Archive for June 27th, 2021

June 27, 2021

Cibeles and Puerta de Alcalà in Calle de Alcalà of Madrid!!!

Now this is a wonderful combination in my dear Madrid! It is close to my old home in the city and each visit must passed by here! Also, the celebration point of the Real Madrid CF, proud to say, my team since childhood and even played in the organisation (see posts). I like to tell you about these two monuments of Madrid eve if also on other posts I never get tired of telling you about them. Hope you enjoy as I.

Ok so this is the Madrid of my younger days, the Madrid of bringing my girlfriend, and later wife, the Madrid of bringing my kids growing older with time. Madrid is and will be a hole on the sky to look down on the city every day! On sunny days, cold days, rainy days, snow days , Madrid is awesome ,full of memories and great times. With time my dear late wife Martine came to love it too as do my boys.

These are the main symbols of Madrid in my opinion, but maybe I am biased as they were and are my home. I lived not far from them and past them every day back then, and at every occasion passing by Madrid now even in summer vacations. I am talking of the Plaza de Cibeles and it’s fountain of same name as well as the Puerta de Alcalà gate.

The Plaza de Cibeles is located at the union of the districts of Centro, Retiro, and Salamanca and the intersection of the Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado . The Square is cross by the Calle de Alcalà . Before, it was called the Madrid square or Plaza de Madrid, then rename Plaza Castelar in 1900 until finally getting the current name after the end of the Spanish Civil War 1939.



On the Western side of the square you have the initial traject of the Calle de Alcalà, widen to later include the Gran Via. The Metropolis building and the Circulo de Bellas Artes as well as the Instituto Cervantes are some of the notable buildings you can see from the square. On the Eastern side once reaching the square and the Calle de Alcalà, upward bound you have a better view of the Puerta de Alcalà that is in the near square of independence or Plaza de la Independencia.

In the Plaza de Cibeles you have the famous fountain of Cibeles or Fuente de Cibeles; representing the Greek goddess of Cybil a work of architect Ventura Rodriguez and sculptors Francisco Gutierrez Arribas for the Cibeles figure, and Roberto Michel for the lions, Miguel Jimenez for the decoration elements of the chariot. The fountain was built between 1777 and 1782 in front of the palace of Buenavista. The fountain was put here in 1895 showing the Greek goddess Cibeles of fertility ,holding a scepter and a key while being pulled by two lions on a chariot.  The pull of the wild lions symbolize the power of nature or of the goddess; the figures took about 10K kg of stones and three different artists.


The Spanish football (soccer) team Real Madrid CF has unofficially adopted the fountain. It is used as a meeting point for its fans and often for the players themselves whenever the team wins the Spanish league ,Spanish King’s Cup or the Champions League. And this happens often as the team is the best ever ,mine, excuse me!

Other emblematic buildings around the square are the before mentioned Palacio de Buenavista on the northwest angle of the square built in 1777 holding the general hq of the army. Also, the Palacio de Linares on the northeast side completed in 1900 and it houses since 1992 the House of America or Casa de América a cultural institution for the American continent. The Palacio de Comunicaciones  (aka Palacio de Cibeles) built in 1909 on orders of king Alfonso XIII to house the seat of the post office of Spain with an imposing façade on the south east side of the square. Since 2007, it is centro cibeles or the city hall of Madrid.  There is the building of the Banco de España or Bank of Spain with long facades along the Calle de Alcalà and Paseo del Prado, housing since 1981 the principal seat of the Bank of Spain.

The Puerta de Alcalà is one of the five old gates for entry into Madrid. It is at the Plaza de la Independencia or independence square facing the Retiro Park (my old entry point to the center of Madrid in my days there) . The gate was built on the orders of King Charles III to replace an old gate that existed since the 16C. The Italian architect Francesco Sabatini was chosen by the king himself to do the gate. The work began in 1769 and continued until the inauguration in 1778.  This is the first triumphal arc built in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire, making it the forerunner of the Arc de Triomphe of Paris or the Brandenburg Gate of Berlin. The gate allowed the entrance in Madrid to travelers from Aragon, Catalonia and France.


The neoclassical-style Puerta de Alcalà has a width of  about 44 meters and culminates at 22 meters in height. The structure of the gate is made of granite from the quarries of Colmenar Viejo, Alpedrete and Hoyo de Manzanares. The decorative elements are made of limestone from Colmenar de Oreja. The sculptures of children who crown the Puerta de Alcalá represent the four cardinal virtues. Made by Francisco Gutiérrez Arribas, these sculptures are sometimes referred to as  the Angels of Peace.


The Madrid tourist office on the Fuente de Cibeles

The Madrid tourist office on the Puerta de Alcalà

This area is a must in Madrid and two emblematic monuments a sight to be seen and one of the most photographs places in the city.  Hope it helps enjoy this wonderful area of Madrid, the Retiro park is just around the corner too.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 27, 2021

The Bersaglieri, a different museum in Rome!!

And so on this delightful adventure of updating older posts and bring back the memories I take you to Rome! As said, we had a great long family vacation here and me multiple business trips. One of the family moments we cherished was stopping at the army museum of Bersaglieri after passing by it several times from our rental home in Nomentana. Therefore, let me update this post for you and me! Hope you enjoy it as I


In my travels trying at best I can to find new things to see and do, we walk a lot. Of course, getting to a city , we love the car ,nothing beats the car for convenience anywhere. However, once in the city, we walk above ground! And doing this in Rome is heavens.  We came by here ,unexpectedly taking the bus 62 that took us from Nomentana to the Vatican City easy regular bus and lovely sights. We saw the building, and on the way back we stop nearby to walk to it and continue the walk home.


I like to tell you about the museo storico dei Bersaglieri or the historical museum of the military Bersaglieri. Located at the Porta Pia (see post), via XX Settembre. It is housed in the Porta Pia building desired by Pope Pius IV and designed by Michelangelo in 1561-64. The prospectus outside a cornice on Via Nomentana is an addition of 1864. In 1932 the premises were assigned to the museum, which was already established in 1887 at the Bersaglieri Inspectorate and housed until then in the premises of the old barracks of S. Francesco a Ripa.


In the new museum, inaugurated on September 18, 1932 together with the National Monument to the Bersagliere erected in the forecourt of Porta Pia, are preserved paintings, photographs, documents and memorabilia from the wars of independence in the countryside of Africa to the WWII era.  In the inner courtyard of the building, in addition to the shrine in honor of over one hundred thousand bersaglieri fallen between 1848 and 1945, were placed the monument to Henry Toti and the bronze busts of Alessandro La Marmora, founder of the order,  Godfrey Mameli and Luciano Manara. It is open Mondays to Fridays from  9h30-13h and 14h-15h30. Included in the Roma Pass or single entry , better contact to make sure is open as if events or military functions it can be closed.


A bit of history I like

The Bersaglieri Historical Museum was created to guard memorabilia, documentation and memories related to the campaigns of the Bersaglieri Corps. There is also the tomb of Enrico Toti, the cyclist who fell in WWI, decorated with gold medal for military valor. It has a library and a historical archive. Administratively, it is a military agency employed by the military command of the capital and under the Ministry of Defense.

The work of collecting memorabilia was initiated by the inspectors of Bersaglieri , until the inspectorate was suppressed in 1895. In any case, the activity of the two senior officers was continued from 1902 to 1907  creating a special institution for the custody of memorabilia, then evolved into the museum then located in the Barracks “the Marmora  “In Trastevere, inaugurated on 18 June 1904 by King Vittorio Emanuele III. Embellished with memories of the mutual Aid Society between Bersaglieri (now the Bersaglieri National Association), the museum gained legal status on December 27, 1921 and was transferred to Porta Pia in 1931, when the municipality of the capital made the premises available. The inauguration took place on September 18, 1932, coinciding with that of the monument to the Bersagliere in the square opposite.

A bit of a description of the Bersagliere army museum:

Entering from the north side you reach the ground floor with the room La Marmora, the Hall of Honor and the shrine: in the first are exhibited two models of carbines designed by the founder of Bersaglieri, Alessandro la Marmora, whose proposal to set up the body of the Bersaglieri, Subjected to King Charles Albert of Savoy, it is kept in the Hall of Honor, while the sword which it wielded in the Battle of the Bridge of Goito is placed at the center of the shrine, accompanied by the medals to the collective value assigned to the units of Bersaglieri exposed thanks to a Royal Decree dated 16 May 1909.  On the south side of the ground floor and on the first floor you can see weapons, uniforms, portraits and memories dating back to all the historical facts that the Bersaglieri took part in.


Ah and a bit on the Bersaglieri I found interesting while there. The Bersaglieri  are a corps of the Italian Army. Created in 1836 by General Alessandro La Marmora to serve in the Royal Sardinian Army , which will later become the Royal Army of Italy, this light infantry unit is characterized by its great mobility, by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, used Only in the parade uniform in the contemporary era, decorated with feathers of heather rooster also present on the modern combat helmets, and by his fanfare marching in the step pace playing the hymn of the Bersagliers Flik Flok.

A nice historical museum on the history of Italy seldom mentioned or visit, sadly. It is worth a detour and you will be glad you did.  The official government Ministry of Defense webpage on it is here in Italian:

The Rome tourist office on the museum in English :

There you go folks, another dandy in eternal Rome. Good that we finally stop by and got to know a bit more of history. Hope you enjoy the post as I. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 27, 2021

Thouaré sur Loire has its charms!!!

Indeed several years back when  moved to my current area of Morbihan 56 we went to a wine tasting event in Guérande in the neighboring area of Loire-Atlantique 44. We met some winegrowers who were very talkative! and friendly! with good wines! and decided to visit on their property. As the old movie said, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! I do not tell you every time but this time we were back after the pandemic and it was sublime as always. This is the additional story of the town of Thouaré sur Loire!

We have been several time here and some of the visits and monuments are recorded in my blog. However, this time we went for a special wine tasting event at Vignobles Marchais but before we took a ride into the castles in the area.  Thouaré-sur-Loire is located in the Loire-Atlantique department 44, in the Pays de la Loire region ; on the north bank of the Loire river, and 10 km from Nantes. I have written plenty on the town and its monuments so will get down to two properties just passed by in the past as my primary reason to be there is the wines, however…They have nearby two wonderful castles (I love castles!!) not open to the general public but I took a peek and translated their webpages a bit on them.

The Château de Thouaré in its current configuration dates from the 14C. It is located in a large green park, with hundred-year-old trees, it is built in two wings, with a Renaissance lantern tower, the facade is made up of elements from various eras including battlements dating from the Middle Ages. Outbuildings and stables are also adjacent. The moats date from the 10C. The windows are double mullioned and date from the second half of the 19C. The stone and tufa dovecote, dates from the 15C, its slate dome is topped with a sculpture representing a pigeon, it has 1189 niches, once a symbol of the power of the Lords of the place.

thouare sur loire

Anecdote: From January 24, 1564 to May 1, 1566, King Charles IX undertook a grand tour of France. During this trip, on October 11, 1565, the king made a stopover at the Château of Thouaré, hosted by Charles de Bretagne d’Avaugour and his wife Phillipe de Saint-Amadour for dinner. The king then goes to Nantes, to the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (see post), where he will stay for three days.

thouare sur loire chat thouare garden jun21

The official webpage of the Château de Thouaré

The Château de Beau-Soleil we see today is from the 20C. This is the residence of de La Blanche, Bailly-Peltier and Charbonneau de Courty. The building replaces an old 18C mansion. It was in 1895 that it all began for Château Beausoleil. Alfred Gerbaud and Anastasie Descourty complete its construction on the foundations of an old house dating from the 17C. They create a billiard room and a bedroom which today has become the Chinese living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. It was finally Jean Vichatzky (Serbian origins came here after WWI) who inherited Château Beausoleil with his wife Antoinette in the late 1960s. They had three daughters, Sophie, Agnès and Valérie, just before settling there permanently. It was in 2014 that the late Jean passed away, and it was then that the future of Château Beausoleil in Thouaré sur Loire arose.  The 3 sisters attached to this house did not want to part with it. They then decided to undertake a vast renovation project in 2015. A project that Agnes and Valérie began in earnest in 2018 and will finish in 2021.  The Château Beau-Soleil is surrounded by 4 hectares where horses gallop and thrive on a daily basis. After 3 years of renovation, Château Beau-Soleil has offered itself a new roof, upgrading all networks, painting work, a well-thought-out space design, not to mention re-furnishing and the construction of an outdoor swimming pool. In short, everything to welcome you in an idyllic setting! The numerous exterior outbuildings are reminiscent of the history of Beausoleil. Greenhouses, a press, a workshop, a water tower and a farm create a real atmosphere.

thouare sur loire

The official webpage of Château Beau-Soleil

And we finally came to the wine!! The above was a nice way to spent the whole day here and see some wonderful architecture and history of the area. The Vignobles Marchais (vineyards) is 27 ha of vines 3 terroirs 15 cuvées and a team of 10 persons. The terroirs or plantation of grapes are located in Thouaré sur Loire(main house where we go and open to the public), Le Loroux-Bottereau , and Mauves sur Loire.

thouare sur loire vig marchais cave front boutique jun21

thouare sur loire vig marchais welcome tastings jun21

Some of the activities are a beach hut as a bar, a bucolic setting on the banks of the Loire, live up your evenings, and food trucks to satisfy your appetites, this is the program offered by Mauves Balnéaire. Initiated by Le Voyage à Nantes and organized by the City/Town Hall of Mauves-sur-Loire, this place offers a bucolic setting, like a vacation on the edge of our beloved Loire river. Dinner in the Vines! Will be on Friday July 23 and Thursday August 26 2021 (we are shooting to be at one or both). The evening begins at 19h30, and   let yourself be told the story of Vignoble Marchais with Philippe Marchais, the winemaker of the place. Then take a seat in the middle of the rows of pinot gris and let yourself be guided for a dinner with food and wine by candlelight in the middle of the vines. And just were there today is the Let’s Taste Together! Saturday June 26 from 10h to 19h(we were here from 13h25 to 17h or 1:25 pm to 5 pm). It’s Spring, the vines are slowly waking up, the wines are getting impatient in the vats and the team was eager to see us again ..and we them. The Marchais Vineyard has created its new annual meeting Let’s Taste Together!

thouare sur loire vig marchais tastings upper deck jun21

thouare sur loire vig marchais menu tastings jun21

The official webpage of Vignobles Marchais

The vineyards of Nantes on the Vignoble Marchais

The Independent winegrowers/makers on vignoble Marchais

And last on our way back home we needed to eat as who would go to the kitchen late! So we stopped at an old favorite chain not tried in while and was superbe! This was the Courtepaille resto of Carquefou on the D723 road.

carquefou courtepaille resto front jun21

Born in 1961 in Burgundy this chain of restaurants Courtepaille has survived them all. Today they are about 300 all over France. The recipe, good affordtable food and friendly service. We came to this one with my family and my elderly father (86) and were treated with kindness and patient.I was impressed and will surely be back here. This outlet is in Carquefou on the road D723 on the traffic circle of the Belle Etoile (or beautiful star) This is very close to the highway A11 (Le Mans Paris etc) and the D723 (route de Paris) takes you to Nantes at about 12 km away. We had rumsteaks with fries , coffee gourmand with little sweets, glasses of local Loire red wine, and before as apéro i had my Martini Red. All for 25 euros per person, nice.

The Courtepaille official webpage on the property in Carquefou

There you go folks, anothe wonderful ride in my belle France! A full day of fun with my boys and Dad who kept up well! This is deep country Loire and already a wonderful Thouaré sur Loire for us. Hope you enjoy the post and do come on over the off the beaten path ways of my old Bretagne, Loire Atlantique dept 44.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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