Discover Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan

Milan is certainly a powerhouse of fashion, finance, and furniture – but art destination?

Really?  

Apart from The Last Supper and the Duomo, Milan’s list of artistic blockbusters seems paltry when compared with those of Rome or Florence, but delve a little deeper and you will discover a city that played a significant role in the life of one of the greatest geniuses in world history: Leonardo da Vinci

You need to experience Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan

From 1482 until the French invasion of 1499, Leonardo worked for the tyrannical Regent Ludovico (later Duke of Milan). You can see how significant this phase of Leonardo’s life was with a tour of some gems associated with his time in Milan.    

Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan

The Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie 

Don’t make the mistake of arriving in Milan expecting to drop in and see the painting of The Last Supper.

You will need to book weeks in advance for a 15-minute group visit. It’s worth it though.

Years of meticulous restoration have brought back to life the essential drama of Leonardo’s version of the disciples’ reaction to Christ’s announcement that one of them will betray him.  

Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci
Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

Sforza Castle 

Take a break from the crowds at Santa Maria delle Grazie and take your time appreciating Leonardo’s magnificent ceiling of mulberry trees in the far corner of the main building at Sforza Castle.  

There are several museums at the castle, but the most fascinating for fans of Leonardo are the picture galleries, which house many late 15th-century paintings from the city.  (And the mulberry trees, of course).  

Biblioteca Ambrosiana 

Established at the end of the 16th century, this library and picture gallery houses Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus notebooks, a collection of some 1,200-odd pages that offers the most extensive insights into his unique mind. It covers his working life from the age of 26 in 1478, until his death in 1519.   

The exhibit is shared with the Bramante Sacristry at Santa Maria delle Grazie, and covers everything from notes on how to view an eclipse to a list of India’s rivers.  The library’s amazing art collection also includes Leonardo’s only known portrait painting of a man: The Musician.  

Entry is €15 (or €20 if you want to visit the Codex Atlanticus exhibit in the Bramante Sacristry of Santa Maria delle Grazie as well). Here’s a guided tour of both Ambrosiana Gallery & Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus.

Museo Poldi Pezzoli 

For a museum that contains such a superb collection of furniture and paintings, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli is remarkably free of visitors.  

Mainly from the high Renaissance, the collections include works by Botticelli, Pollaiolo, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, and Piero della Francesca, as well as some paintings by Andrea Solario, who worked with Leonardo. You will also see the delightful Mystical Marriage of St Catherine by Bernadino Luini and a Virgin and Child by Giovanni Boltraffio, both of whom worked with and were probably trained by Leonardo.  

Pinacoteca di Brera 

The principal picture gallery in Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera is as good as the Accademia in Venice and the Uffizi in Florence, but the crowds are far smaller.  

It’s hard to pick a highlight, but among the standouts are some wonderful 15th-century Venetian paintings that Leonardo must have seen, including Madonnas by Bellini and Mantegna.  

Leonardo’s Horse at San Siro 

When is a Leonardo sculpture not quite a Leonardo sculpture? When it is made in the 20th century based extensive research into the sketches and notes made by the Renaissance giant.  

The massive bronze horse at San Siro is a full-size cast based on the commission Leonardo received in 1482 from the Duke of Milan as a monument to the duke’s father.   

The biggest equestrian monument in the world, it’s free to view in the peaceful surroundings of Milan’s racecourse. There are options for public transport to get here.  

The Navigli

You don’t need to enter any church or museum to see one of Leonardo’s greatest contributions to Milan.

The innovative system of sluices designed by Leonardo for the city’s network of canals allowed Milan to develop into one of Italy’s largest inland ports, despite the absence of a main river. The canals became so integral to the city that some areas almost looked Venetian.

Walk in the footsteps of da Vinci

Explore all of Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan with this three-hour art tour that walks in the footsteps of Da Vinci. See the famous portrayal of the Last Supper, check out the Atlantic Codex at Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, and admire the Il Musico painting.


Discover the Mysteries Hidden in the Painting of the Last Supper by Da Vinci

Milan, in Northern Italy, has so much more to offer than the boutiques and football, its roads are steeped with history, and there are so many churches and cathedrals to see and absorb the culture.

Milan also offers relaxation from all the sightseeing strains in the way of its many spas. Or take a gondola trip around the labyrinth of Milan’s canals, something which this Italian city is less well known for. There is no shortage of things to enthrall and captivate in this admirable place.

Or, you can witness the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci.

Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci
Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

Experiencing the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

It has to be noted that one of the unmissable attractions of Milan, is Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. This has always been one of the most famous paintings in the world since its creation in the 15th century. Interest has risen even more significantly since the publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code in 2003.

Tickets for the Last Supper are very popular, and sell out quickly, often weeks in advance, so it is advisable to book your Last Supper tickets early if you intend to see this world famous controversy for yourself. Only a certain number of people can visit the Last Supper masterpiece in one day, so as to preserve it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Last Supper painting is kept in the Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace – Wikipedia) church. The church itself is a alluring tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most grand churches of the Lombard Renaissance, and took 20 years to build.

It is worth looking at the various tours which operate around Milan, and combine the Last Supper tickets with some other fun excursions to make the most of your day. Other interesting things to do include La Scala Opera House, the world renowned opera house, and Corso Venezia, a fashionable street.

This tour by Get Your Guide, includes the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in central Milan and Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala – plus, guaranteed tickets to see the painting of The Last Supper.

Book your Last Supper tickets early

Remember to purchase your Last Supper tickets before your trip to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Discover more of Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan by exploring more of his work throughout the city, including the Sforza Castle, Biblioteca Ambrosiana and Museo Poldi Pezzoli.


Algarve Beaches – Discover the Less Touristic Ones!

The Algarve beaches – in Portugal’s most southern region – are popular. And for good reason.

The south coast houses over 150 km of beautiful golden, sandy beaches. Some are secluded, most are easily accessible. Some are surrounded by great rocks and cliffs. And all provide great swimming possibilities.

Most Algarve beaches you’ll find during your quick search in guidebooks or online are located west of Faro. If you’re not so much into over crowded and touristic hot spots, there are enough left on the east side of the capital of the Algarve.

Here, you can also rest your weary feet and dip into the Atlantic Ocean.

How refreshing!

With over 3000 hours of sunshine a year, even winter is soft and gentle and meets spring anywhere else. This makes the Algarve an all-year-round destination.

Besides the beaches, the Algarve is home to small villages cramped full with bright white houses, cobbled streets and donkey carts. The touristic hot spots like Albufeira, Faro (read all about things to do in Faro with kids) and Lagos and the many golf courses also make it a popular destination.

Next, you’ll find 3 beaches in Algarve that I’ve explored personally. It was a tough job that just had to be done.

Beaches in Algarve, Portugal
Beaches in Algarve, Portugal

Undiscovered Algarve beaches

Ditch the over-crowded tourist beaches in the Algarve, and head to these secret spots instead!

1. Cacela Velha, the Algarve beach with a view

This small, scenic village is located at the end of the lagoon of Parque Natural Ria Formosa, about 8 km east of Tavira. The village was mainly developed during the 17th century, when it became part of a defense line and a fort was built.

The view from the historic centre down on the ocean is incredible. You can see the sandbanks and the lagoon that are part of the Nature Park. From the sandbanks, that separate the lagoon from the ocean, Cacela Velha appears as an old fortress. Small fishing boats will bring you to the sandbanks, leaving from the factory close to Cacela Velha.

Algarve beaches - Cacela Velha
Cacela Velha – an undiscovered Algarve beach

2. Praia do Barril, the Algarve beach with a scenic train

Picture a big sandy surface, decorated by huge anchors from ships that are placed in the dunes as artefacts. This is what Praia do Barril looks like. With its tranquillity, nice water temperature and few catering businesses, it’s the right place to escape the over crowded beaches, but still enjoy some level of comfort.

Praia do Barril is also part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. You can reach it from the touristic complex Pedras d’El Rei (entered through the N125) by picturesque train or by walking alongside the train track for about 1 kilometer (for free). You can also get to it by boat from Ilha de Tavira.

3. Fuseta, the Algarve beach surrounded by fishermen

The fishing village of Fuseta is situated between Olhão and Tavira. It has restaurants and cafe’s and you can still get a taste of the Portuguese life on the main square of this small and cozy village. Fishing is still an activity the men proudly practice, hence the colourful fishermen’s boats in the small harbour.

From here, a boat takes you to the sandy beaches of island Ilha de Armona within 10 minutes. This boat runs regularly from April through October. If you miss the last one back, you can call a taxi from the beach. In winter, you can call a taxi to get you to the beach and back.

If you want a more secluded place to sunbathe, you can call a water taxi (phone number, 4 locations and pricing – starting from €5,- per person – are mentioned on an advertising board at the harbour) that brings you a bit further out to the island, where you’re probably one of the few to enjoy the Portuguese sun.

Fuseta also has a beach that is connected to the mainland and therefore easy to reach. Just park your car in one of the many free parking spots along the water and get yourself comfortable at the beach, right outside the village centre. This beach is an ideal place to hang out if you are traveling with small children as the water is very calm.


Scandinavia's rower on lake

Stockholm: Discover Scandinavia’s Capital | Traveldudes.org

 

Known around the world as the capital of Scandinavia, the city of Stockholm is home to incredible art and cuisine and, despite being the biggest city in Sweden, Scandinavia maintains a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where historic charm meets cutting edge architecture.

The city has announced a number of exciting new experiences and attractions launching over the coming months, which will be ready for travellers to enjoy when the time is right.

Stay at Stockhom’s first beach resort – Ellery Beach House

From the creators of the hugely popular Steam Hotel and Hotel Pigalle comes Ellery Beach House – Stockholm’s latest getaway and only Beach Resort, inspired by the 60s and 70s. Ellery is located on the tip of Lidingö, an island in the inner Stockholm archipelago where urban life feels far away in the rural surroundings – although just 18 minutes away from the city centre. A welcoming beach house with its own private jetty, this is the place to go to for nature, sea, beaches, pools, cabanas, music, design and arts. The hotel’s restaurant, Palmer’s, serves Mediterranean cuisine with inspiration from the Greek islands, vibrant food markets of Tel Aviv and Lebanese meze culture. There’s also The Bally Bar, where guests can enjoy morning coffee, indulge in a long lunch, or finish the day with a cocktail around the open fireplace, as well as Coco Beach Club, with indoor and outdoor pools. Double rooms start from £140 per night.

Private city experiences

Visitors can book a private guide through Our Way Tours, with excursions including a walking tour of the Old Town, a Swedish Fashion walking tour, a bike tour to discover the green lungs of Stockholm, architecture tours and a Swedish Pop Wonders driving tour. Guide Stockholm also offers private tours ranging from Carl Linnaeus and the Linnaean Gardens in Uppsala to Gripsholm Castle. Individual museums, such as The Vasa, also offer private tours outside of opening hours. The gastronomic highlights of Stockholm can be discovered via private food tours with Food Tours Stockholm and for those who want to discover at their own pace, website Alla Promenader gives tips on walks around Stockholm and updates routes based on any starting positon.

Escape to the Stockholm archipelago

Towards the end of August, the archipelago starts to relax from the busy summer season. The colours shift slowly from lush green and intense blue to yellow, orange and red and the sun sits low on the ocean horizon. This is the right time to go for long walks, gaze at the choppy sea and breathe the fresh air. The ferries to and from Stockholm still run frequently, most shops and restaurants are still open and the water is still warm enough to take a dip in the sea.

The idyllic island of Lidö in the Stockholm Archipelago teamed up with Scandinavia energy company Neste for a project called Zero Island, where they aimed to make the whole island fossil-free within a year. 18 different solutions were found, ranging from fossil-free fuel for transport through to fitting solar panels, air water heat pumps and climate curtains to buildings. Over the year, the project reduced emissions by 78%, down from 180 tonnes of CO2 in 2018 to just 40 tonnes in 2019. Guests are encouraged to visit, staying at the Inn Lidö Värdshus, enjoying fossil free experiences and trying a zero carbon diet.