Monumental: Buontalenti Grotto – Florence, Italy

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Buontalenti Grotto, Boboli Gardens – Florence, Italy.

Accessible from Giardino di Boboli (a ticket you can purchase separately from the ticket to Palazzo Pitti), the Buontalenti Grotto doesn’t look like much from the outside, especially because it’s near the exit and you can easily miss it if you’re not looking the right way. It’s tucked away down a pebble path amid some trees and bushes, so when you’re walking down the path towards the Boboli Gardens exit, you won’t actually see it unless you know that it’s there, or unless you happen to see the tiny sign that almost blends into the bushes. So remember to look to the right before you exit the gate!


His cave-inspired style of sculpture might not appeal to a lot of people. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but they did get more interesting the closer you were and the more you looked at them. Bernardo Buontalenti was one of those renaissance type artists who were good at lots of things–he was a sculptor, architect, engineer, painter, etc. NBD.




These rough-but-detailed sculptures remind me so much of the stone king/wizard in Return to Oz. The stuff of childhood nightmares, but ever so fascinating.




Entrance to the grotto is limited to a handful of people at a time, and it’s not always open. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and someone will be there to let you in, and sometimes you’ll just have to poke your head as far as you can through the grills and try to see what’s inside.




Check out these stone sheep











Whether or not you think it’s pretty, you can’t deny that it’s definitely interesting, and that’s always better than boring!




Estates: Palau Güell – Barcelona, Spain

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Palau Güell, Barcelona, Spain. April 2014.

A Gaudi brainchild of a mansion built for Eusebi Güell, Palau Güell is one factory of strange. As a whole, I’m not sure I like it, exactly. Up close there are several details which I really like individually. But maybe maximalism just isn’t my style, because once you put everything together, I find it’s hard to focus on the small details, and some get lost in the shuffle of perhaps too much design.




Monumental: Gröna Lund – Stockholm, Sweden

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Gröna Lund, Stockholm, Sweden. June 2013.

Sweden’s oldest amusement park, located right in the middle of Stockholm on the island of Djurgården, has some seriously vintage cinematic vibes. It is by no means the largest amusement park, or the most adrenaline-packed, but there was definitely a great energy there that was inimitable and intriguing–something about the history of the place, the way they’ve maintained that old-school feel and aesthetic, not to mention all those coasters weaving seemingly in and around each other. Even if you skip the coasters and just spend an afternoon walking around, getting cotton candy and hotdogs, or doing some people-watching, it’s an overall great place to hang out that gives you great views across Lake Mälaren to Stockholm old town.



Churches: Cupola del Santa Maria del Fiore

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Florence, Italy. October 2014.

Going up the cupola of Florence’s duomo (aka Santa Maria del Fiore) can be done with a combined 10€ ticket that includes going up Giotto’s Tower and entrance to The Baptistry of St. John. The ticket is good for 24 hours so if you’ve got good legs for climbing then you can make the most of your ticket. For some people though, the views from the tower and the cupola are pretty much the same, so if you’re pressed for time or if (like me) your legs have only got enough juice for one climb, then one climb is just as well.


What I like about gaining access to the cupola is that it affords you views of the duomo that can really change your opinion of it. As people who’ve visited Florence’s duomo know, compared to the intricately detailed exterior, the interior is relatively sparse. The floors have beautiful tilework, but generally the walls are quite bare and austere.

Monumental: Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy. October 2014.

The Loggia dei Lanzi is the open area right outside Palazzo Vecchio where several sculptures are on display, and where you can always see people just hanging out. I came here as part of a sort of field trip for school, and there were so many interesting tidbits about it. Like for example, the two lions that flank the entrance are 1400 years apart in age. The top photo is the “newer” replica, while this lion below is the original, from the first century, making it nearly two thousand years old.



Rape of the Sabine by Giambologna

Museums: Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari – Modena, Italy

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Modena, Italy. August 2014.

Took a day trip to Modena to satiate my sister’s since-childhood Ferrari obsession. We only had enough time for one museum, so we were unable to venture out to the farther-away one with even more Ferraris in it. Luckily, this museum had a few red ones lined up, so it wasn’t a total bust.


This giant yellow tent is the museum. It looks like a really fun slide.