Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos is a port city on the south coast of Cuba, capital of the province of the same name. The bay on which is located, has the same name too and is 228 km from Havana. It was founded by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana in 1819 (although it was dominated by the Spanish) under the name of Colonia Fernandina de Jagua but 10 years later, it took the name of the general Cuban governor at that time, José Cienfuegos. It has a very well preserved colonial-style historic center with imposing buildings around the central square, Parque José Martí, which is UNESCO heritage. You will find very beautiful buildings of that period like Tomás Terry theater with its frescoed ceilings and its mosaics; the Government Palace (City Hall); Ferrer Palace; the former Lycée; San Lorenzo School; among others.


There are other attractions to visit not far from the city like the Soledad Botanic Garden, 14 km away, with a huge variety of species and the Jagua Castle, an eighteenth century fortress that can be reached by ferry.

There are two important events in the city: the Carnival and the Benny Moré Music Festival (September).

Stresa, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piedmont, Italy

Stresa is a town in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont, the Po Plain, Italy. The town, situated 200 meters above sea level, is an important touristic village on the west shore of Lake Maggiore, owes its fame to the nearby Borromean Islands (in front) and is quite famous for its luxury hotels. The Grand Hotel in Borromees Islands is the oldest of them (1861); famous for having hosted Ernest Hemingway. This is an original medieval city that attracts tourism especially from early spring to late fall. Its proximity to Switzerland, also makes it for easy access. Its hills are decorated with beautiful and wealthy mansions further that the luxury hotels that line the lake shore. It also has the starting point for shuttle boats leading to the islands and major cities around the lake. Mount Mottarone is known as a ski resort as busy as the city, in addition, from there you have a magnificent view of the lake and the Alps. The city has two important events; the evening procession and celebreation of the Virgin for Easter and the Musical Week of Stressa and Lake Maggiore which takes place mainly in the city but that counts with some rooms in nearby locations. It is a classical music festival.


You can arrive there by train, the city is communicated with the line connecting Milan to Lausanne. There is a beautiful walk at the lake with cafes, restaurants and bars. To taste some typical thing, try the Margheritine, flower shaped cookies that were created in 1857 in occasion of the First Communion of Princess Margaret of Savoy who lived in Stresa. Another typical cookie is Reborino, created in honor of the poet Clemente Rebora, with ingredients that had quoted him in his poem. To accompany these delights, nothing like the Stresa Tea, made with herbs and flowers of the region.

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Cathedral of St. James of Compostela, Spain

The cathedral of St. James of Compostela, dedicated to the Apostle James of Zebedee (saint patron and protector of Spain) is a cathedral located in the historical center of the city of St. James of Compostela, purpose of one of the great pilgrimages of medieval Europe; initiatory way in which people followed the wake of the Milky Way. At the beginning of the ninth century, Alfonso II had built the first church; in 899, Alfonso III replaced it for a greater pre-Romanesque church. The present cathedral is a Romanesque building built in granite, which work began in 1075 and was finished in 1211. It is dedicated to the relics and pilgrimages. The two towers of the western façade (Baroque churrigueresque) are from the Middle Ages and its monumental staircase of 1606. Its chapels form a museum of paintings, sculptures, reliquaries and altar pieces accumulated over the centuries. The cathedral has a plan of three naves, a large transept with aisles and stands and a sanctuary with ambulatory surrounded by a ring of chapels. The original plan had additions of the Renaissance and Baroque. A sumptuous statue of St. James is in the main altar; the crypt is below with the remains of St. James and his disciples, St. Theodore and St. Athanasius. The ambulatory, the beautiful gates, the vault of the Chapel of Mondragón, the Renaissance door of the sacristy and the cloister are the most outstanding items. Above the transept of the cathedral stands a lantern tower from whose summit is hung by steel cables a brass censer of 54 kilos which is used in special ceremonies as in Compostelan years. The treasure is housed in a Gothic chapel in the south transept of the cathedral; it has a tympanum representing the equestrian figure of the Apostle (XIII century). The King of France, Charles V had made a very important gift for it to be celebrated daily a mass for the prosperity of France, so the San Salvador chapel is also known as the Chapel of the King of France; this is where the pilgrims after confessed, received the Compostela; certificate of pilgrimage.


Pilgrims can go to kiss the holy mantle by a staircase behind the altar.
You can also visit the library which displays the censers and tapestries (it’s part of the cathedral museum), even as the pieces found in the excavations .
The archives of the cathedral has a copy of the Codex Calixtinus (set of texts dated around 1140); in the texts you can find practical advice for pilgrims.