Notre Dame du Haut

I came across a sign to Notre Dame du Haut while driving from Zurich Switzerland to Troyes, France today. So, you can be assured this was an unplanned visit, but when I saw the sign for it along the interstate, I had to see it in real life! It cost 8 Euros to visit, and you couldn’t even see and photograph the outside without paying. Usually I find this extremely annoying, but I think this is going to the upkeep of the building, so I consider it both a donation as well as payment for photos I can use when I teach Art History. 

Here are a few of the photos I took – quite nice I think.  ūüôā Click on the photos to see them larger!

Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome

February 13, 2018:¬† Just got back from visiting St. Peter’s tomb – he is in the catacombs under¬†St. Peter’s Basilica. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos in the catacombs where the Popes and Saint Peter are intomed. But taking photos in the basilica is allowed (without flash) and I’m very happy about that!

Getting into Saint Peter’s Basilica (which is free) was quite an amazing experience. We had gone there yesterday around noon and the line, literally, went all around the the very large circle in the front of the basilica. It was at least a 2 hour wait, but from the looks of the line the place would close before we got inside! So we decided that we would go early today.‚Äč We left before 7am and we waited in a very short line to get through airport like security. It only took around 20 minutes to get in… great!

I was most looking forward to seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta, my favorite of his works. Unfortunately, the Piata is not only behind thick glass it is also in a roped off section, so It was about the size of an ant (it was so far away). The lighting on the sculpture was very harsh as well so it was washed out. No way to see any details. I am just trusting that we saw the real thing. Very very disappointing.¬†¬†

Besides the disappointment of the Pieta, the Basilica is quite amazing. It’s 10 times larger than life and quite an awesome statement of architecture and art! It’s supposed to glorify god – but to me, it glorifies the arts, period.¬†

More information: The basilica was built in the Renaissance style. Its central dome, designed by Michelangelo,and dominates the skyline of Rome. It is a cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through an entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees.

Here are some more photos I took on this visit, enjoy!

Rome, Italy: The Castel Sant’Angelo

February 12.2018:¬†¬†National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo

We didn’t actually go inside the¬†National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo because of the need to climb lots of stairs. It currently costs 14 euros each to visit. However, we had the fun of viewing it from all sides and from many areas of Rome.¬† Here is a bit of history of the Castel:¬†¬†English:¬†Castle of the Holy Angel), is a towering cylindrical building in¬†Parco Adriano,¬†Rome, Italy. It was built between 134 and 139 AD. initially commissioned by the¬†Roman Emperor¬†Hadrian¬†as a¬†mausoleum¬†for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castle was once the tallest building in Rome. Read more….

Here is the current website of the castel:

And here are some photos I took of this very interesting building on Feb. 12th:   


Piazzale Michelangelo

This is a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David! It is at a Piazzale Michelangelo – which is very high on a hill! It overlooks Florence – Awesome!!!¬† We walked from our Apartment across the river then up a very steep hill to see the¬†Piazzale Michelangelo. It was worth it, but I was afraid I wouldn’t make it due to my very bad knees.

It rained the whole way and by the time we got to the top we were freezing and stopped in a very nice restaurant to have drinks. We got warmed up and dry then walked back to our apartment. 



Day One in Florence – The Basilica di Santa Croce

February 3, 2018:¬† The trip from Venice to Florence yesterday was very easy. We left our excellent 5-star AirBnB (a review will be in another post) around 10:30 am and we arrived here in Florence (AKA “Firenze”). We took a taxi from the train to our new Florence 5-star AirBnB arriving at 4:40pm. We did a quick walk to the grocery story and found that food is a bit cheaper than in Venice. Makes perfect sense since Venice has to have everything transported in and carried to the stores on boats/by foot carts.

It was very difficult to decide what to do today; the list is way too long. Academia was first on my list, but with a bit of research I found that it is free on the first Sunday of the month, which is tomorrow!! So, we decided to visit Michelangelo and Galileo’s tombs, which are housed in¬†The Basilica di Santa Croce¬†(see my photo above). It was an excellent choice!¬† Though it cost 9 euros each to get in we spent several hours looking through the main Santa Croce Basilica as well as touring through the¬†Pazzi Chapel¬†and even saw a leather making school(?).¬†

To make a long day short… I took over 400 photos and to break it down for my future failing memory, I’m listing photos in sections below:

Photos from The Basilica di Santa Croce

The Tomb of¬†Michelangelo’¬†¬†Michelangelo¬†It is currently being worked on, so it has a scaffolding in front of it. But I was still able to capture some photos.

The Tomb of Galileo  Galileo Galilei

Other Tombs and Icons from Santa Crosa

Pazzi Chapel 




Salute – Last Day in Venice! Saint Mary of Health… :-)

Still not feeling very well, but we planned one last visit to a Basilica, specifically¬†the Santa Maria della Salute!¬† Good news – this Basilica is Free and you can take photos as long as you do not use a flash!¬† Wonderful, Im giving them a 10 out of 10!¬† I would like to know more about who decides the charges as well as whether photos can be taken in Italy. Hmmmm….

More about Santa Maria della Salute… in¬†English “Saint Mary of Health, commonly known simply as the¬†Salute, I think I needed to visit to hopefully gain some good health!

Here is the “backstory” from Wikipedia …. Beginning in the summer of 1630, a¬†wave of the plague¬†assaulted Venice, and until 1631 killed nearly a third of the population. In the city, 46,000 people died whilst in the lagoons the number was far higher, some 94,000.[1]¬†Repeated displays of the sacrament, as well as prayers and processions to churches dedicated to¬†San Rocco¬†and¬†San Lorenzo Giustiniani¬†had failed to stem the epidemic. Echoing the architectural response to a prior assault of the plague (1575‚Äď76), when¬†Palladio¬†was asked to design the¬†Redentore¬†church, the¬†Venetian Senate¬†on October 22, 1630, decreed that a new church would be built.[1]¬†It was not to be dedicated to a mere “plague” or patron saint, but to the¬†Virgin Mary, who for many reasons was thought to be a protector of the Republic.[2]

Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal

It was also decided that the Senate would visit the church each year. On November 21 the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin, known as the¬†Festa della Madonna della Salute, the city’s officials parade from¬†San Marco¬†to the Salute for a service in gratitude for deliverance from the plague is celebrated. This involved crossing the¬†Grand Canal¬†on a specially constructed¬†pontoon bridge¬†and is still a major event in Venice.

As usual here are a few of my photos from this, last trip in Venice!!

A few more excellent photos from the internet:  

January 29th – We saw CARS today!!!

Today we decided to duplicate the very nice walk of last night. We walked across the Rialto Bridge and though the center of the middle peninsula to the train station, Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia (called: “Ferrovia” in all the signs around Venice). But we didn’t quite make it … instead wandering all the way to the¬†Giardino Papadopoli and then suddenly we reached the¬†Garage San Marco Venezia!! And there were CARS!!¬† We haven’t seen cars, trucks, busses even bicycles since we arrived nearly 10 days ago!¬† It was almost like … culture shock. We were heading toward the train station and thought we should be close. In addition, we didn’t know there were cars on the islands, so it was a very interesting experience.¬†

Meanwhile we did pass up paying ‚ā¨‚ā¨‚ā¨ to view several churches. It’s amazing that they are charging anywhere from ‚ā¨3 to ‚ā¨12 Euros (each) to view a church!! Especially since they also forbid taking photos. We went into one church, and saw people taking photos and no one saying¬†anything about it. But, unless I am sure I can take photos, I do not want to pay. Compared to France – churches are all FREE and you can take photos. France 1, Italy 0.

Saint Marcos Basilica, which we viewed a few days ago is one of the biggest and grandest basilicas we have seen so far in Venice was FREE to view. But taking photos was forbidden and they were yelling at people who tried! Sad because I want to take my own photos so that I own the copyright and can use them as references in my artwork. <sigh>¬† ūüôĀ There are a couple more basilicas we have not viewed yet – hopefully we will get to them before we leave on Friday for Florence!¬†¬†

Here are some photos I took today…..


January 27th, Trip to Cimitario

Today we sent to Isola di San Michele, AKA “Cimitario.” It is an island north of the main island we are staying on. Actually, we saw it on our first walk, our first day in Venice and had no idea what it was. A quick search on Google Maps answered the question. So, as soon as I found out what it was, I wanted to visit. One might say that I have a morbid interest in how cultures take care of their dead… not too unusual – I think. And I may have found some distant relatives as well!

To see Cimitatio you have to cross the water. As of yesterday, we had not taken a boat trip. We have been touring Venice for over a week – on foot. We priced tickets and visiting Cimitario would cost around 16 to 18 euros for both of us. That with the 14 for us to go to the train station the day we leave we opted for the 7 day pass each… 120 euros, but we can travel as much as we like city wide and to most of the little surrounding islands. You can see more about the travel cards and downloading the Venice travel Ap here.

OK, now for my “tips & tricks” concerning taking the public water buses in Venice…. get ready to jump on and jump off as soon as the boat pulls up to the dock. They do not wait! We were sitting in the lower part of boat 4.1 on the way to Cimitario; the boat was packed with people!! When we knew we were almost the Cimitario stop – we got up and started toward the upper part of the boat and the driver barely stopped –¬† and then BOOM – we were headed for the next stop! What?! So, get ready ahead of time and perhaps yell? We ended up on another island called Murano. And waited for another waterbus to get to our goal.

I must admit that it was great getting out on the water for the first time! A whole new view of Venice! Here are the photos of Cimitario as well as my first water photos!

San Marco … enough said

What can one say about the most famous and one of the oldest Basilica in Venice? Breathtaking? Amazing? Inspiring? All of the above? Want to go straight to their website? Here is a direct link Рgreat info:

The photos of the building online do not do it justice and my photos do not either. It is huge and quite detailed. Amar said, “It is supposed to show the greatness of god and it actually shows the greatness of man.” I couldn’t have said it better. The amount to time, resources and craftsmanship that went into the designing and building is mind boggling.¬†The photos (even professional) fail to show the detail… the golden images are mosaics, made of very tiny tiles. From a distance they look like paintings… almost. Quite amazing.

Want more information? Another great source for information about traveling in Italy is Jen’s Reviews! Follow this link to check out her website:¬†¬†

Some quick Wiki info:

Location Venice
Country Italy
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Saint Mark’s Basilica
Earlier dedication 1084, 1093, 1102
Consecrated 1117
Status Cathedral, minor basilica
Style Italo-Byzantine and Gothic
Groundbreaking 978
Completed 1092
Length 76.5 metres (251 ft)
Width 62.5 metres (205 ft)
Number of domes 5
Dome height (outer) 43 metres (141 ft)
Dome height (inner)

Here are my photos for those interested in seeing more. If you ever get to Venice, San Marco should be first on your list of places to visit!¬† ūüôā

Here are some nice photos from the internet…..



Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Lyon

We visited the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste on January 16th 2018, and it was very interesting. It was easy to walk to from our place between the two rivers. This Cathédrale is in the old city.

  • Architectural styles:¬†¬†Gothic architecture and Romanesque architecture
  • Opened:1480
  • Region:¬†Rh√īne-Alpes

The most interesting item in the Cathedral is the Astronomical Clock. Here is some more information about the clock I found through research:

Astronomical clock

The astronomical clock of the Primatiale is one of the oldest in Europe.
After Cluny (1340, now disappeared), Strasbourg (1354), it is in Lyon in 1379 that a clock clockwork with astronomical mechanisms is installed. The first document relating the existence of the clock of the cathedral dates from 1383.

The clock is composed of a square tower of 1.80 meters side surmounted by an octagonal turret in which evolve automatons. Two fixed statuettes represent the first two bishops of Lyon: Saint Pothin and Saint Irénée. The work ends with a dome supporting a rooster that rises 9 meters above the ground (the total height is 9.35 m).

The clock rang every day at 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00. The automata then start moving: An angel on the left turns his hourglass, another on the right makes the conductor Rooster sings 3 times, raises neck, opens bill, flaps wings Three of the six angels surrounding “The Heavenly Father” operate the hammers of the bells playing the hymn of St. John the Baptist: “So that we may sing the marvelous facts of your life, wash the sin that defiles our mouth, O Saint John the Baptist

  • UT queant laxis
  • REsonacre fibris
  • MIra gestorum
  • FAmuli tuorum
  • Pollute SOLVE
  • LAbii reatum
  • Sancte Ioannes.

The Swiss turns quickly, starts his round, salutes with his head and hand Mary turns to the Angel Gabriel, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descends from the ceiling that opens “The Heavenly Father” blesses his people by three times The Swiss finish his round while the big bell under the cock sounds the new time

To complete the perpetual calendar, an ecclesiastical almanac specifies in particular the dates of Ash Wednesday (first day of Lent), Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Advent until 2019.





Here are some more photos from today’s adventure: