Milan Cathedral

An audio-visual tour of Duomo de Milano

Milan Cathedral (Duomo de Milano) is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world.

The main square surrounding the cathedral is a major tourist hub littered with famous fashion stores, the beautiful Victor Emmanuel II mall, museums, concert/event space, a major metro stop and shops and restaurants.

The cathedral tour has 2 sections. The amazing and historic interior. And the beautiful terrace with its Gothic architecture.

Leonardo da Vinci spent a major part of his career in Milan. Some of his engineering works are still in display at the Cathedral.

The sculpture “Saint Bartholomew Flayed” is a major tourist attraction.

A few hundred gargoyles and other smaller statues adorn the exterior of the magnificent cathedral.

Each of the tall aspires is dedicated to a famous person. During the allied bombing campaign in world war II only two aspires were damaged. Milanese attribute that to divine intervention!

The terrace atop the cathedral hosts concert events and offers an amazing view of Milan.

Lake Como

Exploring beautiful lake como

We took a boat trip on the beautiful lake Como in the fall of 2017. The lake is located in the Northern part of Italy in the Lombardy region.

Our trip started from the picturesque city of Como, Italy. We arrived there on an early morning bus trip from Milan. The city itself has a history dating back to Roman times. It is also the starting point for most trips on the lake due to many available ferries that provides hop-on hop-off service to many towns around the lake.

Notable sites around the lake includes the beautiful hillside town of Tavernola, celebrity houses like those of George Clooney and Madonna, the gorgeous villa and terrace used in the Star Wars movie and the lovely town of Bellagio with its charming gardens.

We took the below pictures as we explored the lake from the comfort of our boat while enjoying an Italian lunch with dessert and wine – all for under 20 Euros!

In my other blogs under Lombardy, I will have more details of the individual sites around the lake. Click on this link – Lake Como Tour to see a YouTube video clip of the trip.

Hope you enjoy the video and pics and get to visit there as well!

San Giminano

Our trip through Tuscan countryside.

Our trip to rural Tuscany in 2017 included a day long tour through Pisa, San Giminano and Siena. The trip was arranged through Viator and included a traditional lunch at an Agro Turismo affiliated Tuscan firm.

Our guide was informative and prepared us before each site with brief background history as we travelled through the Tuscan countryside in a comfortable bus.

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in Siena, Tuscany. Its located in north-central Italy, so it was a natural choice for a stop in our Tuscany tour. The town is famous for its medieval tower houses. It has a gorgeous hilltop setting and encircling walls that form “an unforgettable skyline”. You can see this in detail in the accompanying video clip of our trip at the end of this blog .

The historic center of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is also known for saffron, the Golden Ham, and its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the Vernaccia grape grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area.

In 1199, the city established an independent commune with churches and public buildings. However, rivalries between feuding clans resulted in competing families building tower houses of increasingly higher heights. Towards the end of the Medieval period, there were 72 tower houses, some up to 230 feet tall. Today about a dozen of these towers survived.

On 8 May 1300, San Gimignano hosted the famous poet Dante Alighieri in his role as ambassador of Tuscany. Dante wrote about these towers in his famous work – “Inferno”.

The city flourished until 1348, when the bubonic plague known as Black Death affected all of Europe. About half the townsfolk died. The town submitted to the rule of Florence. There was little subsequent development, and San Gimignano remained preserved in its medieval state until the 19th century, when it was rediscovered by tourists and artisans.

You can view our YouTube clip of this tour by clicking this video link : San Giminano and rural Tuscany .


A morning in Pisa

Pisa is a town in Tuscany region of Italy, famous for it’s leaning tower. Galileo, the famous scientist, was born here.

We arrived in Pisa as part of a day long guided tour through Tuscany. The historic site of Pisa is a UNESCO world heritage site and is relatively small enough to be explored in 2-3 hours. Just keep in mind, if you climb the leaning tower, it may take a while to get up and come down.

The leaning tower is truly a work of historic marvel. Be prepared to take the famous leaning tower shot! You can see an example in the pics below.

Couple of items of caution to remember. If possible, keep your valuable belonging in the tour bus or locker as the area is known for pickpockets. Also, being a small town, there are not many international chains. The only McDonald’s there was overcrowded and struggle to handle the volume of tourists. Your best bet would be to try an Italian restaurant near the heritage site.

The main historic site and adjoining shops are quiet safe for exploring and filled with friendly locals.

Below is a clip of our Pisa Tour. Hope you enjoy!