Posts Tagged ‘sightseeing’

Why You Should See It: Duomo di Milano Milan, Italy

Editor’s Note: Anastasia Chernykh is the social media manager for My Life’s a Trip. She is also a great photographer and traveler. She recently visited Milan, Italy and I asked her to write a guest post. I hope her excellent guest post inspires you to climb up to the roof of the Duomo.

– Jen Pollack Bianco

Milan-DSC_0255

Go up to the roof to realize how huge the cathedral actually is (behold tiny people figures on piazza)

The most impressive thing about the Milan Cathedral is how much time and effort were spent on its construction. Thousands of artists, builders, craftsmen and 78 different architects from all over Europe worked on the project for 500 years!

The result is thoroughly impressive. The fifth-largest Christian church in the world, the Duomo is decorated with over 4000 statues, gargoyles, and figures (it is the most decorated building in the world) and the size of a city block on the inside.

Milan-DSC_0232

Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

The Duomo’s building, topped with a spire statue of the Madonna, was the tallest in Milan for almost two centuries. And its construction even changed the appearance of the city. In order to build this impressive Flamboyant Gothic church, marble was brought from the quarries of Candoglia. The canals built for marble delivery turned Milan into a small Venice, and they still can be seen in the Navigli area of the city.

Milan-DSC_0166

Ubiquitous Italian Pigeons on Piazza del Duomo

Unfortunately the kind of marble used on the Duomo is very fragile and needs to be replaced every 50-100 years. This expensive reality has provided continuous work for the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the organization that has been responsible for the cathedral’s construction and maintenance since 1387.

Milan-DSC_0249

Interior of Duomo di Milano

The interior of the cathedral is not as impressive as the exterior, but it’s also well worth visiting. Some believers think the most precious thing in cathedral is The Holy Nail relic, with which, per the legend, Christ was crucified. It is placed over the altar and is illuminated with red lightbulb.

There is a sundial on the floor near the main entrance that was once used to regulate clocks in the whole city. It was placed in Milan Duomo by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera.

Milan-DSC_0251

Artsy Windows of Duomo are Illuminated from Inside   

The archaeological area displays the remains of the early Christian baptisteries of S. Giovanni alle Fonti and S.Stefano and the remains of the basilica of S. Tecla, which dates back to 355 A.D.

Milan’s magnificent Duomo was the first cathedral in the world to illuminate its windows from within so that, at night, the sacred images can be admired from the outside.

Milan-DSC_0253

Sky and Spirals: First Thing You See After Climbing The Dark Spiral Staircase

The roof climb is another visitor’s must-do. The views of the city are incredible and the opportunity to see 135 spires rising above the cathedral, like a marble forest, is worth the climb alone!

Milan-DSC_0256

“The Marble Forest”

There is a gilded statue of Madonnina, the Virgin Mary, at the top of the highest spire Milan Cathedral. Traditionally, no building in Milan can be higher than the Madonnina. The Duomo was the tallest building in Milan until the middle of 1950s, when the higher Pirelli Building was built. So to keep up with tradition, a smaller replica of the Madonnina was placed atop of it.

Milan-DSC_0259

Gilded Statue of Madonnina as Seen From Cathedral’s Roof

The best way to explore Duomo is a combined Duomo Pass, admission  includes Terraces (by elevator for A pass or on foot for B pass), Duomo, Museum, Church of St.Gottardo in Corte and Archaeological Area.
 The line is smaller near closing time on Sundays, and I’d suggest to purchase B Pass to avoid the queue at the elevator. The climb isn’t that hard (about 200 steps) and there is something utterly satisfying about going all the way up and then being rewarded with a fabulous view!

Milan-DSC_0261

 The view of the Milan from the Terraces of Duomo

Duomo di Milano

OPENING HOURS

Every day: 8.00 am – 7.00 pm. Last ticket at 6.00 am. Last admission 6.10 pm

TICKETS

DUOMO PASS Duomo Pass A € 15.00 Duomo Pass B € 11.00

Make sure you’re properly dressed before entering the Duomo (no shorts, no short skirts or dresses, no tank tops).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rome is Under Rehab

Part of Rome’s Famed Colosseum is currently under scaffolding

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and apparently it won’t be renovated in one either. On my recent trip to Rome, I was surprised to find the cities most famous fountains closed for renovations and restoration during the height of summer tourist season.  Apparently even the Eternal City needs a nip & tuck once in a while. Italian Fashion House Fendi is financing the Trevi Fountain’s $2.9 million dollar renovation project (which is expected to last 20 months).

The Trevi Fountain gets a facelift

My heart breaks a little for first time visitors to Rome wanting to have their own Roman Holiday moment. The restoration project is expected to be finished in 2015. Tod’s, the footwear company, is footing the bill for the $34 renovation of Rome’s Colosseum. The Colosseum project seems to be being done in phases and those visiting this summer will still find the sight awe-inspiring, especially when it’s lit up at night.

Determined tourists want their Roman Holiday moment, scaffolding or not

Landmark viewing letdowns are a reality of travel– I don’t know anyone who has waiting to see the Mona Lisa that has come away saying, “wow, that was hugely impressive” and totally worth the mosh pit reality of the Louvre during the summer. And there is plenty in Rome to see to more than make up for the currently underwhelming Trevi Fountain (known as the Fontana di Trevi in Italian).

Fontana della Barcaccia

The fountain of the Ugly boat, or Fontana della Barcaccia, located at the base of the Spanish Steps is also getting some work done. It has been under scaffolding since 2013. Rome’s famous sites need to last for the ages. That’s just a bummer for those visiting this summer.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

San Gimignano: Visiting Tuscany’s “Medieval Manhattan”

Blue skies and medieval architecture

If you’re looking for things to do in Florence, Italy, consider a day trip to the town of San Gimignano, which is known as Tuscany’s “Medieval Manhattan.” Perched on the top of hill in the province of Siena, San Gimignano’s historic center has an impressive skyline of ancient stone towers that has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Doors and windows in San Gimignano

The city has a quaint feel, and quite a bit of charm. Get there on a summer day when the streets are packed with tourists, and there is a strange EPCOT-y feel that is hard to escape.

Blue skies over “the Town of Fine Towers”

San Gimignano also has a Museo della Tortura (a medieval torture museum) and several Gelaterias claiming to serve the “World’s Best Gelato.” I can definitely recommend a scoop or three from Gelateria Dondoli.

Gelato hits the spot on a hot summer day

Left: strolling through San Gimignano Right: Great clouds in Tuscany

The town has plenty of shops offering local specialties like the locally made wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and olive oil.

Olive Oil in a Boot

Tuscany is known for all things  porcine– so you can also purchase pork products like prosciutto, salami, and head cheese.

There was quite  bit of boar taxidermy in San Gmignano

Located 59 kilometers from Florence, San Gimignano is an easy drive if you have access to a car. It is also easily reached by bus. You can find directions on the San Gimignano’s informational website. Many tour companies offer tours of this scenic and charming town.

The gates to San Gimignano’s historic center

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Stay at Ladera Resort, St. Lucia

When your room is missing a wall, it definitely qualifies as Glamping

On my recent trip to St. Lucia, I stayed at two different properties, both in the Soufriere area of the Island. First up was Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort.

Next, I stayed at Ladera Resort for 3 nights, which I covered in detail for the Glamping.com blog (Arrival and Day 1, Day 2, Day 3).

Ladera’s pool sits below it’s bar and Dasheene Restaurant

The two hotels are located close to each other. Ladera even sends guests via shuttle a few times a day to Sugar Beach, since the resort is located in the lush hills between the Pitons, and not right on the ocean.

Not surprisingly, we bumped into some of the same couples we met at Sugar Beach. It makes sense to move around if you’re spending more than a few days on St. Lucia, and the combo gives a nice mix of beach and rainforest and two very different vibes.

Left: Swing over the pool in our room  Right: The indoor “living room” of PR 3 had Piton views

Ladera is the more unique of the two resorts. Since the rooms are all missing a wall, guests are truly getting a 5 star glamping experience. You’re at one with the elements, be it sun, rain, or stars. You’re not exactly roughing it though, the wooden rooms have all the necessary creature comforts (including wifi). But if you’re the type who is going to freak out if you see a gecko in you’re room, then Ladera probably isn’t for you.

Cool in-room amenity: a star chart and binoculars

I love resorts with a non-generic vibe and personality, so I adored Ladera. I also thought the food at Dasheene, their on-site restaurant, was the best of the hotel restaurants I tried. The Caribbean kingfish and jerked shrimp on sugar cane skewers were standouts, and cocktails were a few dollars less expensive than those I drank at nearby resorts.

The mosquito netting is sexy– and helpful when your room is missing one wall

Left: Colorful tiles in the rainforest themed Rainshower Right: The rainshower could easily fit two people… or maybe five

St. Lucia is definitely a couples destination. There were a lot of honeymooners at Ladera, and the hotel is situated for maximum privacy. Missing a wall does mean that you hear the nature outside, the cicadas at night, and the occasional couple in the throes of ecstasy in the next room (good for them!).

Side by side sinks in the wooden bathroom of PR3

Ladera has a top notch staff that can help arrange sightseeing, tours, or any other needs you might have. Their spa is very basic, but the technicians are great (I got a very reasonably priced deep tissue massage that hit the spot).

Ladera’s vibe is eco-chic: wood, boulders, and exposed to the elements

Funky pots and sexy shadows are part of Ladera’s organic charm

Ladera’s social center is the pool, bar, and restaurant area. The bar has spectacular sunset views and saves the best front-row seats for in-house guests. Non hotel guests have to pay a cover fee just to check it out. Local musicians play during brunch and dinner, and the vibe is casual Caribbean elegance and divinely laid back.

Waiting in the bar at Ladera

Lush green landscaping and fun tiled ponds add to the resort’s charm

The Spa might not look fancy, but the treatments are fantastic

The gym is good for working off the rum-based cocktails and fabulous breads served at breakfast

A friendly local in the bar

Peg, a local bird, joined me for breakfast

What I liked most about Ladera was how fun it was. The food was fine-dining quality, but there are just enough local touches that keep it unpretentious and decidedly not stuffy. The guests were also low key and chill. Tables are adorned with madras napkins, and squirt guns meant for fending off local birds who invite themselves to your meals and want in on your tasty bread basket at breakfast.

Left: Drinking a coconut in the bar Right: an omelette made to order for breakfast

Ladera isn’t cookie cutter or generic, and neither are it’s guests. It’s an unforgettable place to spend a few days for a special occasion like a romantic weekend away, an anniversary, or a honeymoon.

A jerked fish wrap for lunch in the bar

Ladera’s bar menu had killer chicken satay, and rum and lime cocktails

Caribbean kingfish for lunch at Dasheene Restaurant at Ladera

The band sets up before dinner in Ladera’s Bar Area

Guests gather poolside to take in the spectacular Piton sunsets

Guests thinking about Ladera should know that it’s not located right on the beach, and while their is shuttle service available, I didn’t even use it as I spend my days at the pool or exploring the surrounding area. There are plenty of taxis available should you miss scheduled shuttle service to Sugar Beach.

Paradise Ridge at night

Ladera Resort

Soufrière,

St. Lucia, West Indies

Resort Reservations: 866-290-0978

reservations@ladera.com

Rates start at $475.00

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zen Luxury: A Stay at the Serene and Central Lodhi Delhi

The sitting area of one of the suites at the Lodhi Delhi

Serenity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when describing New Delhi, but after spending a few days at the Lodhi Delhi last month I can tell you it exists in abundance at the Lodhi Delhi. The Lodhi Delhi boasts the largest rooms of any luxury hotel in the city (ranging from 1350 square feet to 2400 square feet).

The property was opened in 2009 as the Aman New Delhi but is now proudly an independent boutique property. While the name has changed, the management (including the delightful Joint General Managers, husband-wife team Robyn Bickford and Manav Garewal)  and standards of service are still Aman Resorts-high. 

City of Djinns By William Darymple, a thoughtful detail at the Lodhi

My Lodhi experience began the airport, when I arrived painfully early and was picked up by a driver sent by the hotel, who made the whole experience pleasant and as devoid of hassle as possible. The hotel is modern, zen and elegant with Moghul influences throughout.

Left: Light and bright details in the rooms at the Lodhi Delhi Right: Fresh flowers in the guest rooms

My spacious Lodhi room was ready for me when I arrived and impressively large and included a balcony complete with a day bed and hot tub. After a quick shower in the large bathroom, my husband and went down and ate our first delicious breakfast at Elan, including my first lassi of the trip. Satisfied, we then took a nap in the incredibly comfortable king-sized bed. That nap lasted 5 hours (the bed is that comfortable).

Sink and vanity in a guest room at The Lodhi

My goal was to conquer jet lag at the Lodhi, and the property and staff has all the tools to help you do so. There is a large state of the art gym (shared with residents who live in the apartments housed in the same complex). There is a gorgeous outdoor courtyard pool, tennis courts, and hair salon and a large spa that offers everything from ayurvedic treatments to Swedish massage. I highly recommend booking a treatment in the palatially sized couples spa suite.

The spacious layout of a Lodhi room

The hotel also doubles as an art gallery of sorts, with exhibitions and pieces of modern Indian art displayed throughout the property. The exhibitions rotate and the works are also available for sale. I appreciated the Lodhi’s of-the-moment vibe. It is a refreshing change from the omnipresent colonial nostalgia that is somewhat inescapable in India.

The gym at the Lodhi is large and state of the art

Located in a leafy neighborhood filled with embassies, The Lodhi is close to sights such as Humayun’s tomb, which makes sightseeing excursions easy, even if you’re suffering brutal jet lag. The staff is more than happy to advise and make arrangements.

Floating marigold petals at the Lodhi

All the modern conveniences are present at the hotel, with ample outlets, fast laundry service and free wifi throughout the property.

Details from the Spa treatment rooms at the Lodhi Spa

The food is outstanding at the Lodhi. Even if you don’t stay here, OTW (On the Waterfront) restaurant is worth visiting for it’s gorgeous open kitchens dedicated to Asian and Italian cuisines. I fell in love with Indian breakfast dining at Elan. There is also a casual poolside restaurant.

Outdoor zen: the hot tub and day bed in my room at the Lodhi

The facilities are top notch, but the best thing about the Lodhi is definitely the staff. They are friendly, helpful, welcoming and take excellent care of you during your time on property.

A paper mache sculpture displayed in the hallway of the Lodhi

The Lodhi feels more like an intimate resort than a business hotel and it’s a gem of a find in the bustling Indian capital. It’s an excellent base if you’re coming to India to explore the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

The hallways double as art galleries at the Lodhi

Modern art hanging at Elan restaurant

Seating areas at the Lodhi

Bar interior at the Lodhi

The 50 meter pool in the Lodhi courtyard

Left: Outdoor dining at Elan Right: OTW restaurant is worth visiting even if don’t stay at the Lodhi

The courtyard pool glowing at night

Room rates at the Lodhi Delhi range from $306 – $708 (USD) per night.

The Lodhi
Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Reservations: reservations@thelodhi.com
Phone: +91 124 4653333

Much thanks to Robyn Bickford and Manav Garewal, the Joint General Managers at the Lodhi Delhi who generously hosted me during my stay. Without them this post would not be possible.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook YouTubeTwitterSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSS