Hanging Out on the Loggia of San Marco Basilica

Loggia of San Marco Basilica
Loggia of San Marco

The loggia, at the foot of the Campanile, is the architectural element that more than any other condenses the celebrative character of the new organisation of the centre of St. Mark’s implemented by the church’s Director of Works Jacopo Sansovino.
Built between 1537 and 1549 to Sansovino’s plan, in 1569 it was turned into a sentry post for dockyard workers during the sessions of the Upper Council.
The rich front elevation with three great arches and composite order columns of classical inspiration, overflowing with decorative beauty, makes the balcony Sansovino’s least architectonic work which, more than any other, transmits that feature of the splendid and the picturesque proper to the Venetian environment. In the four niches Sansovino placed the bronze statues of Minerva, Apollo, Mercury and Peace. The marble reliefs with allegorical depictions are the work of his pupils: Venice as Justice (centre), The Island of Cyprus (right) and The Island of Candia (left). Source: San Marco Basilica.

Enjoying the Berner Oberland

Infographic on Schilthorn pointing out mountain peaks.
Infographic on Schilthorn pointing out mountain peaks.

Prehistorically the Berner Oberland was crossed by hunters or traders, but the first known settlements were from the Roman era. The Romans settled along the river and the lakes. They used a number of alpine passes including; the Brünig, Susten (with a Roman mansio), Grimsel, Lötschen, Gemmi, Rawil, Sanetsch and the Col du Pillon.

During the High Middle Ages, a number of Berner Oberland villages grew around valley parish churches which were religious and cultural centers within each surrounding valley. During Middle Ages, the Berner Oberland first belonged to the Kingdom of Burgundy followed by the Dukes of Zähringen. After the extinction of the Zähringen line, the Berner Oberland was ruled by a number of local Barons (including Oberhofen, Strättligen, Brienz-Ringgenberg, Wädenswil, Weissenburg). For a time, some of the Walser barons (Raron, vom Turn) ruled portions of the Berner Oberland. The Saanen valley was ruled by the Counts of Gruyères. Portions of the alpine passes were held, until the 19th century, by the Bishop of Sion.

The expansionist policy of the city of Bern led them into the Berner Oberland. Through conquest, purchase, mortgage or marriage politics Bern was able to acquire the majority of the Berner Oberland from the indebted local barons between 1323 and 1400. Under Bernese control, the five valleys enjoyed extensive rights and far-reaching autonomy in the Bäuerten (farming cooperative municipalities) and Talverbänden (rural alpine communities). Throughout the Late Middle Ages, the Berner Oberland, as a whole or in part, revolted several times against Bernese authority. The Evil League (Böser Bund) in 1445 fought against Bernese military service and taxes following the Old Zürich War,[2] in 1528 the Berner Oberland rose up in resistance to the Protestant Reformation and in 1641 Thun revolted.

During the Middle Ages, the settlement pattern in the Berner Oberland was somewhat consistent. A main settlement grew on the valley floor below an elevation near 1,100 m (3,600 ft). This main settlement had a market and often a castle or other fortifications. This market town was surrounded by scattered villages, hamlets and individual farm houses to an elevation of 1,600 m (5,200 ft). During the 14th-16th centuries, the Berner Oberland villages began extensive trading with the Bernese grain producing towns in the lowlands. This allowed the alpine villages to renounce self-sufficiency in grain and focus on raising cattle in the high alpine pastures and bringing them down into the valleys in the winter (transhumance). They then exported cattle over the passes into Italy and into the Bernese lowlands. Around 1500, in addition to the seven medieval markets, eleven new cattle markets opened to allow the Berner Oberland villagers to sell their cattle.

After the Napoleonic invasion of Switzerland in 1798, the old Bernese order was fractured and the Berner Oberland was separated from the canton of Bern, forming the canton of Oberland. Within this new canton, historic borders and traditional rights were not considered. As there had been no previous separatist feeling amongst the conservative population, there was little enthusiasm for the new order.

The 1801 Malmaison Constitution proposed reuniting the canton of Oberland with Bern, but it was not until the Act of Mediation, two years later, with the abolition of the Helvetic Republic and the partial restoration of the ancien régime, that the two cantons were reunited.

In 1729, Albrecht von Haller published the poem Die Alpen about his travels through the alpine regions. This combined with other reports and alpine paintings started the tourism industry in the Berner Oberland. By 1800 there were resorts on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz (especially at Interlaken between the two lakes). Shortly thereafter the resorts expanded into the alpine valleys (Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald), and began attracting English guests. However, because of the widespread poverty of the 19th century many residents of the Simmen valley and the Interlaken district emigrated to North America, Germany or Russia.

In the late 19th century, new transportation links made it easier for people to travel into the valleys. The Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon railway opened in 1913 and became the largest privately owned railroad in Switzerland.

The collapse of the hotel industry during both world wars forced a diversification of the economy. After 1950 a new wave of hotel construction of hotels and holiday homes and apartments, led to a strong population growth.

Peaks and valleys seen from Schilthorn
Peaks and valleys seen from Schilthorn

Starting in the 1930s and increasingly after 1950 funiculars, cable cars and chair lifts opened up many of the high alpine villages for winter sports and tourism. Source: Wikipedia.

Gossamer view from Schilthorn.
Gossamer view from Schilthorn.

Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy

Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
The balcony on the side of Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy.

As testified by the coat of arms on the internal arch-way of the court-yard, this house belonged to the “Dal Cappello” or “Cappelletti”. The building, dating back to the 13th and renovated in the last century, features the balcony where Romeo promised his beloved Juliet eternal love in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
The sculpture of Juliet attracts a lot of attention.

Young couples are still very moved by the right of this house and unmarried people touch Juliet’s statue (a kind of good-luck ritual) in the hope of finding the love of their life.

Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
Heading through a small tunnel toward’s Juliet’s house.

How many hopes and desires has this court-yard witnessed over the ages?

Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
Thousands of people have left their mark on this wall.

The interior of the house can be visited and you can stand on Juliet’s balcony and re-live the “ high-light” of the earthly life, as well as admire the furniture and the beautiful velvet costumes worn by the actors in the Metro Goldwyn Meyer’s colossal “ Romeo and Juliet”. Source: Verona Tourism.

Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
QUESTE FURONO LE CASE DEI CAPULETI D’ONDE USCI LA GIULIETTA PER CUI TANTO PIANSERO I CUORI GENTILI E I POETI CANTARONO.

Beautiful but Cloudy Views from Schilthorn

The edge of Schilthorn.
The edge of Schilthorn.

Schilthorn’s summit is within the municipality of Lauterbrunnen, although the western slopes are within the municipality of Reichenbach im Kandertal. Both municipalities are in the canton of Bern.

007 logo on Schilthorn observatory
007 logo on Schilthorn observatory

The summit has a panoramic view which spans from the Titlis, Jungfrau, Mönch, Eiger, over the Bernese Alps and the Jura mountains up to the Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest. Mont Blanc is also just visible.

Cloud shrouded view from Schilthorn
Cloud shrouded view from Schilthorn

To get to the Schilthorn from the valley floor, a series of cable cars must be taken. The cable cars begin in Stechelberg leaving to Gimmelwald and then onto Mürren. From Mürren another cable car is taken to Birg, which is the final change before the Schilthorn. This cable airway is the longest and was the most technically challenging airway to be built. The other way up is to take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp and a train to Mürren, from where the cable car must be taken. Between Birg and the summit, the cable car passes over Grauseeli, a small lake.

People on the edge of Schilthor
People on the edge of Schilthorn

It is also possible to hike to the peak, along the myriad of small, but well-marked paths to the top. The hike to the top takes roughly five hours from Gimmelwald for a fit walker. Source: Wikipedia.

Adige River in Verona, Italy

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The Adige  is the second longest river in Italy after the Po, rising in the Alps in the province of South Tyrol near the Italian border with Austria and Switzerland, flowing 410 kilometres (250 mi) through most of North-East Italy to the Adriatic Sea.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The river sources near the Reschen Pass (1,504 metres (4,934 ft)) close to the borders with Austria and Switzerland above the Inn valley. It flows through the artificial alpine Lake Reschen. The lake is known for the church tower that marks the site of the former village of Alt Graun (“Old Graun”); it was evacuated and flooded in 1953 after the dam was finished. Near Glurns, the Rom river joins from the Swiss Val Müstair.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The Adige runs eastbound through the Vinschgau to Merano, where it is met by the Passer river from the north. The section between Merano and Bolzano, is called Etschtal, meaning Adige Valley. South of Bolzano, the river is joined by the Eisack and turns south through a valley which has always been one of the major routes through the Alps, connecting the Reschen and the Brenner passes, at 1,370 metres (4,490 ft) considered the easiest of the main Alpine passes.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The Chiusa di Salorno narrows at Salorno mark the southernmost part of the predominantly German-speaking province of South Tyrol. The Adige was mentioned in the “Lied der Deutschen” of 1841 as the southern border of the German language area (which it still is). In 1922 Germany adopted the song as its national anthem, although by that time Italy had taken control of all of the Adige.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

Near Trento, the Avisio, Noce, and Fersina rivers join. The Adige crosses Trentino and later Veneto, flowing past the town of Rovereto, the Lagarina Valley, the cities of Verona and Adria and the north-eastern part of the Po Plain into the Adriatic Sea. The Adige and the Po run parallel in the river delta without properly joining.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The Adige is connected to Lake Garda by the Mori-Torbole tunnel, an artificial underground canal built for flood prevention.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.

The Adige is a home to the marble trout (Salmo marmoratus), but at far lower populations than in the past. Fish stocking is one of the most significant causes of the sharp reduction in the original (indigenous) fish population of this subspecies. It will spawn with and interbreed with brown trout, which are regularly stocked in the river and its tributaries. Source: Wikipedia.

Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.
Adige River in Verona, Italy.