Some well-chosen words

Some well-chosen words

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote what’s been called ‘perhaps the most famous letter ever written in Italian’.  You can hear all about it, along with his ideas on such topics as how to dominate at work and how to seem generous to others while actually benefitting yourself.  And we explain too where in Florence today you can find traces of him.

Florence Episode 12

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Finding better company in Bath

Finding better company in Bath

‘After staying long enough in the Pump Room to discover that the crowd was insupportable … they hastened away to the Crescent to breathe the fresh air of better company.’  (Northanger Abbey)  Join Jane Austen and indeed Charles Dickens and a host of other writers on their trips to Bath by listening to our latest series.

Bath Episode 07

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City Break Ideas: Larnaca

City Break Ideas: Larnaca

In Larnaca (Cyprus) you’ll find a lovely old town, the Hala Sultan Tekke, one of Islam’s holiest places, the 9th century Orthodox Church of St Lazarus, a 12th century castle built to protect the harbour and the lovely salt lake where pink flamingos flock from November to April.

City Break Ideas Episode 06

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Paris remembers Victor Hugo

Paris remembers Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo lived in 15 different houses in Paris, and the last road he lived in was renamed after him. The actual house has gone, but today if you pass 124 Avenue Victor Hugo, in the 16th arrondissement, you can tell it’s the site because of this frieze. 600,000 people filed by in 1881 to wish him a happy 80th birthday!

Paris Episode 19

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Food from the gods

Food from the gods

A Spanish saying points to the gastronomic delights which await you in Seville: ‘A quien Dios quiere bien, en Sevilla le da a comer’  (He whom the gods favour, they feed food from Seville)

Seville Episode 11

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The surprise palace.

The surprise palace

In the early 1700s, Peter the Great gave his wife Catherine some land and she secretly had a palace built on it. A generation later, their daughter, the Empress Elisabeth, got Italian architects in to turn it into the sumptuous residence which is the Catherine Palace.  

St Petersburg Episode 04

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Classy coffee stop in Munich

Classy coffee stop in Munich 

One of the classiest coffee stops in Munich is the Café Luitpold, opened in 1888, where you can enjoy the same elegant surroundings as Wassily Kandinsky and other writers and artists of Munich’s Golden Age.  Perhaps order a slice of Prinzregententorte, the multi-layered chocolate cake named in honour of Prinz Luitpold, Bavaria’s much-respected Prince Regent between 1886 and 1912.

Munich Episode 13

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Giotto’s perfect circle

Giotto’s perfect circle

In the 13th century, Pope Benedict asked Giotto to prove his artistic talent in order to earn a commission.  Giotto sent him a freehand drawing of a perfect circle, saying ‘that is enough and more!’   It worked and today you can see some of his best work in Florence: his madonna is in the Uffizi gallery and his crucifix hangs in the nave at the church of Santa Maria Novella. 

Florence Episode 06

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Cheer yourself up in a cemetery

Cheer yourself up in a cemetery

The author Balzac, famously workaholic, did leave his desk occasionally: ‘I rarely go out’ he wrote, ‘but when I do wander, I go to cheer myself up in Père Lachaise’.  It’s the world’s most-visited cemetery.

Paris Episode 18

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