Who knows what Sigismondo Malatesta, the famous 15th Century Lord of Rimini (and original ‘renaissance man’, as described by American poet Ezra Pound), would make of his city were he to return today.
Apart from the obvious differences between the renaissance city (many significant parts of which remain, for example Malatesta’s castle) and that of the 21st – i.e the presence of skyscrapers, electrically powered street lights, and the ever present motor vehicle – one thing would perhaps strike him above all, the move to the seaside.
In Malatesta’s time Rimini and its defences were decidedly inland, running around what is considered the centro storico today. Malatesta, on coming to power, embarked on a huge building programme, which included the famous Tempio Malatesta – the first, and one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Europe – and his huge, and at the time thoroughly modern fortress, the rocca malatesta. His city, though, was built primarily on top of the existing city’s site – that is to say on the site of the Roman city of Ariminum, founded in approximately 286 B.C. Existing roman monuments, including the famous Ponte di Tiberio and Arco d’Augusto(which remain impressive monuments today) were incorporated into his city, all of which – even given the retreat of the sea over the centuries, were inland from the beach.
Strolling around today’s city, Malatesta would find, at least during the summer months, a gravitational pull towards the expansive sandy beaches that would probably puzzle him. In his day the notion of lying on the beach for the day, with an occasional swim to cool off, would have seemed particularly strange, if not downright dangerous. The beach was a place for brigandry and smuggling, away from the protection of the city’s defences. Let’s not forget, as well, that in Malatesta’s time cities like Rimini were often at war with neighbouring city states. Throughout his lifetime Malatesta was in continuous conflict with powers like his neighbour Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino, or indeed the Pope (Pius II, for example, excommunicated Sigismondo in 1460 declaring him a heretic). Sunbathing and sea bathing would not, perhaps, have been high on the average citizens’s priorities at the time.
So when did Rimini start to change, to become a town that is, for Italians (and increasingly tourists from around the world), synonymous with sun, sea, and sand? Professor Feruccio Farina, of the University of Urbino, in his fascinating study of the history of seabathing in Rimini – Una costa lunga due secoli (Panozzo Editore) – gives us a portrait of one of the first foreign tourist bathers to dip her toes into Rimini’s gentle waves. Her name was Elisabeth Kenny, and she was the young Irish wife of a Roman noble. She’s recorded as having visited Rimini in August of 1790 (over 300 years after the death of our Sigismondo), and stayed for over two weeks to benefit from the sea waves and air.
Being an enthusiast of great architecture as well as a history buff, I have developed a fascination, with European cathedrals. My wife has never quite shared my passion, but since she adores traveling and shopping, we have a perfect arrangement. Our special time of the year is Easter, for the religious significance of the day, and also because we were married on Easter. This year our journey took us to Paris, a city that is known throughout the world as a cultural mecca with a gorgeous architectural heritage.
Soon after we arrived in the City of Lights, we couldn’t wait to visit one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Accommodations in Paris were abundant, we opted to stay at the Franklin Roosevelt Hotel, which was a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysees. This was a bit of an indulgence, but the casino inside the hotel was all of the justification that I needed.
The Notre Dame cathedral was everything that I expected and more. The entrance to the cathedral was highlighted by a magnificent sculpture of ‘Adam and Eve and the Serpent’. The bell ‘Emmanuel’, which is located in the South Tower, weighs 13 metric tons (over 28,000 pounds) and the sculpture of the Virgin Mary, which is known as the Virgin of Paris, was just a few of the sights that make Notre Dame one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world.
The most memorable trip by far, was our very first Easter outing three years ago. We went to the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome where we checked into the stunning Aldrovandi Palace. We had initially set out to enjoy all the wonders that Rome had to offer – the Sistine Chapel was to be the highlight for me. Little did we know at the time that this chapel would incite such emotion and begin a life-long tradition.
The sensation that took hold of me as I viewed the works of Michelangelo, seeing the actual artistic quality and mesmerizing beauty of his famous ceiling, had a profound effect on both my wife and I. We were left utterly speechless viewing the frescoes, which depicted the ancestors of Christ. My personal favourite, and arguably the most famous, was an apex containing a scene from the Genesis: The Creation of Adam.
In order to appreciate the beauty and the magnitude of artistry, you would have to see it for yourself. It is a vision that will forever keep a place in my heart. Our continued love for these colossal pieces of history has us already planning for next Easter!
About the Author
Chris Bonds is a consultant for HotelTravel – a leading international online travel information and hotel reservations service offering discounted hotel rates in top destinations world wide. Visit http://www.hoteltravel.com for additional travel information.
Some cities bring to mind the word “empire” – Paris, Saint-Petersburg… Without a doubt, Vienna would be at least the third.
You don’t even have to know the city’s history – you’ll understand everything from the first sight. Its all about the pomposity of its architecture and the spaces between its buildings. It’s just like in the Japanese painting, where untouched spaces are no less important than the image itself – this way, they stimulate the flight of fancy. Here, in this city, grand voids between huge buildings will fill your mind with some ideas. That is why empty space is not something you regret about.
The city of waltzes, parks, baking and wine – that’s what Vienna is. The capital of Austria is a truly cosmopolitan city. In the course of many centuries different nations that inhabited the city’s territory shared their cultures and traditions with each other. That is the reason why local people have such an intriguing and sometimes cynical character.
In approximately 500 BC the Romans chose a settlement on a Danube river as a place for their frontier city, “Vindobona”. Since then the city, now called Vienna, played a principal part in European history. This is the place from where Austria grew into a powerful empire. The capital became even more magnificent during the rule of the Hapsburg dynasty. Those days are gone, but local people still follow historical traditions. Moreover, local masters of the past left a huge cultural heritage to the future Viennese generations.
In 18th century Vienna got popular all around Europe as the city of rich culture, especially music. Great musicians, such as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Bruckner and Lanner lived and worked here, and their music is still performed at concert halls all around the world. And in the end of the 19th century the city’s artists and architects, such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Joseph Hoffman, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos committed cultural revolution which opened a new page in history of experimental and radical arts.
Still, Vienna is a Baroque city. While tourists scrutinize golden statues and churches with rosy-cheeked cherubs, wander around the treasure-filled museums, or while away their time in one of the inevitable cafes, they get the feeling that splendour and richness are all around them. This pomp looks like delicious whipped cream – the citizens’ favourite Schlagobers which adorns many Viennese cakes.
The Viennese style is really pompous and flowery: white horses prancing by the sounds of an elegant music, rich drapery adorning local monuments, beautiful decorations embellishing the city’s strict houses, gilded Johann Strauss statue standing on a grave among the greenery, passionate music by Richard Strauss; geometric mosaic on ornamental canvases by Gustav Klimt, slow measured melody of mechanical clocks. This majestic, attractive and magic city enchants its guests with its charm and aristocratic elegance. This is the place where waiters still bow as if greeting Hapsburg prince. The waltzing city. Vienna is never in a hurry and it would be best if you were not hurrying as well – this is a good way to feel the true spirit of Vienna.
It was a dream some years ago, specially for the price. Things have begun to change, and something that began for more than 5,000 euros (7,250 US dollars) is now a reality for a bit more than 2,000 euros (3,000 US dollars). As the airlines industry has grown and the sky has been progressively “released” to new competitors, fares have gone down all of a sudden and now the dream to make a Round the World trip is pure reality.
The thing is… where to begin with? Sometimes it can be tricky enough to plan a trip to one single country, and now those guys are telling you that they have nearly 1.000 airports available to land and you need to choose between all them. Well, that can be pretty tricky and I am really not going to help you in that. Seriously, this is your choice, and there are no real recommendations, just follow your dreams.
Another thing, is choosing which is the best provider either in price and quality of services to choose when going for this adventure. There is a need to understand that a round the world trip is not something provided by an airline alone but by alliances of airlines instead. The 3 big ones in the market nowadays are Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team. I am going to introduce you to the three of them and let you choose the one that fits best your needs.
Star Alliance puts together 841 airports in 157 countries. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian Airlines, United, Singapore Airlines, US Airways, Austrian, Spanair, Swiss… these are some of the most important airlines they work with, making a total of 17. They allow you a maximum of 15 stopovers, which they consider stays in one city that last more than 24 hours, and you can travel a maximum of 39,000 miles.
Regarding the fares, they will depend on the class you want to travel in and the number of miles you do, from 26,000 to 39,000, divided in 4 levels of pricing. The only problem is that they don’t offer exact numbers in their web-page and you need to plan all your route, enter your personal data, and then access to a screen where the price will be calculated. The interactive system to plan your trip is very good but I find it a big mistake to do not give any fare estimate.
On the other side, One World has an offer of 10 different airlines. American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and LAN are some of their best members. Dragonair, considered the best airline in China, joined them recently on the first of November. Even if they have less airlines than their competitor Star Alliance, One World has managed to cover 700 airports in more than 150 countries.
Furthermore, they have two different options for the world tour. One uses this basic airlines and another one, called Global Explorer, for an extra cost will allow you to use airlines that are not members of their alliance. Duration of the trip goes from 10 days up to 12 months, so you have complete freedom to decide depending on your availability
Regarding the price, it will depend on the number of continents you visit and the class you want to travel in. Considering the economy class, fares will vary from 3,900 dollars for the 3-continents route (2700 euros) to 5,300 dollars (3650 euros) for the 6-continents trip, using the non-extended airlines option.
Finally, Sky Team is not left behind at all, with some of the biggest European airlines such as Alitalia, Air France, KLM and Aeroflot. Also offers the rest of the biggest airlines in the world that the other alliances do not include, with names such as Aeromexico, China Southern, Continental Airlines, Delta and Korean Air, totaling 11 plus 3 associated airlines. With 841 cities in 162 countries, it has possibly the widest range of operations.
The situation is the same regarding the time allowed to travel, varying from 10 days to 1 year, and they offer 3 different options depending on your needs, flexibility and pricing. Your choice, as well as with Star Alliance, can vary between 3 and 15 stops along your route. The offer includes 3 price levels for 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 miles, and also depends on the class. Taking an example with economy class, we could make the 29,000 miles trip for 3450 US dollars (2380 euros), for 4420 dollars the 34,000 miles world tour (3,049 euros), and up to a maximum of 39,000 miles that will cost 5500 dollars (3800 euros) approximately.
As you can see, the decision is not really easy. After all, my best recommendation would be to choose the alliance depending on your dream destinations. Plan your trip before looking at what they offer, make a selection between 3 and 15 cities that you would like to visit, draw the lines in a world map, and then take a look at which one of the 3 alliances is able to bring you to the most of your destinations. The price variance exists, but the strong competence between the three of them makes the difference too little as to take it into account. Plan the trip of your dreams and choose simply who wants to take you there!
Vienna is one of the most interesting cities in Europe from all perspectives. Its 20 centuries of intense history have place on it the spiritual and optical image of the old “Imperial City”. To the great monumental richness of the city it comes together the loveliness of a lifestyle that, without covering its modern dynamism, keeps a part of their past traditions.
In Vienna it is possible to contemplate the stones dating back from the romans time, vestiges of their art, Gothic architecture and baroque palaces, which all together make this amazing mixture characteristic of the city. To all this, you need to sum up the contribution of their famous forests, the fabulous castle with the wonderful park of Schönbrunn, the little vineyards, the roses from Volksgarten and the unique atmosphere of the cafes dating back from the XIX century.
The city has really its own style, in which you can encounter the harmony between the Austrian people old spirit together with the modern urban reality. A style in which you can appryleeciate the melodies composed by Mozart, Liszt, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert or Brahms, a st that claims for its golden age of waltz and the operas written by Lanner, Ziehrer or Strauss. And still today their numerous museums are full of artistic treasures.
Saint Steven constitutes the neuralgic center of the city. The stylish tower of the Gothic cathedral can symbolize the spirituality of a city that has been during many centuries a reference for the whole occidental civilization.
Not far away from Saint Steven, you can find the Michaelerplatz, following the busy streets of Graben and Kohlmarkt. A label in this square reminds that there it lived Joseph Haydn, upstairs in a little room in the middle of XVII century. He was one of the great musical talents of this country, that so many great musicians has given to the world.
This square is one of the most interesting spots of the city. Here it is also placed the church under the same name, an old sanctuary of the imperial army and also a beautiful temple from XVIII century.
Do never visit Vienna taking a ride on a touristic bus as you will never get the magic of it. You need to walk the streets, you need to get immersed into the vibrant past that the city offers, into its unique culture. Close your eyes and try to go back some centuries. The feeling of the past is still alive in Vienna, and you will get the most out of it if you manage to feel it.