Entries by Jennifer Raezer

Best Restaurants: Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the most architecturally rich, varied, and exceptionally well-preserved cities in the world, but given the high number of tourists visiting the city every day, the restaurants in Venice can really be hit-or-miss. Nevertheless, the best restaurants in Venice offer up some of the best food in Italy. To help you have […]

Eastern Influences on St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy (Video)

In this episode of our Insights series, Jennifer Raezer, Approach Guides founder, explores the eastern influences that shaped the art and architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, highlighting the church’s domes, floorplan, and mosaics, which were influenced by Venice’s interaction with the Byzantine (Constantinople/Istanbul) and Fatimid (Cairo) empires.

Off the Beaten Path in Sicily: Palermo’s Qanats

The qanat (pronounced ka-naht) is an Arab-designed underground canal/irrigation system that directs water from a high-elevation aquifer water source to a town or agricultural area along a perfectly-calculated and very slight downward grade (see illustration). Invented by the Persians in 1000 BCE and functioning as a “below-ground aqueduct,” it is ideally suited to warm, dry […]

London Architecture: Wren’s Churches (Video)

Following the Great Fire of 1666, King Charles II of England appointed Christopher Wren as chief architect in charge of rebuilding the city. In this Insights series video, Approach Guides’ founder Jennifer Raezer introduces Christopher Wren, offers insight into his distinctive style that defined London architecture during the early 18th century and points out her […]

Hidden Gem in Italy: Sanfelice’s Baroque Staircase (Naples)

18th century Neapolitan Rococo architecture is best illustrated in the work of Ferdinando Sanfelice (1675-1748), who is known for his striking staircases. We especially love the Palazzo della Spagnuolo. Via dei Virgini, 19.  Sanfelice’s stairway in this building is distinctive for its height, the large size of its openings onto the courtyard, and the movement […]

How to Read a Japanese Kaiseki Menu

During our first visit to Japan, we were overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the traditions of the local culture. The culture of food, especially, had so many rules, courses, and new types of dishes to experiment with that we can see how first-time travelers may be overwhelmed. We attempt to demystify Japanese food, specifically […]

Best Wine Bars in Venice

After spending the day touring Venice and exploring its St. Mark’s beautiful architecture and mosaics, relax with the locals at a Venetian wine bar and enjoy an aperitivo of cichetti and ombre. What to order in an Italian Wine bar Cichetti Cichetti (chi-KEHT-tee) are the bite-sized “Italian” brethren of tapas (basically, small snacks). Some of the […]

Visiting Varanasi (Benares): History, Sunrise, and the Ghats

“Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” -Mark Twain, giving his (not entirely inaccurate) description of Varanasi I felt brilliantly alive from the first moment we arrived in Varanasi. Its sights, sounds, colors, and yes, death, brought me immediately into the present, […]