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Florence

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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through Booking.com as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station,

Pisa

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Pisa Pisa - the Leaning Tower There are several trains from Florence to Pisa Centrale. We took the morning train. We were at Pisa Centrale station in about a little more than an hour. Pisa station is one of the major railway junctions of Tuscany. An old station, which opened in 1871, has a beautiful exterior.  We boarded a bus from just outside the station, which took us directly to the Leaning Tower. Located at the Piazza Dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), this walled area is regarded as one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. The most astonishing monument at this UNESCO World Heritage site is a campanile (a free-standing bell tower) 186ft11inch tall on the higher side and weighing around 14.5 tonnes which started tilting during its construction in the 12th century. It went on leaning through the centuries until remedial measures were taken about 25 years back to arrest further tilt. Finally, the tilt has been reduced to about 4 degrees. The construction o

Durga Puja in Stuttgart, Germany

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Durga Puja in Germany – from Calcutta to Stuttgart Calcutta, India Only after marriage did I take interest and started delving more deeply into the insights of the timeless social phenomenon of 'The Generation Gap'. My wife belongs to a family who hails from Choto Kalia in Bangladesh. The Sen family from this small village in Bangladesh is referred to as ‘Choto Kaliya Sen Parivar’, a distinction only because of families' unbounded stint in maintaining close-knit relations generation after generation. In fact, when I first visited my wife's ancestral house Harrison Road (near College Square) in Calcutta, I was surprised to see photographs/ painted portraits of forefathers of my father-in-law decorating the walls of the living room. Another reason which brought prominence to this family is Durga Puja, which, I understand is almost 200 years old. The Kalia Sen Bari Puja shifted its venue mid-1960s and ever since continues to be held at Mitra Institu