Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lake Garda and Verona, Italy

Lake Garda, located halfway between Brescia and Verona, takes honors as Italy's largest lake. Beautiful lakeside towns dot the shoreline. This is Desenzano del Garda, population 27,000.
 Lots of restaurants for tourists in Desenzano del Garda.
 Rain poured down from the sky after snapping this shot of Desenzano del Garda's shoreline.
 That's a pizza he's holding.
 Further along the lake I come upon Peschiera del Garda, population 10,000.
 Peschiera del Garda was a fortress town and its external fortifications dating from the 1400's are still impressive.
 Verona, population 260,000, ranks near the top in Italy tourist destinations. Lots of history here.
You know you're in a top tourist spot when open double-decker sight-seeing tour buses frequently rumble past.
 The Roman amphitheatre on the right seated 25,000 and is still used for various events.
Nice tower.  Lots of these elaborate towers in town as wealthy families were always trying to "one up" the other.
 Castle near the city center.
Inside the castle walls.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Milan, Italy

I've been to Milan (population 1.3 million) numerous times and never get tired of checking out Sforza Castle. This is the view facing the front of the castle.
 Built in the 15th century the citadel (a fortified area of a town) is immense.
Over the centuries the castle has been occupied by foreign powers including the French, Spanish, Austrians and Germans.
How big is the place? Over 3,000 soldiers were garrisoned inside when the Spain ruled the roost in the mid-1500's.
 The walls are thick and tall.
 This tower guards another inner courtyard
CityLife, a huge redevelopment complex, lies three miles from Milan's city center. This tall sucker of a building (Allianz Tower) stands 50 stories and I believe it's the tallest building in Italy.
To the left and to the right of Allianz Tower stand two massive residential housing developments each designed by a well known architect. This one by Daniel Libeskind.
This one by Zaha Hadid. Both complexes (total of 650 homes) were completed in 2013. I mention this because about 90% of the units are empty. I asked several locals why and was told the places are too expensive. 

Milan Cathedral, the second largest church in Italy after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, is the third largest church in the world.  It took six centuries to build this Gothic wonder and on this visit I learn
something new. Back in 1389, how did they transport all that pink marble over land from a quarry near Lake Mergozzo more than 65 miles away? See next photo.

 This canal was built so boats could transport the marble within a mile of the church.
The area around Milan Cathedral is always overflowing with tourists and of course you have people taking advantage of it. I don't know how this guy does it but I'm impressed.
 Less than a block away was this tandem. I stood around for a good 15 minutes waiting to see how the top guy dismounts but, they were both still doing their thing and I left still puzzled how it's done.
A few blocks from Milan's high-end shopping area lies the most expensive residential area in town. Most of the buildings date from the early 1900's and some building exteriors are absolutely spectacular.                  
 This is the lobby of the building above.
 I wonder how often this building gets watered.
 These guys have been hanging on the side of this building since 1535.
 Piece of art. Can you spot the man (statue) on the steel beam?
This is the outside of Cova Pasticceria ( Cova has been making customers like me happy since 1817. The pastries are absolutely fantastic and would hold their own with any of France's best.  Matter of fact, French luxury goods behemoth LVMH bought Cova in 2013.
Italians double park and even triple park. This car was double parked for three days.