Tag Archives: visit

Strasbourg: from the past to the future

Time to time I go to Strasbourg. The reason for my visits is business, but luckily I always have some free hours to discover something of the city. I saw the main attractions and the beauties of the city. There are of course some places that must be seen for a traveler. But also some less known places that are amazing. I spent there only a few days. Luckily I had enough time to see what I wanted and also to go a bit outside Strasbourg.

You maybe have already read my previous post about the curiosities of Strasbourg, meanwhile, in this article, I describe some of the attractions that I visited on my last trip. More I go there and more I fall in love with the capital of Alsace, really an amazing area in France, close to the German border.

 

 

The first step in Strasbourg: the island

From where to start a visit? The Grand Île (it means large island) is the historical center of the city and it is under Unesco Heritage. It has a particular atmosphere because the buildings and the streets are kept like in the past and it helps the visitor to jump in the past. There are beautiful buildings that remind the German style and many lovely bars and restaurants.

In the main square of the Grand Île, there is one of the main attractions of Strasbourg: the  Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral, a marvelous example of Gothic architecture. There is no entrance fee, except for the platform to go up. Climbing the 332 stairs the visitors can arrive on the top to admire all the city. The sun must enjoy the panorama. The church has a large rose window on the main facade and there is also an astronomical clock: every day at 12.30 pm it turns to show the various ages of the life using the parade of apostles before Christ.

                                     A particular of the Cathedral’s facade

Walking in the area it is possible to see four medieval churches and St. Paul. Among the medieval churces. I liked very much  Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune because inside there are a lot of frescos realized in XIV century. That art is great and it is very interesting to go deep into religious history using the artistic representations of the ancient time. The religious buildings are not the only one to be seen.

The square that hosts the cathedral, called Gutenberg, is amazing, maybe not too big but with all impressive buildings from different ages, starting from the medieval age to XVIII century. The best idea to see the different constructions is to seat in one of the coffee shops present in the square and take a look with tranquility.

In the area, there are three interesting museums, all of them located in Palais Rohan: one dedicated to archeology, one to fine arts and the last one to decorative arts. They deserve a visit and you need not less than half a day if you want to see the collections. Moving through the prestigious palaces you can reach the most characteristic area, almost intact as it was when they built it.

                                                             Unesco Heritage

The French village in the city

Petite France (Little France) is a picturesque neighborhood of Strasbourg, where in the past the fishermen and the workers were living. It is close to the water and made by half-wooden houses well preserved and protected against humidity and water. A trip with the boat on the river is a good way to explore the city. You can pass from the old part os Strasbourg to the modern buildings, main occupied by EU institutions. It is almost like start the journey in the ancient time and arrive directly to a future era.

The element that I adore about the modern architecture in Strasbourg is the glass that offers great reflexes of the ancient buildings, of the water and the sky, especially during the sunset time. During the trip on the river, it is easy to catch the shape of the city and to see the location of the main attractions. I think the boat can be even the starting point of the trip, so from there you can decide what to see and when.

                                       In the Orangerie Park

Crossing bridges and walking in the park

Who loves the architecture can’t miss the covered bridges, built as part of the fortification to defend Strasbourg by the attacks and to guarantee the movements of the inhabitants inside the city. To find them you need to follow the river around Petite France. Some restaurants offer a great view of the river and its ancient bridges, so you can taste the local food and admire the architectural works.

To walk around nature there is the lovely Orangerie Park, there are many varieties of flowers and trees but many locals and tourists are going there to practice some sport before to start the day or just to keep themselves in form and playing together during some daybreak. It is quite big, so there is a lot of space to use without disturbing each other and find a space full of quiet in the middle of Strasbourg.

The park has some direct connections with the river, so it offers nice corners with a nice view. If you like to take special pictures of the river and mixing the nature and the buildings, the Orangerie is the perfect location, you will stay there for hours, maybe also to have a break during your tour and take some fresh air after a visit to the local museums.

                                       The European Parliament

Present and future

The modernity is represented by the European Union buildings. The main ones are three: the Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. The first one was built on a corner on the river where the boat tour finish. And it is full of glass there, so the sun and the sky are always visible on the palace windows. It is different from the typical architecture of Strasbourg, but this is the charm of these constructions.

I had the chance to be inside and what impressed me is the natural light that enters in corridors and different rooms. But also the luxury of the setting and the floral decorations that come from the top of the internal walls. The spaces are so big. But this is not related to my tour in Strasbourg.

                                             Inside the European Parliament

I still have to see many things, but I hope to do it in my next trips, as to go out from the city and to see the castles, there are some not far from Strasbourg. I suggest you also to go to Eguishem, a small village a few kilometers far from the city with half-timber houses full of flowers on the balconies. It is the only place outside the urban area that I visited.

                                             European Parliament hall

Plan the trip

Now it’s time to put Strasbourg on your agenda. Plan a trip there. You can find a mean of transport on the Infobus platform that offers the best deals.

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Strasbourg: capital of Europe and tourist destination

I have been several time in past in Strasbourg, but always for work reasons and for this reason mainly focused on institutions. The city is famous, together with Brussels, as capital of the European Union because of the presence of the European Parliament, the headquarter for the plenary assembly, and other offices, included the diplomatic missions of the various countries. This time I explore Strasbourg as tourist.

I already discovered that the city is the third one in France as tourism destination chosen by the worldwide travellers. They are right, because there are many attractions to be seen and also a walk in the centre or a trip on the river with the boat is something that gives satisfactions to the tourists. In some corners of Strasbourg as the streets and the buildings are it is like to jump in the past, travelling through history.

Before to describe some of the best monuments and museums, I want to share some curiosities. First of all it is necessary to mention that the Grande Île is protected as Unesco Heritage. As you know Strasbourg is located on the border between France and Germany, so crossing the river Rhine you can find the city of Kehl. Anyway on the French side in the city area are living around half a million inhabitants and this means that Strasbourg is the nineth city in the country.

 

If you want to visit the down town you should know that the best way is on foot or by bike, in order to not miss any particular corner and to enjoy better the atmosphere of the area. If you prefer to use the public transport network, you can be sure that it works perfectly, it is well organized. Never be in hurry in that part of Strasbourg because you will need a lot of time to visit the different attractions and to take pictures of the well kept buildings, bridged and small streets with characteristic shops and restaurants.

Thinking about the restaurants when a traveller goes to the city a must is the sauerkraut (choucroute in French), made with cabbage. It is a specialty served in the traditional restaurants and I have to say that is quite good, reminding a bit the German style mixed with the French cuisine, especially from Alsatian region. You will be delighted, but of course on the menu there are different proposals.

 

About the culture Strasbourg is really active and it offers many free and not free events: opera, ballet, concerst, exhibitions and so on. There is a big number of museums able to satisfy every interests. The quantity of the collections is not second to the one of the entertainment. The city offers a great nightlife thanks to the largest concentration of bars and clubs that remain open until dawn in Europe. There are lovely squares full of patios and young people where spend the evening drinking, chatting and have fun.

The architecture of the city has similarities with Germany because the influence that comes from the other side of the border is obviously high. Among the big and modern buildings of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe there are many ancient architectural testimonies like the Cathédrale Notre Dame, built between 1176 and 1439 with a 142 metres tower from where to enjoy the panorama over the city.

Stay tuned, because in the next article I will write about the attractions, going deep in what to see in Strasbourg.

Anasa

A lake in the mountains

Piedmont offers beautiful landscapes, one of these is in the mountains over the small town of Biella, in the northern part of the region, close to Aosta Valley. I want to share with you a brief experience that I had on a lake in the mountains in Biella some time ago. I was in a place called Lake Mucrone. Mucrone is the name of the local mountain part of the Alps. On it, there is a very small but lovely lake. My suggestion is to go there if you are around the region. You can go up walking on the pathway or use the cableway. 

The Mucrone mount is 2553 meters high and it offers a marvelous view of alps and of the green area of Biellese. There are trails to walk in spring summer, meanwhile in winter, when it snows, you can also ski. Since I love to walk in nature and especially in the mountains, I have been there in the warmer season some months ago. To explain to you why I recommend a visit there if you like nature, mountains, and lakes, I will use my pictures, taken during my trip to a lake in the mountains. Before to see the pictures, let me give some more tips and information about Lake Mucrone.

A lake in the mountains: how to get there

To reach a lake in the mountains you can’t use a car, but you need it if you are not already on the place. So how can you go to Lake Mucrone? I am going to explain how I went there. I started the trip from Turin. So I used the highway to go to Biella. My exit was “Rondissone” because the first part of the highway is free. Then you drive for around 45 minutes following the signal to “Biella”. Otherwise, you can go out to “Santhià” and from there the road is almost all straight. If you come from Milan go out in “Carisio”. When you arrive in Biella follow the direction to Santuario di Oropa, an amazing monastery full of art and history, also related to the Savoia Royal Family. About this, I will write more in another post. If you go to Biella by train, then you find a bus to Oropa.

In Oropa you park the car (in Piazzale Busancano) and you choose to go up walking, you will need at least a couple of hours. But mainly it depends on your speed and on the stops you will do on the way. Follow the directions of the pathway D13. In my case, I used the cableway (the return tickets costs €12,50). I was up in a few minutes. Do you think I lost the chance to conquer the summit? Sure, I, unfortunately, did it, but I enjoyed more a lake in the mountains. Don’t expect something big, but I am sure you will like it. Then you have to walk around the mountain and not only to stay on the lakeside. 

The lake

At an elevation of 1894 m, its surface area is 0.01713 km². Of course, on a mountain, you can’t expect a big lake. Since 1800 it’s one of the major destinations for the local tourism and this place was one of the favorites of the famous painter Lorenzo Delleani, who lived between 1840 and 1908. A lake in the mountains from where starts the Oropa creek. It is a symbol of the area and inside you can also swim. Don’t forget anyway that the water is called. In one side there is a fountain dedicated to Italian sharpshooters corp, funded in Biella.

What to do there

There is a mountain retreat where you can taste the local “polenta” or just to drink something. Then you can explore Mucrone, enjoy the panorama and admire the beautiful colors of the lake and its reflections. The best time to see it is with the fog, because of the mysterious and superb atmosphere. But avoid that type of weather if you want to go around and walk. You can get really lost. Wear or at list have with you a sweater because the temperature there is always… a bit cold. Use some waterproof boots or waterproof mountain shoes. I suggest then to visit the Santuario di Oropa and if you like it also the Adventure Park and the Botanical Garden. A day to Lake Mucrone and surroundings will be good. For technical information check the cableway website.

The lake and view

Now I don’t have to write more words, because I guess the pictures can show you the landscapes better than me. I think it is a unique place and if you plan a visit to Piedmont, insert a day to Lake Mucrone, you will never regret it! Check out also my other travel experiences!

Prague: city of a hundred spires

My short trip to Prague, Czech Republic, for the New Year’s Eve is already finished, but it was certainly superb. I had a great time not only because of the fireworks. The city has a magnificent setting made of historical and artistic buildings. The people are friendly and especially it is possible to find travelers from all over the world. The definition “city of a hundred spires” concern the gold-tipped towers and the medieval church spires spread around the city. They are many and they constitute the skyline of Prague.

Prague is one of the best-preserved cities in Europe and it is also defined as a queen. Because of its architecture, really rich, full of important palaces part of the history of Europe. Walking around the city center, I had the chance to see a bit more things than my previous visit. It was very interesting for me to observe a mix of styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism.

The Danube in Prague

One day I will be able to say I saw everything in Prague, I hope. But in my short visits, I can only try to enjoy some parts of the city. So I am going to mention what I explored and what I like. My goal is to inspire you, to give you some tips starting from my experience. First of all, I suggest you walk around the main squares and along the river Vltava. This gives you an idea about the shape of Prague.

It is a good idea also a cruise on the river. I had two different experiences: the first one in the summertime with pedalos and the second time for the New Year’s Eve with a boat. In the first case, I had the daylight, in the second one it was obviously night. So going around I try to see the buildings with a different perspective. Try to do at list a tour on a boat during the day, I am sure you will like it. Do it before to start to go around by walk. Why? Because you will have a look at the different parts and it will decide from where to start.

What I loved most in Prague

Among the attractions, the one that hit me, especially in my curiosity, is the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town of Prague. It is really cool, with a particular mechanism and structure. But what is really cool is its legend. It says that there is a connection with the Clock and the Brothers Grimm. The great clockmaker Mikuláš from Kadaň realized it in the 15th century. Many countries, at that time, wanted to have one like it and they were trying to hire the artist. He never wanted to show the plans to other people except for the Prague Councilors.

Today there are some replicas around the world, but nothing can be like the original one for innovation and precision. You can see the rotating statues of the 12 apostles. The Clock displays Babylonian time, Old Bohemian time, German time, and Sidereal time. It also shows the moon’s phases and the sun’s journey through the constellations of the zodiac. The calendar dial, just below the clock, shows the day of the month, the day of the week, feast days and allegorical pictures of the current month and sign of the zodiac.

What to see in Prague

If you go to Prague keep in mind some must. The first one is Charles Bridge, made of stones. It is the connection between the Old and the New Towns. It is full of tourists and street artists at almost any hour of the day and night. The Castle is one of the best examples of how the combination of different architectural styles can give to the humanity great results. You can see especially Romanesque and Gothic.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus, and Adalbert realized in Gothic style and with a very high tower, 102.8 meters. In the Square of the Old Town, there are the City Hall and the Clock. A wonder of Prague. Wenceslas Square is inside the new part of the city, but it is impressive for its size, quite huge. In the end, I recommend seeing something modern: the Dancing House. The Nationale-Nederlanden building on the Rašínovo nábřeží was completed in 1996 and it has an impressive shape. It is closed to the river.

Now I let you watch my pictures, I took them on my different trips to Prague and they show how the city appears in all its magnificence. Have you ever been to this part of the world? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Vltava

Wenceslas Square

Charles Bridge

Architecture in Prague

Events in Prague

Apple fountain in Milan

Are you planning to go to Milan? Well, there is a curious place you should visit. Insert in your tour the Apple fountain. It is made by the famous American tech brand in the capital of fashion. Under the fountain, they have the shop. Are you thinking of a strange apple from where the water comes out? No, the company from Cupertino made something different. Elegant and cool.

Yes, they realized a special shop in the center of the city. In Piazza Liberty, a few steps from Duomo on the way to go to San Babila. Apple creates a very big shop and they realized an amazing fountain. The location is cool and the structure offers a curious experience. You can pass easily under it when you enter the shop. It doesn’t matter if you are an Apple fan or not, I recommend you a visit. Because it will leave you speechless.

It became in a few weeks one of the most famous and most photographed attractions of the city. Under the fountain there are stairs, so you can walk under the water and see the show. The glass will protect you, so you will be safe from water. It is so curious. You won’t need much time to see it and since it is closed to the cathedral, you will see it on the way.

The fountain of Apple

They opened the fountain and the shop at the end of July 2018. On the street, there is nothing more than this waterfall with the Apple logo on the window. The stairs to go down to the underground shop. On one side the stairs are under the water, on the other side, the stairs are like an amphitheater. The shop is 20 meters under the ground. and it is very big.

Anyway, what I like is the fountain they realized. It is something quite innovative in Milan and also cool. I am not going to write more and I let you see the pictures I took in the last days. I did a very short video uniting all of them to show you this curious fountain.  It can be part of the curiosities of Milan. What Apple made deserve to be seen, so while you walk around the cathedral in the city, have a look. It takes a few minutes.

Hey, did you check my YouTube channel?

 

Milan and much more

The Apple fountain is something that you have to visit, but it’s not the only thing to see in Milan. There are the Duomo, the Castle. You can read about the different tourist places in the city and also something less know. In the “Italy” section of my blog, you can find a lot of information, impressions, facts, and curiosities about my country. They come from my direct experience. In Italy, I united my two characteristics: to be Italian and traveler.

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Now you are ready to plan your Italian tour. Find a flight, a bus ora a train on the Infobus platform. You can compare the best rates and build your connections. Then on Booking, you will find the ideal accommodation for your stay. If you want a luxury hotel, I can suggest one of my favorites: The Petit Palais Hotel The Charme.  

Enjoy your trip to Milan. Feel free to share in the comments below your experience and your impressions. I am available also for questions. It will be my pleasure to answer or to give you tips.