Rapallo was never on my list. I never thought there could actually be something about this city. It lies on the Ligurian Sea coast, just between Cinque Terre and Genoa. As a girl from Croatia, I know it from the history books as the Treaty of Rapallo was signed there, in Villa Pagana, formerly known as Villa Spinola. A treaty…
The five Cinque Terre villages are situated in northern Italy on the Mediterranean Sea, just 3 hours by train from Milan, Pisa and Florence. I have arrived by car and totally enjoyed the national park that spreads across the five villages. La Spezia My journey started in La Spezia. This was the very first stop as I…
Tintine was slowly climbing up the hills of San Marino. Not much pressure should have been put on this car as she had enough of the shocks in the last year or two. The hills around us were rising and soon we found ourselves surrounded by an amazing view. It was San Marino surrounded by…
My Life in Sicily finished after a year spent on this island. It was time to turn on my Tintine (a beautiful red car), hop on a ferry and say goodbye. I was nostalgic as a was driving through Reggio Calabria. But soon I was in Puglia – the region with the best Italian cheeses.…
Ardennes are super fun to visit. They are cold but there is loads of trails to discover. Hence, after so many locations, Rochefort was on the route as well. Its ancient position at the crossroads where the route to Saint-Hubert crossed that from Liège to Bouillon required fortifying: the ruins of the old castle, which gave the place its name and…
Once upon a time, there was a little Ivana in Cuba trying to explain a poor restaurant holder that the pizza ragusa he is having on the menu is not some Italian name for some Italian city, but the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Stupid girl. Ragusa is a city on the southern side of the…
An Ionian seaside town, Avola is a mix of old and new. The town focuses heavily on the sea, with its history as a tuna fishing port. Today, the remains of the Vecchia Tonnara at the wharf are a stone backdrop to the sandy beaches. Avola dates back to a pre-Greek people called the Sicani.…
Located about 11 kilometres north of Catania, it is the perfect little commune to visit during the ottobrata – the local festivity that occurs every October here in Sicily, celebrating the fruits of the land: frutti di terra. The first encounter went wrong already 🙂 Approaching the booth with fruit, I have noticed quince – one…
If something is worth visiting in life, it is the Aeolian islands. Becasue it makes you think about winter in the south. It makes you think about simplicity of life. And it makes you realise how not to treat the tourists: just some bags of potatoes that need to be shipped from one island to…
I haven’t had a chance to spent a bit more time discovering this city. But just a glimpse and it made me think to re-visit and make it’s due. When the time will come, I promise to update with more photos. But for now, enjoy the story 🙂 Several civilizations settled in Milazzo and left…
I didn’t expect much from this harbour city, to be honest. I knew they have a great beer – Messina cristali di sale: a great Sicilian beer brewed since 1923 and one of the most loved Italian beers. It is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, and the 13th largest city in Italy.…
Senlis is a city in the northern French department of Oise, Hautes de France. Cute, medieval and charming. It offered us great peek into history: The monarchs of the early French dynasties lived in Senlis, attracted by the proximity of the Chantilly forest. Senlis is situated on the river Nonette. Senlis was known in early Roman imperial times as Augustomagus. During the 3rd century, a seven-meter…
Upon my arrival to Brussels, I started to explore Belgium by visiting other cities. Everyone’s recommendation is always the Flanders and the most popular tourist place Brugge. Although, later I […]
Upon my arrival to Brussels, I started to explore Belgium by visiting other cities. Everyone’s recommendation is always the Flanders and the most popular tourist place Brugge. Although, later I will discover the south of Belgium, Valonie. 🙂
Flanders is a Dutch speaking part of Belgium, at the north of the country with important place in European history. During the late Middle Ages, cities such as Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, having great both domestic import and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. Flanders was one of the centres of the 19th century industrial revolution too.
Along such developed commerce and business, the society was famous by its own renaissance of the north. Painters like Pieter Bruegel, Jan Van Eyck and Peter Paul Rubens are the founding fathers of Flemish art.
Belgium is a beer-lover’s paradise. And that’s not just its proud inhabitants talking. Even UNESCO recognised its reputation for specialty beers, ever since the Middle Ages. Up to this day the enormous quality is met by an unmatched quantity: there are more than 1.500 original Belgian beers. That includes, among others, Belgian ales, raspberry or cherry beer, wheat beer, Flanders ‘Old’ red and brown, Abbey beer, lambic, gueuze and – the grandest of them all – Trappist.
Belgium has even it’s own pipeline that brings the beer directly from the brevery directly to the beerhouse. The pipeline is 2,000 m long and goues mostly under the city of Brugges.
Brugge is an outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries, and where original Gothic constructions form part of the town’s identity.
As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Brugge developed cultural links to different parts of the world. It is closely associated with the school of Flemish Primitive painting. The Flemmish (Dutch) painting renaissance (of the north) was carried by the painters like Jan van Eyck.
Jan van Eyck was a respectful artist of his time, leading the entire new wave of the paint art in the north of Europe. His most famous paint ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ is complex double portrait oil painting, depicting the Italian merchant and his wige at their home in Brugge. Because of complex iconography and detailed picture space, it is considered the most complex paintig of the western art. The most interesting detail is the reflection of the painter in the convex mirror on the painting. The paint can be found in Nationall Gallery in London.
For five centuries, the Waterhalle was a part of the market in Brugge. It was one of the seven wonders of the city with its magnificent covered harbour. The city itself is a place of channals through which the boats were navigating by bringing the groceries and other trades. It was a time of the Golden Ages of Brugge (12 – 15 century) as being part of Hanseatic League, shaping new forms of merchant capitalism.
The local river made many chanals, however, a storm in 12th century re-established the access to the North sea, creating a natural channel called Zwin. The new sea arm stretched all the way to newly called Zeebrugge, and city soon became the commercial outpost for Bruges. Today, tourist can wals around the long sandbar of the port and have a great lunch with the view on the North Sea.
A magnificent medieval church from 13th century adorns the city, with the altarpiece of the large chapel of the most celebrated art treasure of the church—a white marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child created by Michelangelo, 16th century. The sculpture was meant originally for Siena Cathedral, but it was purchased in Italy by two Brugean merchants, and in 16th century donated to Brugge.
Interior of the 13th century Church of Our Lady
Michelangelo’s only-ou- of-Italy piece of Art
In the choir of the church there can also be find the splendid tombs of Duke of Burgundy, and his daughter, Maria of Burgundy who died. A she was born in Brussels, she united house of Bourbon with Burgundie dutchy and reigning the Flanders upon her death at age of 25 falling from her horse. She married in Ghent an austrian archduke, future Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, uniting her house with the House of Habsburgs.
Ghent’s wealth in the early medieval period was thanks to the import and export of wheat, and the manufacture of luxury woollen cloth. Much of the city’s medieval architecture remained intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored.
The most important cityscape’s are the Belfry and the St Bavo’s Cathedral, a rococco buildings of the 15th century.
Today, Ghent is an important university city of Belgium as an interesting crossover between open cosmopolitanism and the quiet atmosphere of a provincial town.
According to the legend, there was a big giant Antigoon that lived in the river Scheldt and tolled the local fishermen and boatmen. Those who refused to pay, he would soak and kill. But a young hero killed the giant cutting off his hands and flung them into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, meaning ‘to throw hands.’
Antwerpen has a beautiful Cathedral of our Lady, same as Brugge, dating from 14th century. It houses triptychs by Baroque painter Rubens. The building was builded on a site of a small church from 9th century, in a gothic style and never been completed.
Later, in 16th century, when Antwerp came under the Protestant Administration, many of its works of art have been destroyed, demolished, removed or sold.
The most famous peace of art is The Raising of the cross, by local glorious paintor Peter Paul Rubens. It is a tryptich painting, masterpiece of the mentioned flemmish art, clearly being influenced by italian renaissance.
Rubens was born nearby Antwerp in 17th century, as a so of reformation’s family (calvinists). He is most notable artist of Flemish Baroque art school. A year after marrying, he designed his house, an Italian-style villa (after spending sme years in Italy doing apprenticeship) in Antwerpen, called Rubenshuis, with beautiful interior courtyard and gardens behind the house.
Antwer is also a famous shopping city of Belgium, fashion place and The World’s Capital of Diamonds, as around 80% of the world’s rough diamonds, and 50% of its cut diamonds are traded in Antwerp each year.
It is a huge port of Europe since it area is 50 miles inland. As a result, the port of Antwerp has become one of Europe’s second largest sea port by total freight shipped.
Located on both sides of the Scheldt River, the city of Antwerp is connected by three tunnels under the river. The Kennedy Tunnel was opened to road traffic in 1969, and was named after John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States.
The massive Antwerpen-Centraal (Antwerp Central) is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations, opened in 1905 – the times of Belgian Art Nouveau.
Dynamic and thriving city, most famous by its university: the oldest Catholic University in the world, founded in 1425. The historic centre is one of the most beautiful in Belgium.
The most famous citymark is gothic City Hall on the main square.
Then this city, probably my favourite as it is at the seaside, having long riviera, trying to capture my mood and remind me on the Mediterranean.
It is a coastal city on the North Seam in the history being constatntly taken by different invadors (French, English, Dutch, then later Flemmish, German…)
Especially during July and August, Ostend is famous for its sea-side esplanade, including the Royal Galleries of Ostend, pier, and fine-sand beaches. Ofcourse, some great sea food is well offered as well. 🙂
Beautiful history! I love this; success stories behind these lovely cities. I’d love to visit this country someday. I’m ff your blog; I love it ❤
So much to see and so much to do, glad to blog like yours. I could read and enjoy, while I make mind up where all to go or simply just go
Superb architecture and amazing pictures. Have fun!
I just have a question for you! How did you find the locals? Where they a bit rude or…?
This looks alike an amazing place to visit, so much history!
Loved these places too. Looks like you had a great adventure. Awesome photos.
Wow…lots of historical facts…from the building design, you can tell it holds memories..love the pictures too
This has a lot of great info & pictures! It makes me want to visit Belgium!
The architecture is astounding! So rich in history, your pictures make me want to go someday.
Beautiful photos. Love the jacket. Does beer flow out of the taps in people’s homes in Belgium? That will certainly attract some people I know. 😉
I would love to visit here. Beautiful photos!
Great post and lovely picture.
I would love to explore all of the places listed in your post..
Specifically belgium 😉And you must have figured out the reason !
Oh , it looks like an amazing place. So much history to learn about.
nice post, i lived in Belgium for one year (Ghent) and tried to visit as many Belgian cities as i could, charming places 🙂
Beautiful place, so far I have only seen the modern architecture in Belgium and would love to explore the ancient historical side as well.
So much history and so much to see!
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