the renaissance Boboli Gardens of Florence Italy  

The Palazzo Pitti is a large villa museum built in 1458 for a Florentine banker near the river Arno, in the heart of Florence, Tuscany, Italy, and is sumptuously laid out with antique furnishings and priceless works of Italian paintings and sculptures. It contains nearly 500 Renaissance  and baroque frescoes and masterpieces by Artemisia Gentileschi, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Fillipo Lippi, Perugino, Correggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Andrea del Sarto, Fra Bartolomeo, il Rosso, Canova, Verrochio, and Pietro da Cortona, among many many others. I am writing a piece about these incredible collections, accompanied by photographs, and the background of some of the most important and beautiful works to see if you can visit. It’s highly recommended for serious art or palazzo fans.Surveying the grand grounds and estate from a distance as visitors have admired the beauty and harmony of the Boboli Gardens for centuries. The house and land were bought by the de’Medici’s in 1549 and they filled it with their incomparable art collection, second only to their nearby famed Uffizi Gallery and residence. Napoléon even used this as his main living headquarters in Italy in the late 18th century. The exterior courtyard where horses and carriages would draw up. Paris and Helen of Troy.Themes of alchemy and the occult mingled with myths of classical antiquity in the natural caverns decorated to enhance an atmosphere of enchantment.Far away seashells and coral encrusted on water formed stalactites. Sea nymphs and faeries and aristocratic crests.The prisoners in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.The fascinatingly carved and decorators part natural, part artificial cavern the Buontalenti Grotto in the Boboli Gardens is a fascinating place, is encrusted with seashells and stalactites, housing mythical, fantastic, and allegorical elements, as well as symbols referring to esoteric subjects. The Grotta di Buontalenti (also known as Grotta Grande or the Big Grotto) was built by Bernardo Buontalenti between 1583 and 1593, and commissioned by Francesco I de’ Medici.

Winding labyrinthine hedge walkways to get lost in or sneak into for a stolen kiss.A brilliant blue heron rests in an artificial lake. Naked trees promise a boast of riches at the first bloom.Wild iris and flowers of delicate violet and pale lavender dotted among tall wild grasses of rolling meadows.Oranges a reminder of the beautiful year round climate of most of Italy.I was there on an overcast early spring day before the beauty of the garden really bloomed but shall return their in autumn to take photographs of the richer, fuller gardens. The little wildflower meadows and orange trees and statutes were lovely against the grey sky and ornate fountains (turned off in the cold) but I long to see this place teeming with color and fullness after the long hot summer, as autumn turns the leaves Amber and gold. I get that chance this early October.
Watch this highly interesting and gorgeous historical and visual tour of the Boboli Gardens by Brit and garden expert, Monty Don. Boboli Garden — Tour of Italy – Florence

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Berlin; a Grecian ode in black and white 

I am exceedingly charmed by Berlin. I’m smitten with it, in fact. This German city is pristine and enormous, with beautiful stretches of wide open boulevards and bridges betwixt baroque, art nouveau, Romanesque and post modern architecture (with character).

They have turned part of the old Soviet regime of East Berlin, that former extension of the cold eastern bloc into a museum island of buildings housing rare antiquities and art from around the world… in an homage to ancient Grecian architecture — one could almost imagine what it felt like to walk between intact Greek temples and palaces, everything is just so well tended to, the whole part of the city marries the past and the present together seamlessly.

I stayed in the chic, sleek, uber modern Potsdamer Platz East Berlin neighborhood, just a short jaunt up from the stunning Brandenberg Gate. Another ode to Ancient Greece, you feel in Berlin as though you are in a city which truly both reveres and celebrates learning and culture.

Because East Berlin was isolated for so long after World War II, it was the perfect spot to turn Bizmarck and Weimar Republic era buildings into museums and hotels, and the Soviet utilitarian era 20th century monstrosities into apartments and offices. The sleekest designs of exciting new architects are in areas like Potsdamer Platz, and it’s fascinating to walk through areas where you can still catch a sense of the ambience of the Stasí and yet where 21st century modernity has taken over.

Berliners take their coffee very seriously, and I fell in love with every cup of coffee or chai or tea or double espresso I had in East and West Berlin. I will be writing about my favorite cafes in Europe soon… And Berlin truly impressed me with their innovation and attention to detail and quality.

There’s so much to enjoy about Berlin, there is dark history to absorb yourself in, sumptuous art to view in gallery after gallery, classical antitiquites like the Ishtar Gate, Greco Roman ruins and objets, the Pergamon altar, and the brilliant Berlin Philharmoniker, restaurants and bookshops and even elegant BMW taxis to recline in the back of as you drive through the city listening to Beethoven.

Museum island 

Ishtar gate

Roman market gate from Ancient Greece/Turkey.