Visiting Pesaro: Birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini

Pesaro, on the Adriatic coast south of Rimini in Italy, is mainly known as an upmarket beach town with a number of fine buildings in the town centre. However opera lovers also know it as the birthplace of Giaocchini Rossini and every summer they flock to the opera...

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San Marino: Europe’s Oldest Republic

It has its own government, a seat at the United Nations, and produces its own stamps and coins. It also claims to be the oldest republic in Europe. Yet San Marino covers an area of only 61 sq km, and its borders are wholly contained within northern Italy. The capital...

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Certosa di Pavia: A Historic Carthusian Monastery

The Certosa di Pavia is a historic Carthusian monastery situated a few kilometres north of the medieval university town of Pavia, close to Milan. It was commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the first Duke of Milan, as a monastery and family mausoleum. The Duke had...

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Rimini: a Holiday Resort with a Lot of History

"Are you here for the beach?" the hotel proprietor asked as he showed us to our room; he looked surprised when we said, no, we were actually there for sightseeing. But his question was not unreasonable. Rimini is the beach capital of Europe and we had already observed...

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Celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation in Florence

25 March is historically the start of the New Year in Florence. It is also the day on which the archangel Gabriel announced the incarnation to the Virgin Mary. The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the lesser known of Italy’s numerous festivals – hardly mentioned in...

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A Magical Ride on Dublin’s Storytelling Bus

“Leprechauns can be tricky,” says Dylan as he bounces up the stairs of the Storytelling Bus. “You just need to be careful. There might even be some with us now...” A minute ago I was standing on a crowded street in the centre of Dublin, but now I had entered another...

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The Walls of Londonderry

I always like walled cities. There’s something about walking right round a town, peering over the walls into little back streets, that gives me a sense of connection with all the people that have gone that way before. Sentries keeping a lookout for unwanted visitors,...

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Ancient Sites of Inishowen

Even the name is enough to conjure up a sense of ancient legends and history half-forgotten in the mists of time. Inishowen - the peninsula at the northern end of County Donegal - is home to some of the earliest religious remains in the British Isles as well as a much...

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The Legend of Finn McCool

Ireland is a land of myths and legends, and nowhere more so than the mysterious Giant’s Causeway. 40,000 tall basalt columns, formed in perfect interlocking hexagonals. Surely this couldn’t be the work of nature, there must be some other explanation. Only a giant...

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The Ghosts of Dunluce Castle

Standing alone on the edge of a tall rock, steep drops down to the sea on every side, and only connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge, Dunluce Castle has always been shrouded in mystery. Used as a fort ever since the Vikings sailed to the north coast of Ireland,...

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