LIFE BEYOND TOURISM BLOG

April 28, 2011

February 23, 2011

Across the Ocean…compared visitor’s experiences between Chicago and Florence

Hi bloggers,

let’s go back to discover your own travel stories!!
Today, we have Hannah Ring from Chicago, USA telling us about her experience, suggestions, and pictures of a Chicagoan living in Florence, Italy for four months:

“Becoming a local visitor is truly the only way to see the world and experience first hand the uniqueness, beauty, and culture of each location. In visiting places such as Chicago and also Florence, it takes not only visiting the most renowned museums or just walking back and forth down Michigan Avenue, but also uncovering the culture and what makes the cities “home” for the locals. Adjusting to the closing of shops for lunch in Florence or the mile a minute speed of Chicagoans is just the start of a journey to learn the different realities of life around the world.

Tourists come to the “Windy City” for all kinds of reasons be it the sports, the architecture, the lake, shopping, etc. There is always something to find for everyone. Having grown up in “Chi-Town”, I thrive on driving down the highway with the skyline in front of me, watching the Sears Tower and John Hancock building tower over the city. Looking from side to side in the city, you cannot help but be constantly distracted by flashing lights of the theater, shops or restaurants as you continue to follow the flow of pedestrians that guide you up and down the streets. I always love to go to Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s great tourist attractions on the lake, to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel or walk through Millenium Park to laugh at your pictures off the “bean”, a contemporary steel sculpture that is actually shaped like a bean and reflects the Chicago skyline. Although it does not compare to the museums of the most renowned artists in history, the Aquarium, Planetarium and Field Museums were my favorite weekend adventures when I was a kid and find myself even today wanting to return to these places to have a fun and exciting day in the city. It cannot be forgotten that Chicago has some of the best sports life in the country and nothing compares to a sunny day at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs baseball team play while eating a hotdog, or spending the night in the Bull’s and Blackhawk’s home arena, the United Center, with thousands of other Chicago sports fans bonding, cheering, and celebrating with each other. I love Chicago for its excitement, versatility, and opportunity and it definitely welcomes anyone that wants to experience the culture of the city.

Florence, on the other hand, is known around the world as a site of the most renowned Renaissance art, architecture and history, housed in museums such as the Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, Bargello and many more. But beyond these first few essential tourist sites there are hundreds more spots to get a feel for the real Florentine culture, such as small churches, Italian shops, or piazzas. My first recommendation is to wander down the streets and alleyways of the city until you really don’t know where you are. Being able to orient yourself in relation to some of the many major landmarks in the city, such as the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, Santa Maria Novella Railway Station, Piazza della Santa Croce, or the Palazzo Vecchio, will enable anyone to learn about city and also discover all of its special niches off the beaten track. Restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars line every street you may find yourself on and there is nothing better than stopping for a homemade Italian meal, a cappuccino or pastry, and maybe even some of the best gelato afterwards. My first experience in Florence was sitting in a small café while just watching a flow of Italians stop in for a quick drink while standing at the bar and conversing simply among each other. Just listening to the fluidity of the Italian language and watching the hand gestures and expressions of Italians when they laugh and talk to each other cannot help but make you smile even if you cannot understand what is being said. My second recommendation would be to walk up to the Saint Michelangelo’s Square, which sits on top of a hill not far across the river, and see the most amazing view of the city from above. It allows you to appreciate the beautiful location of the city as it sits among the mountains of Tuscany. Being able to appreciate both the history and the beauty of the Florentine lifestyle is the most important aspect of traveling to this one of a kind city.

Although the two locations are separated by many other countries and even an ocean, the experience of touring in a new environment and retaining a piece of each culture truly does make the world a smaller place.”

Thanks Hannah! And now it’s your turn, reader … send us your  travel story by writing at web@lifebeyondtourism.org!

Millenium Park

November 24, 2010

Live again Kratky’s photo-exhibition in Florence!

During the week of November 15, 2010 until November 21, 2010, we had the pleasure of attending a photo exhibition by a Czech photographer, Frantisek Kratky. The exhibition was held at the Auditorium al Duomo, right  in  the centre of Florence, and is another part of our expanding Life Beyond Tourism project.

The exhibition formally opened on the evening of November 15, where guests that included students, professors, and people from around the world, could stop in to enjoy this nostalgic exhibition.

The exhibition showed Italy during the late nineteenth century and is titled: Italy 1897 Stereotypical Views of the Bohemian Photographer Frantisek Kratky. This exhibition was in collaboration with the Honorary Consulate of the Czech Republic of Tuscany, led by Giovanna Dani Del Bianco.

Many students and professors from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and several other countries, attended the event to support this beautiful cultural encounter. Although this exhibition reveals breathtaking photos of Italy’s major cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice during the nineteenth century, there is more to their histories than just the interesting pictures. This event represents one of the primary aspects and goals of Life Beyond Tourism. It demonstrates the establishment of a cultural link between Italy and the Czech Republic and reveals how a man such as Kratky is extremely interested in discovering a culture other than his own. The manifestation conveyed more than just the major tourist attractions of Italy at the time, such as Brunelleschi’s Dome and Saint Peter’s Square. It instead revealed beyond the gorgeous architecture and into the deeper culture of Italy such as its people on the streets, the animals in the countryside, and the way the two interacted during the time period. It is here that one’s life beyond tourism actually begins. It is only when one starts to interact directly with the culture and environment in which they are surrounded, that they can create an intercultural dialogue that establishes a powerful link between two cultures.

Article by Lauren Di Bartolomeo, United States – Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate 2010

October 25, 2010

Tourism as a mean of health rehabilitation

Tuscany, Italy

Tourism is not just an interesting thing in our life, but useful, and even necessary.
This is a purposeful journey with stops in the spiritual centers of the world with a view to restoring the health of the tourist.
This opens new aspects of tourism. This view allows you to consider our stay in another country as an opportunity to improve your health. Even when we go to a lot of new places (or move more than in our hometown), a the new landscape/environment brings us to new emotions/feelings – all these actions  within our body are beneficial.

Here we can consider three different aspects of  benefit: cognitive, emotional, and physical.

Cognitive
a) opportunity
. clinics
. mean of therapy
. medicine
b) ergonomics
c) logistics
. step-aerobics

Emotional
a) change of environment
. as a means of  “switching off” the low state of body and mind
b) body chemistry (Endorfine)   – walking
———————————–
nature – environment – people

Physical
Physical training therapy & food
. food
. fresh air (metabolism  and body training)
. blood eritrocits
———————–
SPA

While at the same time we provide some suggestins within the classic travelling experience:
– visit pristine places of the world, rich in unique culture and spiritual heritage of antiquity
– cho0se clean areas, ecological food, intimacy with nature
– smooth communication with carriers of unique knowledge in the field of medicine
– individual approach to the tourist in the preparation of his course of rehabilitation
– organized by treatment with the provision of shelter and food

– by Okasana Mironenko, Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate 2010 from Ukraine

Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine

Dolomite Mountains, Italy

October 13, 2010

Regional architecture in Poland – Zakopane Style otherwise Witkiewicz Style

Hi bloggers
Today I would like to share with you an information about the style in regional Polish architecture, which is kept in my country from above hundred years.
The Zakopane Style was introduced to architecture by Stanisław Witkiewicz in the nineteenth century, and we can now find fragments of this style in present buildings. The name of the style comes from the name of the place where this style first appeared in buildings – Zakopane. Now, it is a popular touristy city comprising within  Tatry mountains. Unfortunatelyk, many tourists do not return the attention on this beautiful wooden architecture.

In the nineteenth century, Zakopane was a small village. In 1890, Stanislaw Witkiewicz settled in Zakopane. He is a painter, architect and theoretician of the art who has extended this city. He imitated on góral (the occupants of mountains) traditional building, and he added  to these the elements of secession. Witkiewicz extended the country hut so that the magnificent villa came into being. Villas were placed on high underpinning brick stones. Walls were adorned with bas-reliefs and floral and geometrical patterns. A veranda called przyłap, and a little room on the loft – wyglądy – were the different characteristic element of houses. The Zakopane style was proclaimed national style. The Witkiewicz’s  style found his imitators in different cities, not only on mountain terrains. In this style also furniture, home equipments, clothes, articles from chinas, musical instruments and souvenirs were made. The elements of góral culture also influenced composers and writers works.

At present,  museums commemorating former customs of the inhabitants of the mountains are located in ancient villages, and it is possible to examine  both traditional dresses and furniture and equipment of flats.

If  in your country there are some interesting local styles/details, please share observations about them!

By Marta Norenberg
Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate – October 2010

October 11, 2010

On a mysterious ornament

Dear bloggers,

together with our Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate Aygun Aghakishibayova we will discover some of the details of Azerbijan’s architecture.. enjoy!!

“Architecture of Azerbaijan is rich with varied contrasts. They appear as in the central part of the city and beyond its borders. Today I invite you to look at the building of Azerbaijan Architecture and Construction University in Baku…
But before that, I will say a few words about cultural influence.

Propagation of the Muslim religion had a great influence on the national architecture because it defined certain conditions. For example, you can not use images of  human beings, and this contributed to the flourishing of decorative arts. Architectural ornament has become widely used to decorate buildings.

In 1970-1980 in Baku, a new building hosting the Civil Engineering Institute –  where I study – was designed and built. Unremarkable reinforced concrete structure was built during the Soviet period and was no different from others. In order to decorate the building,  geometrical patterns were designed along the entire facade on the concrete panels. At first glance it’s just plain dash. But if you look closely, you can discern the word “Allah” performed by Kufic Arabic script!!! And this interestinlgy was during the Soviet period. To hide a sign, the author has made the words in mirror-type, and each successive image is made upside down so that it was not recognizable by the government.

They built in the most ‘stagnant’ way during the Soviet era. And surprisingly, that Soviet Intelligence had overlooked it. After all,  if  government would have  caught the author’s  idea of using the word “Allah” on the building of the higher education institution they owned, he would have had a very hard time. But the y didn’t  notice it…

This is just an example. But I think it helps to understand that Baku is the city of contrast. And most unusual moments can be found in the usual places.”

September 14, 2010

Architectural- ethnographic museum Hohlovka

Perm architectural – ethnographic museum (real wooden city) is located in a village called with the same name, which is 45 kilometers from Perm. The museum is located on a picturesque high hill washed by the Kama river on the three sides.

19 monuments of wooden architecture of the Perm area (XVII-XX centuries) are located here on 42 hectares.
In this area you can see the houses of that period, observe how people lived, and know about their occupation and their way of life. Besides, on this territory there are specific houses: the mill, the fire station, Russian baths and others.

Nowadays,  in exhibitions guests can also see the objects connected with the traditional occupations of local people of that time.

Besides, the guests of this open air museum can also feel the magnificent energy of the place, adore the Urals landscape which is unforgettable at any time of the year.

Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate Natalya , Russia

September 9, 2010

Curiosity and stories about Azerbaijan’s cultural traditions

Hi bloggers,

today, we are going to tell you some curiosity and stories about Azerbaijan’s cultural traditions. Author of the below article is our University Delegate Sabina Aliyeva from Baku, Azerbaijan.

Also watch Sabina pictures on the Life Beyond Tourism Photoblog

This Azerbaijani tradition is one of the most interesting. Novruz is a feast of spring, representing the coming of  the New Year. Before Novruz Azerbaijanis celebrate a number of previous days saying good bye to the Old year and welcoming the New year. These days are the four pre-holiday Wednesdays: Su Chershenbe (Water Wednesday), Odlu Chershenbe (Fire Wednesday), Torpag Chershenbe (Earth Wednesday) and Akhyr Chershenbe (Last Wednesday). According to the traditional beliefs the water is reborn on the first Wednesday: still waters come to motion; the fire on the second one, the earth on the third one. On the fourth Wednesday, the wind opens three’s buds and spring begins.
















Many ceremonies and devotions are dedicated to Novruz. For example in the evening each family should light at the top of their house’s roof as many torches  as the number of  family members. In villages, everyone should jump over the burning fire saying a kind of a spell. After the fire dies out girls and young men collect the remaining ash and pour it somewhere in the outskirts of the village or a road.

It means that the hardship of those who have jumped over the fire is destroyed and thrown out far beyond their homes.

In order to find the happy match unmarried girls throw black coins, a sign of bad luck, to a water-filled jug during the daytime and in the evening before sunset they pour this water out together with the coins outside.

On “Akhyr Cheshenbe” before dark there comes the time of  fortune telling. Azerbaijani girls and young men sneak to doors of their neighbors and “overheard” their conversation; then on the basis of the first words they have heard they try to tell their fortune and guess if their wishes will come true. On this day many families also tell fortunes using Khafiz book.

Among holiday ceremonies the most important one is the cooking of samani (millet porridge) which is a symbol of nature and human fertility, and has a cultural value. The ceremony of the cooking of samani is accompanied by ceremonial songs and dances.

The last day of the old year is considered a special feast by Azerbaijanis. On this holiday’s eve, the entire family gather at home. For the head of the family a special mat is laid. He says prayers; no one is allowed to eat without his permission. As soon as the gun shot sounds signaling the beginning of the meal, the mistress brings in milk pilau. If the gate is open on this day it means that the host is at home. If visitors come to the house they are welcomed by the oldest son or the nephew of the host. The guest is then offered rose water for hand washing and invited into the house. The head of the family gives a sign and the tea is immediately served for the guest. Such visits are paid for three days. Then, it comes the women’s turn to celebrate Novruz for a week.

On the last night of the old year all family members spray each other with water before going to bed “to wash off” all the hardship of the old year.

Finally the official holiday starts. Everyone puts on new clothes and begins partying. Nobody works on this day.

Nowadays in Azerbaijan the official celebration of Novruz comes on March 21st. On the first day of the New year it is a tradition to wake up early in the morning. If it is possible people go where water is – to a river or a spring: wash themselves, splash water on each other. Water is a symbol of cleanliness and freshness. Right there they treat each other with sweets. On this morning it is obligatory to eat something sweet for example honey or sugar. Then it is necessary to smell a fragrant smoke that is the way of getting rid of  “evil spirits”.

The holiday table on this day is very special. It is essential on this day to have seven dishes whose names begin with the letter “s”. They are sumakh, skad (milk), sirke (vinegar), samani (aspecial millet porridge), sabzi (greens) etc.
Except for the listed dishes, there should be a mirror, a candle, and a painted egg on the table. All these have a symbolical significance: the candle means light or fire protecting a person from evil spirits. The egg and the mirror are necessary to mark the end of the old year and the beginning of the first day of the new year. Azerbaijanis put the painted egg on the mirror. As soon as the egg moves the New Year begins. Everyone sitting at the table starts wishing a happy new year to each other.

As a rule, during holidays the doors are not locked. It means that the family is home and glad to welcome guests. Children visit their friends and relatives with little bags for holiday presents.

On the first day of the new year the houses should be lighted all night long. Shutting lights off is a bad omen.

New year’s celebrations finish on the 13th day of Novruz. On this day in the city outskirts are held mass parties with traditional games and contests like horse or camel races in which both men and women take part. The ancient spring holiday – Novruz bairamy – is one of the oldest and most beautiful Azerbaijani traditions.

July 26, 2010

The Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography (Tbilisi, Georgia)

Clown Costume from Rigoletto

The Foundation is glad to introduce the Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography of Tbilisi and their unique collections in Georgia. Read the introduction by the Director, Mr Giorgi

Kalandia and watch a selection of their artworks.

Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijanian dolls by Nino Brailovskaia

April 27, 2010

90 day for Intercultural Dialogue in Florence: reopening of the Caffè Astra al Duomo!

Are you in Florence, Italy? Are you looking for a charming, warm enviroment in the centre of  Florence to have lunch or to spend your happy hour?? Then you will be happy to know that Caffè Astra al Duomo is going to re-open tomorrow April 28th!

Caffè Astra al Duomo is going to offer you the best of  Tuscan and Italian food&wine, as well as the opportunity to witness cultural events such as international conference and art exhibitions! As a matter of fact, Caffè Astra al Duomo is part of the Centro Congressi al Duomo. The Centro Congressi al Duomo is itself  member of Life Beyond Tourism, and – with its activities – represent one of the Best Practices of Life Beyond Tourism. Thus, the project 90 Days for Intercultural Dialogue also takes place here.

During the Press Conference for the re-opening of Caffè Astra al Duomo, the the project 90 Days for Intercultural Dialogue has been officially presented to the Florentine press: download the Press Release of the Caffè Astra’s reopening here!

Read more Press at the Life Beyond Tourism website!

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