Even before I ever set foot in the country I knew of its myriad islands and endless coastline. Add a plethora of archeological treasures in various stages of restoration, bountiful dinners of taverna fare and soulful rebetika music. I felt I had Greece covered.
Hard to imagine that any corner of Tuscany could ever escape attention of tourists. But the Casentino Valley, a rural area wedged into the foothills of the Appenine Mountains a mere 50 kilometers east of Florence has managed to remain mainly ignored by visitors.
Today I take to the back roads of Tuscany toward the Val d’Orcia. The region abounds with medieval hill towns with their own important cultural heritage. Among them Siena and her Piazza del Campo, one of the greatest medieval squares in Europe.
No visit to Florence feels complete without a foray into the narrow alleys of the Oltrarno. Located outside the city’s walls, on the oltr’Arno the other side of the Arno), was from the start home to the traditional Florentine craftspeople carried on their trade. Today’s picture framers, gilders, engravers, enamelers and restorers of fine antiques still do.
To wander around Florence is to walk back in time to the birthplace of modern western culture. The Renaissance began here, in the maze of narrow streets lined with the palazzos and monasteries of the old town. Their façades look like stark fortresses. But step through their foreboding, metal studded gates and a world of serene gardens, elegant cloisters and inexhaustible treasures await.
Florence, the widely acknowledged cradle of the Renaissance, owes its splendor and unique influence on the development of the western world in great part to the dominant ruling family of the period, the Medici.
Bruges, just one hour’s drive from the cosmopolitan center of Brussels, is one of these enchanted cities European fairy tales are made of; cities vanished into the sea at the height of their grandeur to reappear untouched by time every 100-years or so. Bruges, however, shines on.
The canoe is silently taking us upstream along the narrow channel that connects the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon, to Anangucocha Lake. We are in the heart of the ancestral territory of the Kichwa Anangu community in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve regarded by scientists as one of the highest bio-diversity areas on the planet.
I was barely in my teens when travel became a driving force in my life. Now as a travel writer and photographer, I have visited over 45 countries in some of the most photogenic corners of the planet, taking tens of thousands of pictures along the way. With my work, I thrive to capture the natural… and cultural uniqueness of each area I visit. Get to know me better…