Last week, my work took me to Rome and I added a day to visit the beautiful Renaissance  city of  Florence. The speed train from Rome took me through the beautiful scenery of Tuscany and by 8.30 a.m. I had a glorious spring day ahead to explore the scenic nucleus of history, art and a tapestry of culture and medieval architecture. Of course one day can not do justice to all there is to see and do here and I would love to  return for a more leisurely visit.


From the Piazzale Michelangelo, a square with a panoramic view of Florence, I photographed breathtaking views of Florence including the iconic Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The stories told by tour guides is that Florence was a very competitive space for artists. So after the dome was built by Brunelleschi, he promptly destroyed the plan and no one has been able to recreate the plans even for the purpose of reconstruction or repairs. The
cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built
on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata.



Take in the view of the Arno river from the south bank above and the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge below which has been rebuilt several times due to damage from various floods. It is now also home to jewellery merchants and tradrs of souvenirs.





Tucked amidst the amazing textures and colours of vegetation are villas of the rich and famous who can best afford living with these panoramic views.





In the midst of the Piazzale Michelangelo stands a replica of Michelangelo’s “David” Join in a future post to marvel at the original sculpture of “David”


A closer look at the cathedral displays its intricate artwork carved in a marble facade. You’ll also have a closer view of the dome which has a viewing area if you are fit enough to climb over 490 stairs.



The Giotto tower stands alongside the Cathedral below.


Baptistry – Duomo: The Baptistry of San Giovanni below, one of the most ancient churches in Florence, sits opposite the city’s cathedral, the church of Santa Maria del Fiore. Octagonal in plan, it is totally clad in slabs of white Carrara and green Prato marble.



There are a number of fortresses around Florence and below is a part of one of them.


Join me in my next post at the Galleria dell’Accademia to take a look at the artwork and some of the great influences of the Medici family.



I had just completed reading a book by one of my favourite authors, Douglas Kennedy. The book, The Moment, is a haunting Romance  set “amidst the stunningly atmospheric portrait of Berlin in the final dark days before the Wall came down” (extract from book summary)

So it was serendipity when I was invited on a Business trip to Berlin about 5 years ago. I couldn’t wait to walk the streets of this piece of dramatic history, trying to capture all I had imagined while reading my novel . Join me  as I walk you through some of the streets of Berlin, my experiences and observations. I must state up front that I loved modern day Berlin and we all had a great time especially  since we visited in Summer.


This street leads to Check Point Charlie which was the name given by Western Allies to the main crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991).This was the wall which controlled emigration between East and West Berlin and controlled and separated many families and friends.


Many years later, it’s part of a tourist adventure to pose for a photograph at this entrance which was once the source of pain and hardship for many.


Below is a sample of passports combined in a collage  which I discovered in a shop along this street. It symbolises the control and passport to life in those bitter-cold years.

img_3723_1024 For some, the Berlin Wall was one of the most abominable structures ever built.Over its 28 years of existence, it was decorated with political slogans,paintings, declarations of love and served as a form of protest. Below is a remnant of the wall. Such remnants became a collector’s item after the fall of the Wall in 1989.


The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. A beautiful sight when lit up at night , the gate  was initially designed to showcase freedom and triumph. Though still a great attraction, the Brandenburg Gate became intimately entwined with times of intense turbulence including it’s significance in the cold war and the Berlin Wall.


In place of the old Berlin Wall, a memorial wall was established  to depict the history of the wall and what it stood for. I watched on that Saturday afternoon as  someone cried uncontrollably while reading the stories on that wall – over 20 years after its fall.





Fortunately, change eventually comes and I like to think that the picture below, on the other side of the memorial wall, represents a picture of the modern day liberty and fun in the sun in Berlin. I stopped here to enjoy a delicious Currywurst roll, soak up the sun and admire this makeshift piece of beach heaven and haven.


Not too far away, I found this colourful block of buildings, though near to Checkpoint Charlie, far removed from the grey hardship and bleak history of what  was once East Berlin.

img_3736_1024 I love stories with good endings. Join me next week for more street walking in Berlin.Thank you for reading and you are welcome to comment.





Sometimes the pain is unyielding,

deeply plunged with serrated edges.

Only you can see the ghoulish images

stuck on repeat, record, rewind, replay…


Brother take my hand because I understand

how the weather won’t efface, nor time erase,

the graffiti on the wall of your remembrance,

bleeding paint, rolling from those crying eyes.


Why does midnight seem so dark and cold

when you’re feeling strapped  and alone?

While Insomnia  wrestles your  demons away,

daylight can’t seem to come soon enough.


But it eventually does Brother, it does!

See… the bleeding has stopped for a while.

When you looked out of your window

and saw that other artists had been at work…


Painting their own graffiti walls, you knew

that there were others outside just like you,

chasing ghosts at midnight, in frenzied spritz,

their pain transformed into nobel–prized art.


We’ll rise from the ashes again Brother!

Take my hand, you may lend me yours too.


A cerebral flash!

A profound touch

to the tenderness of my soul,

many lifetimes threaded

into a resplendent tapestry

of the universe’s life force.


Its inner sanctum-

sacred, smudged-primeval,

portraits of good and evil.

These thoughts flared

in my curious mind

when you came along.


Wandering pilgrim, triumphing

the great adventure of life’s sojourn,

the crafting of our humanity

as you traverse vast landscapes

of mountains, oceans and skies,

sharpening its definition.


Until that day comes-

when your painter’s brush

completes the grand masterpiece,

exalted with the best.

But of equal significance

is winning the contest within oneself.



painting 1

If I could paint,

I would wash the background

with all my tears of wasted years,

blend the dark with pastel shades,

the beginning

of new love I had found.


Then with brilliant colors,

foreground with flourish,

flashes and flush,

with dazzling diamonds,

of the golden years

I’m longing to spend

with only you.



art 2

I never thought I’d feel it again,

that raw urge,

that sense of release

to feel whole again,

in control of my own freedom,

to touch the magic:

feel its pulse, one with my own,

the tremulous anticipation

that you always feel,

on that decisive occasion

of the first time,

just before

that long awaited moment.


That’s how I felt

from the first stroke,

lubricated with blushing color

and sweeping motions.

Untamed passion

poured out of me

as I laid my dream bare

on the smooth white canvas.




(Inspired by the Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book –

Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear)



You’ll not fall on your sword

And I’ll not take an asp to my arm.

We both know the folly of such an act.

But at least indulge my daydreams

As I will give flawless blossoms to yours.


Paint me a portrait of our soulful love

In words that catch the trick of the light.

Sculpt a statue that moves in iambic rhythm

In sync with the person you’ve come to know,

Then strum a melody into the flow of your verse.


You’ll not reach the top of Mount Everest

And I’ll not swim across the English Channel.

Neither of us has such urge or tenacity,

But at least listen to my silent words

And I’ll lend vocabulary to tag your feelings.


Just keep in pursuit of the perfect alchemy

That will bring you eagerly back home to me.