From Russia with Love

On this week’s episode of Wanderlust Wednesday, we are off to the magnificent city of St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the stops on our Baltic Sea Princess Cruise. Touring for two days, there was so much to see, and to share, so today I will just show photos from the State Hermitage Museum.  This simple bronze sign on the building’s facade shows no indication of what awaits inside.

Begun with a collection of art from Catherine the Great, and housing over 3 million works of art and artefacts of world culture, this is one of the great museums on the planet. Oppulent cannot even begin to describe the decor- every surface glimmered in 24k gold.

Spectacular chandeliers graced every room. 

With only half a day to spend touring here, we were limited to the main building, The Winter Palace. Greeted at the entrance by these enchanting dancers, 

we kept pace with our tour guide, walking through room after impressive room, filled with velvet and gold

at breakneck speed, snapping pics along the way while she pointed out the works of famous artists and sculptors: “We’re walking, we’re walking, keep moving folks! Here are the Picassos

oh, and here is the Renoir collection (this happens to be one of my own personal favs: “Boy With A Whip”)

Would you like to see Michaelangelo’s “The Crouching Boy”

Or perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna and Child!?

“We’re walking, folks, please keep up!” Overwhelming is probably the best way to describe this day at the museum.

So much to see,

so little time.

At one point I believe our guide said it would actually take someone a full year to see this museum’s collection in its entirety. Certainly not going to happen in half a day! Following our whirlwind tour, we were treated to lunch at Cafe Literaturnoye, a spot frequented by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

We were bearly able to relax with some Russian vodka before we were back onto the bus for the rest of our tour! You’ll have to tune in next week for the castles and churches of from Russia with Love. In the meantime, I think I may have some of that vodka left…time for a martini!?! Susan 

L’Italia Con La Familia

“Italy With My Family” in Wanderlust Wednesdays

The first time I saw the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun“, I immediately added a stay in Tuscany to my bucket list. Longing became a reality the summer of 2010, when we rented suites in a rustic villa  Il Castello di Fulignano located on the hilly outskirts of the medieval town of San Giminano.

The living room…

The pool at sunset…The view from our villa…a gathering storm over San GiminanoThe streets of San Giminano were lined with shops and cafes, a feast for the eyes and the palate…this is me and coach having dinner in an outdoor cafe… 

We ventured out to see the tuscan countryside, with trips to Lucca

and Pisa…who could go there and not assume some crazy pose with the Leaning Tower??!

We enjoyed fabulous wine tastings (not quite as enjoyable at one villa, as we were shown the door by the somelier, whom we apparently insulted.) However, this wine came from a  farmhouse winery, Fattorio Poggio Alloro, where we enjoyed a delicious local lunch : )

We made day trips to Siena, home of the spectacular Duomo Di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) a Gothic marble treasure dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries and  Il Palio, an annual horse race through the city square harking back to medieval times.

 We toured Florence, the capital of the Tuscan region of Italy, and home of Michelangelo’s David (sorry, no picture-taking allowed)

and the Ponte Vecchio bridge, lovely at sunset.

Lovely vacation, spectacular scenery, amazing food and wine, beautiful people…next stop…Venice!!!  But that’s a blog for another day. Ciao! Susan

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