Marseilles – Basilique Notredame de la Garde

video blog of the most iconic church of Marseille

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France built in 19th century. The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage, it is the most visited site in Marseille. It was built on the foundations of an ancient fort at the highest natural altitude of 149 meters (489 ft). Buildings in Marseille are not allowed to exceed this height. It is built from limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille and offers the only panoramic view of the entire city including the old port, cruise port, isles of Monte Christo, the famous fish market and old town Marseille.

Doge’s Palace in Venice

A tour of Venetian history

The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923.

The history of a residence for the Doge in the current location goes back as far as 810 A.D. Doge Agnello Participazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto, when it was decided a “ducal palace” should be built. No trace remains of that 9th-century building as the palace was partially destroyed in the 10th century by a fire. Around 1172 A.D., Doge Sebastiano Ziani inititated reconstruction work that would drastically change the entire layout of the St. Mark’s Square. The new palace was built out of fortresses, one façade to the Piazzetta, the other overlooking the St. Mark’s Basin. Between 1340 and 1430 A.D. further reconstruction was done to transform it into a Gothic style palace.

Violent fire in 1483 and then again in 1547 forced further repair and reconstruction work.

Refurbishment works were being held at the palace when on 1577 a third fire destroyed the Scrutinio Room and the Great Council Chamber, together with works by Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello, Alvise Vivarini, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Bellini, Pordenone, and Titian. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style. Since the 16th century, the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.

As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city in 1797. In 1866 Venice became part of Italy. By the end of the 19th century, the structure was showing clear signs of decay, and the Italian government set aside significant funds for its restoration and all public offices were moved elsewhere except the State Office for the protection of historical Monuments, which is still housed at the palace’s loggia floor. In 1923, the Italian State entrusted the management to the Venetian municipality to be run as a museum.

Venice at night

The beauty of Venice really shines at night. We took the following pictures one evening taking the Vaporatto (water taxi) ride near the train station, then going out into open ocean passing the cruise port, and getting off at the mouth of the grand canal near Plaza San Marco.

We finished the evening with a walk over Academia bridge to admire the view of the grand canal and having dinner at Plaza San Vidal.

Florence in pictures

We spent a few days in Florence during our 2017 Italy trip. Below are some pictures we took that highlights this beautiful city. Check out my other blogs about Tuscany for details on some of these sights.

Florence historic city center at night

Hall of the Five Hundred (Palazzo Vecchio)

Italian breakfast at a Florentine cafe

Palazzo Vecchio

Statues at Plaza del Signoria

A fresco inside the Medici residence

Florence viewed from the Duomo

The Florence Duomo

“Sabine Woman” (Academia Gallery)

Michelangelo’s “David” (Academia Gallery)

Vassari’s painting of Dante’s inferno

Florence Duomo

Exploring the Florence Duomo

One of the key attractions in Florence is it’s historic Cathedral and the surrounding museums. The Dome (or “Duomo” in Italian) of the cathedral was the largest in the world until modern era. The cathedral itself is 3rd largest and 3rd tallest, and climbing it all the way to the top is an amazing experience.

In this video link I captured our

Climbing the Duomo in Florence .

Halfway to the top of the Dome is a section where visitors are able to walk around a semi circle. Here we can marvel at the roof painting by Vasari in mid-1600s depicting a vision of hell from Dante’s Inferno.

An evening stroll through the historic district is another great way to appreciate the grand and magnificent features of the Duomo, maybe after a dinner and dessert by the Plaza del Signoria nearby!