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Archives - Southern Europe

'Murabilia,' Flowers and Food as Art

murabiliapreview
Murabilia Murainflore is an annual botanical exhibition and market held on Lucca’s walls, Le Mura. In cooperation with the Botanical Gardens of Lucca, the event is now in its 14th year. This lively exhibition is a gathering of many of Italy’s – and Europe’s – most inventive growers and farmers of flowers, produce and food. I don’t know much about botanicals, but I appreciated the artful displays. Visitors are eager to look, listen, engage in spirited conversation, and carry home flowering plants to fill their window boxes and courtyards.
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Cisternino, A Village in White

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by Melissa Cicci
We arrived in late afternoon under a darkening sky. Like its larger neighbor, Ostuni, Cisternino is also whitewashed – a common architectural signature in Puglia. We climbed through narrow streets devoid of any other tourists or foreigners. Most of the homes' shutters were closed, and flower pots dotted balconies here and there, although there wasn’t a profusion of color in this magical white village. We entered a tiny piazza with two opposing benches. On one bench, a trio of octogenarians sat with crossed arms, fedoras and canes.
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Life in Lucca, Week 1, September 5

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by Melissa Cicci
On the basis of a 3-hour speed tour through Lucca two years ago, my husband and I decided to do a trial run in living in Italy. We’ve rented an apartment for three months in this small city in Tuscany. Apartment is probably not the right word for this flat in a 16th-century palazzo. The current owner, an American expatriate, is only the most recent in a long line of interesting people that tell the story of the Palazzo Arnolfini.
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Pale Towers of Stone, the Dolomites

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by Elizabeth Bradley
The Dolomites. Dramatic pale towers of stone in an alien, harsh landscape. For years, I’d admired the haunting photographs of this mountain range in northeastern Italy. When our family decided on a summer trip to Italy, our bucket list included the Dolomites, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And what to do in the Dolomites for a family with 4 boys between the ages of 17 and 12? The Via Ferrate, or Iron Roads, established in World War I by battling Italian and Austrian soldiers, are now maintained and expanded by local climbing guides and supported by a network of rifugios. About a 3 –hour drive north of Venice, we passed through the lively town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, and followed the winding road to the Falzarego Pass.
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A Dozen Reasons to Fall in Love with Málaga

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It’s hard to pin down the essence of a metropolis, endlessly shifting as they tend to be, like litter stirred up by a gust of wind. But in small cities like Málaga the character of the place stays more or less the same. It’s changed little in the years I’ve been visiting. Strike out from the bus station to a bustling historical core that’s packed with atmosphere and authenticity. Which makes it all the stranger that it’s not packed with visitors. So, starting from the top – reason number one to fall in love with Málaga: because, historically speaking, few others have bothered to try.
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Adventures of the Blue Bike

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Beyond Doorways Travel was based in Lucca, Italy this fall. We visited the bike shop around the corner and bought our own blue cruiser with basket for our 3-month stay. What better way to chronicle our time in Tuscany this fall than through the adventures of the blue bike. Read the blog at
LA BICI AZZURRA
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Summer Harvest and Family Ties in Abruzzo, Italy

villavalsipreview
In a verdant valley tucked into the arid, high terrain of Italy’s Gran Sasso range, farmers in the medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio produce some of the best lentils in the world. Each year, in early September, Santo Stefano celebrates the land and the August harvest in Abruzzo with the Sagra delle Lenticchie (Festival of Lentils).
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The List: 10 Must-Have Experiences in Florence

PiazzadellaSignoriapreview
It’s no secret I love the small city of Lucca, in Tuscany’s northwest corner. Last fall, I spent a week honing my Italian language skills at the Koinè Italian School there. I wish I’d had more time with my teacher, Isabella, and with other students and teachers as they explored Lucca and Tuscany. One of Tuscany’s other gems, of course, is nearby Florence. Koinè staffers are generous in sharing their love of all places and things Italian. Here, they share their List of 10 Must-Have Experiences in Florence.
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An Armenian Monastery in Venice: Solitude and Sanctuary

armenipreview
For centuries, Venice has been a magnet for eccentric expats, treasonous poets, artists and their wealthy patrons, long-suffering mistresses, reclusive nobles, and refugees. Their wealth, talent and endurance are evident in the palazzi along the Grand Canal; in Peggy Guggenheim’s astonishing collection of 20th century art; in the house American poet Ezra Pound shared with his mistress; and in a centuries-old monastery. For hundreds of years, many have come to Venice seeking creative inspiration, riches, and sanctuary.
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Blood Red Moon over the Adriatic

The morning after our first night on the Harmony G, I awoke to the setting of a blood red moon and the rising of a blood red sun. A great deal of the fun, for me, aboard a small cruise ship is to catch the sun rise and set, cast off from port, and docking at port. My husband and I returned to the Greek small ship cruising scene after an enjoyable cruise on the Galileo, another small ship, five years earlier, off the Cyclades Islands. This time, we embarked at the island of Corfu for a tour of the Adriatic Sea’s Dalmatian Coast and were joined by my sister and brother-in-law. Read More...

On the Pilgrim Trail: In Basque Country

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[First in a two-part series on hiking Spain's Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail]

The little train to St. Jean, after the TGV from Paris to Bayonne, passed through beautiful, alpine like country with tiny towns of meticulously tended stucco houses reminiscent of Swiss chalets. A rushing river offered rafting and all was green. It was to be a trip that would have many meanings: spiritual and sentimental closure, rites of passage, mother and daughter bonding, and physical challenges.
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Sailing in Odysseus' Wake

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Sailing the Ionian Sea in a private yacht, following in Odysseus' wake, docking every night in a charming Greek port, sampling local delicacies and sipping wine under the stars: who wouldn't thrill to such a voyage through the Greek islands? Unfortunately, I don't own a sailboat in the Mediterranean and I don't sail very well, so accomplishing my dream seemed unlikely. Yet, my three sons and I found ourselves sailing a small yacht in the Ionian for a week in summer 2010.
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On the Pilgrim Trail: On to Santiago

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[Second in a two-part series on hiking Spain's Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail]

Non-stop rain dictated our next moves, so the intrepid mother and daughters decided to take the train all the way to Leon, bypassing much of the flat central plains of northern Spain. We were now in the bailiwick of the legendary Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon.
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Memories of Mallorca

Mallorcapreview
Over the centuries, Deia has drawn artists, writers, composers, Moors and sundry other invaders, and had everything we wanted. In the village – or nearby – we found wonderful restaurants, amazing hiking trails that offered sublime views or off-the-beaten track antiquities, and quaint, cobbled village squares ideal for people watching. Our favorite pastime was wandering from the village, down the old donkey trail, to the secluded, pebble-strewn cove along the coast. The trip would have been perfect had we never strayed far from Deia, but one day, on a lark, we decided to see more of the island.
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A Greek Wedding in Venice

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All weddings mean to include magic and romance. Plan one in Venice, Italy and just imagine what might ensue. A dear friend and her fiancé live in Sussex outside of London; both are architects and planners and have worked and traveled all over the world. When Steven jubilantly convinced Despina to marry him, her Greek family and friends in Athens were ecstatic. When friends from all over the world heard the news, all were delighted and created the demand for a serious celebration.
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Semana Santa in the Old and New Worlds

Torches flicker in the dark street and candles glow on the float. I can almost touch some of the kneeling men beneath their burden. Their faces dripping with sweat, they rise as the drums begin again. It is the night of Holy Thursday in Popayán, Colombia. Read More...

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