An Italian holiday*


Vacanze Romane. A Roman holiday. An enchanting film by William Wyler, with the adorable Audrey Hepburn and charming Gregory Peck. Okay. Three adjectives in a single sentence is way too much, but so be it. This post is for our Italian friends who were the first to take the blow in the West. An Italian holiday…


The “Dome” in Milan. The most precious cathedral ever built perhaps. A most delicate work of lace and stone. Milan, 2014.

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Fashion in Milano. These “élégantes” will go back to the streets. Milan. 2014.

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Bologna, Piazza Miaggore. Same year. (All photos here from a trip we took to Italy in 2014) The unmistakable colours of Italy. The tiles of the roofs.

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Pietá. Milan. The angels lowering Christ from the cross to rest on Mary’s lap. How a tragic scene can be turned in an eternal work of art. 15th or 16th century maybe?

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At the top of the Duomo in Milan. Such attention to detail. The cathedral was built in 1386. About 40 years after Notre-Dame-de-Paris was finished. So totally different yet contemporary. The Black Plague arrived in Europe around 1346. Around the time both cathedrals were completed.

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Milan, as so many cities in Europe, displays door knockers on any door that would make many museums happy elsewhere.

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A young and lovely Nathalie Wood in the streets of Bologna… Anybody remember the  movie with Jimmy Dean? 🙂


The cathedral of Florence… A masterpiece. Impossible to photograph, inserted as it is in narrow streets.


You can tie up your dragon here… Florence.


The birth of Venus at the Uffizi, Florence. Botticelli painted it around 1484. Five centuries ago. The model was Simonetta Vespucci, mistress of Giulano de Medici, younger brother of Lorenzo. Simonetta (a relation of Amerigo Vespucci?) had died at 23 of pneumonia in 1476. This and other paintings were done after her death. She was reputedly the most beautiful woman of her time.

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Even under drizzling rain, can’t miss the colours of Milan.

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There is a particular art of fountains in Italy. Milan. One could do a series of just fountains in Italy. And doors. And windows. I know a few door and window lovers. 😉

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Speaking of fountains. This one is in Bologna. Sirens or naiads riding dolphins.

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Back to Milan. Traveller number umpteen. (Not registered then). Not too sure what the scenes are meant to represent. Lots of bishops, possibly buying their representation for eternity.

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Pax tibi Marce Evangelista Meus. In my rusty Latin, it would mean something like: “Peace to you, Mark, Evangelist mine.” The lion is Saint-Mark’s symbol. Bologna.

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Dante’s statue at the Uffizi, Florence. The inner yard of the Uffizi is adorned with statues of Florence’s most prominent citizens. From Dante to Amerigo Vespucci to Boccacio and many others. Florence’s contribution to Western civilization goes way beyond the current small size of the city.

To walk the same streets Dante walked is probably the strongest experience of being in Florence. “Think! He walked here, more than 5 centuries ago.”

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“I want to be free…” Queen sang ‘I want to break free’… Bologna. Thank you to Peter Grey who made see the error of my ways. I was thinking of the Who: “I’m free”. See the link below for Peter’s excellent photo blog:


The Venus of Urbino, Uffizi, Florence. Painted by Titian in 1534. Manet inspired himself of this painting many centuries later with his Olympia.

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Another door knocker I wouldn’t mind having on my door. Florence. I think.

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“I, Petro Sementio, citizen of Bologna, philosopher and Doctor…” Anno Domini 1610. yesterday.

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Mercurio e Giunone. Mercury and Juno, by Donato Creti (1671-1749). Bologna. Wonder who the poor bugger was whose head Mercury brought to Juno?

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Purgatory Alley, Florence. For fans of Dan Brown, Hell street is close by.

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(Living) Statue, Florence.

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A modern day Vinci. Florence. The Lady with an Ermine was painted by Vinci around 1490. The subject is Cecilia Gallerani, (another) mistress (of many) of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of  Milan. Compare with Vinci’s portrait of Beatrice d’Este I recently posted. The original portrait of Lady Cecilia is now in Poland. At the Krakow Museum.

To be continued…

Thank you for traveling the streets of Italy on Equinoxio’s Time-Space shuttle. This post is dedicated to our Italian friends who took and are still taking a hard hit. With a special mention for my friend Giorgio from Lake Cuomo. We climbed Mont-Blanc together. I was concerned for him since he lives in the North of Italy. Well, he caught the virus, to the point of spending two weeks in the hospital. Any stay at the hospital with coronavirus is not too good. Yet. He has now been released home. Fortunately. Fingers crossed Giorgio for a full recovery. Many countries are now facing the virus head on. To all of you in lockdown: stay home, stay safe.




79 thoughts on “An Italian holiday*

  1. We love Italy and are watching with sorrow, how hard they (and Spain, France, and the UK) are hit by the virus.
    Our last trip to Italy was with our first motorbike from Denmark to Toscana. That’s one trip we will never forget …

  2. What do I say about Italy I haven’t said umpteen times and every picture of yours takes me back to my most glorious trip. The roof top at Milan Cathedral, the Duomo at Florence , street art, gallery art, the fountains and even those fantastic door knockers. Looking forward to Part 2 already.

  3. Merci beaucoup, Brieuc. Florence est l’endroit de l’Itale que je connais le mieux. La mécanique du laser de aeolus a été conçue, fabriquée et testée là-bas. J’avais l’habitude de descendre dans un hôtel avec une vue sur le Ponte Vecchio … très bruyant. J’ai vécu de belles choses à Florence. À mi-projet (17 ans !) je me suis transporté dans une fabuleuse pension à Prato, très amicale, très calme. Seul le petit déjeuner n’était pas dans mes standards.
    Merci encore, Brieuc, et un tranquille et joyeux après-midi à toi.

  4. Great to see Milano, Firenze and Bologna again. It’s been a while for me. By the way: wasn’t it the band Queen who sang I want to break free? O, and Simonetta! ‘I’m falling in love…’ 🙂

    • I thought I had replied, but WP doesn’t show it. Dankje for Queen. You are so right. I’ve already edited it. Simonetta was one Botticelli’s preferred models. Though I wonder how he painted her ten years after her death… If you look her name up, you will see the many portraits there are of her…
      Stay safe.

      • Dank je wel. I did look her up and I was lucky enough to have seen her beautiful face on many paintings when I was in Firenze and Venice. I just read she was married to a cousin of Amerigo Vespucci, so she wasn’t genetic related. She died supposedly when 22 because of tuberculosis and although Giuliano de Medici did crave her a lot, it seems to have been unlikely they were actually lovers. Anyway – I’m quite sure Botticelli was in love with her features, and I can’t blame him. 🙂 Stay safe!

      • She was a very beautiful woman. Didn’t know she was in Venice… (Note for next trip, when the dust settles) Died so young. Such a shame. What amazes me with Botticelli (and Da Vinci)’s protraits is that the same women could change clothes and walk out in the street now (after confinement!) and none would be the wiser…
        Stay safe too.
        Tot ziens

  5. The Florence Cathedral looks like it’s beautiful from any angle. My favorite art history teacher called the Birth of Venus painting Venus on a Half Shell. I thought that was funny and very memorable. Stay well, Rebecca

  6. That looks like James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County. If it’s Wood, it would be Rebel without a cause. All your photographs are so wonderful and interesting. I love the chimp/street art. Freddie Mercury also sang I want to break free. 🙂 The chalk drawing is absolutely amazing. Wonderful artist.

    • I’m almost sure it was Nathalie Wood. Why this poster on a street in Bologna? 🙂
      You are so right about Queen. I got mixed up with the Who’s “I’m free.” Edited it already. 🙂
      Glad you liked the selection. Some of those chalk artists are amazing. (Most actually are)
      Now about the movie? As I posted the picture, I thought about today: So many causes, so few rebels…

      • Yes we do. And I do regret being a tad old for that. Can’t see myself marching down the streets…
        We’re fine thank you. Just went out for a brief walk today. To shake cabin fever… Still too many people on the streets. A freind of mine who’s a building administrator told me she had to call the police to stop a party in one of her buildings. A party! 🥳 🎉Are humans crazy or what.
        Habve you managed to go out a bit? or is it still too cold=?

  7. Scary to hear of your friend in Italy’s brush with the virus.
    Milan haha so much elaborate art it is almost overwhelming. I never did make it to the top of the cathedral in Milan so it is great to see what is like from up there. It looks as though you walking on a sloped roof and there’s no platform to stand on it all – is that right?
    Were the spruikers and hawkers accousting you in front of the cathedral as they did to me?

    • Scary it is. That thing is bad… 😒
      There are places with sloped roofs on the way up, but at the very top, if I recall correctly, you can stand. (When it’s not too full)
      I’ve lived in the “South” so long I have a built-in hawker detector… 😉I avoid them.
      Thanks for visiting. 🙏🏻😷

    • LOL. Milan is probably a shopper’s paradise. (We’re not much into that…) Glad you liked the tour. I have a few posts in advance but I need to finish the “Italian Job” part 2.
      Stay safe.

      • 74 was just yesterday , wasn’t it?😁
        Australia is still doing well according to the PM. Of course, he’s not lost his job, got into financial difficulties etc. The handouts of dollars to some hasn’t been equal,many are missing out, and it’s still early days yet. It will get worse, and I’m not talking about the virus. So far, the state I am currently living in, still allows reasonable motor vehicle travel, Victoria such more draconian. When 5 g is rolled out, that’s when it will really go pearshaped, as seen already in the places where it’s now operational. China, New York, Italy….. cruise ships and all.
        What I remember about Italy then, was the regular turnover of politicians, and elections. Then I felt foolishly smug and superior that Oz was so much better. Of course, I was wrong, given the regular changes of leadership in recent times. Leadership did I say? What a joke!
        As you can no doubt see, I’m not in the cheeriest of moods, but this too can change🤔😀

      • ’74 was yesterday. Orange shirts and green skirts and bell bottoms… At that time I was skiing a lot in the Alps and attending a few classes at my business school in Lyon. Graduated in ’75… OMG.
        I’ve lived “abvroad” most of my life, feeling smug that France, Europe was soooo much better, politically… Well, well. I heard the Tramp in the US wants to “suspend Congress”! Can you imagine?
        May we all learn from these chaotic times…
        Stay safe.

  8. Thank you for gathering some Italy, its doors and windows, cathedrals and dragon tie posts. I was in Firenze only twice, the second time was on the last October day in 2014. Your pictures seem more summery. And one year earlier I started my eternal Italian holidays, now more than ever, when I moved here. Greetings from the Tuscan quarantine. It could be much much worse. Looking forward to more Italy. You must have passed us by. Did you visit any terrain between Florence and Rome?

  9. Wonderful post and beautiful photographs – a great tribute to Italy. Florence is my favourite city in the whole world and I experience such longing and nostalgia when I am looking at its pictures. The whole of Italy is like one amazing cultural dreamland/heaven. I hope you are staying safe!

  10. What a visual feast! If it’s not being irreverent, I’m wondering if a door of bishops is akin to a murder of crows?

    I hope your friend Giorgio continues on the road to recovery and regains his full health.

  11. Italy is so very beautiful! What a disaster we are living in!
    Lovely post, and reminder of the beauty that can be achieved in life, even by the purveyors of hardship upon the people.
    Ahh, the plague… missed it, (whew), but made it for C-19 (yay, not). There’s a church in Jerusalem that closed its doors for the first time since the Plague… about 700 years.
    Rebel Without a Cause! Take care and be well!

    • Absolutely. As I researched the date of the PLague (to confirm) I realized that all this beauty of the Renaissnace, Renascimento was achieved during the plague.
      Stay safe.

  12. I admire the street artist. It’s wonderful how focused he is at work.
    The portrait “The Lady with an Ermine” is uniquely beautiful.
    I love this painting and would like to have a look at the original.
    Greetings from the beautiful Rhine Highlands / Germany…
    Rosie 😁🦋❤🌺

    • People pass bye, don’t realize there is a master at work. Working with hardly an outline, on the floor. Using maybe a picture of the original? Great talent. Cheers.

  13. “The Black Plague arrived in Europe around 1346. Around the time both cathedrals were completed.” I wonder what the streets looked like then. They perhaps wouldn’t have done “social distancing.”

    • ’89? Wow. We came to Mexico in 89. Avec armes et bagages comme on dit… Firenze no? A good reason to go back to Italy.
      Giorgio seems to be good. He was released from the hospital and sent home for recovery. Quite a fright. Though he is in excellent shape he’s in the wrong age bracket… Thanks for the reminder. I’ll send him a mail to see how he goes. (Italy’s numbers are still rising).
      A bientôt mon amie. 🌹

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