May, 2010 browsing by month


i Madonnari… a unique 3-day Italian festival celebrated at the Santa Barbara mission

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

i Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Mission Plaza in Santa Barbara during 3-day festival.

i Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Mission Plaza in Santa Barbara using pastels on pavement to create 150 vibrant and colorful, large scale images. Santa Barbara is the first to bring this romantic festival to the western hemisphere from their sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

On their hands and knees artists work in the hot sun at Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, Santa Barbara, San Rafael. San Luis Obispo and Mission Viejo, CA. With pigment-stained fingers the artists illuminate the pavement to praise God. There are 30-something American college students, 80-year old Italian artisans, teenage Latino tag and graffiti painters; a diverse group of international artists who use chalk and pastels to create large-scale sacred paintings on streets, sidewalks and piazzas around the world.

i Madonnari – so-called because traditionally they painted the Madonna and other holy images – are believed to have roots that stretch back to the Middle Ages when street painters traveled from town to town following the church’s calendar of holidays and saint’s feasts.

Today, in Santa Barbara, there are scenes to praise God and other scenes as well including paintings of families, famous artwork, people and their dogs, scenes of incomparable beauty and ones of laughter and nostalgia.

i Madonnari is a feast for the eyes and a twang on the heart strings. It’s all about feeling good, enjoying art and life. Festival hours are 10-6 daily, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. Admission is free.

Click here to see i Modinnari video: Modinari Blog Video

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An island getaway where ancient art and beguiling landscapes come together for about $30 per night at this monastic complex.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Baroque monastic complex is a vast and austere structure built during the 17th and 18th centuries. The church and monastery contain precious works of art that can be seen in the museum. The collection includes Mallorcan paintings and medieval manuscripts.

The Baroque monastic complex was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. For more information, see page 87 in LODGING IN SPAIN'S MONASTERIES.

Nearby is the area of La Marina, a district studded with old windmills. The shore of La Marina consists of very high cliffs that drop precipitously to the sea. Heading south to Cabo Blanco, a coast road passes near Capocorb Vell, a talayotic village of massive, Bronze Age megaliths.

Each of the Balearic Islands has maintained an enduring sense of identity and strong links to the past. Gothic cathedrals, fishing villages, Stone Age ruins and scenic drives are found throughout the islands. A popular artists’ retreat, Deia is an atmospheric place of stone houses and trees crowded together beneath a dramatic backdrop of mountains. The Deia Coastal Path and Route of the Olive Trees offer excellent hiking and walking opportunities.

For more information visit

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A touch of English history and an odd custom distinguish a visit to this abbey… just $90 including all meals.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Encompassed by peaceful rural farmland, the abbey has preserved a fascinating atmosphere. see page 58 in LODGING IN BRITAIN'S MONASTERIES.

The abbey is an Elizabethan manor house beautifully situated in a dip on the same site where a group of Augustinian Canons founded a small priory in the 1119. The priory was closed in the 1530s and Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s minister, the man who organized the survey that led to the Dissolution, found the position of the abbey so inviting that he wrote in his journal that he wanted the abbey for himself.

Encompassed by peaceful rural farmland, the abbey has preserved a fascinating atmosphere that led it to compete for the BBC Enjoy England Excellence Award in 2007 as one of the best tourist experiences in England. Nearby Rutland is home to Oakham Castle, a fine example of late 12th century domestic architecture. Its Great Hall is decorated with 12th century sculptures and is famed for its collection of horseshoes, 240 of which hang on the walls. These represent the unique custom that every peer of the realm must give a horseshoe to the lord of the manor on the first visit to Oakham. The custom has been followed for at least 500 years and probably dates to the 12th century. The oldest surviving horseshoe is believed to have been given by Edward IV in about 1470. HRH The Princess Royal, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Princess Alexandra gave the most recent.