Florence – The Renaissance and Dante

Dan Brown can hardly be called the most inspired or the most inspiring of authors. However, his books are my guilty pleasure (Angels and Demons are in my top ten list. Yes. I am not ashamed to admit it.), and Inferno’s Florence parts were so well written, Vidya and I knew we had to go and see it for ourselves. Our time in Florence, therefore, was for all intents and purposes, in the amazing Dante Alighieri’s footsteps, inspired by Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

We stayed in the historic town centre of Florence in a b&b that was within shouting distance of the Florence Cathedral, ordinarily called Il Duomo, the sprawling medieval building that dominates the town. The historic centre of Florence itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and represents the best of Renaissance architecture. The Duomo sits, huge and sprawling and beautiful and majestic and dominating, in the centre of Florence. There is no escaping it – wherever you go, there is some part of the Duomo you see. Even when you are facing completely away from it, the reflections of the Duomo look back at you mockingly. So you don’t try to escape it, Instead you learn, very quickly, to accept it and revel in its massive benign presence. You make a game of it – trying to spot it from wherever you are. read more

Edinburgh – En Route to the Jacobite Express

Edinburgh was for us a stop-off point for the Jacobite Express and a Scottish Highlands tour. Read all about the places we went to and our wonderfully amazing guide, James Stewart, But wait - where is the Jacobite Express? You'll have to wait a few more days for that I'm afraid!

Darasuram – a Temple and a Weaver

Darasuram - one time part of the capital of the mighty Chola empire - is home to the imposing and living Airavateswara temple, categorized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. After being on our wish list for a decade and a half, it finally got ticked off last January. Here's an account of the trip, as well as a bunch of pictures. Bonus: a quick visit to a silk weaver's workshop-home!