20 May 2018:
Cadiz, Spain:
The Frontier

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cádiz is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula, and possibly the oldest in all of southwestern Europe.

Think of it as a frontier town, the Wild West of Europe.

Today I went with a group of guests to the splendid city of Seville, about 90 minutes away. The gems of Seville include the Alcazar, a palace constructed for the Catholic royalty but mostly designed by and built by Moorish artisans after the reconquest of Spain.

SEVILLE, SPAIN: THE ALCAZAR

SEVILLE: THE CATHEDRAL

The spectacular Cathedral of Seville includes the tomb of Christopher Columbus…or someone like him…or maybe not. Nice tomb, though.

A CADIZ ALBUM

Cádiz was part of the Muslim realm of Al-Andalus, now the Spanish region of Andalusia. 

Its history and culture are built on a base of Moorish or Muslim cultures, and by earlier forces: the Iberians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Roman Empire, the Vandals, and the Visigoths.

The Phoenicians built an outpost here about three thousand years ago and called it Gadir, which means walled stronghold. And for most of its existence, that was its role: a fortress and an armory.

During the Age of Exploration, the city was re-energized.

Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages.

By the middle of 16th century, when the Spanish Empire ruled or traded with much of the world, Cádiz was the receiving end of the treasure train from Asia and the New World.

Spanish Galleons would pick up gold, silver, and other treasure from Mexico, South America, Japan, China, the Philippines and other parts and try to get it past the real Pirates of the Caribbean.

The intermediate goal was one of their local strongholds including Cartagena in Colombia or Havana, Cuba. And then from there they would cross the Atlantic to bring the treasure back to Spain, through Cádiz.

CADIZ, SPAIN

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

19 May 2018:
Casablanca, Morocco:
You Must Remember This

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from Europe to the mainland of Africa, continuing a bit more than 200 miles down the northwest coast to Casablanca, a fascinating city in a country with a rich culture and the inspiration for one of the classic films of Hollywood. You must remember this.

You can see at a glance the geographic relationship between northern Morocco and Spain.

Today only about 9 miles or 14 kilometers separate Africa from Europe. As recently as 5.3 million years ago, a few moments in geological time, the two continents were bridged by land.

Now let’s think what that means: the Mediterranean was essentially a huge lake, with land closing off the connection to the Atlantic Ocean. There was also a land bridge beyond Istanbul that made the Black Sea into another large lake.

On this visit I went with guests to the truly grand Grand Mosque of Casablanca, a huge structure with space for 25,000 within and 80,000 outside.  The Hassan II mosque was completed in 1993.

At 689 feet, the Great Mosque’s minaret is the tallest structure in Morocco and the tallest minaret in the world. Here is some of what we saw today:

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

FROM PREVIOUS VISITS

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

18 May 2018:
Gibraltar, UK:
On the Rock

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Gibraltar is one of the planet’s strange corners, immediately recognizable for its unusual geology: The Rock.

But the oddity does not stop there.

It is a British territory clinging to the bottom of the Iberian Peninsula of Spain, to some eyes, the last remaining colony in Europe. To many residents, a place more British than Britain.

Africa is about eight miles away.

Silver Spirit at the dock in Gibraltar

Europa Point. the southernmost spot in Gibraltar

A place called Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar, from between 24,000 and 128,000 years BCE is believed to have been the last holdout of the Neanderthals.

Jumping forward to recorded history, the first inhabitants are believed to have been Phoenicians, about 950 BCE. Carthaginians and Romans also established settlements.

In modern times it was a place of conflict and military emplacements by the Spanish, their sometime-ally the French, and the British. And then it held on very tenuously as a British base during World War II, with German spies and forces in “neutral” Spain.

Today I went with guests inside the rock to view some of the World War II tunnels constructed by the British and Allied forces as parts of the defense of the territory. We also stuck our heads out of a hole in the rock for a view of the strange airport which includes a roadway across the runway.

FROM PREVIOUS VISITS

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

17 May 2018:
Malaga, Spain:
Gateway to the Costa del Sol and Granada

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Málaga: its very name brings to mind sweet repose, and sweet wine.

The town is handsomely set between the mountains and the sea. On a bluff above are the rust-colored walls of the Alcazaba fortress. In the town, the  dramatic flair of Spanish architecture.

All are conducive, I suppose, to great art, and it was here that Pablo Picasso was born. There’s a very life-like statue of an adult Picasso seated on a bench in the center of town.

For all of these reasons and more, Málaga has wrapped itself in a mantle of art.

Near the port is The Centre Pompidou Málaga, a “pop-up” extension of the famed Parisian museum. In the center of the city is the Picasso museum, a small but rich collection of pieces—many of them from the private holdings of the great artist’s family.

And nearby is the Carmen Thyssen museum, an outpost of a great Spanish collection.

Today was a spectacular early summer day. The jacaranda and other flowers were in full bloom and fresh paint awaited the arrival of peak season in a few weeks. We had quiet enjoyment.

FROM EARLIER VISITS

GRANADA

One of Spain’s most spectacular and famous cities is Granada, just under two hours to the northeast.

Granada sits at the base of Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers.

The city has been inhabited for thousands of years and about 12 centuries ago it was a center of Islamic and Jewish culture. The city became the capital of a province of the Caliphate of Cordoba; it was mostly destroyed in war in 1010.

In January 1492, the last Muslim sultan in Iberia surrendered control of Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Católicos (“The Catholic Monarchs”.)

By the 16th century, Granada took on a Christian and Castilian character, as immigrants came from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

Although many Muslim buildings were destroyed by the Catholics, those that remain represent the most complete group of Moorish domestic architecture in Europe including Granada’s public baths, including El Bañuelo or the Alhambra Baths, and the complex of Arab public fountains and wells, unique in Europe.

The Alhambra, Arabic for “the red one”, or the red fortress, was built in the mid-14th century. It originally was the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada and their court. With the reconquest by the Spaniards, it became a Christian palace.

After falling into disrepair, the Alhambra was “rediscovered” in the 19th century.

It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

16 May 2018:
Cartagena and Murcia, Spain:
The Warm Coast

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cartagena is one of Spain’s more historically significant places because of its superb and easily defended naval port.

But Cartagena is less-known than many other coastal cities of Spain,

In fact, its distant namesake, Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, may be much better known. Cartagena, Colombia grew as one of the principal Spanish fortresses to hold the treasure taken from South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. I will be the last to complain; just a few months ago I was in that other Cartagena aboard ship.

Cartagena, Spain has long been a crossroads of civilizations and navies.

It has a spectacular Roman Theatre and remains of Phoenician, Byzantine and Moorish structures capped by a fine collection of early 20th century Art Nouveau buildings.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

On this visit, I returned to the wondrous city of Murcia. We visited the Church of Fuensanta, a lovely spot in the hills above town, and then its corresponding cathedral in Murcia itself.

And then we went to secular treasure of Murcia, the Royal Casino.

It was founded in 1847 as a gentleman’s club for the very wealthy of Murcia, later extended to people of the feminine persuasion. It has rooms with exquisite Moorish or Arabic style, an English-style library, a formal ballroom, and much more.

I’ve been there many times, and still manage to find new ways to make its portrait:

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

15 May 2018:
Ibiza, Spain:
Your Right to Party

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Ibiza is about 120 kilometers or 75 miles southeast of Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea, the little sister of the Balearic Islands of Spain.

Mallorca, as in major, is Spain’s largest island possession. The second largest of the islands is Menorca, as in minor, at least in comparison to Mallorca.

This morning dawned clear and bright, and I got up early to catch a photo of Ibiza town at sunrise and then an early light image of a portion of town:

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

The Balearic Islands are very attractive in many ways. Rich and fertile land. Safe harbors. And located on the ancient trading routes for long-vanished peoples as well as for wave upon wave of empire builders including the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Vikings, the Spanish, and the English.

And then they were right along the watery highway for incoming Islamic tribes, and later for outgoing Crusaders.

Today the islands are close enough for invading holiday makers to hop on a ferry or a flight from the mainland to the beach for the weekend.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

14 May 2018:
Valencia, Spain:
Fallas and Fireworks

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

It was a beautiful day in Valencia, but I repeat myself. It is always beautiful here.

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona.

That’s pretty impressive company.

But Valencia can stand on its own as a wondrous old city.

The former capital of the Old Kingdom of Valencia.

The birthplace of paella.

The deathplace of the fallas.

And home to a massive modern project by Santiago Calatrava that used the old riverbed of the city as the cradle for a phantasmagorical city within the city, a place–I imagine–Antoni Gaudí would have enjoyed. That is, as far as I am concerned, as high an honor as a Spanish architect could hope for.

TODAY IN VALENCIA

The City of Arts and Sciences in the noonday sun

The Silk Exchange in the heart of the city

The ingredients of Valencia at the public market

FROM PREVIOUS VISITS TO VALENCIA:

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

12-13 May 2018:
Barcelona, Spain:
New Works of Art Afloat and Ashore

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We have arrived in the glorious city of Barcelona, a place that is in love with art of all forms.

We docked at the World Trade Center near the base of Las Ramblas.

The Silver Spirit, one week out of the shipyard where she was extended by 15 meters or 49 feet, is the newest work of art in town.

On this visit, I made a pilgrimage to the newest old showpiece in town: the rejuvenated and restored Casa Vicens, the first major building designed by Antoni Gaudi. Work began in 1883 and was completed in 1888, and for nearly all of past 130 years or so, it has been a private residence.

Five years ago it was purchased by MoraBank of Andorra, and just a few months ago it was opened to the public. Casa Vicens is not as phantasmagorical as Casa Pedrera or Palau Guell or as spiritually uplifting as La Sagrada Family. But it offers an amazing view of the developing skills of Gaudi; he was all of 30 years old when he received the commission.

Casa Vicens was built alongside a cloister that had a wall of ivy, and Gaudi continued that theme within the home. Here is some of what we saw:

CASA VICENS

All photos by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.

To those guests who are leaving us here, I wish you safe travels, buen viaje, until we meet again.

And for those joining us here, bienvenido. Welcome aboard.

We’re going down and around, from Barcelona to the equally differently wondrous city of Valencia and then out into the middle of the Mediterranean to the island of Ibiza.

From there, back to the mainland to call at Cartagena and Malaga before politely leaving Spain for two days to visit the British exclave of Gibraltar. From there we cross over to Africa for a call at Casablanca.

Then back to Spain for Cadiz before heading north to Lisbon.

Here’s our plan:

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

11 May 2018:
Marseille, France:
The Land of Aix

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Marseille is the oldest city in France, and the country’s second-largest city population behind only Paris, and very much a working city, the country’s largest commercial port.

Until fairly recently, Marseille was a rather rough place. But in the past two decades it has seen a renaissance, reborn as a very attractive port and city. We arrived this morning to a spectacular blue sky and a lively place.

Along with all of its other regular attractions, the circus was in town. In fact, it was installed right alongside our ship at our dock on the edge of the old city.

MARSEILLE TODAY

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The city of Marseille was founded about 600 BC as a Greek trading port; it was named Massalia. 

Facing an opposing alliance of Etruscans, Carthaginians and the Celts, the Greek colony allied itself with the expanding Roman Republic. That helped defend the city, but even more importantly it expanded trade.

Massalia became a link between inland Gaul and Rome, importing wine and other goods and exporting agricultural items and slaves to Rome.

Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago of four islands. One of those, L’ile d’If, is the location of Château d’If, made famous by the Alexandre Dumas novel “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

All photos copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

10 May 2018:
Cannes, France:
Rolling Out the Red Carpet

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

It requires more than a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but Cannes was once a small and humble fishing village.

It is no longer small, by no means humble, and today’s fishing is aimed at the wallets of visitors.

It is, though, a very interesting place with grand architecture, high-end shops and restaurants,

and a back story of movie stars, high fashion, and romance, fabulous festivals, and jewel heists.

Oh, and a beach, and a film festival.

And we are right in the middle of things, surrounded by glitz, papparazzi, and celebrity.

The 2018 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 8 to 19, and afternoon and evening screenings and parties are just getting underway.

Here is some of what we saw today:

Alas, we depart at 9 in the evening, and I expect that will be too early for me to take the stage to pick up my Palme d’Or for blog production and lecturing.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

9 May 2018:
Portofino, Italy:
A Fine Port, With or Without Dolphins

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

No one would ever blame you if thought the name of this lovely town and harbor meant “Fine Port.”

Alas, that’s merely a coincidence.

Portofino is truly a fine port.

But according to Pliny the Elder, the great Roman chronicler of the first century, Portofino was founded by the Romans and they named it Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf.

The dolphins are mostly gone now, replaced by swarms of tourists who come to see the fine harbor.

I went with a group of guests up the hill on the promontory on the left side of the harbor to Castello Brown. Here is some of what we saw:

Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Castello Brown is a former fortification, now converted to a private residence. The hike up the hill and the stairs at the castle were quite a workout, but well worth the effort.

Midway to the castle we stopped at the Church of San Giorgio, where the castle was framed by a cemetery with one of the world’s best views.

Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Back down in town, Portofino was as attractive as everL

All photos copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

8 May 2018:
Livorno, Italy:
Gateway to Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re here in the city of Livorno, Italy’s second-largest port (after Genoa.)

I’ve been to Livorno many times and I always find it interesting, perhaps because almost all tourists have headed elsewhere, mostly to its famous inland neighbors: Pisa, Florence, Lucca, and Sienna among them.

Livorno, home to about 160,000 today, was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance, among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals.

LIVORNO

On this visit, we stayed in town and made a pilgrimage to an unusual church: very unassuming on the outside, with an unadorned exterior around its octagonal core. Within, something very different.

The church of Santa Catarina was completed in 1753 in the New Venice district. Its dome is 63 meters or 207 feet., higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The altar includes a painting by Giorgio Vasari.

FLORENCE

Florence is just under two hours northeast by car or train.

It is a place that is famous for the its amazing art and architecture, and it never fails to deliver on that promise.

At its center is the Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori, begun in 1296 and completed in 1436. It is topped by Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest, and for that reason it is known as Il Duomo, the dome.

PISA

Then there’s this city with the defective tower. (The Tiltin’ Hilton, as it was nicknamed by American G.I.s who were tasked with taking the city from German occupiers and somehow managed to do so without destroying the tower.)

Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500.

In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman king Roger I, liberated Palermo from the Saracen pirates.

The gold he took from the Saracens allowed the Pisans to start building a cathedral.

The Tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo).

Construction began in 1173.  Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast.

The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil.

Construction halted for almost a century.

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction. Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the chamber with seven bells added in 1372.

On January 7, 1990, after several heart-stopping sudden shifts, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to take some weight off the top, and cables were fastened around the third level and anchored several hundred yards away.

The tower was straightened slightly by removing soil beneath the raised end.

In May 2008, engineers removed even more earth from the high side of the tower, and they declared it had been stabilized to the point where it had stopped moving for the first time in its history.

Prior to the restoration, the tower leaned 5.5 degrees.

Today the tower tilts a mere 3.99 degrees southwest.

As corrected, the top of the tower is 12 feet, 10 inches (3.9 meters) from where it would be if the tower were perfectly vertical.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

7 May 2018:
Porto-Vecchio, Corsica:
Napoleon, Nelson, and the Vendetta

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Napoleon was born here.

Nelson left behind a body part.

Everybody claims Columbus.

And we are here, in Porto-Vecchio, an Italian word meaning “Old Port” except that Corsica is officially part of France. They speak French, often with a Corsican grudge; in the dark interior, they speak Corsican with a bit of a French sneer.

Corsica, at least in the private wishes of its people, has always been a place unto its own.

It is an island of jagged granite mountains and dense, dark forests.

It even has its own odor, a scent of the maquis: fields of aromatic herbs and shrubs.

Deep in the woods, bandits once roamed. And generations of Corsicans maintained blood feuds: vendettas.

Today this not-quite-autonomous fortress island has opened the gates to invaders from around the world: tourists bearing Euros.

I took this photo today in near noontime, when the overhead sun highlighted the layers of the island of Corsica: sea, sand, rock, hill, the calanques, the maquis, the mountains, and the threatening sky:

Photo by Corey Sandler, All rights reserved.

And this photo was on a different visit to Corsica, to the town of Calvi:

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Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

6 May 2018:
An Expanded Welcome from Civitavecchia, Italy:
A Renewed Spirit Returns

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Welcome aboard the Silver Spirit, fresh from one of the most spectacular renovations in luxury cruise ship history.

I think the hyperbole is warranted.

Silver Spirit entered a drydock in Palermo at the start of March as a handsome ship of 195.8 meters (642.4 feet), and emerged in early May stretching 210.7 meters (691 feet).

Photo courtesy Silversea Cruises.

How did they do that? It was not a stretch but rather a matter of cutting and pasting.

Shipyard workers cut the ship into two pieces in the drydock and then carefully maneuvered a 15-meter or 49-foot-long new section into place.

There followed weeks of welding, reattachment of cables and pipes, and a stem-to-stern refresh of the interior decor and amenities.

All this for a ship that before the operation was already one of the most luxurious and attractive vessels in service, first put into service in 2009.

Here’s a photo I took of the ship from across the Golden Horn in Istanbul a few years ago:

Silver Spirit now has 34 more suites, several more restaurants, a larger pool and spa.

And later today, we sail will from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, on her first cruise in her new configuration. We’ll cross over to Porto-Vecchio on the island of Corsica, then back to the mainland of Italy for Livorno and Portofino. From there to Cannes and Marseille, France and in a week’s time pull into a 49-foot-longer parking space in Barcelona.

Here’s our plan:

I hope you’ll join me here for details.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

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Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS