Tag Archives: history

Stobi, the paradise of archeology

Pompei in Italy is maybe the best archeological site in the world, at least it is what some experts and tourist say. But who is going to visit Macedonia has surely to go to Stobi and there the traveler will find a great place where to see ancient finds quite well conserved.

Something has yet to be brought back to the light. But right now going around the city of Stobi it is possible to see many beautiful mosaics. The city was founded when the area was under Paeonia before to become the former capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris. The site of Stobi is located near the town of Gradsko.

What to see in Stobi

Inside the site, the best part is the Northern Basilica, realized with marble. There is a baptistry with mosaics created in the V century. The interesting elements discovered in the 50s show that between the North and the Civil Basilicas there were Thermae Minores, a small bath for people who wanted to take care of their bodies. From there the main street of the ancient town of Stobi takes visitors to the other main buildings. For those are visible the basements.

The religion is, of course, the main feature of the buildings visible in Stobi. There are, with access on the main street also the Central Basilica and the synagogue. The second one in the basement of the first one, built in the V century. Walking around, it is possible to take a guided tour for a cheap price, it is good to follow the way suggested. This allows you to explore properly the history of the place. In case the visitor prefers to go around alone there is a good map at the entrance.

There are many inscriptions to be seen on the stones, especially in the former arena. Among the many spectacular elements present in Stobi it has to be mentioned the House of the Palms. It has a big pool and a mosaic floor, beautiful as the fountain located in a small square in the central part of the town. The finds of the various construction can easily help the tourists to understand the dimension of the buildings and the location of the rooms.

I don’t want to go deep in the explanation of the parts of Stobi. There is a work in progress, so in next months and years it can appear something new, that’s why my short description should only inspire you. If you like archeology you should visit the place. Some discovery of the archeologist can be already showed there now while you read the post.

I highly recommend you, my dear readers, to go there because it is also a way to know the daily life of Romans in that area. I like archeology and maybe it is understandable by some of my posts. But I think the wonder in Stobi is for all. In the end, let me write that I am proud of this site because my country (Italy) sent money and experts in the years to recover the finds and create one of the most beautiful archeological sites of the area.

I  just add some pictures taken during my recent trip.

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Bitola: the Macedonian Consul

In the Republic of North Macedonia, there is a city full of history and archeology. In the past, it was very important for Balkans, especially during the Ottoman Empire. During Roman age, it was called Heraclea and a few kilometers out of the downtown you can see the finds of that period. I had the chance to be in Bitola, this its name, a few time and I want to share my experience suggesting you what to see. It is a very interesting destination, like the country.

Bitola is a lovely city with institutional imprinting. I wrote the title of this post thinking about history. Because the city was well known for the presence of more than 100 Consuls. It happened during the Ottoman Empire when in the place became the last capital of Ottoman Rumelia. This was from 1836 to 1867. It was the second European city of the empire after Thessaloniki.

Bitola, history, and attractions

This aspect is, of course, a small part of all the history of Bitola, started in the 4th century BC, with the name of Heraclea. So the “City of the Consuls” had a great past and now there are some prehistory objects and monuments to be admired. Despite some witnesses of the different periods, the city was built, destroyed and rebuilt many times.

Actually going around for the streets it is possible to see many buildings made with European style. There was a covered bazaar, but the fire destroyed it in the 19th century. There is one more new and it is interesting to go there and to visit the shops with a combination of modernity and tradition.

It has also to be mentioned the local park, big, peaceful and full of statues of the most famous people of the area. Mainly they are related to the culture and the art, as poets, writers, painters and so on. But I have to proceed with some order so I can explain better what I like the most and to suggest to you, my dear readers.

Let’s make a list: Shirok Sokak Street, Heraclea, the Clock Tower, and the local Museum. These are the main places that I visited and I liked, but I will write a few lines also about mosques and the most important churches in the city. In the end, there will be some notes about accommodations and restaurants.

The main street

When I arrived in Bitola I started a walk in front of the theatre. It is a modern building that host also the cultural center where are organized time to time expositions. From the small square, there is the entrance to the carsija, the old part of the town with the traditional shops. Here you can meet most of the local inhabitants. It is the center of Bitola’s life.

Going ahead on Shirok Sokak Street the visitor reaches the park. The pedestrian way is alive day and night. Because locals go to spend their free time, especially families with kids, during the day. In the night young people go to the discotheque located in the park.

Starting the exploration of this beautiful area of Bitola it is easy to notice the elegance of the neo-classical buildings. Most of them were used by Consuls in the past and they are quite well conserved. Today there are shops because it is the shopping street, offices and apartments. As usual in downtown, there are a lot of bars and restaurants located on the pedestrian street and few hotels. I guess their number is increasing also because it is one of the cities preferred by tourists.

The Stara Čaršija of Bitola is a great example of how it is possible to restore and preserve the ancient buildings and set.  The constructions are of course adapted to modern society needs. As well it is for trendy bars and shops. In general, it has to be said that the speed of Macedonia is slower than in western Europe. Even if there are well-prepared people who are working hard to improve the country.

In one side this is positive for the growth of the country. But on the other side, I guess it should be an example, they shouldn’t follow the Western Europe lifestyle. It’s not good for the community to develop the country too fast and with fewer values. This is only my point of view that has no relation with my travel experience in Bitola.

The Clock Tower

This monument is a landmark for Bitola. It was built in 1830, the same period of the Orthodox Church of St. Demetrius. The Clock Tower is now the way for inhabitants to check the right hour and of course it is an important monument for all visitors. Bitola as a vocation for tourists, maybe because it was considered since the past to be a cosmopolitan city. The tower is located in the center in the northern part of the main street and very close to Magnolia Square. In the same place where most of the local attractions are located.

In the beginning, there were bells. But in 1927 it was decided to substitute the people in charge of ringing the bells with a clock. Thanks to a German mechanism it was possible to ring the bells in the different hours and shows to the people the exact time. In the years the mechanism was restored and improved. Now, since 1970, the Clock Tower is one of the 180 in the world to use that system.

Heraclea

A couple of kilometers far from the actual Bitola it is possible to see the remains of the Greek city of Heraclea Lyncestis, ruled by Romans. The ancient civilizations built the important center and new there are witnesses of the buildings and of the way of life at that time. The site is well kept and the archeologist worked hard to recover many elements. You can see the beautiful mosaics done during the Byzantine period when it was built a big and important basilica, discovered during the II World War time.

To mention the basilica is necessary because the city founded by Philip II of Macedon in the IV century BC was chosen as an Episcopal seat. Some of Heraclea bishops present in the early Christian era were part of synods in Serdica. The religion was a feature of the ancient center, abandoned in VI century AD after a big earthquake and an invasion made by Slavics.

The museum

Who has a passion for history can not miss the chance to visit the Bitola Museum dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was the guy who made Turkey the modern and great country. The main elements are related to the history of the 1920s-1930s. So there are a lot of connections between Macedonia and the Ottoman Empire. Inside there are military finds, but also many ancient objects.

Do not worry, the recent history is just a part, even do very important, of the local museum. In fact, who visits it can explore all the history of the country, since the origins. Jewels, objects of daily life, costumes and many other things can be found in the permanent and well-curated exposition. Archeology is the feature of some rooms, so I suggest to go after a tour in Heraclea. They need to improve the lights in order to show better the collections, but it is a very good museum.

The mosque

As I wrote at the beginning of the post in Bitola there are different Orthodox churches and mosques. They were built in different periods. Even if most of them are recent because of the different vicissitudes of the city, destroyed and rebuilt many times. I want to mention Isaak Kadi Mosque because it is one of the oldest religious structures still used in Bitola.

The mosque is entitled to an important Turkish person. He was part of a well-known family that left Anatolia to live in Bitola during the Ottoman Empire. The guy went to study in Istanbul and he got a lot of success, so to celebrate his position in the society he decided at the beginning of the 16th century to build the mosque. Now it is considered a cultural monument of Macedonia. It is a few steps from carsija, where there was the old covered bazaar.

Where to eat and sleep

There is a famous and very nice hotel, called Epinal. It is located at the entrance of the main street. But it has a casino and I preferred to choose a more quiet accommodation 150 meters far from it. The Hotel Ambassador is a four-star structure located in a small street close to the theatre. It is quite modern in the setting and also it has contemporary equipment to give to the guests what they need.

The apartments are spacious and they offer a room, a separate lounge, and a very nice bathroom. It is not so big, but the kind of staff is going to assist the guests with every need. They have also a bar where they serve a huge breakfast in Macedonian style. That means to have a big quantity of salty and sweet food.

In the city, there are a lot of traditional restaurants around the center. So the best way is just to follow the instinct and enter the preferred ones. The prices are quite cheap, especially for “Western standards”. If you want anyway an elegant restaurant where to taste delicious local recipes presented in a very innovative way, you can reserve a table at Gradska Kafeana. It is the restaurant of the Hotel Epinal.

Bitola is the perfect Macedonian Consul to welcome the tourists.

Trip preparation

Are you ready for Bitola? To find the mean of transport for your trip, I suggest you Infobus. On the platform, there are the best offers for planes, trains, and buses. Book tickets at the lowest price and plan all the connections. Compare the solutions and combine them.

If you want to find the flight plus the accommodation you can visit Omio. The site is one of the best search engines to find planes, buses, and trains tickets. Then, thanks to the connection with Booking, it offers the list of accommodations with convenient rates.

Costs

Compared to Western standards the country and Bitola are quite cheap. Anyway, there are some ways to save money or earn extra cash to finance your trip. For the flight, you should use free air miles. Redeeming them you can have huge discounts or travel for free. Everything depends on your travel credit card and on airlines’ loophole. Watch this video to know how to get a lot of air miles bonuses and save money. 

I guess it can be useful to get inspiration from my “make money to travel” guides. Some activities will help you to earn extra cash to pay for your trip’s bills. There are various activities you can do. For instance, rent your car or your flat. Start a travel blog. Also, with a small investment in training courses, you can learn how to be successful in web marketing. If you like to work with your hands and with your creativity, I have another proposal. Get thousands of woodworking plans for a very cheap price, realize items, and sell them. It’s funny and profitable.

At the end of the organization of the trip, you have to focus on suitcase. If you travel light, choose a backpack, but in any case, never forget the cabin luggage. For any accessories you may need, I suggest you visit my Amazon page with a selection of items that I use for my trips. Also, AliExpress has discounted, curious, and helpful objects for travelers.

I also prepared a packing list for you. It is the one I use to avoid mistakes and to not forget things at home. You can personalize it. And if you want to get advice on how to pack to use properly all the space, check out this guide.

Before to leave your home for some days or weeks, you should consider housesitting. Why? Because a trusted person in your house will keep away thieves and she or he will take care of it. A house sitter can collect mail, water flowers, feed pets, clean, and so on.

My last tip

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Balkans, the culture in a book

My next trip is already on my agenda and I will go back to Balkans, an area where I have been different times in last years. This time the country to be visited is Macedonia, not the Greek region but the country that now is called Republic of North Macedonia. I will have some work meeting in different places, so I want to try to plan some time as a tourist and explore better also some towns where I have been without so much time to see the attractions and the curiosities.

In the years I bought some books to know better the history of Former Yugoslavia and go deep in the culture, but I continue to research to know more because those countries are reach of history with a lot of connections with Western Europe. I decide to read an old book of a travel experience published in 1941 that describe very well social, cultural and political aspects of that time.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia is a travel journal with a specific analysis of the culture, the history and the politics made from an international point of view. It is not a history book, because all the elements are declined as in a diary, so easily explained from a traveller that is exploring the country. There is a meeting with people and a character that help the traveller to enter in Western Balkans world.

The brilliant observation written in the book helps me to enter more deep in the Slavic history and to learn more about the culture, step by step. Reading it I am living almost the same journey, even do it is a different period. In next days I will be again there and I will use what I have read to try to catch more benefits from my travelling in Balkans.

Stay tuned, I will post soon about my North Macedonia visits.

Anasa

Italy: interesting facts

Today it’s my curiosities’ day. So I share here some interesting facts about Italy. You have already been to my country, but maybe you don’t know them. Or you never had the chance to see the beautiful Italian boot and its islands so these facts will help you to plan your trip consciously… Hey, I am joking. I just want to share some facts not much known by the people…also by some Italians…

Here you will find the basics to know Italy, starting from the name’s origin. They will open your mind to Italy. If you never been to the country of fashion and pasta, after reading this post you will have an irrepressible desire to leave. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit. But I am sure that you will satisfy all your curiosities about Italy and you will see the Italian cities from a different perspective.

I like a lot to go deep in the country culture when I travel the world. It’s the way to know better a place and to understand how is life there. That is the reason why I think to share some facts with you. Maybe you already heard some of them and for others is a discover. This is a brief guide that can introduce you to Italy. Especially these facts will be useful also to start to get in touch with Italians. 

Let me suggest a book about my country and especially about Italians. It is a short one that you easily can read to explore culture and habits, also in a funny way. It is called They Really Say, Mamma Mia! – Discovering Italian Family Roots. There are emotions and curious episodes. You can read more in my review. It’s easy to find information about Coliseum, I guess you want to know something more to plan your tour.

Italy: facts and curiosities

Are you expecting a long list of facts? Do you think to see a lot of lines full of boring information about Italy? No, I prepared a short video with some of my pictures taken during my trips around my country. Each image will have a few words written about a factor of curiosity. Easier to read them and to learn them. I can query you in next days. So if you want a good grade, you have to pay attention to. Just kidding you.

I will let you see my short video and I hope you enjoy these facts. When I have some work meetings abroad and people ask me something about Italy, I always tell some curiosities. This catches their attention more than the well-known adjectives used to describe the famous monuments. Now I want to do the same with you. You know, we like a lot to smile, so it is quite common to joke about our habits. But be careful, we tell jokes and the truth is in the middle. Don’t miss it. 

P.S.: don’t forget to follow me on YouTube. It’s a work in progress, so stay tuned.

 

More Italy

Now you got some curiosities about my country, but if you want to know more, I have a lot of posts for you. I wrote articles about my visits, so check them out. You find facts, curiosities, information, impressions, culture, art, and much more. I am going on with my activity on the blog, so often there are updates.

If you don’t want to lose some update, subscribe to my newsletter. Weekly I will send you an email with the news and some extra contents as well. It’s a good way to be in touch and to discover more destinations and tips.

Now it is time to find a flight and to book the accommodation.

Book a hotel in Asolo

Asolo is a quite popular destination for tourists and that is why to book a hotel can be a bit hard. The museums, the ancient buildings, and archeological finds are important attractions for travellers. But also the events can attract many people during the year. Then the place is quite close to Treviso and Venice, two marvelous Italian towns. This means that sometimes it can be fully booked. I want to share my experience, made twice in Asolo. I went there for some meetings and I wanted good accommodation, so I started to search among the offers.

The rates depend of course on the period. Because during some particular events and spring and summer generally, the prices are higher. In Asolo to book a hotel means to choose among different types of accommodations, included B&B, apartments, and farms. What to do? Before to go into the topic I think it is necessary to explain why this beautiful village is the perfect location for a holiday.

Asolo and the region

The area is full of history, monuments, and museums where to discover the region. Asolo it is close to the main cities and towns of Veneto. The place is far a few kilometers from the most popular mountains and it is full of amazing landscapes all around. Not only history but also art, architecture, and nature are the ingredients of the village and the surroundings. You can find a quiet place to walk in nature. The village offers you the accommodation you are searching for with the typical kindness dedicated to the tourists.

If you want to visit Venice you can easily go there. You only need half an hour by car. It is possible to use buses and trains to move, but I suggest to do it by car, it is faster. You are free to transfer when you want and you need less time than public transport. To sleep in Asolo costs less than Venice and it is quieter. These are the reasons why you can consider to stay in the village and to book a hotel there.

How to book a hotel

Asolo offers, as a tourism destination, a good variety of accommodations. There are five stars hotels to guest houses. I have been again in the same hotel, but how did I choose it? Well, I was searching for a comfortable room, close to the main square and at a good price. I like a luxury, so this influence my evaluation. When you travel for work reasons you want to sleep well and to receive the proper attention. That is why I check always luxury structures. My second criteria were related to the position. To sleep not far from Piazza Garibaldi it is a great opportunity to go to all the attractions on foot.

As I already mentioned the rates are lower than Venice, plus I add the quiet, almost impossible to be found in the city. I noticed that a five stars hotel can be quite cheap compared to other places in Veneto, but it offers a great experience. Also, I wanted a structure with a restaurant, because without a plan to out, when you are tired in the evening you can eat a few steps far from the room. I tried to check also other solutions, but most of them were not in the best position, except Hotel Duse, three stars and historical structure. I decided to book a hotel called Albergo al Sole.

Albergo al Sole

The five stars hotel is not the only one in Asolo, but it is 300 meters far from the main square. It offers a great view and it combines tradition and modernity. An old and historical building shows the tradition, also in room settings. Meanwhile, some furniture element and impeccable service are given a good experience. According to modern high standards. I already wrote in the past about this accommodation, but I want to add something more after my second visit.

The staff is friendly, they welcome the guest as people do in private houses. You feel at home, maybe also because the structure is quite small. The rooms are spacious, with a stylish setting that reminds the traditions of the past. But the equipment is modern and complete. You are in history with all the contemporary comforts. They also have a shop inside with exclusive products, as food and home design objects.

A shuttle service is available for guests. I suggest you to use the car also to explore the area. In case they provide you the permission to enter the traffic limited streets to reach the hotel and the car parking. Guests can also benefit from the luxury bikes of the hotel.

I took these pictures in September 2016.

The restaurant

Food is important in Italy and Asolo has great products. To taste the local cuisine you have to enjoy the restaurant La Terrazza. It is inside the Albergo al Sole. When you book a hotel, especially this one, you have the chance to find special offers including other services. I suggest you consider the dinner at La Terrazza. Recipes from Veneto and Mediterranean dishes are proposed according to the availability of seasonal ingredients. You can choose between fish and meat, both of them cooked with some innovation by the chef. In summer it is possible to use the terrace with a superb view of the village. They serve there also breakfast.

The food

The Emporio of the hotel has a very good oil, made a few kilometers out of Asolo. When you book a hotel in the village and you want to taste the local products Albergo al Sole can help you. I have one more tip for you about the local food. If you like to bring home some products or just to taste something while you are doing your tour, buy it from the shop.

In Via Browning, a few hundred meters from Piazza Garibaldi, there is Gastronomia Sgarbossa. A big shop with local products like oil, wines, cheese, and salami. There is a huge variety and it is an opportunity to taste the specialties. Book a hotel in Asolo will be your delicious idea.

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