Rockfeller Plaza – New York (USA)

The sunken Plaza

One of the most impressive things I’ve seen when I visited New York was the famous Rockfeller Centre, which is located in Midtown Manhattan, between the 5th and the 6th Avenue. It is really huge, at least from a European point of view, and it struck me for the glamour of the beautiful buildings and the mixing of private companies and business with leisure and tourism.

The Rockfeller Center is composed of 19 buildings and it’s the biggest private complex in the world. It includes some television studios (ex: NBC), head-offices of important companies (ex: Deloitte&Touche), shops (ex: a big Lego store with a reproduction of the whole Rockfeller Center made with the famous bricks) and restaurants&bars (ex: Magnolia Bakery…don’t miss their cupcakes!!!), but also art objects and architectural works.

John Rockfeller Junior started the construction works in 1930 and by 1939 the main 14 buildings were completed. During the 60s and the 70s other buildings were built along the Avenue of the Americas. The Rockfeller Centre was declared National Historic Landmark in 1987 and, since then, almost every tourist in New York comes here, because it has become one of the most iconic places in Manhattan.

I was especially impressed by two elements of the complex: the Channel Gardens in the Plaza and the stunning “Top of the Rock”, which is the observation deck on the top of the Comcast Building (30, Rockfeller Plaza).

Channel Gardens

The Plaza is a really strange place and it has a sunken part which is dominated by an imposing golden statue representing Titan Prometheus. The part of the Plaza at street level has beautiful gardens with plenty of coloured flowers and water effects, which create a fresh atmosphere in summer. Flags from all over the world surround the Plaza, but on Memorial Day (the last Monday of May) the square is decorated by plenty of US flags in honour of the American soldiers who died while serving their Country.

Another remarkable thing in the Plaza is the Rockfeller plaque, listing the principles that were inspiring to the founder. For example you can read:

“I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might”


Beware of the chickens; you’re in Key West!

Slow down! Rooster crossing!

When thinking of Key West, you’ll probably see the ocean, the beach, the palms, the tropical plants, the lime pie and so on…but I’m not sure chickens would come to your mind…even if they should! Let’s see why!

Chickens came here together with the first pioneers who settled on the island about two centuries ago and they were really essential to them, because they supplied meat and eggs in a place that was almost completely isolated from the rest of the US. By the island development however, shops and drugstores became increasingly available, so that people didn’t have to keep their own farm animals anymore. This is how lots of chickens gained their freedom!

With the increasing immigration from Cuba in the 50’s, more chickens arrived in Key West, because immigrants took along all their possessions, including animals, all the more since cock fighting was unfortunately very popular in Cuba and then in the Florida Keys too. In the 70’s it became illegal and a lot of “ex-fighters” were freed. All these factors contributed to create the cheerful, colored and noisy population of the so-called “gipsy chickens” that you can now see in Key West: crossing the streets, in bars, in private gardens, on the top of parked cars…everywhere!

Half of the locals love them, while the other half hate them, but, anyway, everybody respect them and you can easily see how people drive slowly and carefully paying attention not to hit little chickens or bold roosters crossing the street.

The critics complain about the possibility that they carry some diseases to the inhabitants, get the beach dirty and make a lot of noise (in effect, roosters not only crow at the break of dawn, but you can hear them all day and all night long!)

On the other hand, chickens help keeping the cockroach and scorpion populations under control and their eggs and young fowl provide food for the local raccoons and hawks, so that nature can find a way to recover its balance by itself.

Anyway, to face the increasing number of fowls living free in Key West, the local government has established the Community Trapping Program. If there’s a young rooster that particularly bothers you, just trap it and take it to the wildlife centre, where they’ll take care of it and search an organic farm in Florida that will provide a more conventional life for this former gipsy chicken!

Typical Key West houses

Enjoying the ocean at South Beach (Florida– USA)

View of South Beach from Lummus Park

I love the sea…its ever-changing colors, its waves, its taste in the air…just everything 🙂

The most beautiful sea I’ve ever seen is the ocean in South Beach, Miami. I’ve heard that Pacific atolls are the best, but I’ve never been there so, up to this moment, Miami Beach wins 🙂

I was fascinated by the differences I noticed compared to the beaches I know well, that is the ones situated in Liguria (North West Italy) and Côte d’Azur (South East France).

First of all, South Beach is so wide that, even if it gets crowded at times, it never gets suffocating, since you always have a lot of empty space around and in front of you to watch the sea or to walk around. In my European experience, this is rarely possible, because the beaches are smaller and they get packed with people very easily, so that they always surround you, even into the water at times! This is something I don’t really like, since it make it impossible to quietly stare at the waves or to swim without paying attention not to hit people!

The beach is mostly free and there are only some spots where you can rent umbrellas and sun beds for the day. This is very similar to South France, while in Italy you can hardly find a free beach, especially in the north shores. Even if it’s a public beach, the sand and the water are very clean and there is always some police to check everything’s ok, which gives you the feeling to be really safe.

The only remark I can make is that the beach is completely dark at night, which can make it quite dangerous to walk around after sunset. That’s a pity, because I think that one of the must-do summer experiences is a night picnic in the sand with music, campfire and watermelon!

Another thing I loved in Miami were the long waves and the view of surfers practicing near the shore, not to mention that swimming in the waves is much more fun! Mediterranean sea is usually calmer and colder. I was so surprised by the hot water of this part of the Atlantic Ocean, because I had always thought it had very cold water everywhere, but I’ve been told that in South Florida you can enjoy the Gulf Current flowing from the Caribbean, so that the water temperature never drops below 24°.

The sea at sunset in South Beach

In South Beach you can easily see some local fauna, such as big pelicans that almost touch your head while diving into the water, small fishes very close to the shore and also some fenced turtle nests on the beach. In fact, in the period between April and October, a lot of sea turtles come here at night to lay their eggs!

Another distinctive feature of South Beach is the view of the colored lifeguard cabins in art-déco style, perfectly matching hotels and bars in Ocean Drive!

The typical lifeguard cabin


Waiting to leave for Nice (France) in two weeks, I’m taking one more look at the pictures I took in Miami almost 2 months ago!

Have a nice holiday!!!

Miami sunset

A starry sky at your feet: one night on the top of the Empire State Building (New York – USA)

The Empire State Building at night

Since I was a child, one of my biggest dreams was to be in New York City and this year this dream has come true! This magic city gave me a lot of emotion and beautiful memories and one of the brightest ones is the staggering night landscape seen from the top of the Empire State Building.

It was a warm and windy night and we decided to spend it doing something we had read about and had us intrigued: going to the top of the most iconic New York skyscraper to enjoy the view of the city lights. If you are planning to visit New York, I would highly recommend you to have this experience, because what you see stepping out into the observation deck is going to leave you breathless: it’s like having a big starry sky at your feet and, no matter how you slice it, the atmosphere is surreal. I particularly enjoyed the view of lower Manhattan, where you can see the Freedom Tower in the distance and the confluence of the Hudson and the East rivers into the ocean.

Over the years, this art déco skyscraper has become one of the symbols of New York City. It stands in Midtown where 5th Avenue crosses 34th Street and, with its 443 m, it’s the second highest building in town after the new Word Trade Center. The Empire State building was also the highest building in the world until 1967, when the Twin Towers were built.

Its name stems from the New York State’s nickname, that is “Empire State”: the legend has it that Henry Hudson was so struck by the beauty of this territory that he exclaimed: “This is the new empire!”

Lower Manhattan at night

To get to the top of the Empire State Building you have to stand in line for the security check, the tickets and the elevators and it can be a long wait, because it gets very crowded at certain times, but, if you want to speed it up, I suggest you to buy your tickets online. The best thing to do is to have a New York City Pass, so that you can choose in advance all the attractions you want to visit and skip the lines for tickets everywhere, saving your time and your money too, since you’ll get 15-50% discount.

For more information go to

Just another practical tip: at this altitude it’s very windy and it can be cold at night, even in summer, so don’t forget to take a sweater with you!

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Just like a starry sky