Black, White and Red Photography – London…

London, Photo Post, Photography, Uncategorized

I’m not the best at black and white photography (so any tips would be appreciated!) but on my last trip to London, I played around with the classic red of the London buses against a black and white background….What do you think?

 

 

Please feel free to critique in the comments below…

Taken in London, England.

© TuscanDreamsPhotography
Images in this post are owned and distributed by me.

 

Boboli Gardens, Florence

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These 16th century gardens climb the hills surrounding Florence, located behind the Pitti Palace they are a maze of greenery and lavish fountains. With their own unique mix of art and nature, you can imagine the aristocrats of Florence strolling the lawns and holding grand lawn party’s.

When the Medici family brought the Pitti Palace they called in Niccolò Pericoli, also know as Tribolo to create a masterpiece of “landscape architecture”. He created formal gardens for the rich family to show off to their friends, today these world-famous gardens have been extended and form 11 acres of tranquillity within the centre of Florence. Tickets cost £10 per person and include entry into all the gardens and access to the display of clothing and a small ceramic museum.

The garden has several entrances but Piazza Del Pitti is the most popular, the Piazza itself is overshadowed by the enormous Pitti Palace and it is here you will by able to buy you tickets for the Palace and/or the gardens. Entering through an exterior section of the Pitti Palace, you get a little glimpse at how massive this palace really is!

The elaborate architecture in the court-yard separates the palace from the gardens and to the left of the courtyard is the art filled Grotto Grande (Currently under restoration) and the Rococco style Koffeehouse.

The sprawling gardens are a great breather from the busy city and even in their slightly neglected state you could easily spend an entire day exploring the grounds. A full tour of the gardens will require a lot of uphill walking and the only place to get refreshments is at the Kaffehous so I would recommend bringing plenty of water and some comfortable shoes.

The spectacular lawns climb up Boboli Hill from the amphitheatre, passed an Egyptian obelisk and to Neptune’s fountain. If your legs can handle it, a grand staircase will lead you further up to Giardino del Cavaliere. the small garden is bordered by the porcelain museum and well worth the uphill hike as it provides amazing views not only over the city but also the rural hill sides of Florence.

Towards the east of the gardens is a shady cypress alley called The Viottolone, this axis runs down a steep slope past woodland, through the Island Park and beyond the walls of the garden. The wide gravel avenue is lined with Cyprus and laurel trees, dotted with classically-themed statues and majestically leads you down to Isolotto Pond. The Isolotto is an oval-shaped garden surround by tall green hedges, the large island centre is adorn with lemon tress and wildlife. Connected by two bridges and emphasized by elegant gates the island garden is a must see, from here there is a splendid view back up towards the wide avenue of trademark trees.

Water features played a huge part in Italian garden design and at the end of the Viottolone (just before the Isolotto) is a large mosaic star. Hidden under the star was the mouth of a water jet, the water which travelled down elaborate water ways from the Garden of Cavaliere is reported to have “shot upwards to a height of seventy-one feet! As the gardens lacked a natural water supply a conduit was built from the Arno to feed water into the impressive water system.

Although the garden is packed with dramatic water features a lot seem to have been without water on our visit, which was a shame. Have you visited and seen any of the water displays working?

3 Things to do in Italy on Valentines

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February is known throughout the world as Valentine’s Day and with its winding Tuscan wine roads, Romantic landscapes and historic citys, Italy is beyond doubt one of the most romantic places in the world. You could take you loved one to Venice for a special gondola ride or visit the romantic setting of Verona, where you could spend time at Juliette’s balcony.

But what else can you do to make your romantic break super-special?

  

If your planning on surprising your loved one with an unforgettable Valentines break in Italy. Here’s a few romantic ideas of things to do on that special day.

1. Visit Italy’s Alps – Get you pulse racing with a hike up one the many trails before snuggling up in front of an open fire high up in the dramatic mountains of northern Italy. The Dolomites is a great place to spend a winter weekend, stay in one of the many ski resorts, sleep in a sucluded mountain cabin or cosy up together in an igloo at the igloo village of Piancavallo. Drivers can take their partners breath away with spectaular views over the mountains by taking scenic drive along the great Dolomites Road.

2. Terni, Umbria – The birthplace of St. Valentine host a huge festival and firewirks in his honor, Theres lots of concerts, plays and competitions for both singles and couples. There’s also a huge feast around the Basilica di San Valentino where the “Years Lovers Award” is presented. With a chocolate fair and a “Valentine Marathon” this is a perfect place to spend the lovers holiday.

3. Florence, Tuscany – Take a stroll over the romantic Ponte vecchio, before heading up to the Piazza Michalango to watch the sunset over the most beatutiful city in the world, best enjoyed with a bottle of Prosecco. If arts your thing, after a day of admireing the many passionate paintings in the Uffizi, head to the doumo and hire a horse and cart ride for a sunset tour of the city. What ever you do in Florence this valentines the city will breath romance into your trip.

These are just a few ideas others include, Taking a hot air ballon ride over the rolling hills of Tuscany, Touring vineyards on a Vespa or exploreing Rome.

What ever you do make it special!

 

 

Rome in a day

Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

You may be a history buff wanting to explore the Roman Forum or an art fanatic desperate for a glimpse of the Sistine chapel  Whatever it is, Rome breathes history and has religion and art in every corner. Packed with tourist and speeding Vespa’s that never stop, you cant expect to conquer the city in one single trip let alone just one day! But we tried….

 

On our first trip to Italy we made sure our return flight was a light night flight from Rome, which ment
no matter what it would give us chance to see not only more of the country but making it possible to visit the eternal city, even if it was only for a day. 

 

 

The 3 hour train ride from Pisa took us through the beautiful countryside of Tuscany and past the coast, travelling along passed southern Tuscany and into Lazio. We arrived in Rome at 9.30am and stepping off the Train at Roma Termini, I could instantly feel that the modern city was a huge contrast to the relaxed way of life in the Tuscan countryside we had become accustomed to. 

Although the city bares not only a long and colourful history but brilliant architecture and cultural treasures, there are plenty of horror stories about the metro system so we decided to walk it all, why go underground in a city scattered in sights anyway? And with so many sites you don’t have to walk far to find one, top of most people’s lists of things to see in Rome is of course the Colosseum. Being incredibly easy to get to from the main station (by foot or metro) we made it our first stop. 

 Arriving at the mighty ruin was truly incredible, it really is colossal but slightly tainted by the main roads and heavy traffic  Even so the 15 admission fee was well worth it as we could have easily spent a full day exploring the historical area. After spending the morning soaking up the atmosphere in the most famous structure of the Roman Empire, we headed down Via dei Fori Imperiali and past the Roman Forum to the Piazza Venezia. We knew it was just a short walk to the Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi but decided if we only had time to see one it would of course have to be the baroque masterpiece.

 From Piazza Venezia we walked up Via della Pilotta head on for the Fontana di Trevi and I was speechless, at first with the number of people in front of the fountain and then of the scale of what I expected to be ‘just a fountain’. I can honestly say I was utterly amazed at the size and detail of the marvel, and of course we threw coins to ensure our return to Rome!

 A gelato and short stroll  later we had stumbled into Piazza Spanga and the grand staircase which makes it famous. The 138 steps which make up the Spanish steps climb up to Trinità dei Monti church, just behind the piazza is the luxurious Via Veneto area. The streets are lined with many high-class boutique hotels and designer stores as well as the famous Café de Paris and Harry’s Bar.

 Ok, so we had missed out on the Pantheon and we didn’t have time to venture over the river to the Vatican, but the steep winding slope from Piazza del Popolo lead us up onto Pincian Hill where there is a wonderful balcony giving stunning views over the city and towards St. Peters Basilica. The hill is made up of the large landscape gardens of the Villa Borghese, which is now occupied by The Galleria Borghese. It made a perfect place to relax after a long day walking and a fantastic last glimpse of the city before heading home.

 Anyone will tell you a day is definitely not enough to explore the city completely and they are right!  The vast amounts of ancient architecture Rome has to offer is truly overwhelming and although I plan to return to city again at some point,e (After all I did throw a coin n the fountain!) I couldn’t help getting the getting the impression that it is just a metropolitan city built on what could be the world’s best museum. 

Have you been to Rome? if so what do you think?

Italian Architecture….Explained!

Italy For Dummies, Travel, Travel Tips, Uncategorized

You cant help but soak up the history, gazing up at decorative churches and admiring wonderful masterpieces of design. But what if you don’t have a clue what you’re looking at? Or you know it’s “baroque” but what does that actually mean?.. If like me you thought “baroque” was an artist and Leonardo da Vinci was just a painter, you’ve found yourself in the right place. Here’s a basic guide to architecture in Italy!

Way back hundreds of years before Christ the ancient Greeks began settling in southern Italy and the surrounding islands, bringing with them their own unique building style and dominating design in the area for a long time. There are several remains of Greek architecture in Italy, notably in Calabria, Apulia and Sicily. However in Northern and Central Italy, it was the Etruscans who led the way in architecture houses were made from brick and wood, but after learning from the Greeks they started to use stone to create temples for the gods. Although most of the buildings have since perished or destroyed by the Romans a few ruins still remain. The best examples can been seen in Volterra.

After the Romans conquered Greece they adopted certain aspects from their architecture and thanks to the neighbouring Etruscan’s for a wealth of knowledge essential, Roman architecture flourished. It started with the construction of the arch which lead on to simple stone bridges and aqueducts systems. As the Roman army grew so did their engineering designs, they went on to create grand and complex structures such as the world-famous Colosseum. This including their invention of concrete, resulted in a wide range of different architecture including the building of forts, villas, temples, towns, baths and roads. The entire city of Rome is scattered with evidence of their building and engineering skills.

After the fall of the Roman empire, the dark ages of history began and in medieval Italy Byzantine architecture ruled. As the black plague swept through Europe wiping out nearly half of the population and the ornate Gothic architecture dominated the rest of Europe the Florentine’s were inspired by the buildings of ancient Rome and Greece. Using symmetry and proportion the Renaissance style began, mixing old ideas with modern practices architects used columns, arches and domes just as the Romans had before them creating beautiful churches, monuments and villas. Florence is filled to the brim with Renaissance architecture but another great example of this building style are the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in Northern Italy.

Within 200 years a similar style of architecture had spread out across Italy and beyond with renaissance style buildings popping up in London, and all over Europe. But in Italy the idea of harmony was making way for more imaginative ideas and architects began experimenting with much more elaborate designs which eventually led to the dramatic Baroque style. Using distinctive features such as the use of light and fascinating façades.

Buildings and palace’s were built to express ultimate power and control, often housing rich interiors and monumental staircases. There is baroque architecture scattered all over Italy but the most famous is St. Peter’s Basilica, If you still unsure if its “baroque” ask yourself is it extravagant, dramatic and possibly slightly bizarre? If the answers yes then it’s probably baroque.

The Baroque era ended with its most significant achievements when the Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps were completed to decorate Rome. With the intricate and frivolous nature going out of fashion, architects once again returned to the classic and elegant buildings of ancient Rome and Greece and neoclassical architecture was born.

Even with the sleek and complex design of modern architecture, it seems we will always look back on the buildings of the past for inspiration and today we are still using some of their simple building solutions.

 

What’s your favourite piece of Italian architecture?