Sunday, August 17, 2008

The one and only, Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

In the ultra-fashionable neighborhood along Passeig de Gràcia stands one of the most unusual examples of Barcelona architecture - or anywhere else in the world: Casa Milà, otherwise known as La Pedrera.

The first name is drawn from the patron who commissioned renowned architect Antonio Gaudi to build what became an apartment complex.

The work began in 1906, sponsored by one of Barcelona's most wealthy citizens, Pedro Milà i Camps. Initially intended to have even more obvious religious themes, anti-clerical riots from the year before motivated the owner to require that Gaudi take a more subtle approach.

The results are anything but subtle in architectural terms, both outside and in. On its completion in 1910 the local wags were so stunned, affronted or otherwise surprised they dubbed it 'The Stone Quarry' (La Pedrera).

The name is unfair.

Casa Milà is different, to be sure. But it bears no resemblance to a stone quarry, which is all sharp angles. Gaudi's creation, by contrast, is a flowing series of curves that undulate while wrapping around the corner on which the building is placed. But the theme of organic shapes doesn't stop there.

The balconies that wind around the exterior of the site are full of sea shapes. They themselves are wavelike, while the structures and objects they support integrate the same look. Wrought iron railings that resemble seaweed (the work of sculptor Josep Jujol) surround minaret-like overheads of varying heights.

The top of the building itself houses chimneys that are an outstanding continuance of the same idea. Twisting like a soft-ice cream cone, the orange stone is shaped to provide a sense of both motion and aspiration - a common theme in much of Gaudi's work. They were nicknamed espantabruxes (witch-scarers) by one of the critics of the day.

The interior elements are well matched to the building's facade and overall shape. On the ground floor is a courtyard filled with recognizable Gaudi elements: organic shapes, bright colors and lush vegetation. Summer concerts and exhibits are often held there.

One of the apartments on the top floor has been furnished in furniture and objects from the period and provides a look at what the residents might have owned. The other units are still private residences.

Higher up inside the building in the attic is a small museum/exhibition space devoted to Gaudi's work called the Espai Gaudi (Gaudi Space). Here, visitors will find numerous educational displays and photos.

There is also an unusual upside-down model of Sagrada Familia demonstrating some of the architect's structural ideas. But the space itself is also a work of art. With a glowing orange atmosphere and a hush provided by the low, curved ceiling, no visit to Casa Milà would be complete without viewing the area.

But visitors will also want not to miss the excellent rooftop. It's a delightful series of gardens laid out in the only straight lines to be found at the site, set among the unusual chimneys. It also provides a spectacular view of sunny Barcelona in the sweeping vista below.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Visit to Fiesole, Tuscany

It will come as no surprise that much of the Roman character of Tuscany has been preserved. One special example of that fact is to be found in Fiesole. A superb respite from busy Florence below, Fiesole offers views of the city, the Arno and much more from atop its peak.

The town itself far predates the Roman period, going back to the country's Etruscan era in the 9th century BC. From here, high on the hill, one can look out on modern Florence. But the distance is just great enough that it isn't hard to imagine life as it was those many centuries ago.

Conquered by the Romans in 283 BC, Fiesole soon became home to an outstanding school of the period. The city saw wars between Rome and the Vandals, as well, in the early 5th century AD. Its citizens fought many wars with Florence until succumbing to its more famous neighbor in 1125 AD.

Scattered around the town are reminders of all those events and many more.

The cathedral is a plain structure, but well worth a look for its orange brick and medieval tower. The Franciscan monastery is another site that may offer simple architecture, but is full of historical significance. In the Courtyard to Heaven, there is a quite interesting small column with a cross set between two short thin columns topped by a lintel.
Much grander is the nearby Medici Villa, built by the famous rulers in the mid-15th century. Or, one could visit the nearby Lombard tombs, a reminder of the time the site served as a necropolis. In addition, there are outstanding examples of Greek vases, amphorae and many other artifacts that would have been well known to citizens of the day.
But unquestionably, one of the most enticing sights for visitors is the Roman Theater, still in use today.

Built in the 1st century BC, it offers an amphitheater that seats 3,000 today just as it did 2,000 years ago. The right half is original, the left portion was rebuilt in the 19th century. Sitting among sections of column, broken friezes and other remnants of the period, it's easy to imagine hearing a performance from that bygone era.

A grove of olive trees decorates the center and there are baths with outstanding arches nearby. Sitting on the curved stone bleachers one can hear the strains of Vivaldi from the 18th century while being reminded of music from much further back.

Or, you may be fortunate enough to see one of the plays that are produced there. Nothing can compare to the experience of seeing an original Roman comedy by Terence or Plautus in a theater where patrons first heard its lines spoken.

A visit to Fiesole can last an hour, after winding up the steep curvy road, or occupy a full day or evening. Visitors who make the trip will be glad they did.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

Between Las Ramblas and the Passeig de Picasso lies one of Barcelona's most famous areas: Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter. Its fame is well deserved. For, here, visitors can find streets and buildings from the Middle Ages that will provide hours of fascinating exploration. There are small winding alleyways where tourists can find all manner of Gothic-era buildings, shops housed in centuries-old structures, cafes and much more.

Arrayed around Placa de Sant Jaume Square are some of the most fascinating examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Just down the street is the Town Hall (l'Ajuntament), built in the 15th century. Next to it is the Parlament de Catalunya where the Catalan parliament holds its sessions. Facing it is the magnificent Palau de la Generalitat. Down Madoz, walkers can find the Palau Reial where a flea market is held on Sunday.

Walk along the Carrer del Bisbe Irurita and you'll come to the entrance of one of the most magnificent churches in Europe, the soaring cathedral, La Seu. This 14th century structure has been updated periodically since its founding and now sports a stellar 19th century faux-Gothic facade.

Lovers of religious architecture will not want to miss standing in the Placa de la Seu outside for a good view. After that, visitors can enjoy a fine Spanish coffee or tapas while they continue to explore the buildings and many ornaments from a comfortable seat.

Even the smaller churches are well worth a look. The Iglesia de Santa Maria del Pi is an example that continues to attract visitors by the score every summer. There are even small hotels to stay at in the area for those who want to make the Barri Gotic home base in Barcelona.

And there are sections that are still older. Barcelona is an ancient Roman city dating back 2,000 years. There are remnants of that beginning still extant in modern Barcelona. Roman walls, stone streets and other elements betray the leftover Roman influence of the ancient city of Barcino here. At the Casa de l'Ardiaca it is possible to see remnants of a Roman aqueduct.

Yet there are many modern sights to see as well in this area filled with historic buildings, enclaves and roads. The Els Quatre Gats is still in business, serving customers today as it once served Pablo Picasso. Not far away is the El Museo Picasso filled with the artist's works.

There are even examples of new architecture done in a much older style. The Bridge of Sighs hangs over one street between two buildings. Though built in the 1920s, it resembles its much older cousin in Venice from which it was copied. With its intricate stone railings and arches, it will provide architecture lovers with much to study.

Shoppers will find many worth while sights, too. There are shops galore along Carrer de Ferran. They're filled with bargains that any tourist will want to explore. Lace, handcrafts, clothing and much more adorn walls that have seen many generations come and go.

In the public square those who enjoy street performers can find an outstanding example in the weekly Sardana Dance performances given here. After applauding and donating a euro, wander over to one of the many cafes and have a cool cerveza. Later in the evening explore the numerous nightclubs dotting the Barri Gotic.

In Barcelona, old and new get along quite nicely.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Check out the Vatican Museums

An entire article could easily be taken up solely by listing the names of all the galleries and museums comprising the Vatican Museums. Naming the artists and their works would take up several more. Describing them takes entire catalogs, held in the Vatican Library.

Growing from humble beginnings with Pope Julius II's 1506 acquisition of the sculpture of Laocoön and his sons in the grips of a sea serpent, it now numbers dozens of individual galleries and thousands of works of art.

The Etruscan Museum, founded in 1837 is one of the later additions, holding many excavated samples of ancient works unearthed in southern Etruria and elsewhere. It is nearby the mosaics and ancient sarcophagi from the glory days of the Roman Empire held in the Egyptian Museum, which it resembles.

There is the Gallery of Tapestries, a collection of wall coverings from the 15th through the 17th centuries. First exhibited in 1814 these extraordinary weaves would be welcomed in any of the major museums of the world.

Nearby is the Gallery of the Maps, named after its painted walls. Forty different panels devoted to varying regions around the globe form a collection that was once as practical as it is beautiful. Before Global Positioning Systems and other modern technology, these maps were among the prime means for locating and tracking the Church's far-flung spheres of influence.

Among the highlights of the Vatican Museums are the Raphael Rooms. A series of four connecting rooms, built between 1447 and 1455, these house many of the works of that Renaissance master. The rooms, ironically however, are not named for holding his paintings, but because of his work decorating them over a ten year period.

The plainly named Vatican Picture Gallery holds works that belie the room's designation. Here are works of many masters, including Giotto, Perugino, van Dyck and Poussin.

Visitors may be disappointed if they visit the Gregorian Museum of Profane Art looking for early samples of pornography. The word was simply used to distinguish subject matter that was not sacred in theme. Opened only in 1970, here are Roman sculptures of the Republican and Imperial periods, sarcophagi and much else.

The Carriage Pavilion was opened even later, in 1973, in a building constructed under the Square Garden. It houses the carriages used to transport various Popes and other officials of the church. The main objects are supplemented with photographs of processions, harnesses, documents and other related items.

Of course, the centerpiece of the Vatican Museums is unquestionably the world-famous Sistine Chapel, in particular its 10,000 square foot ceiling painted by Michaelangelo. The chapel holds many works by Italian masters, not least of which is the master's Last Judgment completed twenty years after the ceiling.

Still, it is the ceiling that commands attention. Nine panels display figures from the Bible, Sibyls, Noah, random male nudes and Jehovah bringing Adam to life with a touch. Goethe said it best when he stated:

"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving."

The same might be said of many of the masters whose work is housed in the Vatican Museums.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Fountains of The Eternal City of Rome

The fountains of Rome have an ancient and glorious history. Examples range from the Eternal City's glory days in the 1st century AD to its even more glorious days during the Renaissance to the 18th century and beyond.

Other cities offer fountains that are barely beyond the utilitarian. But not Rome. Rome must have a water display that is a work of art, because Rome is itself one enormous museum.

The Trevi is unquestionably the most famous, but it has many competitors for the attention of Rome's many visitors.

Fontana del Tritone

The Fountain of Triton (Fontana del Tritone) is just one stellar example. Designed by the renowned Bernini in 1642, it is a masterpiece in the Baroque style. The central figure is a merman (the male equivalent of a mermaid), seated on a giant clamshell and flanked by dolphins.

Near the Spanish Steps is another Bernini work, his first in the genre. Displaying a half-sunken ship, the Barcaccia was a progenitor of the Baroque style in outdoor sculpture.

There is the Fountain of the Moor (Fontana del Moro), also by Bernini, yet another example of a sea-oriented theme. Sited at the southern tip of the Piazza Navona - itself worth a visit - the fountain depicts Neptune surrounded by his subjects. Four Tritons expel water as sea creatures frolic below.

The Fountain of Neptune adjacent to The Moor was a 19th century addition that features many of the same elements, but in a vastly different style.

One not by Bernini, but clearly influenced by his style, is the Fontana dei Tritoni by Francesco Bizzaccheri located in the Boario Forum in front of the Church of St. Maria. Set between the Temple of Male Fortune and the Temple of Vesta, it was built in 1715 at the dawn of the Age of Reason. Two powerful Tritons kneel on a large outcropping of rock and support a basin from which the fountain's water shoots.

Fontana di Trevi

But without a doubt the Fontana di Trevi, the Trevi Fountain, is the foremost example of the genre in Rome. Originally built in the 1st century AD, it was re-built between 1732 and 1751 at the orders of Pope Clement XII.

At 85 feet (26m) high and 65 feet wide (20m) it is the largest fountain in the city, and among the most beautiful. Sited at the rear of the Palace of the Dukes of Poli, it displays a familiar subject: Neptune, but this time riding a clamshell chariot behind two horses, amid Tritons and flanked by the gods of Health and Wealth.

It is here at the Trevi that hopeful tourists toss coins into the base, prompted by the legend that those who throw three coins into the water will one day return to Rome. The coins represent a healthy sum for the city's charities. Clever marketing was not unknown even in centuries past.

Nicola Salvi is often credited as the designer, but there are elements that suggest Bernini had a hand in its creation. The water source is from the Aqua Vergine aqueduct, the name of a legend depicted in the fountain itself. A virgin is said to have offered water to thirsty Roman soldiers.

No visit to Rome could be considered complete without seeing at least a few of its many famed fountains, outdoor sculpture at its finest.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Barcelona - La Boqueria

La Boqueria, Mercat de Sant Josep, St. Joseph's Market.... Whatever name you use to describe it the sights and smells will be the same. This bustling conglomeration of food stalls, restaurants and tapas bars is one of Barcelona's most often visited attractions. That last fact is all the more interesting since relatively few tourists seek fresh produce on their wanderings. But here one can find that and a great deal more.

Set in a structure built in 1840 La Boqueria is an artistic treasure as well as a culinary one. The sign itself above the entrance, a fine Catalonian example of Art Nouveau, is well worth a look. The glass and iron enclosure comprises (and partially hides) a 19th century building that shares much with its cousins throughout the city. Aspects of the market are still being re-discovered. Several Ionic-style columns were only uncovered in 2001 after a long absence.

But the art on display resides as much in what is sold there as where it is sold. The endless palette of colors formed by artichokes, oranges, carrots, ham and fish of all description requires a photograph (or, better still, a visit) to truly convey. If you're looking for an afternoon snack, a drink or just a fascinating look at the best market in Europe, you could find none finer.

Anyone wanting to wander through La Boqueria has a number of options. Seen from above it would resemble a hub with spokes.
At the center are the fish sellers who offer an array of local species so fresh some of them are still wiggling. Barcelona is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Wander in any direction and you'll run into mushroom stalls offering some of the world's finest truffles. Move one way and you'll see the juiciest cherries to be found anywhere on the continent. Stroll the other way and you'll come upon zucchini so fresh the blossoms are still attached.

Set around the perimeter are a number of great bars and restaurants. The Pinotxo (Pinocchio) is famed for its wide selection of drinks, its excellent tapas and its extraordinary collection of bar stools. Don't miss seeing the ceramic portrait of the famed marionette character displayed there.

The El Quim de la Boqueria is another superb option. In a city full of outstanding tapas bars, El Quim stands near the pinnacle. The bar is full of great food, lively customers and sports a happy atmosphere. Locals often enjoy the fresh squid for breakfast.

The exterior of the market provides several interesting sights as well. Just outside the entrance are animal stalls that sell birds, lizards and other small pets.

La Boqueria is about halfway between Carrer del Carme and Carrer de l'Hospital, close to the Liceu metro stop. It's not far from the famed cathedral, La Seu, in the center of Barri Gotic (the Gothic Quarter). St. Joseph's Market is open from early in the morning until late in the evening, but the liveliest times are in the afternoon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Visit to San Gimignano in Tuscany

Once an ancient Etruscan settlement, San Gimignano's first walls were erected much later, in 998 AD. It became one of Italy's smaller city-statues in the 12th century.

Featured in fictional form in E.M Forster's 1905 novel Where Angels Fear to Tread, this Tuscany town provides the perfect backdrop for a modern visit as well. Situated roughly halfway between Florence and Siena, San Gimignano is the perfect place to stop and see some sights, not least of which are the famed towers.

Many of the medieval towers that dot the landscape throughout this region have been lost to wars, construction projects and other changes. Here, they form the centerpiece of one of Tuscany's most unusual offerings. Fourteen remain from the 72 originally commissioned and each one is a unique work of art.

The Communal Palace is another of San Gimignano's outstanding offerings. Home of the Town Gallery it houses works by Filippino Lippi, Pier Francesco Fiorentino and others. From Dante's Hall it's a short walk to the fresco by Lippo Memmi. Not much further is the Torre del Podestà, a full 54 meters (177 feet) high.
There is a small Archaeological Museum featuring a variety of fascinating objects. Artifacts housed here display the full history of the town from its Etruscan origins through the Roman period and up to the Medieval period that gave the town its current appearance.

The Sacred Art Museum houses art and artifacts from many of the regions's churches and includes paintings, silverware, terracotta and many fine funeral monuments.

There's even a small collection of modern and contemporary art on view at the Gallery Raffaele De Grada. Drawing from recent decades, it houses many of the current art works important to the town. It also organizes art events throughout the year.

From the center of town walkers have easy access to the four main public squares: Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Pecori, Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo where the Collegiata is located. Any direction you care to go, you're sure to see something of interest.

Head to the outskirts and you'll find one of the best views of the many towers. With binoculars it's easy to spot many of the fine details, while from a vantage point on one of the many hills you can take in the breathtaking view. It's no accident that many professional photos of Tuscany are taken from this area.

A little farther out lie some of the area's best wineries. The white Vernaccia di San Gimignano is grown here. At different times of the year, usually in the summer, it's possible to sample some of the excellent vintage.

Though not the most well known location among those seeking a tour of Tuscany, San Gimignano is not only a convenient rest stop, but provides outstanding things to see and do all its own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Poble Espanyol (The Spanish Village)

One of the most popular shopping areas of Barcelona, the Poble Espanyol is an array of houses, shops and other buildings done in every style seen across Spain. Enter through the gateway simulated to look like the great walled city of Avila and experience the many sights within.

Built in 1929 as part of the International Exhibit, it provides delightful crafts and entertainment, while giving a view of the many architectural styles around the country. Many of them are careful replicas of existing buildings from around Spain. There are over 100 different styles represented from Galicia, Castille, Basque and the many other regions of this diverse country.

In the interior is a large square, the Plaza Mayor, featuring the Utebo Clock Tower. Connected to it are smaller squares with a town hall, a church, a faux monastery and homes.

While you're seeing the interesting architecture you can be entertained by street performers and artists. Purchase handcrafted jewelry or just sit and sip a cool drink outside the Tablao de Carmen. There are over 40 workshops here featuring ceramics, embroidery and other handcrafts.

Art of many kinds can be seen throughout the poble. At the Fundació Fran Daurel, you can find works by contemporary Catalan artists along with their more famous colleagues from the past. The building houses art by Picasso, Dali and many others. Lesser known (outside Spain), but still important artists like Barceló and Tàpies are represented, too.

Music is an ever-present feature of the 'village' with roving guitarists and horn players providing a festive atmosphere for shoppers. Wander along the boulevard and see pottery made before your eyes. Just next door is the glass blower who will fascinate you with his skill.
At night the village really comes alive.

Many of the shops remain open until 9 p.m. and offer engravings, handmade puppets, masks, leather, traditional woven baskets, musical instruments and much more.

There are dozens of bars, clubs and restaurants. Dancing is popular here with both tourists and locals alike. There's an open-air discotheque called La Terrazza that attracts visitors and Barcelonans equally.

But perhaps you want a more sedate experience? If you prefer to watch rather than participate, attend the famed flamenco performances. One of the best is found at the Tablao de Carmen. Here, visitors can see the finest in Spanish dance performed by world-class performers.

The village was only intended to last until six months after the 1929 exhibition, after which it was scheduled to be demolished. But the area proved so popular it has lasted to the day, receiving a major renovation in 1988. Come see why.

Poble Espanyol is easy to find. Just take the metro to Placa Espanya, then ride the escalators to the village.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Barcelona Zoo

Barcelona Zoo receives over a million visitors per year. It isn't hard to see why, once you know about all the things it has to offer animal lovers. Built in 1892 these 13 hectares located in Ciutadella Park house thousands of animals from 400 different species, many of whom are not typically found at other conservation facilities.

There are programs that stock and protect the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum). This large lizard is a favorite of kids and adults alike. You can safely view up close this creature that has changed little from prehistoric times. Not far behind on the time scale is the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga trydactyla), a rare species at zoos. The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) is another unusual animal that visitors won't see even at many larger facilities.

The zoo also hosts a number of Black Vultures, a Mhorr's Gazelle and Rothschild's Giraffes. In addition to these well-known names, Barcelona zoo is home to species that are rarely seen elsewhere, such as the Greater Kudu, Siamangs (an arboreal gibbon) and several Mangabeys (a type of Old World monkey).

The zoo is home to a number of interesting bird species to delight visitors, including night herons, egrets and storks. But other species get a fair showing, as well, such as the Majorcan midwife toad from the Tramuntana Mountains. There is a snake house that kids will stare into for hours on end.

There's no shortage of the kind of animals that zoo lovers often travel far to seek out. Barcelona offers several Eurasian Otters, which are part of the zoo's active return-to-the-wild program. They have a Red Panda that is a great favorite among zoo-goers of all ages. And the pack of Iberian wolves, native to Spain, continues to attract thousands of onlookers every year.

The zoo provides refuge to several lowland gorillas, too. Not least of those was the famous Snowflake, a quasi-albino gorilla, a resident for 30 years. Snowflake was not a true albino, since his eyes were blue, not pink. But his fur was completely white, the only known example of this variation. Snowflake died in 2003, but several of his progeny are housed at the zoo and there is a large exhibit showing many videos of this fascinating animal.

The zoo has another unusual feature: dolphins. Aquatic animals don't often make their way into zoos, generally being reserved for aquaria. Barcelona has one of those, as well. But there are several different species housed here, including Bottlenose Dolphins. They even play host to a killer whale, practically an unprecedented species to find at a zoo.

Along with the dolphins and killer whale, the zoo holds several semi-aquatic creatures: Humboldt Penguins. These delightfully zany creatures fly underwater using their flippers as wings, just as birds do through the much thinner fluid we call air. But the method in each case is much the same and as much fun to watch in the case of the penguins.

The zoo is easy to reach. Just take the metro to Ciutadella. The zoo is a short walk away. When finished, take in some of the many other sights offered by the Ciutadella Park.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cortona, a town in Tuscany

Cortona is a Tuscan town once little known to travelers booking for Florence. After the publication of Under the Tuscan Sun (and the subsequent film and follow-up books) it garnered a place on every visitor's agenda. Justifiably so.

In this Italian hilltop town of 30,000 there are more sights than a visitor could see in three vacations. Located about half-way between its much more famous neighbors of Rome and Florence this ancient city offers museums, restaurants, villas, biking tours and much more.

The founding date is unknown, but Cortona's streets were walled in by the Etruscans more than 2,600 years ago. Some of that history is still extant near the Porta Guelfa and the Porta Montanina. At the base one can spot Roman repairs made to Etruscan slabs.

Inside, looking out above the walls, visitors will find a breathtaking view of Lake Trasimeno from the square of Piazza Garibaldi. Just past the church is an entrance to a park. The fountain in the center features two bronze dolphins that will reward the effort of the short walk. Just left is an amphitheater that offers a lovely place to sit and see part of beautiful Tuscany.

The Piazza Grande, featuring the Town Hall that dates from the 6th century, is another must-visit location. If your visit to Cortona falls on the first Saturday of the month, be sure to take in the Market. Food, small artifacts and many more interesting items are offered for sale. In nearby Casali Palace there's a National Market of Ancient Furniture held in the Piazza Grande during the last two weeks of August.

From there one can also almost see the ancient burial grounds of Cetona Belvedere. Full of grottoes and caverns to explore, they're one of the many delightful excursions offered. One can also get a clear view of the tallest peak of the local mountain range. Down from the top is located another town worthy of a visit, Montepulciano.

Another worthy short trip entails a visit to the Great Cloister of the Monastero Di Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Built in 1443, tourists will want to see the frescoes depicting the life of Saint Benedict by Signorelli, painted near the end of the 15th century.

Those interested in religious architecture will also not want to miss viewing the church of Santa Maria del Calcinaio, built in 1485. This Renaissance structure is octagonal, an unusual choice for the period.

Another unusual sight within the city walls visitors can take in is the Torre del Pulcinella, a large public clock. It announces the hours by a different technique. Its chimes are a pair of clanging cymbals, rather than a bell.

Not far away is the Museo dell'Academia Etrusca. Despite the name the museum covers not just Etruscan art, but everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to paintings of the 15th century. Also on display are books, period furniture and sculpture.

By contrast, the Museo Diocesano offers a more focused exhibit. This includes the Cortona Altarpiece from 1432 along with six predella. Predella, in painting, are small paintings that run along a frame at the bottom of an altarpiece.

However long you have, an hour or a day, or even a week, time in Cortona is well spent.