The Towers of San Gimignano

After several days of Renaissance splendor in Florence, we decided to venture beyond the city and explore a bit of rural Tuscany. Yay! Setting out by local bus, we made our way from village to village through a patchwork landscape of colorful vineyards and ancient olive groves. We had timed our trip perfectly to witness locals out in the fields harvesting olives.

As we approached our destination, we caught a glimpse of the impressive skyline through the fall foliage. Like a medieval Manhattan, San Gimignano with its ancient towers and fortifications is the clear superstar of central Tuscany Continue…

Navigating Florence’s Museums and Attractions

OK, you’ve made your way to Florence – the dream of a lifetime – and you want to visit the city’s incredible works of art and architecture. You walk up to the entrance of the Uffizi Gallery and ask a guard where you can buy a ticket.  And he just laughs hysterically in your face. Suddenly, you notice there’s a line with hundreds of annoyed people who have been waiting for hours.

Florence is not a city for the unprepared.

Before you come to Florence, you need to do some basic homework, especially if you are showing up in the peak season. You don’t just walk up to the Uffizi, buy a ticket, and enter. And even those magic (and pricey) Firenze Cards may not be the best option for everyone. To help you out, we’ve put together some quick tips and links to get you started Continue…

Florence

Florence. What can a blogger say that hasn’t been said countless times in the last millennium? Cultural mecca, epicenter of the Renaissance, food extravaganza, fashion center, art and architecture overload – if you can’t find something to love about Florence, there’s something wrong with you.

The city is simply overwhelming. Before you even step out of the train, you spot Florence’s insanely monumental Gothic Duomo towering above the surrounding buildings. The phenomenal black and white banded walls dwarf crowds of visitors. Every tourist eye is fixed on its remarkably intricate polychrome marble facade. It’s hard to comprehend what someone Continue…

Keith Haring’s Pisa Mural ‘Tuttomondo’

Keith Haring's Pisa mural "Tuttomondo"

When you come to Italy, you expect to see tons of murals – but you don’t really expect them to be by American artists. So we were quite surprised to discover the multi-story Keith Haring Tuttomondo mural on the side of the Church of Sant’Antonio just north of the Pisa train station. It’s somewhat ironic that the last public mural of the openly gay artist and prominent AIDS activist was painted on the side of a Catholic church. The work titled Tuttomondo, which means “All-world”, was completed just eight months before Haring died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

So is a title even necessary for this post? Or did you miss it peeking out from behind the cathedral? The Leaning Tower of Pisa is certainly one of the most recognized monuments on the planet. It’s the perfect place to start our trip to Tuscany and Umbria. What? Too typical, too beaten-track you say?

Travelers with a major ‘tude might write the tower off as the ultimate travel cliché. It’s not. The famous tower and the stunning cathedral complex including its monumental baptistry are serious traveler eye-candy. If you need a more highbrow motivation, it’s the perfect place to study the very unique Pisan take on Romanesque architecture and search for hints of early Gothic. And, of course, there’s the whole leaning thing. Continue…

Berlin Street Art

The picture above WAS one of my favorite pieces of street art in Berlin. Not long ago, I entered the small back alley near Hackescher Markt where it was located and discovered – much to my shock and disappointment – that this stunning full-wall mural had been painted over. Uggghhhh.

Interestingly, I find myself wondering whether it was the artist himself or a competitor who painted over this not-so-little masterpiece. In its place, a sprawling comic-like commentary on the street art tour groups which regularly visit (shown in last picture in the pictorial below). Hmmm, act of aggression or social commentary – who knows? But the loss of the beautiful painting did emphasize the ephemeral nature of Berlin’s street art. Ever since, we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing the works that we find scattered around the city. Definitely expect more street art collections to come.

Check out more Berlin street art here.

Spiral Staircase

There’s something magical about this spiral staircase in the Hackesche Höfe. Every time I walk by it, I find myself stopping and staring up into it. It’s like Art Nouveau meets Chinese calligraphy. The more I look at its curious curves, the more I love it… and Berlin. In fact, the heart of this city, which is undoubtedly the artistic epicenter of skewed chic, really is in these hidden, side-street details.

ContemporaryNomad.com 3.0

We’re movin’ on up… to a wider format. As you’ve probably noticed, we are widening our site and making some subtle improvements. We will be testing the new template over the next few days. If anyone notices any problems, please let us know in the comment section Continue…