How Graffiti is Celebrated in City of Arts Dozza

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I don’t know about you, but whenever we come across a town that has been labeled a City of the Arts, I get a queasy feeling in my stomach. From experience I know that all too often, this means grim medieval palazzi and stuffy churches that have been packed with dark, baffling and impenetrable paintings of minor biblical anecdotes or scenes from the life of the local saint.

The art historian and TV

How Graffiti is Celebrated in City of Arts Dozza

Our Second Set of Walks in Emilia-Romagna

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Today, we will start our second set of walks in Emilia-Romagna. In contrast to the first group of hikes that we posted a few weeks ago – which were full day trips – the shorter walks from this second group require less of a commitment and take a much smaller chunk out of your holiday schedule. The principal objectives, however, remain the same: our walks in Emilia-Romagna are meant to provide some diversion, to drag

Our Second Set of Walks in Emilia-Romagna

We Took a Wondrous Easy Hike in Noli Italy

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Hiking in Italy, like so much else in this sweet and lovely country, is by turns an exasperating and wonderful experience.

Whether you are getting one or the other is largely determined by the kind of people who are in charge of the town or municipal district you are visiting.

Some towns could clearly not care less about hiking, to the extent where one can almost physically feel the

We Took a Wondrous Easy Hike in Noli Italy

In Nice? Take the Train des Pignes to Entrevaux!

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Two scenic train rides from Nice into its alpine back country are on the itinerary of most Riviera visits: the Train des Merveilles (to Tende near the Italian frontier) and the Train des Pignes (to Digne-les-Bains in the northwest). Ticking off the Train des Merveilles from our own travel schedule was one of the first things we did on the Riviera – we had not even moved for good in the area yet

In Nice? Take the Train des Pignes to Entrevaux!

The Valli di Comacchio Sophia Loren Made Famous

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Of all the major European countries, Italy has always appeared to me the most culturally uniform. There is little that connects the baroque splendours of Catholic Bavaria with the Protestant restraint of Germany’s Hanseatic North and little common ground between Strasbourg and Nice, but there is an “Italianate-ness” of streets and buildings that is immediately recognizable.

Buildings from the Riviera to Sicily use the same colour schemes of ochre and terracotta, they move

The Valli di Comacchio Sophia Loren Made Famous

How to Go Easy Hiking in the Italian Riviera Backcountry

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Organized bus trips, for all their benefits, have one major drawback: they are not purpose-made for hiking, and any opportunity they may offer for a walk is purely coincidental At best, you can find the space for a brief excursion, but at worst, you are virtually stuck in the bus for the whole day.

You will see a lot, but mainly through the windows of your vehicle. This is

How to Go Easy Hiking in the Italian Riviera Backcountry

Go Hiking on the French Riviera Back Country

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When you want to go hiking on the French Riviera, there are good reasons for preferring either the coast or the back country, the mountainous arrière pays

One possible reason for going one way or the other is undoubtedly the right psychological “match” between hiker and route.

The coast at its best is friendly and open, but can also be loud, brash and more than a little vulgar. The

Go Hiking on the French Riviera Back Country

A Sporty Hike on the Hilltop Backcountry of the French Riviera

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Once they were giants – Breil and the Roya River From the train, Breil-sur-Roya looks incongruously large and imposing, with its tree lined riverside avenue and two large churches in the centre of town.

Located in that part of the border country between France and Italy that is characterized by perched hilltop villages and their nervous huddles of buildings, Breil comes across not only as much bigger but also as much bolder, saying

A Sporty Hike on the Hilltop Backcountry of the French Riviera

Go Hiking Up Castellar in the French Riviera

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Castellar is a vaguely picturesque medieval village just to the north of Menton on the French Riviera, and on its own (we might as well be honest about this), it is not worth the trip. Castellar’s 972 inhabitants may hate me for saying this, but such are the risks of boldly speaking truth to power. Still, there are generally quite a few visitors around, even at this time of year. So what attracts all these

Go Hiking Up Castellar in the French Riviera

Have You Seen the Roadside Shrines of Northwest Germany?

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Catholicism, in theory, is the same all over the world In reality, however, its practices are as different as a village in rural Germany is from Rio de Janeiro. Catholicism is probably best thought of as an abstract concept like “art” or “music” – certain basic rules are the same, but everybody creates something distinct and different out of them, guided by even older, underlying customs and traditions.

In this process, almost every

Have You Seen the Roadside Shrines of Northwest Germany?