Bienvenido a Sevilla!

Bienvenido a Sevilla!

Our new series on Seville started this week and we’ll be covering everything from the city’s gorgeous Moorish architecture to the delights of tapas via flamenco, bullfighting and the golden age of Christopher Columbus. Here, as a reminder of the world-famous ceramics industry in the Triana disctrict, is the sign from the Royal Tobacco Factory, nineteenth-century workplace of thousands of ‘cigarette girls’ including  the fictional Carmen. There’ll be more about her in Episode 13.

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Peter the Great’s Vision

Peter the Great’s Vision

The site on which Peter the Great built his glorious city of St Petersburg was quite an inauspicious one. When you read the description of it, written in 1801, you have to admire Peter for his vision and determination. Compare the description with the photos of the finished article. ‘On the marshy shores of the Gulf of Finland, under an inhospitable sky, buried in fogs and snow, stood a miserable village.’ To get to know the city much better, see our St Petersburg series.

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Nearly time for Munich’s Beer Festival

Nearly time for Munich’s Beer Festival

There’s still time to think about going to this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich. Despite the name, don’t forget that it starts on 21st September. As every year, it will begin with the ‘tapping ceremony’ in the Schottenhamel festival hall at 12.00 noon. The mayor himself will tap the first beer barrel and cry ‘O’zapft is!’, to tell everyone the beer is now flowing. Find out more from Episode 14 of our Munich series, ‘World Capital of Beer’.

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Toulouse Lautrec and his Mum

Toulouse Lautrec and his Mum

Much of Toulouse-Lautrec’s best-known artwork reflects the dance halls and cafes of Paris. If you visit the museum dedicated to him in his home town of Albi (Episode 08 of our Toulouse series), you will certainly see a good number of his iconic posters, but also some lesser-known paintings, such as this one of his mother looking reflective over breakfast. She it was who, after his death, worked tirelessly to have the museum set up as a memorial to him and his work.

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Donatello on country life

Donatello on country life

Town or country – what’s your preference?  In his biography of the renaissance sculptor Donatello, Charles Avery describes him hurrying back to Florence after a year on a farm in the Tuscan countryside. The reason? He found conversation in the country was just too dull. His neighbour, he complained, was ‘pestering him every third day, now because the wind had unroofed his dovecote, now because his cattle had been seized by the Commune for taxes and now because a storm had robbed him of his wine and his fruit’.  Episode 08 of our Florence series will tell you much more about Donatello.

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Relaxing on the Canal du Midi

Relaxing on the Canal du Midi

A very short cycle ride out of Toulouse and you could be pedalling along the idyllic Canal du Midi, en route to the Atlantic or the Mediterranean coast. Or just enjoying a day out in rural France, perhaps stopping off for a little wine, history or cassoulet. Find out more in Episode 07 of our Toulouse series.

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Empire of the Tsars

Empire of the Tsars

Have you been watching BBC 4’s Empire of the Tsars? Presented by Lucy Worsley, the three hour-long episodes tell the story of the Romanov family from start to finish and show many sumptuously-shot scenes in the palaces and galleries of St Petersburg. Practically everything mentioned turns up in one or other of our 17 episodes on St Petersburg. Definitely to be recommended, but the final episode goes out this Tuesday, so you’ll need to be quick on iPlayer. It has previously been listed on Netflix too, so worth keeping an eye out there too.

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For your book collection

For your book collection

If you love to drool over all the cities you’d like to (re)visit, then The Cities Book, subtitled A Journey Through the Best Cities in the World, published by Lonely Planet makes a perfect coffee table book.  200 cities, lavish photos, all the key info in useful tables and handily referenced by headings like ‘strengths’, ‘weaknesses’ and ‘defining experience’.  To quote the authors on the first city covered here on City Breaks: ‘Star of the renaissance, Florence is an aesthetic feast of world-famous paintings and sculpture, stunning churches and palaces and beautiful people.’

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Welcome to City Breaks

Welcome to City Breaks

Benvenuto! Willkommen! Dobro pozhalovat! Now that we have quite a few podcasts available, it’s time to open up the blog. Our first two series, on Florence and Munich, are complete and we are now nearing the end of the St Petersburg series. Hence the words of welcome in Italian, German and Russian. Next up is Toulouse – Bienvenue! – so please look out for the first episode at the beginning of July. We are already musing about which lovely city to cover next.

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