I recently found myself back in Florence, perhaps my favorite city in Italy, one year after my previous visit. This time I stayed close to Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the city’s main train station, in a bustling neighborhood of hotels and eateries. While I did more running around a year prior (check out my previous article on the city for more in-depth coverage of Florence’s top attractions and on visiting popular Tuscan towns), I was able to catch many things I had missed, namely several churches and David, while revisiting my favorite locales in the city.
Paris is as much an idea as it is a city. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to come here, my mind filled with images of shimmering lights and elegant city streets. I was not alone; Paris shall likely always remain one of the most desired destinations for international travel. The romanticized idea of the city is so pervasive that the disappointment many experience when it doesn’t live up to unrealistic expectations is a catalyst for a condition known as Paris Syndrome, an extreme culture shock best described in the New York Times article, “Chinese Tourists Find a Movable Feast Best Left Behind.”
It’s hard to write lightheartedly on the beautiful attractions of Russia’s second largest city given all that’s going on in Ukraine and Crimea, not to mention having just read the touching and troubling obituary of Boris Nemtsov in the Economist. But, for a second, let’s set aside Russia, the place, and Russia, the politics.
It’s simple: St. Petersburg is a beautiful city. It was by far my favorite destination along our Baltic adventure. And though I saved my recollection of Paris for last (because sorting through four days’ worth of photos is really, really hard), I have the fondest memories of this Russian riverfront city.
In case you didn’t already know, I’m a writer. I write things. Right now, I’m working as a freelance travel writer and editor, but my real passion is storytelling.
I’m currently working on a novel set in San Francisco during the period between the 1906 earthquake and the start of World War I. I’ve always found this era fascinating, what with all the social and technological changes taking place.
In a hopefully worthwhile fit of distraction, I created a Tumblr page updating the progress of my novel while providing motivational and useful resources for other writers. Please follow me there if you’re on Tumblr, and I’ll follow you back!
(Also, the irony of cutting into writing time to create a blog dedicated to keeping me on track with writing isn’t lost on me.)
China isn’t the red communist country of same-faced okay men and yessir women that the past presented. The nation formerly under Mao’s cultural servitude is now brimming with hip artists, free thinkers and incredibly fashionable people. This was especially true during the COART international artists festival in Shu He Ancient City during the start of this month. Folks of past traditions mixed with young artists from around the world in the historic town, creating a dichotomy of old and new that was visually appealing.
I had heard that the view from high atop Campidoglio, one of the seven hills in Rome where the Musei Capitolini sits, is quite beautiful, and I’m happy to discover that this bit of info does not disappoint. The museum itself is quite grand, housing an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.
Remember Bernini’s Medusa that made its way to San Francisco at the beginning of this year? It’s back home now at the Musei, though just resting against the side wall amid the special exhibition, Lux in arcana, rather than occupying center stage as it did in SF. The aforementioned exhibition was by far my favorite attraction here. It’s a presentation of historic documents from the Vatican Secret Archives, from writings officially condemning Martin Luther to letters written from both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis to the Pope during the Civil War.
Back to the views. Here is a video taken from the museums’ cafe (I did not add the opera; there was a woman rehearsing in the event space behind me), and photos of the sunset over Rome taken from a lesser-known garden at the side of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor consistently ranks as my favorite museum in San Francisco. Up in the hills at the far west end of the city, it offers dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. The architecture of the museum, with its striking courtyard and Rodin’s The Thinker, inspires photographs almost as much as the artwork inside.
Currently on exhibition is Pissarro’s People, an examination of the individuals that inspired French impressionist Camille Pissarro. I particularly liked his depictions of the marketplace. To describe his paintings as “bustling” feels odd, though accurate.
Finally, San Francisco is offered a chance to gaze upon Bernini’s Medusa, on loan from the Musei Capitolini in Rome. What makes this piece particularly unique is how he depicted her as sad and in pain, rather than utilizing the usual monstrous images others would.
For the complete collection, visit my The Legion of Honor – Bernini’s Medusa, Classical Art and Sunset Views photoset on Flickr or view them in the slideshow below.
Found this in my external hard drive. I think I wrote it eight years ago.
One second makes me happy,
one second makes me cry.
Two can hold me down,
but just one more can make me fly.
If I live to 82,
1,994,752,800 until I die.
Happy New Year! :-)