Asolo Theater, America’s European Theater in Sarasota

German antiquarian, Adolph Loewi, had the foresight to purchase the Asolo Theater at that time for storage in his private collection.  A. Everett Austin, Jr., who served as the first director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, saw the theater in Loewi’s collection and it was love at first sight.  Austin purchased the theater and it was brought to Sarasota in the late 1940s.

Today, the Asolo is the only 18th century theater on American soil. During a recent renova­tion, completed in 2006, the theater moved to a new location on the museum grounds and under­went an extensive cataloguing, cleaning and conservation of the pieces, which were in desper­ate need of repair. “The theater is historic. You step into it and look to the past. But when it came to Sarasota, it brought possibility and promise and represented a future,” says Dwight Currie, associate director for museum programs at the Ringling Museum.  The Historic Asolo Theater was the birthplace for a lot of the theater and music that we enjoy today in Sarasota. It’s not just a dead museum piece. It’s very much alive and forward looking.” What was once a playhouse fit for royalty is now a theater worthy of iconic status in Sarasota’s rich arts community.

Monastery of Santa Maria De Veruela

Veruela, the Oldest Cistercian Monastery in Aragon, Spain

Veruela is situated in a small valley formed by the River Huecha, which has its source very close to the monastery, and is sheltered by the mythical mount Moncayo. The oldest surviving document which mentions the founding of the monastery dates back to 1 145 when the ground at Veruela was donated for the construction of a Cistercian monastery. This religious order was founded in France in 1098 by Roberto de Molesmes who wished to re-establish the original austerity of the fifth century Benedictine order. Molesmes later retired to Citeaux, near Dijon, . Shortly afterwards, Saint Bernard founded Claraval, taking on a monumental spreading and doctrinal task. In Aragon, great orders were established, notably Veruela (1145 or 1146), Rueda (1153) and Piedra (1194), all of which are found in the province of Zaragoza. These religious orders fomented new cultural, spiritual and religious values and brought economic and political advantages. The roturadores (plowmen), as the Cistercian monks were known, due to their economic and agricultural influence, organised their abbeys into real hubs of activity, by ploughing uncultivated land or territorial borders thus regenerating depopulated or sparsely populated areas, both of which are typical of the Veruela region. Controlled water resource management was necessary and thus the Verolense monks set up a wide-ranging network of irrigation channels, weirs and windmills around the Huecha river basin.

The construction of the monastery must have been sufficiently advanced for the community to move there in 1171. Work on the church continued for another two hundred and fifty years. The end result is sparten, with few sculptured ornaments – in keeping with the doctrine of Saint Bernard – However, the cathedral style proportions and craftsmanship demonstrate the extensive financial \resources of the monastery. High returns maintained a large and undiminishing monk community and alll, veel-for continual improvements and extensions to the monastery. Thus, between 1472 and 1617, the Verolense abbots were appointed by the king and no longer by the Cistercian order. Great abbots from this period were Hernando de Aragon (1535 – 1539), grandson of Ferdinand the Catholic, who later became the Archbishop of Zaragoza, and his good friend and successor, Lope Marco (1539 – 1560).

Under the governance of the Cistercian Brotherhood of the Crown of Aragon, created in 1617, the abbots held office for a period of four years until the event of the abolition of monastic orders when church land was sold off. This political change coincided with one of the largest expansion programmes of the monastery, the construction of the new monastery (XVII-XVIII) incorporating individual cells for the monks (around sixty-five cells).

The Becquer family in Veruela

The selling off of land under Mendizabal in 1835 led to the abandonment of the Monastery of Veruela which had been in irreversible decline since the beginning of the century. The Madrid Central Commission for Artistic Monuments (Cornision central de Monumentos Artisticos de Madrid) insisted on the conservation of the monastery, saving it from destruction. Since then it has been the destination for countless romantics, amongst others, the Becquer brothers Between April 1877 and 1973, the jesuits took up residence here, and used the building for training purposes It was declared a national monument in 1919 and became a listed building in 1928. In 1976 the Spanish Directorate General for Fine Arts granted the Provincial Council of Zaragoza permission to preserve and renovate the building Several hundred million pesetas was invested over a sustained period of more than twenty years. In 1998 Veruela became the property of the Provincial Council of Zaragoza which continues to oversee the restoration works and has initiated a cultural development programme.

Following the selling off of the land in 1835, Veruela became a summer retreat for determined travellers who went to study rocks or enjoy the natural beauty spots at Moncayo where according to a saying dating back to 1861   All ailments are cured by the air in Veruela        The poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and his brother, the painter Valeriano enjoyed an extended stay in Veruela with their families between December 1863 and July 1864. During this perod, Gustavo Adolfo wrote a series of nine letters known collectively as Desde mi celda (From my cell), written for Madrid’s daily newspaper El Contemporaneo (published between May and October 1864) and Valeriano, who returned to Veruela in August 1865, produced various drawings and water colours, notably Expedicion de Veruela (Columbia University, New York). The poet was already familiar with the area as his wife came from Noviercas in the Sorian area of Moncayo and the Moncayo landscape inspired many of his most famous works such as El monte de las animas (1861), El gnomo and La corza blanca ( 1863)

As a result of their stay in the monastery of Veruela, the two brothers prepared a series of articles on Veruela and its people, written by Gustavo Adolfo and illustrated by Valeriano Becquer s articles published between 1865 and 1869 and his brother Valeriano’s paintings show their interest in anthropology.

San Antonio’s River Walk

Now there’s even more River Walk to enjoy. Earlier this year, an additional stretch of garden-bordered pathways was added along the San Antonio River almost doubling this famed site in length and connecting more of the city’s unparalleled charm. From passages that lead to the San Antonio Museum of Art to restaurants by top chefs, the river is more alluring than ever!

A Day by the River

Wake to the slow-paced life of San Antonio and wander from your riverside hotel room to bustling plazas and walkways brimming with restaurants. From contemporary French eateries to Tex-Mex cocinas, where to dine may be the most option-filled decision of your day.

After you’ve nourished your body, feed your spirit with a leisurely stroll or river boat ride along the River Walk where awe-inspiring art installations have been incorporated throughout the new stretch. The grotto, an artificial cave designed by San Antonio faux bois artist Carlos Cortes acts as a pocket park and natural gallery while allowing you to stroll behind a waterfall.

Many sights will draw you in, including the San Antonio Museum of Art , with its castle-like exterior. Housed in the former Lone Star Brewery, the museum is a stunning example of urban repurposing. Ramble through Wester antiques, examine contemporary American paintings and explore the Nelson t Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art-the largest repository of its kind.

Upriver, the 126-year-old Pearl Brewery awaits. Yet another historic remnant from San Antonio’s days as a major brewing town, the Pearl has been transformed into an urban village along the River Walk. Grab a bite to eat at acclaimed restaurants or peruse the Saturday farmers market. Take a class at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus and make time to shop for Mexican tiles, antique fixtures and artisan-made home accents. It’s a cultured haven that’s simply San Antonio.

Downstream, the original River Walk is alive with galleries, authentic shops and a beautiful blend of people. Evenings can be spent watching klkloric performances at an outdoor river theater, sipping Texas beer at a pub or dancing to the sounds of Latin rhythms. The River Walk is also home to a flurry of festivities this fall including New World Wine & Food Festival events, the International Accordion Festival, various Dia de los Muertos celebrations and nearby is the Jazz’s Alive outdoor music fest. It’s this unique culture that brings people back to the river time and time again. You’ll see it in the kind smiles of passers by, hear it in the sounds of mariachis and feel it-deep in the heart.

History of San Sebastian

King Sancho El Sabio of Navarra’s need for a clear route out to sea for his kingdom led him, to grant the Fuero (or privilege of self-governance) to San Sebastian in 1180, including a series of laws which we can assume to be the official foundation of the town. Maritime trade began to join forces with the traditional activities of cod and whale fishing.

Proximity to France and its position on the Road to Santiago route not only encouraged the development of this little coastal town, but also turned it into a key strategic point during times of war; for this reason it became a garrison town during the 12th century. Although it suffered numerous sieges over the course of centuries, the inhabitants always managed to save the city from its enemies; at least, until 1719, when the first capitulation of the town took place, falling into the hands of France for two years. In 1794, the city surrendered again to the French attackers until 1813, when it was liberated by Anglo-Portuguese soldiers. However, this battle sparked off the worst tire in the history of the town, leaving only a few houses standing, and forcing the citizens to reconstruct it almost from scratch, thus creating the Old Town that we know today.

Happier times were to follow, when Queen Isabel II, whose doctors recommended sea bathing to alleviate her skin afflictions, made summering in San Sebastian fashionable. This was back in 1845, and from then on her presence attracted the Court and numerous members of the aristocracy during the summer months. The city started to become famous Fototeca Kutxa.

Although theories abound as to earlier origins, the first written evidence of San Sebastian dates back to 1014, arising from the donation to Leire of the Monastery of San Sebastian, located in El Antiguo Quarter, by Sancho el Mayor, King of Navarre.

and needed space to grow and expand. The walls were demolished in 1864, and the urban development that took place gave rise to the Ensanche Cortazar, the current town centre. San Sebastian reclaimed land from the Urumea river and the marshes were turned into new neighbourhoods, giving birth to a new, more serviceable city.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, San Sebastian experienced a strong population surge and began a period known as the “Belle Epoque”, becoming the preferred tourist destination of the European upper classes. Queen Maria Cristina installed the court in the Miramar Palace during the summer months and luxury hotels, casinos and theatres flourished in response… During the First World War, moneyed Europeans took refuge from the conflict in San Sebastian. Much of the French influence which is noticeable in the town can be attributed to these visitors.

Not quite such happy times followed with the prohibition of gambling in 1925 and the Spanish Civil War in 1936, in spite of which the city continued to be a favourite amongst the upper classes. The following years of heavy industrialisation gave rise to a dark period to which several errors in urbanisation can be attributed. However, during the second half of the 20th century, San Sebastian consolidated its economic, cultural and tourist potential, encouraging new projects and, at the same time, preserving its natural and historical heritage, becoming, in the process, the magnificent combination of modernity and tradition that we know today.

Orlando After the Theme Parks

Do the theme parks in Orlando, then go explore the city’s quieter side. This chic urban oasis flourishes in tropical lushness around wide lakes and shady bungalow communities. It’s a city of snowy egrets, elegant swans, and striking architecture. Friendly enclaves host fashionable restaurants, cool boutiques, and places to simply stroll and enjoy.

Some places to check out in Orlando:

Thornton Park and Downtown High rises reflect on Lake Eola, a gathering spot at sunrise and sunset. Everyone comes here: to rent a swan paddleboat, to see performances at the band shell, to jog around the lake (about 1 mile), to picnic, or even to join tai chi. It’s one of the most visitor-friendly areas. You don’t need a car. Free public transportation of buses and pedicabs (bicycle taxis) makes getting around easy.

SHOP: Several boho-inspired boutiques wrap around the brick-lined streets at East Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue.

Urban Think! Bookstore: A bastion of independence, this terrific book store caters to folks looking for great reads, and even better conversations with the amiable shopkeepers.

Zou Zou Boutique: Divas discover primping props at this place where stylish bags and fancy dresses make your credit cards faint.

Hue: This most popular after-work spot straddles the Central/Summerlin corner with a progressive American menu. Try the crispy fried oysters with a wasabi caviar.

Wildside BBQ Bar and Grill: Hearty eaters love this spot on Summerlin for the casual menu and friendly prices. Order a pulled pork sandwich and a mug of ice-cold beer out on the open-air porch.

Sky 60: Top off your evening by sipping cool libations with the hip crowd on the rooftop terrace at this bar on Orange Avenue.

San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain

San Sebastian is a city where the sea converses with the mountains, history with modernity, culture with humankind, and flavours with textures. It’s a big open-air contemporary museum, with the best of exhibition halls – La Concha Bay, which hugs the Cantabrian Sea in its outstretched arms: a gesture reminiscent of the friendly welcome with which its people greet visitors.

In San Sebastian (Donostia in the Basque tongue) you get a taste of the sea and of culture; but its best taste, the one which has made it world-famous with names as international as those of Arzak, Berasategui and Subijana, is that of its food. The world capital of the “pintxo”, San Sebastian is the Spanish city with the highest number of Michelin stars per square metre. Gastronomy is an art and a pleasure that can be tasted in the city’s many bars and restaurants, where the freshly-cooked food will make your mouth water.                                         

San Sebastian throbs with an intense cultural life that goes far beyond its international festivals such as the International Film Festival and Jazzaldia – International Jazz Festival, and has motivated the City to enter the European Capital of Culture 2016 programme. San Sebastian is a city that’s constantly reinventing itself, with ceaseless cultural activity that extends into all spheres of creativity, from contemporary art to urban culture. The diverse museums and the urban sculptures alone are a good excuse for visiting it.

Burgos Cathedral, a Gothic Masterpiece

The city of Burgos was founded in 884.  It has played a major role in the military and political history of Spain.  It was the capital of the united kingdoms of Castile and Leon from 1073, until losing that title to Valladolid after the fall of Granada in 1492.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Burgos grew from trade, most notably wool.  The wealth generated from the wool trade has financed much of the rich treasures and architecture that can be seen in Burgos today.




Founded in 1221 by Bishop Don Mauricio, Burgos Cathedral is Spain’s third largest church.  It was begun under the reign of Fernando III.  The Latin cross architectural plan measures 82 metres long.  Over three centuries, the construction of the cathedral was carried out in stages.  Many of Europe’s greatest artists and architects were employed for the task.

The style of Burgos Cathedral is mostly Gothic, showing influence from the greate gothic churches of Germany and France.  The nave and cloister were built first, while the intricate crocketed spires and richly decorated side chapels were constructed later.  Built on a sloping hill, the architects had to incorporate stairways inside and out to accommodate the terrain.

The magnificent star-ribbed central dome was begun in 1539.  It rises on four grand pillars.  It is decorated with the images of prophets and saints.  The tomb of the legendary figure of Spain, El Cid, is located directly below the dome.

Travelling to Lombardy

The territory of Lombardy on which I gazed from all around this tower, full as it was of such inexpressible variety of things of every kind, … made it seem to me as if I were really looking at the Elysian Fields…’ The ‘tower’ is the Duomo (cathedral) of Milan described by one of the 17th-century English pioneers of the Grand Tour. This judgement is still fit to describe the extraordinary number of reasons to visit the region.

These range from the Alpine scenery of the Stelvio national park and of Bernina and Adamello – great forests and grasslands dominated by peaks and glaciers – to the delightfully varied scenery around Lakes Maggiore and Garda (on its Lombard shore), Lugano, Como, Varese and Iseo. These offer classical pictures of water, villas and gardens, with mountains looming above the banks, and the surprise of lemons and olives. Then there is the ‘low’ plain with rivers and canals, the red farmhouses, lines of poplars and the green hills. There is an established tradition of taking holidays here.

Places like VaItellina, Valcamonica and the Prealpi of Bergamo retain EL strong identity through their countryside and culture. The many centres of art include Bergamo, Brescia, the Mantua of the Gonzaga family, the Milan of the Visconti, Sforza and the Borromeo families, and Pavia, Sabbioneta and Vigevano.

The Lombardian imprint on history and art has its own special, solid dimension. The colour of brick is very evident: in the farmhouses and the medieval towns, in Romanesque churches, charterhouses and abbeys. Certain landscapes remind one of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Nowadays visitors can choose between delightful hotels right in the centre of Milan, enchanting rustic dwellings amongst vineyards, peaceful, stylish historic mansions, or the comfort and warmth of mountain chalets before or after skiing. Good food and robust wines contribute to the enjoyment of the visit.

Welcome to the Province of Piedmont

Piedmont offers every kind of landscape except the sea. In tact mountains make up more than 40 per cent of the region, the most westerly and extensive after Sicily. The Alps enclose the plain of the River Po on three sides, forming a sharp, majestic background.

In the central and south-east provinces of Novara and Vercelli as well as Alessandria, neatly geometric fields of rice and other crops are bordered with poplars. A good third of Piedmont is composed of the hills of the Langhe, Monferrato, Canavese, Turin and Ivrea areas. Continuous rolling hills and varied lines of vineyards are dotted with farmhouses and little villages, green meadows and woods. Sometimes they are sharpened by ridges and harsh river valleys, sometimes they are gentle, curved and open into poetic horizons of silhouettes of towers and castles in the distance. Between the mountains and the plain are the lakes – Orta, Maggiore and Verbano.

This geographical variety is unified by historical events that here more than elsewhere are linked to a royal house – that of Savoy, first lords of the region and then kings of Italy. This aristocratic self confidence may explain many aspects of the Piedmont region.

Attractions – of nature, culture, art and atmosphere – are all around. Very good food supported by remarkable wines completes an ancient, elegant tradition of welcoming visitors. Guests will discover this, whether they are staying in lovely rural homes amidst green countryside, in historic hotels in the heart of Turin, or in rustically elegant farmhouses between the dense vineyards of the Langhe or Monferrato area. They will find it too in late 19th-century villas overlooking gardens and enchanting views of a lake, in old family residences and religious houses converted into inns, or in chalets at the foot of the rocks and snow of Monte Rosa.

Sedona, Arizona


Nestled among the dramatic crimson towers of Red Rock Country, Sedona Arizona provide a stunning sanctuary for outdoor activities and secluded retreats. There are so many things to see and do in Sedona.

From amazing hiking and biking on Sedona’s extensive network of trails to world­class art galleries and spiritual meditation-you’ll find hundreds of ways to be enriched and rejuvenated. Welcome the rising sun with a yoga session or a hike amid Sedona’s powerful spiritual vortex sites. Spend the afternoon meandering through the art galleries and downtown shops, as you take in the town’s creative and artistic side.

Evening breezes and the bright glow of the sunset on the red rocks at dusk create an enchanting backdrop for al fresco dining in Sedona. At big-city caliber restaurants, unwind with a cool glass of wine as you await the brilliance of Sedona’s night sky.


State Route 179, designated the Red Rock Scenic Road, offers a 15-mile grand welcome to Sedona’s Red Rock Country, amid 500 square miles carved from the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. Enjoy the striking scenery by taking advantage of the numerous pullouts and parking areas that offer access to sites like the Little Horse Trail, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte.