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Italy, Rome: Vatican Entrance, Rome

Entrance to the Vatican Museums. Michelangelo’s ceilings in the Sistine Chapel is right near here.

FL, Daytona Beach: Vettes at the Lighthouse XII

Completed in 1887, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a fascinating piece of Florida history. It towers over others as the tallest lighthouse in Florida, offering spectacular, 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.

If you are feeling adventurous you can climb the 203 steps to the top and be rewarded with some truly breathtaking scenery and one-of-a-kind photo opportunities.
There’s an on-site museum featuring a fascinating rare Fresnel Lens exhibit, artifacts on lighthouse life and shipwrecks.

On May 11th, from 10am – 2pm, over one hundred Corvettes of all ages will be on display at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Vettes at the Lighthouse XII, hosted by the Ponce Inlet Corvette Club,  the car show will feature music, door prizes, food, silent auction and trophies. This is a must-see for every car enthusiast. All proceeds are donated to local charities.

Italy, Florence: Overlooking the Red Roofs of Florence

You get a great view of the majestic Renaissance Filippo Brunelleschi -designed domed Florence Cathedral, the Duomo if you ascend one of the hills around it. The Gothic-styled Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was begun in 1296 along with it’s Baptistery and Giotti’s Bell tower (Campanile). Ghiberti’s original Baptistery doors are in the museum (the ones outside are copies).

Brunelleschi was commissioned in 1418. The dome is egg-shaped and was accomplished without scaffolding. A balcony by Baccio d’Agnolo was added in 1507. Notice that only 1 of the eight sides was finished by 1515, when someone asked Michelangelo (whose artistic opinion was by this time taken as cardinal law), his thoughts of it. The master reportedly scoffed, “It looks like a cricket cage.” Work was immediately stopped, and to this day the other 7 sides remain only rough brick.

Italy, Venice: Doge’s Palace, Venice

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The Doge’s Palace, Palazzo Ducale, was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic. The Venetian Gothic construction started around 1340 and was modified many times over the centuries due to fires and governmental needs.

France, Paris: Crowning of Napoleon

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In the Louvre, one of the largest paintings at 33 ft. x 22 ft. was unsurprisingly commissioned by Napoleon himself of his 1804 coronation. His official court painter Jacques-Louis David, created a Facebook of French politicians, Napoleon’s family and, of course a selfie of the painter himself.

Austria, Innsbruck: Star Crooner’s Crown Swarovski Crystal Worlds

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Elton John’s crown made by Swarovski crystal.

France, Paris: The Throne in the Palace of the Louvre

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France is celebrating 160th anniversary of diplomatic ties between France and Japan. Japonismes 2018: Les Ames en Resonance, will run through February 2019 involving exhibitions and events promoting Japanese art and design. Visual artist Kohei Nawa’s monumental sculpture “Throne” has one of the most prestigious spots in Paris: the Louvre. “I see the location as a connecting portal of modern lifestyles and the past, says Nawa, the Kyoto-based artist whose 10.4-meter-tall work is installed under I.M. Pei’s 1989 glass pyramid in the Louvre’s main courtyard.

The making of the throne itself involved both the past and the present. It was designed using state-of-the-art 3D modeling software and carved by robotic arms, however its gleaming gold leaf exterior was hand-applied by Japanese traditional craftspeople.

“The maximum capacity the pyramid can hold is 3 tons, so I told the museum I would ship a sculpture weighing exactly 3 tons,” says Nawa about the work’s creation. “I think they were bit worried, but after it went up, the Louvre’s curator, Martin Kiefer, told me the sculpture looks like it’s been at the pyramid all along.”

It’s not Nawa’s first “Throne” and it is different in that in previous iterations there was usually a small child seated within Nawa’s unique abstract shapes and geometric forms. For the Louvre, the seat is strikingly empty.

“Thrones are for kings. Here, the seat is for the authority that will eventually take over the control in the future. I left the seat empty to emphasize the invisibility,” says Nawa.

It sounds ominous, but Nawa goes on to explain that he foresees the type of power we see controlling today’s politics, economy and lifestyles as disappearing in the future, and in its place will be a very different form of authority. It could be artificial intelligence and advanced computer technology that will “take the throne,” he suggests, while we blindly follow, something that history has shown us that humans have had the tendency to do.

To us it is interesting that he chose a throne to be placed in this, the Palace of the Louvre, where French Kings sat on their thrones. Francis I chose this edifice as the residence for French kings and where it remained thus until good old King Louis XIV decided to move to Versailles and this building was then used to store his pretty things.

France, Paris: Liberty Leading the People in the Louvre

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Though foreigners flock to see the Mona Lisa, to the French, the most important painting in the Louvre – the unofficial national painting of France is this one, Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix. The bare-breasted female figure, who is called Marianne became a symbol of Liberty for the French Republic. Though Delacroix painted the July Revolution of 1830, the broken bodies beneath the flag depict the 40 years of civil war, political and social upheavals necessary to conquer the monarchy in order to win a representative government. The huge 8′ by 10′ scale adds to the dramatic patriotism.

France, Paris: Hotel des Invalides

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Les Invalides or Hôtel des Invalides is a vast complex of buildings in Paris including museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. As per its name it was originally built by Louis XIV as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans. Pictured here is the Dôme des Invalides, a large church, the tallest in Paris which contains the tombs of some of France’s war heroes, most notably Napoleon.

The complex had 15 courtyards for military parades. At the church, attendance was mandatory. Louis XIV also commissioned his architect Mansart to construct a separate royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature (pictured). By combining a royal chapel with a veterans’ chapel, the King and his soldiers could attend mass at the same time while entering the place of worship though different entrances, as prescribed by court etiquette at that time.

I’d like to think the gentleman sitting there (in the wheelchair and on the bench) are two of our veteran heros..

France, Paris: The Unnerving Raft of the Medusa at the Louvre

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If you think life is tough, think of all the sailors that went out into the unknown seas. The shipwrecked Madusa, was left with 115 out of the original 400 sailors on board. There was very little food and water but lots of wine which led to heavy drinking, murder, mutiny and cannibalism. When rescued, only 15 were left alive. This work by Theodore Gericault’s was a seismic shift in art from the stiff neo-classicism of the past to the dramatic and emotional Romanticism in art. It is more of the most macabre painting in the Louvre.