Thursday, November 27, 2014

Best House Museums in Italian Ports

visiting Villa Mombelli,Livorno
First time cruisers in the Mediterranean usually visit the  Vatican Museums when in Rome, see Pompeii when their ship docks  in Naples and  from Livorno  travel to Florence’s great  museums.

For repeat visitors who  have the chance to delve deeper and make a more leisurely visit  here is my  personal list  of  the best museums to visit.

 These smaller, intimate museums and art collections are often housed in former private homes, thus  offering  a truer feel for the place, its history  and how peopled lived in the past.  

Tarquinia Palazzo Vitelleschi 

Near Civitavecchia - The Port for Rome
     TarquiniaEtruscan Museum in Palazzo Vitelleschi.  Tarquinia is a medieval hill town located a short bus ride from Civitavecchia port. Its frescoed Etruscan tombs dating from 800 BC  earned Tarquinia UNESCO  heritage site  status. The Museum is housed in a Renaissance palazzo in the city center while the painted tombs are located a short distance away. Bookshop. 

Mappamondo room, Caprarola, photo F. Pignatale 

Caprarola - Palazzo Farnese, about 1 hour drive inland from the port of Civitavecchia, is a magnificent pentagon shaped palace   built  for a Renaissance cardinal and  lived in by an eccentric American family in the early 1900s. Today it   wows visitors with  frescoed saloni  and gardens. To read more about Caprarola use the search box at the top of the page. 
fountain of  Hercules, Palazzo Farnese Caprarola

  Palazzo Doria Pamphili on Via del Corso is a private palazzo of 300+ rooms which also houses an  extensive collection of art belonging to the noble  Doria Pamphili family. Bookshop and nearby café. 

entrance to Villa Mombelli,Livorno
   Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori, Villa Mombelli (Via S. Jacopo in Acquaviva,65)  is a bit on the outskirts of the town but  easily reached by bus from the port area. The villa contains  paintings  of the Macchiaioli (1855-1900) School,  especially Giovanni Fattori.  Architectural details  and furnishings of Moorish, Baroque and  Renaissance styles. Bookshop and quiet, cool park. 

ceramic putti on stairway, Villa Mombelli

The  small chapel museum Cappella San Severo in the back streets of  old Naples contains  the famous sculpture of  the veiled  Christ  and others by Giuseppe Sanmartino. 

Villa San Michele, Anacapri

 Villa San Michele,  atop the  island at Anacapri,  was  once home to Swedish doctor and author Axel Munthe. The villa  contains his collection of Roman statuary, mosaics and works of art  and offers  magnificent views over the Bay of Naples. Villa San Michele

On the island  where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled, Villa San Martino  evokes the Empire period with furniture and art that belong to him.  
bedroom, Villa San Martino, Elba 

Villa San Martino, Elba 

statue of Paolina Bonaparte


The Sicilian  Regional art gallery located in newly restored 12th century  palazzo in  Ortygia gives Antonella da Messina’s Annunciation (1474) pride of place along with  stone sculptures.  Palazzo Bellomo
courtyard of Palazzo Bellomo, Siracusa

 Hope you find this article helpful for planning your next cruise in the Mediterranean. Check my website  and books  for more information about travel in Italy. 
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Friday, November 21, 2014

High tea on the high seas

Aqualina aboard Azamara Journey 
Having high tea in Aqualina restaurant  was one of the perks of a sea day aboard Azamara Journey, our home for  the past  20 days while we  cruised  the Mediterranean.

The  mood was set by the  pianist at the entrance to the  10th floor restaurant and on the way to our table  I was able to catch just a few photos of the tables laden with sweets and savoury treats. 

warm scones. jam and clotted cream 
Tea was served by a  waiter  in white gloves and the  porcelain cups and linens added an elegant note worthy of the finest London hotel high tea.

a selection of  savoury sandwiches 

another table of sweets 

  High Tea buffet

Another special  dining experience  was the Chef's Table, where the menu (French, Italian or Californian) is paired with special wines  and accompanied by the sommelier's anecdotes. The leisurely  and cosmopolitan atmosphere  is reflected in the menu of the Chef's Table I hosted during another sea day. (click on photo to enlarge) 
California Menu, Chef's Table, Prime Rib Restaurant on Azamara Journey
Good food, beautifully presented and served.  Hats off to the chefs of Azamara Journey!
For more about  cruising  visit  my website . Please share with friends and leave a comment.