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The splendid garden of Villa d’Este

aprile 7th, 2011

On a Monday, the stunning Villa d’Este and its gardens lie quiet, slumbering in peace, free from tourists.

However, Italy Connoisseurs can offer you a private tour so that you can wander past the impressive fountains at your leisure, unhurried by other visitors.
In 1550 Cardinal Ippolito d’Este became Governor of Tivoli and took no time in seizing the Governor’s palace, situated in an ex-Benedictine monastery, which he asked Pirro Ligorio to redesign to his liking. Despite the elegance of the Villa d’Este, the gardens are more famous than the building itself, as every passageway, path or avenue discloses another moss-covered fountain in a stunning setting. Villa d’Este is included in the UNESCO world heritage list due to its impressive concentration of five hundred fountains, nymphs, grottoes, water features, and music. After visiting this masterpiece of Italian-style gardens, the Romantic composer Franz Liszt was inspired to write a piano suite called “Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este”, reflecting the echoes of the melodic fountains.

Floating through the canals on a gondola

marzo 28th, 2011

If you want to romance your loved one, what better way than a gondola ride through the dreamy canals of Venice.

The gondola is the limousine of rowing boats and is perfectly adapted for the waters of “The Floating City”. For hundreds of years gondolas were the principal means of transportation and the most popular vessels within Venice, due to their manoeuvrability and speed. The gondolier stands facing the bow and rows with a forward stroke, followed by a compensating backward stroke. He is immaculately dressed in black pants, a striped shirt, and closed dark shoes. At the front of the boat stands the decorative fèrro (‘iron’) which acts as a counterweight for the gondolier near the stern.