tuscany

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Despite the swarming masses it is simply mesmerising to stand near. And to imagine that Michelangelo created his statue of David while he was in his 20s. For centuries the statue stood in front of Palazzo Vecchio (a replacement copy still stands there today).As you study and explore the figure more details are revealed. Note the steely glare and the veined tension in David's large right hand, ....Continue Reading >>
Lucca is Tuscany’s ultimate walking city. Mercifully flat unlike most Tuscan towns, Lucca has been turned over to cyclists and pedestrians with few cars in the city centre, most banished to the fringes of the town or outside the impressive medieval town walls. Virtually every road, town square and laneway is shared as workers, vendors, visitors, locals, shoppers, prams, bicycles and hand-drawn carts ....Continue Reading >>
More famous for its bronzed doors, the mosaic ceiling of Florence's elegant octagonal Baptistery is stunning. Likely started in the early 1200s and taking over a century to complete, (built between 1059 and 1128, the Baptistery predates the Cathedral), the mosaics glow with a spiritual golden halo even in a darkened setting. Relating stories from the Bible, the Medicis, Dante and many other notables ....Continue Reading >>
Apart from being Italian, what do Renaissance giants Michelangelo, Galileo, composer Rossini (of the Lone Ranger theme among many operas) and political activist Machiavelli have in common?They are all buried in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence. This illustrious group are joined by radio inventor Marconi, nuclear genius Fermi and Dante (cenotaph only but buried in Ravenna) ....Continue Reading >>
Rich in Etruscan and medieval history, Volterra is a relaxing escape in Tuscany. Perched on an imposing rocky plateau (indeed, the town's name roughly translates landslide in Italian) and surrounded by forbidding ramparts and city gates, the small town has sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding Tuscan landscape.Volterra's superb main medieval square, Piazza dei Priori, includes the 13th century ....Continue Reading >>
Along with its magnificent cathedral and marble inlaid floor, Siena's Il Campo is a stirring, vibrant central square enticingly shaped like a scallop shell. The summer heat pushes groups to the shaded edges, the shadows of the dominant Palazzo Publico and 100 metre bell tower (Torre del Mangia) offering welcome relief. Il Campo is the location of the famed and wild Il Palio horse race (conducted ....Continue Reading >>
When visiting European cathedrals, visitors are often extolled to look up to observe the detailed architecture, sweeping arches, glorious frescoes and glittering stained glass windows. The elegant Gothic exterior of Siena Cathedral in striking black and white stripes gives cause for an impressive cathedral visit but doesn’t remotely prepare a visitor for the staggeringly beautiful interior. This ....Continue Reading >>
Opposite Palazzo Publico at the highest point of Siena's main piazza sits Font Gaia (fountain of joy). It continues to be fed by a water system in place since its unveiling in 1348. Some of the Tuscan hotel rooms appear to rely on plumbing of a similar vintage!!While fenced from the public, the enticing cooling waters are an attraction on a warm Tuscan summer's day. The superb marble panels were ....Continue Reading >>
The tiny village of Bagno Vignoni has attracted people since Etruscan and Roman times with its medicinal waters from underground volcanic aquifers. Located in the Val d'Orcia Natural Park, the central Sources Square, the size of an Olympic swimming pool, remains virtually unchanged since medieval times (and was a favourite pilgrimmage stopover). While bathing is no longer permitted in the central square, ....Continue Reading >>
Made famous by Frances Mayes’ book (and movie) Under the Tuscan Sun, Cortona’s medieval stonework soaks the sun’s rays reflecting a bronzed honey hue. Roosting on the side of a hill encrusted in olive groves, Cortona offers sweeping panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside with shimmering Lake Trasimeno (where Hannibal surprised the Romans) in the distance. Its petite town centre surrounded ....Continue Reading >>
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Welcome to Travel Wonders

My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.

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