The Feast of Epiphany and The Three Magi

Epiphany means the revelation of a man as God. The Christian feast is commemorated on the 6th of January (by Gregorian calendar). The Magi, or in European Continental standard the Three Holy Kings, form part of that legend. They gripped peoples’ imagination much more than the abstract revelation.



A Small Village with a Cathedral: Arlesheim Near Basel

The small village of Arlesheim is situated on the outskirts of the city of Basel in Switzerland. Mainly a farming community, it contains a cathedral and a town center built in the 17th century, two castles, and a large English garden. Arlesheim is worth a visit for its sights alone, but a must for music lovers to hear the world-famous Silbermann organ in the cathedral.



Palmanova: Italy's Star City

Towns are founded to succeed. Some do and grow out of all recognition. Some fail and disappear into the ground. Some few fall into a vegetative state and keep going without growing. They are the ones to visit like Palmanova in Italy. Like a time capsule, the town remains almost unchanged since the time of Napoleon. It was founded by the Republic of Venice as the ideal Renaissance town.


Saint Befana’s Day: Gifts From the Witch

In Italy and Southern Switzerland, January 5th is Befana’s Day. In the night before Epiphany, the witch Befana brings presents and sweets to children. If this reminds you of Saint Nicolas, Santa Claus, and Old Man Frost, then that’s no coincidence.


Royal Connections Can Be Deceiving

Royal families always seem quite remote and completely above board. Royal connections, though, can come in funny places. Titles can be deceiving, too, and are not always as high flying as they sound. Previous history might prove to be not so Royal after all. This is the story of the parents of Queen Mary of the United Kingdom.