Thursday, December 19, 2013

Touring Newport

Arriving at The Breakers, the Vanderbilt Newport Summer home.

What visit to Newport, RI would be complete without a visit to the mansions so we chose as our first stop of the day the spectacular 70 room Italian Renaissance style Palazzo built by Cornelius Vanderbilt as his summer home and called The Breakers.  Making your way up the grand entrance any visitor arriving before noon will see the architectural masterpiece with the sun rising over it as the entrance faces west.  I am sure this was a calculated decision and offers an amazingly theatrical arrival.

Luckily, we arrived before snowfall but after the Christmas decorations were fully in place.  While photographs of the interior are strictly forbidden and enforced, visitors are free to roam the grounds and take all the pics they want.

Beautiful details are found throughout and one really gets the sense that these palaces were built to impress. It begins with the very high stone walls that surround most mansions giving the immediate subliminal impression of a true castle where most people will never get inside.  Entrances are typically soaring wrought iron gates reminiscent of my visit to Buckingham Palace that swing open in a dramatic fashion, giving any visitor a feeling that this is a special event.

The architectural details are stunning and found behind every twist and turn.  One of the other facets that is striking are the acres of perfectly landscaped gardens and lawns that surround the property.  Unlike very large modern houses I have been in the largess of the property surrounding the place is most impressive.

The team of architects, sculptors and crafstmen employed to complete the home was nothing less than that used to build an international monument.  Indeed, the mansions have recently been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The unimaginable wealth is apparent and wears extremely well.

After touring we joined loads of other visitors from all over the world for a little photo op time in front of the mansion, looking out over the expansive lawn with gorgeous water views.  We helped others in taking their memento shots. Of course, a visit to The Breakers would be great at any time of year but seeing everything all done up in elaborate Christmas decor seems even more impressive.  And, it's off season.  Definitely worth the ride from Boston. Newport also offers a young, fashionable crowd of people filling the many restaurants and shops and hanging out in the coffee shops, as we did.  I can't believe that I waited this long to discover Newport and will certainly be back for more.

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