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Great Sculptures of Europe

Many VBT vacations to Europe include stops in cities with world famous museums – either on the trip or on our optional pre- or post-trip extensions. We wanted to provide a list for you of some of the great sculptures that you could see along your journeys. Some are masterpieces that cannot be missed and some are lesser known pieces found in places other than artistic meccas like Paris or Rome.

“Apollo and Daphne” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Galleria Borghese, Rome)
ApolloAndDaphneThis life-sized Baroque marble sculpture, commissioned by Cardinal Scipione, was created between 1622–1625. The sculpture portrays the story of Daphne and Phoebus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Although the sculpture may be viewed from every angle, Bernini intended it to be viewed from its side, to let the viewer see the reactions of Apollo and Daphne simultaneously.

 “David” by Michelangelo (Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence)
DavidThis masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture – and possibly the most famous statue in the word – was created between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. The statue represents the Biblical hero David glaring off in the distance with a sling around his shoulder, perhaps a sign that he is intensely waiting for battle. This is in contrast to many depictions of David after he slayed Goliath.

“The Kiss” by Rodin (Museè Rodin, Paris)
The KissThis marble work was inspired by the passionate love affair between Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini made famous in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The sculpture depicts the 13th-century Italian noblewoman falling in love with her husband’s younger brother, Paolo. The lovers’ lips are not actually locked in the piece, suggesting that they were interrupted – and furthermore, killed – by Francesca’s husband Giovanni, without their lips ever having touched.

“Pluto and Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Galleria Borghese, Rome)
Pluto and Proserpina
This large marble piece was completed the year Bernini began Apollo and Daphne and depicts Pluto, the commanding god of the underworld, abducting Proserpina, the daughter of Ceres – the Goddess of the Earth. Bernini develops a twisting pose by pushing Proserpina’s hand into Pluto’s face and you can see her hand crease his skin as his fingers simultaneously sink into her flesh.

“Venus de Milo” by Alexandros of Antioch (Louvre, Paris)
Venus De Milo
The “Aphrodite of Milos” better known as the “Venus de Milo”, is an ancient Greek marble statue created sometime between 130 and 100 BC. The statue represents Aphrodite (Venus in Roman), the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The famously absent arms are believed to have shown the right arm lowered across her torso as to hold up the sliding drapery while the left remained outstretched, holding an apple.

“Fontaine des Quatre-Saisons” by Edme Bouchardon (Rue de Grenelle, Paris)
The Fountain of the four seasonsTranslated as “The Fountain of the four seasons”, this monumental 18th-century public fountain is still located in the streets of Paris. The fountain is huge and richly decorated and although its grandiosity irritated Voltaire and other figures of the French Enlightenment, the fountain is the best surviving example of public architecture during the reign of Louis XV.

“Bronze David” by Donatello (Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence)
Bronze DavidThis statue of David, which pre-dates Michelangelo’s by over 60 years, is known  for being the first unsupported standing work of bronze cast during the Renaissance, and the first freestanding nude male sculpture made since antiquity. It depicts David, posed with his foot on Goliath’s severed head just after defeating the giant.

“The Veiled Christ” by Giuseppe Sanmartino (Museo Cappella Sansevero in Naples)
veiled-christ-Lenghtwise
Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ is one of the greatest sculptures of all time. Since the eighteenth century, travelers of all levels of distinction have come to contemplate this artistic miracle and the oft praised finesse of its veil. Legend has it that famed Venetian sculptor, Antonio Canova, once said he would have given ten years of his life to have been the sculptor.

“Sculptures of the Night Watch” by Alexander Taraynov (Rembrandtplein, Amsterdam)

Night WatchAlthough Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum houses Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch,  Russian artist Alexander Taratynov created a bronze-cast representation of the painting as part of the celebration of the artist’s 400th birthday in 2006. In 2009 the sculptures traveled to New York City and Russia to be displayed before returning to the redesigned Amsterdam square where they serve today as a magnet for visitors.

“Salt Celler” by Cellini (Kunsthistorisches Musieum, Vienna)
Salt CellarCellini’s Salt Cellar table sculpture is crafted from ivory, gold, and vitreous enamel and was completed in 1543 for Francis I of France. The piece depicts Neptune and Ceres – symbolizing their unity in producing salt, mined from the earth. It is sometimes referred to as the “Mona Lisa of Sculpture” due to its famous theft in 2003. It was recovered three years later.

Top 5 Reasons to Take a Walking Tour of Provence

There are countless reasons to visit Provence. From the scenery to the food to the distinct culture of southern France, the list goes on and on. But, to point you in the right direction, we’ve put together our 5 favorite reasons to take a Walking Tour of Provence.

1. Strolling in St Remy

On Day 7 of our Walking Tour of Provence we’ll meet with a local friend, Odile Mifsud, a renowned pastry maker who invites us into her home for lunch. Next, we’ll learn about the last years of van Gogh’s life and his most famous painting, The Starry Night - which was inspired by St Remy - on a guided tour of the village with a local historian. After our informative and inspirational tour, set out to explore the small, bustling village of St Remy on your own. What it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. Its convenient, horseshoe-like center invites a delicious stroll around town. Luckily, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to indulge in when you’d like a rest.

2. Marvel at one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France

Gordes, Provence

On Day 4 of our adventure in Provence, we’ll take in the cobblestone streets of Gordes, which is included in the listing of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Take your time exploring before ambling just outside of the village among Provence’s iconic lavender fields en route to Senanque Abbey. Here, we’ll learn how the lavender is cultivated by the Benedictine monks that still work and reside in this peaceful hamlet.

3. Mingling at le Marche

Getting closer to culture is one the best reasons to travel with VBT. On Day 5 of our Walking Tour of Provence we’ll combine a cultural experience with lots and lots of local food, visiting the market of Vaison la Romaine. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of local life here and maybe pick up a few of the most tempting items to enjoy for lunch.

4. Looking Out from Les Baux

One of the most interesting towns that you’ll find on our Walking Tour of Provence is Les Baux. Built directly into the rocky hills of Les Alpilles, this 12th century town astounds and delights visitors with its quaint shops and majestic views of the valley below. On Day 7 of our vacation, we’ll have time to explore the fascinating village and the Château des Baux, a fortified 10th century castle that sits atop the historic town.

Provence

5. The Food of France

On top of all the wonderful experiences that we’ve built into our Walking Tour of Provence, we’ve also left some time for you to wander on your own. Exploring in France is often best done by way of your taste buds. Enjoy free afternoons and evenings to find a perfect bistro to reward your day’s discovery. Best of all, our native Trip Leaders can fill you in on all the local secrets, spots that only residents know about. So you’re guaranteed to find a culinary highlight or two on your VBT Provence vacation.

Find your own favorite reason to visit southern France and join us on a Walking Tour of Provence this year!

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