Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The village of Manarola is located on cliffs of black rock. The pastel colored buildings seem to tumble down the cliff in a geometric jumble. The town is surrounded by ancient terraces of vineyards and olive groves above. It is the region's leading supplier of wine and olive oil. The cove below is clear turquois and swimmers dot the surrounding black rocks below. Simply stunning!

Cinque Terre

June 16

We are in Manarola one of 5 tiny villages in the Cinque Terre. This is the Italian Riviera: quaint, casual and utterly relaxing.

It is pedestrian only, no motorized vehicles and we haven't seen any bicycles either. It is built on the side of a cliff overlooking the Ligurean Sea. Below is a view from our hotel room. Note the boats "parked" in the narrow streets.

The water is crystal clear, cool and refreshing. We arrived yesterday evening and will stay until the 18th. I will fill in more details each day.

Leonardo da Vinci

June 15

Today I got to experience one of my dreams and visited the Last Supper in Milan. And what an experience it was!! We entered the Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie with our group through a series of mysteriously opening doors. We were allowed only 15 minutes of viewing time. When we arrived in the white room where the masterpiece hangs it appeared dreamy and delicate. Even though it has been restored it still appears quite fragile. Since Leonardo used an experimental technique, mixing oils with the plaster fresco, it sadly began to deteriorate within 6 years of his finish. Nonetheless, this is a lifetime memory for me.

As with Botticell's Birth of Venus they have a plaster casting of the artwork so blind people can enjoy it as well.


June 14

We arrived in Milan this afternoon. What a change from the canals of Venice! Milan is definitely the big city! High fashion and hustle and bustle! We are staying just off Duomo (city center) plaza.

The grand Cathedral is the focus. It truly is magnificent! It is a fantasyland of spires and marble. This is the fourth largest church in the world.

Looking forward to tomorrow and our city tour including Leonardo's Last Supper!


June 13

We were fortunate to be in Venice for the Venice Biennale, an art festival that occurs on odd years. Today we went over to Muran, an island that specializes in glass. There we happened upon a glass show that was spectacular. It was installed in a very old (hundreds of years) glass factory, complete with the old kilns, implements, etc. Of course this made for a stunning backdrop with impact for the glass pieces. The work ranged from traditional bottles to contemporary in the extreme. We were so impressed with the quality and depth of the show. One titled "Inside Out" was a suspended clear glass skeleton sporting magnificent feathered wings with a smaller skeleton above.

Salvadore Dali

June 12

Salvador Dali, from Spain was a Surrealist artist. Today we had the pleasure of seeing a special exhibition of his work in Venice: The Dali Universe. We happened on a great collection of paintings, etchings, lithographs and sculpture at the Museo do S. Apollonia. Interspersed with the work were quotes and thoughts by Dali. I particularly liked his views on time, "Man believes he is in charge of the voyage, but it is always time who is the ultimate rider." Several versions of Dali's "soft clocks" from his most famous painting Persistence of Memory were included in the display, numerous bronze sculptures, and illustrations from his edition of The Holy Bible.


June 11

Ok, Rick Steves is correct in his description of Venice, "Soak all day in this puddle of elegant decay." This is incredible! We spent our afternoon getting acclimated. We are staying all the way down the Grand Canal at Salute. There is just palace after palace and all are gorgeously decadent...but melting!

But for the art: saw an interesting installation of Ukranian eggs. The artist had 3 million eggs painted by people from various walks of life and then arranged them in greatly enlarged sections from a Van Eyck painting. These are installed in two places...we saw 4 sections today. Stunning!