I have posted a few travel blogs about Bergamo, Italy – a gorgeous city in Northern Italy with a charming historical city center that sits above the city on a hill. Bergamo is certainly one of those places you can visit multiple times.
On my last two visits to the city of Bergamo, the citta alta, to be exact, I found a secret. Keep reading to find out what it is!
When you visit Bergamo, you will inevitably see the Basilica S. Maria Maggiore which lies just behind the main piazza (or square). The Basilica also sits next to the Baptistry which is a must-see. On visiting the Basilica, you will admire the elaborate décor, marvel at the ceilings and sit to study the tapestries. Then, there is the secret which is actually the treasure of the Basilica. To the right of the apse there is a doorway to a spiral stairway that passes below 14th century frescoes and up to a small room filled with treasures of the Basilica from statues to tapestries to an ornate cross and more. The treasures are considered a mini museum of religious artifacts; however, I consider the stairway the secret treasure. I always admire frescoes, and seeing 14thcentury frescoes in good condition, is a bonus for art history buffs.
So how do you gain access the secret passage? There is a small visitor desk when you enter the Basilica which also acts as a mini store. Ask the attendant if you can buy a ticket (3 euros as of summer 2019) to see the treasure! After paying, the visitor guide will take you over to the door and allow you to ascend the secret stairway in the hidden apse. Enjoy the frescoes and admire the treasures.
Now in case you missed the previous posts about Bergamo, see below for links.
Visit Rome, Italy and you know to climb the Spanish steps, see St. Peter’s dome, throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, tour the Colosseum, and wonder at the architecture of the Pantheon. But what about getting a panoramic view of the entire city at sunset?
Nice Panoramic views of Rome
1 – St. Peter’s Dome – Some people will tell you that climbing to the top of St. Peter’s will give you a wonderful panoramic view, and it will, but that view is mostly of the Vatican. Plus the top of St. Peter’s dome is a minute circle with a mesh fence, crowded, and not somewhere you can sit for a while and admire the views. The hours for the dome climb do not extend past 6pm in the summer (5pm in the winter months) so… you won’t see the sunset from this viewpoint. So this is an option, and I do recommend it, but it isn’t the best spot in the city for a sunset, all around, panoramic view of the city.
TIPS for St. Peter’s dome– visiting St. Peter’s Basilica is free, however climbing up to the top of the dome requires a ticket. There are two options: one to climb all the way up (551 steps) or two to take a lift half way and then climb 320 steps. The lift is small and hot in the summer, but it does save time and is a nice break for your feet after walking all over the city.
2 – Janiculum Terrace – Cross the15th century pedestrian Bridge, Ponte Sisto, and climb up the hill to the Botanical Garden; at the top you will find the terrace where you get a nice view of the city. This is a nice open area, the trees offer shade, the neighborhood is nice and you will see the main downtown of Rome from here.
3 – Altare della Patria – This is the main location to go for a spectacular panoramic view of Rome. The Altare della Patria is a gigantic monument in the heart of the city. The building honors the first King of Italy, Victor Emanuele II, and was inaugurated in 1911. You can visit the Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento and the Central Museum of the Risorgimento. The tomb of the unknown solider is also found here. The monument stands as an imposing building, dominating the Piazza Venezia, and towering over the neighboring buildings.
And for those amazing views… go around behind the monument and into the museum where you can purchase tickets for the elevator to the top terrace. The only way to access the terrace is by elevator, no stairs; but the price is worth it. Exit the museum and continue to the back of the monument where there is a glass elevator. The terrace at the top of the Altare della Patria brings you up to the statues of the winged victory and horse chariots. The views extend all over Rome, you can see St. Peter’s dome, the Colosseum, the Roman forum, and even the mountains in the distance. The terrace is large enough that you will not feel crowded and it is open until 7pm.
Ticket prices: 7 euros for adults and 3.50 euros for kids/seniors (prices as of June 2018)
So when in Rome, make sure you go to the Altare della Patria terrace for the best panoramic view of the city!
You can go from Astoria to Wall Street, Roosevelt Island to Wall Street and on to Dumbo, Williamsburg to Governors Island, and Wall Street to the Rockaways. BUT those are just a few options – you can transfer to another route within 90 minutes of activating your ticket.
Suggested ferry route:
1 – Take the tram to Roosevelt Island (also the price of a metro ride, just $2.75 as of June 2018). The tram offers wonderful views of the city from above and runs parallel to the Queensborough Bridge
2 – Take the ferry to Long Island City. After you get off of the tram, the ferry stop is a 5-minute walk away. Once in Long Island City, walk through the park, admire the views, look at the Pepsi Cola sign and make your way to the Southern end of the park to Hunters Point South.
3 – Take the ferry from Hunters Point South (This is a different ferry route, and remember transfers are free within 90 minutes!) and get off at Dumbo. This route takes you along the East side of the river where you will see Williamsburg.
4 – Dumbo – get off at Dumbo and explore Brooklyn. Start at Brooklyn Bridge Park and make your way to the Squibb Park and Bridge which leads up to Brooklyn Heights. OR as an alternative route you can go under the Brooklyn Bridge and visit Dumbo!
And the easiest way to purchase tickets is via the app – easy to use, activate and it’s fast if you are running to catch a ferry! For all of the info about the NYC Ferry app, click here for the official website: https://www.ferry.nyc/appguide/
When visiting St. Moritz and the surround towns, you often see what I call fancy cars driving around. The flat valley roads, chic hotels, and ritzy clientele attract people with amazing cars! Perhaps to accommodate these clientele, there is an annual British Classic Car Meeting in St. Moritz!
You don’t have to participate in the event, and you don’t even have to be in St. Moritz to see it, you can simply drive through the valley and even sit on a busy street corner and see these stately cars as they pass.
What will you see?
The greatest concentration with about 300 participants featuring: Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin & Lagonda, Jaguar & Daimler, and Austin-Healey & Healey and a limited number of pre-1960 British cars.
In the last blog post I wrote about the merits of getting the “Paris Museum Pass.” For detailed info on why, how to buy, and cost for the pass click, see the previous post.
When I used the “Paris Museum Pass” I saw a few locations I wouldn’t have otherwise, PLUS I visited museums that I have always wanted to and now had the perfect opportunity to do so. The “Paris Museum Pass” will help you skip long lines at the main attractions and it will take you further afield to explore more of the city!
What to see in Paris BEYOND the Main attractions AND with the “Paris Museum Pass”
The Pantheon is an 18th century mausoleum with stunning murals that illustrate the life of Saint Genevieve (by Pierre Puvis Chavannes) and dramatic sculptures. The interior space is grand and has Foucault’s Pendulum at the center; the French physicist Foucault, suspended a weight from the dome in 1851 to prove his theory of the Earth’s rotation. The mausoleum is also the resting place of major historical figures: Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and Marie Curie to name a few. Find out more on the official website by clicking here: http://www.paris-pantheon.fr/en/
Museum de Montmartre was another museum I visit because I had the pass; which I found to be a charming house museum and garden. Various artists used the house and you can see an artist’s studio, a small art collection and posters. Find out more on the official website by clicking here: http://museedemontmartre.fr/en/le-musee/
Picasso Museum – I did truly want to see this museum, so the fact that it was included on the Pass was fabulous. The Museum is located in a gorgeous building and is full of Picasso’s work from the basement to the top floors. The building also has a tiny garden at one end and a small roof café. Plus the neighborhood (the Marais) is very artsy and full of wonderful cafes and pastry shops. My pass did work for the special exhibition at this museum. Find out more on the official website by clicking here: http://www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/
The Decorative Arts Museum (Les Arts Decoratifs) – another nice bonus is to enter this museum if you have time. My pass did not include the special exhibition, but I went to see a fashion exhibit that was well worth it! Plus I skipped an enormous line and over an hour wait to get into the general museum. This museum is rather large and just walking through the rooms to see the architecture is inspiring. As with most museum stores, this museum store is full of wonderfully creative objects and stunning books. Find out more on the official website by clicking here: http://madparis.fr/en/
Museum des Arts et Metiers – This Industrial Design Museum is really very interesting, especially if you are interested in engineering, automobiles and planes. The main museum is adjacent to a church which has been repurposed as part of the museum that illustrates the history of the automobile; seeing the vast reverent space with antique planes and cars is a peculiar yet inspiring sight. The surrounding neighborhood is full of shops, wonderful local restaurants, a university and is near the garment district. Find out more about the museum on the official website by clicking here: https://www.arts-et-metiers.net/musee/visitor-information
Musee de Cluny – This is actually a must-see location that I would not only highly recommend but that I would have seen with or without the “Paris Museum Pass.” The mansion is right in the heart of Paris, not far from the Sorbonne. The Cluny mansion and museum transports you to the 15th century and houses a rich collection of medieval sculptures, art and the famous “lady and a unicorn” tapestries. Find out more about the museum on the official website by clicking here: http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/visiter/english.html
Musee National de l’Orangerie – Since I read “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” as a child, I have always wanted to see the water lily paintings in Paris. On my first visit to Paris the Orangerie was closed for renovations and I was so disappointed that my trip would not include these classics. Fortunately, I was able to visit Paris again and the museum was open! The museum has a small exhibition space downstairs, but the real draw is the water lily paintings and the rooms specially designed to fit the curved paintings. It was just as I imagined! Find out more about the museum on the official website by clicking here: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en
Paris – the city lights, fashion, the baguette, macarons and… art!
Visit Paris and you will inevitably visit the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and more. I recommend getting the “Paris Museum Pass” to avoid the long lines, save money and visit a few extra places just because you can!
WHY get the “Paris Museum Pass”?
1 – It can be used in over 50 locations (museums, churches, main sights and hidden gems!) and yes, it is not possible to visit that many places in one visit, but the card is worth it!
2 – The pass is available in 2, 4, or 6 day options.
3 – Skip the long lines at the entrance and go to the lines for ticket holders or pass holders. There might be a little line, but not as long.
4 – The Pass comes as part of a pocket size pamphlet, maps, and information on ALL locations included plus opening times, address and descriptions.
Things to Keep in Mind:
1 – The pass does not include temporary or special exhibits
2 – If you are a student or under 18, many museums and monuments are already free, so you don’t need the pass!
3 – Most museums and monuments are closed in Europe on Mondays (sometimes Tuesdays as well) – so keep that in mind for when you activate your card
COST of the “Paris Museum Pass”
2 days is 48 Euros
4 days is 62 Euros
6 days is 74 Euros
*Think about it – if you go to the Arc de Triomphe, Pompidou, Louvre, Notre Dame, O’rsay, Rodin Museum, Sainte-Chapelle, and Versailles (the top sights) that equals = over 100 Euros!
**Prices as of June 2018
WHERE to buy the ““Paris Museum Pass”
1 – You can order online
2 – Purchase the at the Paris Tourist Office at 25 rue des Pyramides, Paris 1st (open 10 to 7)
3 – Buy it at your first museum
4 – Some hotels do sell the card, but often there is an extra fee involved
Looking to see birds of prey on your next European trip? Do you want a child-friendly activity that is educational and fun?
Visit the Locarno Bird Show in Locarno, Switzerland. Locarno is at the northern end of Lake Maggiore and is home to a spectacular bird show!
The Locarno Bird Show, or Falconeria Locarno, is an impressive one-hour show (performed twice a day). For the show, the audience sits in a large outdoor theater (which sits up to 600 people!). The audience will see an array of birds flying before them and over them. The show is in Italian and German, but even if you do not speak the language, the privilege of seeing these birds of prey is awe-inspiring.
The Locarno Falconry show has an unusual collection of birds that are not in the typical roster of bird shows. I saw birds that I have not seen before, including: the impressive bearded vulture, the adorable spectacled owl, and the powerful Steller’s sea eagle (one of the largest eagles in the world!).
If you are in the Locarno area, make a point of see the bird show!
1 – WALK – The Falconeria Locarno is not far from the main downtown. You can reach the Falconeria by walking to the Castle in Locarno, past the castle through the Piazza Castello and up the Via A. Nessi street where you will see signs to the Falconeria
2 – BUS – You can also take the 311 bus from the train station in downtown Locarno and get off at the “Palazzo FEVI” then walk a few minutes to the Falconeria (follow the signs).
On the way to Trieste, I stopped at Aquileia, a small area that has an abundance of Roman ruins and a basilica with a recently revealed mosaic floor!
What is the Story?
The Basilica of Aquileia sits in the center of this ancient Roman city which once held a population of one-hundred-thousand and was one of the largest cities in the 2nd century! Now you see Roman ruins that evoke that once grandiose city with remnants of streets, houses, walls, an amphitheater and more. The town and Patriarch is a UNESCO site and listed as one of the “greatest archaeological reserve[s] of its kind.”
The Basilica of Aquileia is the jewel of this city. The site of the church dates back to 313 AD while the current structure is a Romanesque-Gothic style, the real treasure is the floor! The entire floor of the Basilica is a 4th century mosaic, one of the largest Paleo-Christian mosaics in the western world!
The mosaic was covered for years and only recently discovered and unearthed between 1909 and 1912. The scenes on the floor are rich in color and charming in their depictions of man and animal. You will see a fishing scene, portraits of benefactors of the basilica, biblical stories and more. There is also a crypt, entered from the side of the main entrance, that surrounds the bell tower. The crypt has three levels of mosaics from the 1st, 3rd, and 4th centuries!
For archeology enthusiasts, those interested in Roman ruins and art history lovers, this is an ideal site. The range of history and art represented in the church covers one-thousand years! Don’t miss it on your next trip to Italy!
Where is Aquileia & How to Get There
Aquileia is a main archeological site in Northern Italy, about 10 kilmoeters from the Adriatic. The town does not have a train station, so it is best reached by car. From Trieste it is about 40-45 minutes by car. The closest train station is in the town of Cervignano which is 35 minutes from Trieste or 1.5 hours from Venice. From Cervignano you could reach Aquileia by car, taxi or bus.
I had the opportunity to speak with: Amy Groleau, Curator of Latin American Collections. Amy Groleau spoke with me on the phone about her work at the museum. Please note that the answers are not direct quotes.
1.) What brought you to the Museum of International Folk Art? Have you always been interested in folk art?
Amy Groleau has been with the museum for 3 years now and came from academics with a background in anthropology and archeology. Groleau sees folk art as a culture’s heritage, but not just about the past but also the living culture. ‘Culture is a living thing, it’s a verb’ Groleau emphasizes. Folk art builds on the past and can be used as a ‘spring board for solutions and a meeting place for arts/culture.’ With her academic background, Groleau brings a fresh perspective to her studies at the museum and upcoming exhibits.
2.) Does your expertise in American Folk Art include both North and South America? Are you involved in the upcoming exhibit: Crafting Memory?
Yes! This upcoming exhibition (“Crafting Memory: The Art of Community in Peru” on display from December 3, 2017 to March 8, 2019) was conceptualized by Amy Groleau. In fact, exhibitions at the museum are driven by curators and their interests; for example, if they see a gap in the collection they can develop the research and develop an exhibition. The idea for the exhibit came from previous research and the concept of ‘culture as a living thing, building from the past.’ Groleau aims to show how a culture can ‘use artwork to heal, create solidarity and hope.’ The exhibit will show the traditional folk art beside the new generation‘s adaptation of that tradition. For example, the Peruvian retablos were originally made to show religious scenes, and today artists still create those scenes while also making new retablos in memory of events during the 1980-2000 civil war or current events. Another example is the Shipibo tribe, making themselves visible by bringing their traditional art into cities with public works and murals.
3.) Do you get to travel for work, finding new items to add to the museum collection?
Amy Groleau has traveled to Peru for the purpose of the upcoming exhibition “Crafting Memory: The Art if Community in Peru.” The exhibit will be made up of artwork from the museum, about 40%, and newly acquired works from these trips.
a. What has been your favorite travel destination for museum collection pieces?
Peru has been the main focus for the upcoming exhibition. A new discovery for Groleau on her travels has been some Shipibo tribes people living in Lima. This rain forest tribe is preserving their arts and traditions even while in the country‘s capital with murals and public works.
4.) My favorite part of the museum is the Girard Collection, 10% of which is on display at the museum. Where is that other 90%?
Amy Groleau offices are downstairs and by the storage. Groleau has an interesting take on the other 90% of the collection: there is a world going on below the feet of visitors; where research is being done, conservationists are hard at work and an army of people are working behind the scenes.
5.) Do you have any background information on the photos above (photos of the Girard Collection)?
The toy shop (bottom right image) of toys shopping for toys will make you smile. In fact, in the toy shop scene, Curator Amy Groleau, shares that the framed poster in the background of the shop is an image by the famous Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.
6.) Do you have any input into what is in the gift shop based on an exhibit?
Yes, Groleau is actually putting the shop in touch with current artists that will be in the upcoming “Crafting Memory: The Art if Community in Peru” exhibition. This is a wonderful way for the museum to represent folk art as a living and contemporary art form as well as supporting living artists.
7.) Do you have a favorite item in the museum?
Currently for Groleau it is a Peruvian skirt collected by the museum founder, Florence Dibell Bartlett. The skirt is a bright yellow wool with a colorful hem of flowers. But for Amy Groleau, that favorite item changes from day to day, which is understandable considering how many items the museum has!
8.) Is there anything about the museum that people don’t know that you find very interesting and would want to share?
Every year there is a folk art market with about 125 booths with art from all over the world. The museum does try to purchase from the market but even more interesting is when the museum invites these artists in to see the collections and even the storage items. From this invitation artists can see art from their countries and on some occasions have even recognized work from their own families.
Also the museum is working on their online catalog where you can see items grouped by collections or exhibitions. This is a continuing project!
*Thank you to Amy Groleau for taking the time to answer questions and provide more information about the museum! Also thank you to Ruth LaNore, Registrar at the Museum for contacts and photo permissions!
So on your next visit to Santa Fe, make sure to visit the Museum of International Folk Art. There is so much to see, it’s kid friendly, and now you have an insider curatorial understanding!
*For more photos of Santa Fe, New Mexico visit my travel photography website by clicking here. You can purchase prints and canvas prints from the site!