coast that is the gateway to the region and two very complementary local realities, coexisting in just a few kilometers of territory.
Abruzzo is a region that knows about preservation: that is the best way to sum up its spirit. Discovering the extraordinary landscape, strolling through the stately ancient towns and villages that have stood on hilltops since time immemorial, are the most immediate impact is of a region that has successfully preserved many of its original features, in an untouched environment where human presence is rooted in the mists of time, and a reciprocal and respectful balance has emerged.

Discover Abruzzo’s Castles Churches Borgoes and Small Museums
Places to Visit

Pescara easily reached with its airport, railway and bus station; it is also known for its Summer “movida”  with many discos and pubs on the beach. Walking Tour of the city’s  architectural gems -  Liberty Villas, “Museum “Ex-Aurum”, an old liquor factory that now hosts exhibitions, conventions and weddings. “Gabriele D’Annunzio hometown museum”, “Genti D’Abruzzo museum” the most famous ethnographic museum of the region.

Rocca Calascio is home to one of the most beautiful castles in Abruzzo, both for its shape and its location isolated like an eagle’s nest on the summit of a mountain that dominates a spectacular view and is perfectly integrated into the landscape, a feature common to most monuments in Abruzzo. Some of the old houses have been restored.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio, once a neglected borgo but now, thanks to an entrepreneurial idea and renovations, an Albergo Diffuso, an innovative concept launched in Italy in the early 1980s as a means of reviving small, historic Italian villages and town centers by converting historic buildings in a small community. Just as important, local artisans preserve the identity and the culture of the region. During the first weekend of September, the lentil festival “Sagra delle Lenticchie” celebrates the famous brown lentils.

Atri A historic center full of monuments, palaces, characteristic streets and squares all in the Middle Age style, including the Cathedral - started in 1260 and finished in 1305 - and the Church of Santa Reparata (1355). These churches preserve their original Middle Age exterior aspect but inside they were retouched during the baroque period.

Typical foods of this area are: pecorino cheese, arrosticini, honey, liquorice, extra virgin olive oil and pan ducale cake, rigorously accompanied by local wines.

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A Portugal Travel Experience

Lisbon Porto and the Douro Valley

Lisbon a City of Lights and Contrasts is both Atlantic and Mediterranean, illuminated by an extraordinary light that contrasts with landscaped hills tumbling towards the Tagus river. Its architecture features ancient buildings side-by-side with modern constructions. The streets of the Baixa are laid out in a special, ordered design in accordance with the urban ideals of the Enlightenment.  The Chiado, with cafes, shops and bookstores, is the historic heart of the city and its cultural district.

The Medieval Origins of this city can be appreciated from the heights of the Castle of São Jorge, to the ancient cathedral and a descent into the streets of Alfama and its narrow, labyrinthine alleys. The seafarers who left Lisbon to discover exotic new worlds hailed from this neighborhood.

The Museu de Arte Antiga contains the treasures that testify to the rich cultural encounter between West and East.
The Espírito Santo Silva Foundation is a museum of decorative arts and a collection of craft workshops where artisan skills restore 18th century aristocratic interiors.

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo holds a ceramic tiles, one of Portugal’s great art forms, with pieces from the 15th century to the present day.

The Atlantic Coast features the beaches and coves of Cascais, the seductive sea views and luxuriant vegetation of Sintra and Évora, an ancient city of narrow streets, churches, a Roman temple and a Gothic cathedral.

Porto and the Douro Valley
Northern Portugal is famous for its vineyards and granite-carved baroque architecture in Porto, Guimarães and the Douro Valley with its monasteries, palaces and gardens.
Baroque Inspirations amid Magnificent Palaces Private Gardens and Religious Architecture
Porto has a unique urban environment. The ancient district features a Cathedral with romantic and baroque elements, and the Ribeira’s ancient stone quays.

Medieval Guimarães is renowned for its castle, the Palácio Ducal, fine town houses and ancient stone squares.

The Douro Valley is famed for its vines, vineyards and views over the valley and the Douro River. Experience the local typical cuisine, the world-famous port wine cellars and a boat trip on a traditional rabelo amidst steep slopes covered in vines and cypresses.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Düsseldorf Germany

Walking Tours, Castles, Fashion Museums and Rhine River Cruises

Düsseldorf is the cosmopolitan capital of North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany`s state with the country`s largest population. The city has close to 600,000 inhabitants and is known for its old quarter – Altstadt – with nightlife and buildings which date back to the 16th century. Here, you can taste the famous Altbier – a dark beer.

From the old town it is just a small walk to the spectacular Rhine River, which passes through Düsseldorf on its way to the Northern Sea. You can stroll on the Rheinuferpromenade, a beautiful walkway along the river, which has become a playground for locals over the past few years, particularly in the summer months. You will find nice cafés and restaurants along the way, so just sit down, sip a coffee and enjoy the view, including the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower), Düsseldorf`s highest building at 240 meters.

 Walking along the Rheinuferpromenade you will reach the harbor area with its spectacular architecture. All these buildings have been constructed over the past 20 years. Three fancy buildings designed by architectural icon Frank Gehry have become new landmarks of this booming city.

In the evening, the harbor area – Medienhafen - is one of the most popular places to go out for a good dinner, a drink and maybe to a club. You will find many trendy places to hang out and spectacular view of the river.

Düsseldorf and Beyond Itineraries
Ruhr Region Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann, 18 miles; Zollverein World Heritage site, Essen, 30 miles; Light Art Center, the only light art museum in the world, Unna, 65 miles; Gasometer Oberhausen (obsolete gas holder turned cultural, event and exhibit space, Oberhausen, 30 miles; Landscape Park Duisburg North, an industrial site turned green oasis, 29 miles. Halde Hoheward Observatory, Recklinghausen, 43 miles.
Nearby Cities Cologne: Cathedral, Chocolate Museum, Roman ruins, 30 miles; Bonn: Beethoven heritage, museums, art, 47 miles
Other Destinations Aachen, 62 miles; Amsterdam, 150 miles; Brussels, 143 miles; Luxembourg, 150 miles; Paris, 340 miles; Munich, 394 miles; Berlin, 381 miles
As Germany`s fashion capital, don`t miss a walk over the famous Königsallee, a 1 Km long boulevard with many of the top international brands such as Armani, Gucci and Prada. You will also find two high-end shopping malls (Sevens and Kö-Galerie) on this beautiful boulevard.
Museums Düsseldorf houses and produces some of best contemporary art in the world. Several of the world’s best known artists have their roots here; among them Andreas Gursky, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Jörg Immendorff, all graduates and faculty of the city’s renowned Art Academy.
In total, there are 100 galleries and 17 world renowned museums in Düsseldorf, including K20 and K21 (showing 20th and 21st century art, respectively). K21 is also a masterpiece in terms of architecture. Built on a historic site in the style of an Italian palazzo between 1876 and 1880, it was extensively damaged during the war and rebuilt between 1947 and 1949. K21 is part of the Kunstsammlung NRW, the art collection of North-Rhine-Westphalia. With a glass roof presenting a great view of the city, the museum hosts a very stylish and trendy bar/restaurant.
Benrath Castle is a beautiful baroque castle with a huge park leading to the Rhine River in the South of the city. Sometimes there are outdoor concerts during the summer season. Another very historic site is Kaiserswerth in the North – this is the most ancient part of the city with a 12th century castle ruin. Take one of the river cruises from the Schlossturm in the old town – it takes you straight to Kaiserswerth.

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