Grand Canal, Venice - Italy

Grand Canal – Venice

Hi Folks!

Venice is a remarkable place. Astonishing even. Some 30 million tourists visit there annually. As only some 50.000 residents live in Venice’s historic center. The situation with the tourists has gotten a little bit out of hand. It’s so bad that even Donna Leon decided to abandon Venice. She lived over 30 years in Venice and wrote several best-selling criminal novels that were all set in Venice. I mean Donna was an absolute Venice enthusiast, but not anymore. There’s been discussion on restricting the number of tourists in the historic center. For that I have only one thing to say: probably not that bad idea!

But tourism is not the worst of Venetian’s worries. The city is sinking. It was probably the most absurd scene I have seen in weeks, when I spotted three carpenters fixing a roof by the Grand Canal. They must have been immigrants, as the locals are too aware of the Venetian saying: if it ain’t floating, don’t fix it! By the way, being a real estate investor in Venice must be a real challenge. Only a few have tried and none have succeeded.

If you are planning to visit there, I truly recommend that you ride a water bus along the Grand Canal to get from the Santa Lucia railway station into the basin at San Marco. If you are navigating your own boat, you should learn the ins and outs of the Grand Canal, including the latest short cuts, from James Bond’s Casino Royale (2006).

– Gart

Verona - Italy

Verona – Italy

Hi Folks!

The panoramic view from Castel San Pietro over Verona gives only a hint of the beauty of this marvelous city. The bridge in the photo was built by Romans and is called the Ponte Pietra. The tall construction is the bell tower of Verona Cathedral. I could go on and on about the sights in Verona. The Roman and medieval landmarks in Verona are just overwhelming and the restaurants serve the finest dishes in northern Italy. It is no wonder that three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona. Although Shakespeare never even visited the city, what a shame.

Verona is known as the city of love. If you are planning to visit there, you should see Baz Luhrmann’s document Romeo + Juliet (1996) to get into the right mood for diving into Verona’s vivid social life. The document is about Romeo DiCaprio and his girlfriend Juliet Capulet who lived in Verona some years ago. One could say that they had some difficulties in their relationship. It only shows that not even all the Veronese have luck in their love.

The courtyard beneath Juliet’s balcony is the most visited sites in the town. Aaw, people are so romantic. But for real, get a grip! It’s only a balcony and you can see it in the photo right below.

– Gart

Verona - The balcony of Juliet's house

Verona – The balcony of Juliet’s house

The Kiss - Francesco Hayez

The Kiss – Francesco Hayez

Hi Folks,

At his time, Francesco Hayez was a fine representative of the voyeur community. And he could truly capture the tension and sensual energy between this young couple in his painting. It shows dedication, both to art and to voyeurism. The Kiss (1859) is Romanticism at its best. Some insist that the painting represents the formation of the new kingdom of Italy. That could very well be. I do not have any arguments against that. But deeper interpretations cannot take anything away from the kiss, as it’s still as passionate and sweet as a kiss can be. Hayez leaves me no option. I have to leave to Verona, city of love, at once. To the young couple in the painting I would say: Oh come on guys, Get a room!

– Gart

Baptistery of Parma - Italy

Parma – Italy

Hi Folks,

Who would have thought that one of the most remarkable medieval monuments is located in a town that’s famous for its cheese and ham. The Baptistery of Parma is made of pink marble. The construction work begun in the 12th century under the supervision of architect Benedetto Antelami. Based only how the Baptistery looks outside, I can understand why it’s considered to remarkable. But what’s really astonishing is that there is only one storey and no interior walls in the Baptistery. It’s basically one very tall room on ground level.

I heard from a reliable source that Benedetto enjoyed his Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto a bit too much. And as we all know, such a heavy diet makes you drowsy. Who cares about adding floors and walls in the drawings when you’ve had one cheese chunk too many. Luckily Benedetto wasn’t a big fan of Spumante. Otherwise the pink marble could be just a pile of rocks next to Parma Cathedral’s bell tower.

– Gart

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City State

Hi Folks,

In The Big Lebowski (1998) the Dude himself asked: “Does the Pope sh#t in the woods?” The Dude is a pretty sophisticated guy. After all, there’s a fairly large group of people who follow Dudeism, which has grown from an underground cult to a world religion. But he clearly does not know where the holiness does his business. Or could it be that the Dude says open questions intentionally in order to encourage his followers to find out for themselves. Well, I was a little bit spontaneous and I did travel to the Vatican City State. I did not meet the Pope (he was not home), but I found out this: there are no forests in Vatican City. There’s St. Peter’s Square (photo above), St. Peter’s Basilica (photo below) and some gardens, but no woods! So there’s the answer to the Dude’s question.

While in Vatican, I realized something quite peculiar. Both the Pope and the Dude know this guy called Jesus. Small World, not to mention Vatican City Sate which is super tiny (110 acres, population c. 850, smallest internationally recognized independent state by both area and population). Anyway, Jesus is one of the most quoted men. Thereby, I feel that quoting Jesus Quintana is the only proper way to end this post:

“Nobody f###s with the Jesus!”

– Gart


Vatican City State, St. Peter's Basilica from inside

Colosseum - Rome

Colosseum – Rome

Hi Folks,

This is Colosseum, or more formally the Flavian Amphitheatre. I didn’t know men could build such things. After it was completed in 80 AD, it was included in different versions of the list of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  The poet Martial (40-102 AD) went even a little bit further. He instructed to lose the whole list of Seven Wonders as, “Rome’s Colosseum is the world’s one and only truly amazing building”.

Some blood has bled on the arena’s dirt, and Maximus, the gladiator best known to the modern world, totally nailed it: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”. The amphitheater served as a venue for gladiator fights, animal hunts, executions and re-enactments of famous battles for nearly 5 centuries. The events were enormous: In 107 contests involved 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators during the 123 days. At least 50,000 spectators could fit into the arena to chant Life! in support to their favorite gladiators. And sometimes the crowd convinced the emperor to save their favorite’s life.

Regardless of earthquakes, stone-robbers, tourists and the amount of water flown under the bridge, the Colosseum still stands. And that is good news to all of us. Namely, already the ancient Romans knew the following:

          “As long as the Colosseum stands, so shall Rome; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, so falls the world.”



Colosseum from inside - Rome

Bosa - Sardinia, Italy

Bosa – Sardinia, Italy

Hi Folks!

Bosa is a picturesque town on the west coast of Sardinia. Bosa’s landmark Serravalle’s Castle is further up on the hill guarding the medieval town. Do not be fooled by the bright lights of Bosa; you will have difficulties to find any night time action around there. If you are into relaxing and getting to know yourself a bit better, this may just be the perfect place to spend your holiday. I think I have had enough of the rural countryside for now, it is time to seek new adventures. I read somewhere that France is the most popular country to visit. And France’s island Corsica is pretty close. I believe my next stop will be there; hopefully Corsica is something close to Ibiza, because my dancing feet are getting restless again! Stay tuned. Or better yet, let’s meet on Corsica.

– Gart

Nuraghe Santu Antine - Sardinia, Italy

Nuraghe Santu Antine – Sardinia, Italy

Hi Folks!

This, my friends, is a nuraghe. Nuraghes were built by Nuragic people; I do not think the similarity in the name of the people and the construction is a coincidence. Nuragic people inhabited Sardinia some 3000 years ago up to the second century AD. There are over 7 thousand nuraghes in Sardinia. I have heard that nuraghes are not very popular these days, and I guess it is understandable. For instance in Costa Smeralda (a very posh area in Sardinia) some houses cost over 300.000 EUR per square meter (I know, sounds unbelievable but Costa Smeralda is the priciest place in Europe). Imagine owning a house over there and then your kids start begging: “daddy, mommy please buy us a trampoline”. Now you already paid a few millions for the house and the backyard, but just cannot fit a trampoline on your yard when there’s already a patio, possibly a pool and definitely a barbeque and then! An ancient nuraghe takes most of the space. In those moments you might begin to wonder how on earth could I get rid of the nuraghe or would it just be easier to buy a bigger lot. After all, the nuraghe has been sitting there for couple of thousand years before You.

Santu Antine is one of the largest nuraghes in Sardinia. It used to be some kind of a fortress. I guess there isn’t a clear consensus on the function of the nuraghes – we know quite little of the people who built them. I would be surprised if Nuragic had been that much different from you and me. And that’s why I am quite confident assuming that Nuragic lived in Nuraghes. I mean it would have kind of been non-intelligent to build a nuraghe and then sleep next to it in a hole in the ground.

– Gart

Mount Altura Fort - Sardinia, Italy

Mount Altura Fort – Sardinia, Italy

Hi Folks!

On times like these it is fantastic to see a military base that has been turned into a recreational area. There are no firearms in the legendary Mount Altura Fort (Fortezza Monte Altura). Hopefully this trend will become popular. I guess a fortress like Mount Altura Fort had to be built to protect the peace of Palau (the town you may see in the photo). And it’s a valid question: why would anyone intend to invade Palau? But wait until you get to taste La Gelateria Dell`angolo´s gelatos. I mean *whoah* and *whou*, they have the best gelatos in Sardinia and possibly in the whole of Italy. If you get to visit this gelateria I encourage you to taste as many flavors as you can, but my favorite is mascarpone!