Castello Svevo, Bari, Italy

Bari Castle -  Castello Svevo

Castello Svevo of Bari, Italy

As the capitol of Apulia (a region commonly known as the “heel” of Italy’s boot), Bari is a bustling and chaotic labyrinthine city in southern Italy. The city’s fortress is the Castello Svevo, protecting Apulia’s capitol since 1132. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the Normans, Holy Romans, Angevins, Spanish and even Polish all had their hand in Castello Svevo’s existence. Polish, you say? Indeed, due to a coup d’etat, the 16th century Sforza family of Milan was ousted from power and instead granted Bari and Apulia in the far south (where they were far from the economic powerhouses of Northern Italy and yet could still be kept an eye on). Daughter Bona Sforza was later wed to Polish King Sigismund I the Old (though after her death, the castle was returned to the King of Naples).  Castello Svevo’s imposing exterior is perhaps due to its use as a medieval prison. Today, the castle is a museum as well as the centrepiece of the Bari and its narrow, winding streets, perfectly Italian streets.


Pro tip: Bari is a port city – often used for catching ferries to Croatia (Dubrovnik), Montenegro (Bar), Albania (Durres), and even the Greek island of Corfu. Keep in mind that there are two ports and they are not right next to one another, so know where your ferry departs from! 


More great castles & monuments of Italy


 

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Solar eclipse in Lyon, France

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Solar eclipse from Place Bellecour, Lyon, France

If you happened to be in Europe, northern Africa, or in select parts of northern Asia and you happened to be outside this morning, you had a chance to see a total or partial solar eclipse! Seen here in Lyon, France just outside the downtown tourism office is the waning effect of a partial solar eclipse (at its maximum, the sun was covered 70%)–despite belligerent clouds determined to block the view. If you were lucky enough to be in either Svalbard or the Faroe Islands, you got to experience a total solar eclipse, ie a phenomenon that occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. Fun fact: we only experience solar eclipses occasionally because the moon’s orbit is tilted at more than 5 degrees from our planet’s orbit around the sun (so the shadow normally passes us by)–but if the moon were orbiting a little closer to earth, we’d experience a solar eclipse every month! Regardless, hopefully you took a moment to appreciate this magical phenomenon because the next partial eclipse visible all over Europe isn’t until 2022–and the next total eclipse here is in 2090! Just be careful about your eyes–the sun’s rays can be very bright and dangerous. Hopefully you enjoyed the beautiful display of sun and moon, and if you missed it, here’s a website showing you upcoming eclipses, and where/when they can be seen!


More Interesting Natural Phenomenon in Europe
  1. The French Alps lit by moonlight
  2. Gnarly tree roots in France’s Beaujolais
  3. Volcanic landscapes on Mt Esja, Iceland
  4. Thundering waters of the Kjosfossen, Norway
  5. Stalactites and stalagmites in a cave in southern France
  6. The might of ocean waves in Ireland

 

 

The French Alps

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The French Alps

Here are the French Alps lit up by a sliver of moonlight on a quiet evening in France. The Alps are magical. Stretching over 1000km through eight countries, this is probably the most significant mountain range in Europe. The highest, of course, is Mont Blanc at 4,810.45 m – not too far from this unnamed (significantly smaller) yet still spectacular mountain. A great place for hiking, the Alps are magical by both night and day. Their rural nature makes the Alpine sky by night a great canvas of dark blue – and a good place for stargazing!