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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.

Traveler profile: A Family’s First Vacation with VBT

Sail Boat

A few weeks ago our President, Gregg Marston, received a wonderful voicemail from Dr. Warren G, who had recently returned from our Tuscany by the Sea vacation, about the amazing time he had on his first trip to Italy. We had a chance to catch up with Warren to hear more about his first VBT experience and his first trip to Europe since he spent a week in Paris in the 1980’s.

hay fields

Warren first learned of VBT while on a vacation to Acadia National Park where he noticed a tour of VBTers cruising Coast Housearound the famed Maine island park and thought to himself “what a great way to see the sights and fully experience the surroundings”.  So he looked up VBT, did some research on our pricing and all the places he could travel with us, and booked his first vacation.  With Warren’s eldest son preparing for his freshman year of college, the summer of 2013 presented itself to be a perfect time for the whole family to join in a new adventure together. So with his wife, three boys and 69 year old mother-in-law in tow, the family set out for the coast of Tuscany.

Family

Warren told us that the food and sights of the region were so amazing that “3 days into the trip I was like ‘alright, where are we going next year’? It was just so great.”  But what really made the trip so memorable for Warren and his family was Bike Route FlowersVBT Trip Leaders Marcello and Angelo, “those two guys in particular were just fantastic. We were with another couple who had been on many VBT trips and they said they had never had guides as good as those two guys.” He added, “Every morning they would teach us local expressions and some of Italy’s most used hand gestures which made interacting with the locals so much easier.”  Warren even mentioned that after every lunch break and pit stop, when the family returned to their bicycles, “all the water bottles on the bikes were refilled with fresh water and even included fresh lemon slices in the bottles.”  He went on to mentionSunflower Field with son that it was the “little things” that VBT does that he was so impressed by, such as detailed trip planning and all the small transfers that he didn’t really think about logistically before going on the trip.

After returning home to New Hampshire, and while browsing the 700+ photos he took, Sunny MeadowWarren says he’s already begun thinking about his next vacation with VBT.  At the moment he is leaning towards The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria bicycling vacation but is also contemplating a return to Italy because of the amazing experience the family had there, a sentiment echoed by Warren’s initial message to Gregg – “Thank you VBT for making my first trip to Italy so unbelievable…you have a superior product, I just loved it.”

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