Naples, Italy

Naples is the most populated city in southern Italy on the Bay of Naples. The first established settlement was by the Greeks in the second millennium BC. Became a major cultural center for both the Greeks and the Romans. Its location on the coast of the Bay of Naples made it a strategic and important trading center in Europe. Due to its continual habitation center, one could find many cultural and artistic samples of the different periods of development in Europe.

Bay of Naples
Beautiful view of the water.
People enjoying the sun and water
“Egg Castle” built during the Roman times had seen all the invasion of Naples. It is on the Peninsula of Megaride.
 Mount Vesuvius from Naples, the volcano’s eruption of 79AD destroyed Pompeii.
 See how the street slope and the building built along the slope.

The largest square in Naples is The Piazza del Plebiscito, a pedestrian square with an occasional outdoor concert venue. It was started in the 19th century by King Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law in order to dedicate to the emperor. But with the fall of Napoleon and return of the Bourbon rule, Ferdinand I finish the plan and converted the square to the church and dedicated the church to Saint Francis of Paolo who lived at this site in the 15th century when it was a monastery.

The Church of St. Francis of Paolo like the St Peter’s Basilica has colonnades forming a semicircle around the square. The two equestrian bronze statues in front are of the bourbon Kings, Charles III and Ferdinand IV.

Church of San Francesco diPaola

Opposite the Church of St. Francis of Paolo on the other side of the Piazza del Plebiscito is the Royal Palace of Naples. The construction started in the 17th century by Domenico Fontana not until 1734 King Charles III of Spain made it the Royal Palace. Modification and additions continued until the royal family moved to the Palace in Caserta away from the Bay of Naples and away from the danger of a naval invasion.

The Royal Palace of Naples-In 1888 the facade of 169 meters wide was changed by King Umberto I of Savoy to include niches containing statues of the prominent rulers of the Kingdom of Naples from the 12th century.  
Inside the Royal Palace of Naples, we can see the courtyard, an impressive marble grand stairway walled with large marbles. The color of the room is the natural color of the marbles.

 Flank by both sides to complete the square is the Palace of Salerno because it was the private residence of Prince of Salerno, son of Ferdinando IV, and its mirror image Palace of Prefecture, the residence of the Palace Minister.

Palace of Prefecture
Behind the Palace of Prefecture on the top of Vomero hill is the Castel Sant’Elmo and Certosa di San Martino

The Castel Sant’Elmo is a star shape medieval fortress around 1329 and is in a strategic position to overlook the entire city. The Certosa di San Martino was a Carthusian monastery complex but in the 19th century, it was abandoned. Today it is a museum that displays Spanish and Bourbon artifacts. Most noted is the ” Nativity scene “.

Nearby is a shopping area with lots to eat and drink. Galleria Umberto I is a public shopping and social area with private apartments on the third level designed by Emanuele Rocco using similar elements to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Noted: Impressive lemon sherbert served in the lemon cup, made from the halved lemon rind of the size of a fist, certainly quenched the thirst from the heat.



Caserta, Italy

The Palace of Caserta listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built by the Italian architect Luigi Vanvitelli in the 18th century as a Versailles-like residence for the Bourbon Kings of Naples and Sicily. Inside is 1200 rooms decorated in various styles.

After we enter the gate, we have a choice to go to the famous garden or to visit the inside of the palace.  We decided to go to the garden first since it was a nice day.

Just imagine, this was where all the horse-driven carriages would enter.

As we go through this paved pathway, a 120 hectares garden is on the other side.  The garden was designed according to the natural landscapes as well as the practicality of daily living.  Due to its size, visitors have a choice of horse-driven carriage rides or bikes for a small fee. We even seen some horse back riders. 

The promenade leading to the fountains and cascades stretches out approximately three kilometers.


Water come into the first basin from the mouths of two dolphins and a creature of dolphin’s head with claws sculpture by Gaetano Solomone in 1776-1779 of

The first basin is 470 meters long, 27 meters wide and 3 meters deep.  Its 32,000 cubic meters of water served a duo purpose of providing water and at the same time supply the kitchen with plenty of fish.

Water feed into this fountain from the base of sculptures by Gaetano Salomone. The center figure is Ceres, goddess of Agriculture and Fertility surrounded by cupids and nymphs presenting a medallion symbolizing the Triskelion of Sicily (Cape Peloro, Cape Pachina, Cape Lilibeo). The right and left statues represented the two rivers of Sicily. The other statues are of imposing Triton. The bronze crown of Ceres and other bronze decorative ornaments were removed during the French occupation for other uses.


Fountain of Aeolus – God of Winds Fountain was not completed as the original design.


Fountain of Venus and Adonis. The sculptures show Venus imploring Adonis not to go to the hunt that claimed his life.

The Fountain of Diana and Acteon.  At the center of the fountain is a large cascade of water of 82 meters high.  The water came from a man made cave at the top of the hill.

Diana annoyed at Acteon for looking at her nudity


Acteon transforming into a deer by Diana and killed by his own dogs


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                                                                                                    The park includes an English Garden.  It is a  botanic garden with a lot of precious and rare plants growing in the garden.  The English Garden started in 1785 at the request of Queen Maria Carolina of Austria, wife of King Ferdinando IV.  The Garden covers 24 hectares contains water ponds of water lilies, meadows, hills and canals are all man made. All trees and plants were brought from all over the world.  Most noted is the sculpture “Bath of Venus”.

The reception area has a dominating statue of Hercules. Then led up to the Grand Staircase “Staircase of Honor”.

The construction of the Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta) was started in 1752 by Charles VII of Naples, also Charles III of Spain.  Charles had to abdicate his position to become the King of Spain.  His successor and son, Ferdinand IV  became the King of Naples and Sicily continued with his plan.  The palace is the largest Baroque-style royal residence in the 18th-century model after the Palace of Versailles.

Overlooking the Grand Staircase are marble Statues of Merit, Royal Majesty, and Truth. Then the stairs parts up to the sides to enter the Chapel and the Royal apartments.
The fresco is of Temple of Apollo. The dome 42 meters above the Grand Staircase is fake. Fantastically decorated and masterfully constructed, to hide the musicians who play upon the King’s arrival as if the music from heaven greets the King.
Stairs leading up to the Chapel and the Royal Apartments. The columns and arches resemble the entrance of the temples.
The three out of eight represents the spirit of art by Tommaso Bucciano, in the first anti-chamber

The vault ceiling fresco shows off the weapons of Casa Borbone supported by the virtues, by Domenico Mondo in the first ante-chamber
Some toys for the Royal children.
Cradles of the Princes of Savoy
Telemachus saved by Minerva from Cupid’s dart by Franz Hill
Bourbon Nativity the Family’s great passion, and
whence the Neapolitan tradition of the Nativity originated.

**A side note: Caserta has very good oven-baked piazza that we devour on the train back to
Rome. Did not allow time to take pictures.
Hall of Spring designed by Carlos Vanvitelli for the living quarters of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria Carolina.

Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Ming City (formerly Saigon) is the commercial center of Vietnam as Hanoi is the political center of Vietnam.  Ho Chi Ming City is in the southeast of Vietnam surrounding the Saigon River.  This metropolis city is the most visited in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Ming City Hall
Ho Chi Ming City Hall



Municipal Theater
The Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Ming City. It was constructed in 1900 by the French during its colonial rule. It is of a typical French architectural style. During the time of North and South Vietnam, it was where the Lower House assemble. Not until 1975 it was again an Opera House and restored in 1995.




The Central Post Office of Ho Chi Ming City was constructed (1886-1891) during the French occupation in the French Colonial style.

The spectacular interior of the 19th century Central Post Office, with telephone booth and world time clocks. It is still functional at this time of e-mails and mobile phones!

In front of the cathedral are a flower garden and a statue of the Virgin Mary which had been reported seen tears in Oct. 2005.


Not too far from the Central Post Office is the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon.  Constructed in 1863-1880 and the Bell Towers were added in 1895 makes it 57.6 meters tall, with the addition of the crosses made it 60.5 meters tall.

The famous delicious Vietnamese coffee is a culture acquired from the French.

South Vietnamese water puppet show.

The Thien Hau Temple is a Chinese style temple worshiping MaZhu. First built in 1760 and continually made add-on and repairs.

Many worshipers inside during the Chinese New Year creating smoking mist with incense burning.

plaques on the wall depicting the original ties of the temple.

The beautiful Mekong Rest Stop where we had lunch

Our delicious Vietnamese lunch

Along the way to Mekong Delta, we come to Vinh Trang Temple. First, come to be in 1849, then partially destroy through various wars, finally rebuilt and restored in 1907. One of the major Buddhist temples in South Vietnam.

Shakyamuni Buddha lying posture going into Nirvana is one of the statues in Vinh Trang Temple ground


Happy Buddha is also there. Greeting everyone there

Amitabha Buddha welcoming everyone. He is also on top of the two gates leading to the ground of Vinh Trang Temple.  One is named the convenient Dharma gate and the other is the gate of pureness.20180218_132024_001-COLLAGE (1)

The bridge is where Mekong River goes out to sea

Boat ride in Mekong Delta

Our delicious meal made of various dishes of rice or rice flour.


Nanjing’s Qixia Mountain(棲霞山) Presidential Palace & 1912 Bar Street

Qixia Mountain has a variety of maple trees render it a spectacular place to visit in the autumn when the foliage becomes colorful.

Entrance to Qixia Mountain Scenic Area where one can buy tickets for the bus to take you around the mountain to various scenic sites or buy tickets to Qixia Temple.

When we arrived at Qixia, the foliage was only starting to turn.  Therefore we just visit the Qixia Temple considered to be the birthplace of the “Three Treatise” school of East Asia Buddhism.  Built-in AD 489 contained a large collection of visual arts associated with Buddhism and continuously add on during different Dynasties.  It was destroyed by Taiping rebellion and restored by the Republic of China.  However, it was ransacked by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution.

The way to Qixia Temple

gateway into the Qixia Temple

The Pagoda in the middle of the lake is connected to the bank by a Nine Bend Bridge which makes it look like a rainbow.


This place has very nice sou-venir shops.  The first site we came to is Mirror Lake. It was created during the Qing Dynasty during Emperor Qianlong’s reign.

Mirror Lake created in 1644-1911






Going up the slope of Qixia Mountain we come upon the “Thousand Buddha Caves”.  The grotto contains many Buddhist sculptures of art.

Thousand Buddha Cave

The largest is Buddha of immeasurable life is the exact depiction of Buddha of Immeasurable Life in the Southern Dynasty around the year 489 and his attendant Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta bodhisattvas.  This is the oldest statue here which is 1528 years old.





Here is a closer look at the  Buddha caves.

Sarira Pagoda is of octagonal shape, 5 stories total 18 meters high. Highly decorated with carvings. Built-in 601 re-built in 945, holds the relics of Buddhas. The pagoda is a little worn but its underground is still in pristine condition.

Pilu Hall (毗卢殿) house a statue of Vairocana Buddha- Primordial Buddha

The Shanmen, the official entrance into the Qixia temple. The three archway is a symbol of entering the three liberation door.

Qixia Temple took in refugees during the Nanking Massacre. Saving 23000 lives from the Japanese.

Presidential Palace

This was the center of government for the Republic of China before 1949

Bar Street of 1912 was where the center of entertainment.  Bring back the nostalgia.  German brewery was new and in fashion.

old German brewery equipment

Where Chinese beer was made and sold

The modern cafe moved in to keep this area viable still.

This restaurant was popular in 1912 and kept the place the same. Even the menu is the same with some new addition.

Our dinner from the Red Restaurant