Category Archives: {Italy}

Verona, Italy {Italy}

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My cousin drove me to Verona where I stayed 6 1/2 hours all alone in the city of Romeo and Juliet. It was probably better that I was alone as I took my time and really soaked up the city.

I visited the Casa di Giulietta

The house claiming to be Juliet’s. It has been turned into a tourist attraction. It features the balcony and in the small courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet. It is one of the most visited sites in the town.

Many people write their names and the names of their beloved ones on the walls of the entrance, known as Juliet’s wall. Many believe that writing on that place will make their love everlasting. After a restoration and cleaning of the building, it was intended that further writing should be on replaceable panels or white sheets placed outside the wall.

I also visited three churches.

Church of Saint Anastasia

St. Anastasia is the largest church in Verona. The church you can see nowadays was built by the Dominican Order and dedicated to Saint Peter Martyr, Dominican monk and co-patron of Verona together with Saint Zeno. Being built on the site on which an older church dedicated to St. Anastasia was, people of Verona still call it this way.

St. Anastasia is a superb gothic building, boasting a majestic apse and a high bell tower. Everything is made in red bricks. Facade was never completed in its upper section but it proudly displays a double opening ogival portal in polychromatic marble. Left of the facade, in the beautiful little square in front of St. Anastsia, the suspended tomb of Guglielmo da Castelbarco, the forerunner of the famous Scala family tombs.

St Anastasia is divided in three aisles, decorated by beautiful lateral chapels, presenting rich collections of paintings by famous painters from Verona such as Girolamo dai Libri and Altichiero. Very interesting are also the two holy-water fonts supported by two hunchbacks. One was probably sculpted by Paolo Veronese father who was a stone cutter.
St Anastasia most famous work of art is the fresco by Pisanello representing St George freeing the Princess, considered a masterpiece of gothic painting. It decorates the arch of Pellegrini Chapel.

Duomo di Verona – the Cathedral Complex

Rather than a single building, the area surrounding the Cathedral of Verona is constituted by a series of religious buildings linked together: the Duomo (Cathedral), St Giovanni in Fonte baptistery of Verona, St. Elena, the Canonical museum, its cloister, the library, the bishop residence and the bell-tower. Some are closed to the public and some are opened only in certain period of the year.

The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary Matricular, like the earlier churches that have been erected here since IV century. The actual building was built in Romanesque style 1187, but was restored and enlarged in gothic style in 1440. Of the original austere Romanesque structure remain the double prothyron with its twisting columns and the winged griffins, the sculptures of the portal and few decorations. On the side of the Cathedral there’s the huge bell tower. The base dates back to thirteenth century, the central storey was designed by Sanmicheli in sixteenth century and the top part, unfinished, was built in the early twentieth century.

The inside is divided into a nave and two aisles by beautiful gothic columns in dark red Veronese marble. Fresco decorations on the walls are by Falconetto, painted in the sixteenth century.

The apse basin is decorated with a fresco by Francesco Torbido taken from Giulio Romano design.
The most important painting of Verona Duomo is the big Our Lady of Assumption painted in 1535 by Titian.

On the outside, hided in a small alley, there’s one of most beautiful cloister in town: the Chapter cloister. Built in 1140 above the remains of earlier Christian basilicas it’s one of the purest examples of Romanesque style with its small columns arranged in couples which on the eastern side, pan out into a double order of small arches. In two “windows” opened on the floor of the cloister, mosaics from earlier churches can be admired.

On the back og the Cathedral, St. Giovanni in Fonte was the cathedral baptistery. It dates back to 1123, made in honey coloured sandstone. The inside is dominated by the monolithic baptismal font in its centre. It was created by master Brioloto in thirteenth century and because of its extraordinary naturalistic vivacity is considered one of the highest examples of Romanesque sculpture in Verona, depicting scenes of the life of Jesus.

Church of Saints Fermo and Rustico

The church of the Saints Fermo and Rustico is one of the most representative examples of Gothic architecture in Verona. The actual church dates back to the fourtenth century, but on the place, layer after layer, and various churches were built since fourteenth century on the place on which the two saints undergone martyrdom in 361. The facade is characterized by the typical stripes of yellow sandstone and red bricks together with the beautiful portal contribute to create a building of rare beauty.

In the inside the visitor is stunned by the wooden hull-like ceiling and the funeral monument of Nicolò Brenzoni, sculpted by the Florentine Nanni di Bartolo and decorated with an elegant fresco by Pisanello depicting the Annunciation.

Lower church
St. Fermo and Rustico is basically constituted by two different churches, a lower and an upper one. The lower church is made of evocative cross vaults supported by cross shaped pillars. It still holds many interesting eleventh and thirteenth century frescos.

Here are more photographs I took in Verona, Italy.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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Burano, Italy {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

After visitng the island of Murano I ate on the island of Burano. The food is less expensive then Murano.  This is where I ate Gnocchi for the fist time. When in Italy do as they do!  Here are a few photographs and some facts about Burano.

Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, although like Venice itself it could more correctly be called an archipelago of islands linked by bridges. It lies near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, and is known for its lacework.

Burano is situated 7 kilometers from Venice, a short 40 minute trip by Venetian motorboats, “vaporetti”. The island is linked to Mazzorbo by a bridge. The current population of Burano is about 4,000.

The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the 6th century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, c. 8 km to the south.

Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, being introduced to such a trade via Venetian-ruled Cyprus, more specifically the small town of Lefkara where Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1481 and purchased a cloth for the main alter of the Duomo di Milano. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but decline began in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Burano is also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. The designer Philippe Starck owns three houses. Other attractions include the Church of San Martino, with a campanile, the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. This practice has resulted in the myriad of warm, pastelly colours that characterises the island today.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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Murano, Italy {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One of the sites to witness is on the island of Murano in Italy. Its famous for their glass. Here are a few photographs of the factory I visited and some facts.

Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1 mile north of Venice and measures about 1 mile across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking. It was once an independent comune, but is now a località of the comune of Venice.

Venetian glass is a type of glass object made in Venice, Italy, primarily on the island of Murano. It is world-renowned for being colorful, elaborate, and skillfully made.

Many of the important characteristics of these objects had been developed by the thirteenth century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano.

Byzantine craftsmen played an important role in the development of Venetian glass, an art form for which the city is well-known. When Constantinople was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, some fleeing artisans came to Venice. This happened again when the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, supplying Venice with still more glassworkers. By the sixteenth century, Venetian artisans had gained even greater control over the color and transparency of their glass, and had mastered a variety of decorative techniques.

Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe.

Some of the most important brands of glass in the world today are still produced in the historical glass factories on Murano. They are : Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Seguso. Barovier & Toso is considered one of the 100 oldest companies in the world, formed in 1295.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Rialto Bridge, Venice {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here are my photographs of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy. Also some interesting facts.

The Rialto Bridge (Italian: Ponte di Rialto) is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It is the oldest bridge across the canal.

The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri. It was called the Ponte della Moneta, presumably because of the mint that stood near its eastern entrance.

The development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. This structure had two inclined ramps meeting at a movable central section, that could be raised to allow the passage of tall ships. The connection with the market eventually led to a change of name for the bridge. During the first half of the 15th century two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge. The rents brought an income to the State Treasury, which helped maintain the bridge.

Maintenance was vital for the timber bridge. It was partly burnt in the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310. In 1444 it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.

The idea of rebuilding the bridge in stone was first proposed in 1503. Several projects were considered over the following decades. In 1551 the authorities requested proposals for the renewal of the Rialto Bridge, among other things. Plans were offered by famous architects such as Jacopo Sansovino, Palladio and Vignola, but all involved a Classical approach with several arches, which was judged inappropriate to the situation. Even the great Michelangelo was considered as designer of the bridge.

The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was finally completed in 1591. It is remarkably similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted future ruin. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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Saint Mark’s Campanile, Venice {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here are my photographs of Saint Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy. Also some interesting facts.

St Mark’s Campanile (Campanile di San Marco in Italian) is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, located in the square (piazza) of the same name. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

Each of the five bells of the campanile had a special purpose. The Renghiera (or the Maleficio) announced executions; the Mezza Terza proclaimed a session of the Senate; the Nona sounded midday; the Trottiera called the members of the Maggior Consiglio to council meetings and the Marangona , the biggest, rang to mark the beginning and ending of working day.

The tower is a which 98.6 metres (323 ft) tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark’s Square, near the front of the basilica. Not only does it has a simple form, the bulk of which is a plain brick square shaft, 12 metres (39 ft) wide on each side and 50 metres (160 ft) tall, above which is the arched belfry, housing five bells. The belfry is topped by a cube, alternate faces of which show walking lions and the female representation of Venice (la Giustizia: Justice). The tower has been capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel. The campanile reached its present form in 1514. As it stands today, however, the tower is a reconstruction, completed in 1912 after the collapse of 1902.

The initial 9th-century construction, initiated during the reign of Pietro Tribuno and built on Roman foundations[citation needed], was used as a watch tower for the dock, which then occupied what is now Piazzetta dei Leoncini. Construction was finished in the twelfth century, during the reign of Domenico Morosini. The base of the campanile is part of the logetta which housed the barracks of the guard for the Doge’s Palace. The logetta was built by Sansovino, completed in 1549 and extended in 1663. One of the models for the tower was the St. Mercuriale’s Campanile, in Forlì.

Seriously damaged by a fire in 1489 that destroyed the wooden spire, the campanile assumed its definitive shape in the sixteenth century thanks to the restorations made to repair further damage caused by the earthquake of March 1511. These works, initiated by the architect Giorgio Spavento, then executed under the direction of Bartolomeo Bon of Bergamo, added the belfry, realized in marble; the attic, on which was put the sculpture of the lion of Saint Mark and Venice; and the spire, in gold leaf. The work was completed on 6 July 1513, with the placement of the gilded wooden statue of the Archangel Gabriel in the course of a ceremony recorded by Marin Sanudo.

In the following centuries numerous other interventions were made to repair the damage caused by fires. In 1653, Baldassarre Longhena took up the restorations. More work was done after a fire on April 13, 1745, which caused some of the masonry to crack, and killed several people as a result of falling stonework. Finally, in 1776, the campanile was equipped with a lightning rod. In 1820, the statue of the angel was replaced with a new one by Luigi Zandomeneghi.

In July 1902, the north wall of the tower began to show signs of a dangerous crack that in the following days continued to grow. Finally, on Monday, July 14, around 9:45 am, the campanile collapsed completely, also demolishing the logetta. Remarkably, no one was killed, except for the caretaker’s cat. Because of the campanile’s position, the resulting damage was relatively limited. Apart from the logetta, only a corner of the Biblioteca Marciana was destroyed. The piera del bando, a large porphyry column from which laws used to be read, protected the basilica itself.

The same evening, the communal council approved over 500,000 Lire for the reconstruction of the campanile. It was decided to rebuild the tower exactly as it was, with some internal reinforcement to prevent future collapse. Work lasted until March 6, 1912. The new campanile was inaugurated on April 25, 1912, on the occasion of Saint Mark’s feast day, exactly 1000 years after the foundations of the original building had allegedly been laid.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Palazzo Ducale di Venezia, Venice {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here are my photographs of the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Also some interesting facts.

The Doge’s Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale di Venezia) is a gothic palace in Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice.

Its two most visible facades look towards the Venetian Lagoon and St Mark’s Square, or rather the Piazzetta. The use of arcading in the lower stories produces an interesting “gravity-defying” effect. There is also effective use of colour contrasts.

The current palace was largely constructed from 1309 to 1324, designed perhaps by Filippo Calendario. It replaced earlier fortified buildings of which relatively little is known. Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon created the Porta della Carta in 1442, a monumental late-gothic gate on the Piazzetta side of the palace. This gate leads to a central courtyard.

The palace was badly damaged by fire in 1574. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style, despite the submission of a neo-classical alternative design by Palladio. However, there are some classical features — for example, since the 16th century, the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.

As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city. Venice was ruled by an aristocratic elite, but there was a facility for citizens to submit written complaints at what was known as the Bussola chamber.

The building is preserved as a museum. Inside, the visitor can see paintings by Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, which glorify the Venetian state. In 2007, there was a temporary exhibition on “Venice and Islam”.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here are my photographs of Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. Also some interesting facts.

Basilica Cattedrale Patriachale di San Marco and commonly known as Saint Mark’s Basilica) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on Piazza San Marco (in the San Marco sestiere or district) adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. Originally it was the “chapel” of the Venetian rulers, and not the city’s cathedral. Since 1807 it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building was known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold).

The first St Mark’s was a temporary building in the Doge’s Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832; from the same century dates the first St Mark’s Campanile (bell tower). The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica since 1063. The basilica was consecrated in 1094, the same year in which the body of Saint Mark was supposedly rediscovered in a pillar by Vitale Faliero, doge at the time. The building also incorporates a low tower (now housing St Mark’s Treasure), believed by some to have been part of the original Doge’s Palace. Within the first half of the 13th century the narthex and the new façade were constructed, most of the mosaics were completed and the domes were covered with higher wooden, lead-covered domes in order to blend in with the Gothic architecture of the redesigned Doge’s Palace.

While the basic structure of the building has been much altered, its decoration changed greatly over time. The succeeding centuries, especially the fourteenth, all contributed to its adornment, and seldom did a Venetian vessel return from the Orient without bringing a column, capitals, or friezes, taken from some ancient building, to add to the fabric of the basilica. Gradually, the exterior brickwork became covered with various marbles and carvings, some much older than the building itself (see Four Tetrarchs, below). The last interventions concerned Baptistery and St Isidor’s Chapel (1300s), the carvings on the upper profile of the façade and the Sacristy (1400s), the Zen Chapel (1500s).

As a “State church”, until 1807, the basilica was not subject to the bishop (patriarch since 1451), whose cathedral was San Pietro di Castello. The doge himself appointed for celebrations a special clergy led by the primicerio. The procurators’, an important organ of the Republic of Venice, were in charge of administration; their seats were the Procuratie, in St Mark’s Square. All building and restoring works were directed by the protos: great architects such as Jacopo Sansovino and Baldassarre Longhena had this title. Procurators and proto still exist and accomplish the same tasks for the Patriarchate.

The exterior of the basilica is divided in three registers: lower, upper, and domes. In the lower register of the façade five round-arched portals, enveloped by polychrome marble columns, open into the narthex through bronze-fashioned doors. Above the central door round three bas-relief cycles of Romanesque art. The external cycle frames a 19th century gilded mosaic (Last Judgment) that replaced a damaged one with the same subject (during the centuries many mosaics had to be replaced inside and outside the basilica, but subjects were never changed). Mosaics about St Mark relics’ stories are in the lunettes of the lateral portals; the first on the left is the only one in the façade preserved from the 13th century. In the upper register, from the top of ogee arches, statues of Theological and Cardinal Virtues, four Warrior Saints and St Mark watch over the city. Above the large central window of the façade, under St Mark, the Winged Lion (his symbol) holds the book quoting “Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus” (Peace to you Mark my evangelist) . In the lunettes of the lateral ogee arches are four gilded mosaics renewed in the 17th century. In the center of the balcony the Greek Horses face the square.

The Horses of Saint Mark were installed on the basilica in about 1254. They date to Classical Antiquity; by some accounts they once adorned the Arch of Trajan. The horses were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and in 1204 Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them back to Venice as part of the loot sacked from Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. They were brought to Paris by Napoleon in 1797 but returned to Venice in 1815. After a long restoration, since the 1990s they have been kept in St Mark’s Museum (inside the basilica). The horses now on the facade of the cathedral are bronze replicas.

The interior is based on a Greek cross, with each arm divided in three naves and emphasized by a dome of its own. This is based on Justinian’s Basilica of the Apostles in Constantinople. The marble floor (1100s, but underwent many restorations) is entirely tessellated in geometric patterns and animal designs. The techniques used were opus sectile and opus tessellatum. The lower register of walls and pillars is completely covered with polychrome marble slabs. The transition between the lower and the upper register is delimited all around the basilica by passageways which largely substituted the former galleries.

The upper order of the interior is completely covered with bright mosaics containing gold, bronze, and the greatest variety of stones. The decorated surface is on the whole about 8000 m. In the most ancient works, both Byzantine and Gothic influences can be recognized, as for example in the Saints from the 11th century between the windows of the apse. In the vault above is a mosaic with Christ Pantocrator. From the apse towards the entrance (from east to west) one can contemplate the history of Salvation in the domes: the Prophets, the Ascension and the Pentecost (Whitsun). The domes over the transept are called St John’s (stories of St John the Evangelist) and St Leonard’s (with other saints). In the vaults between the domes are represented episodes of Jesus’ life. As mentioned above, restorations and replacements were often necessary thereafter, and great painters such as Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Tintoretto and his son Domenico took part drawing the cartoons. Tiziano and the Padovanino prepared the cartoons for the sacristy, built in the late 1400s. Other remarkable mosaics decorate the Baptistery, the Mascoli Chapel, St Isidor Chapel and the Zen Chapel.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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Venice, Italy {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I arrived in Venice Tuesday late evening. As usual, I woke at 5:30 am. I showered and started my morning walking around all lone. It was pretty amazing how peaceful it was as the city was still sleeping. You’ll see that I hit all the hot spots like: Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, St. Mark’s Basin, Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Campanile and Palazzo Ducale di Venezia.

Veniceis a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry, and is the capital of the region Veneto, with a population of 271,367 (census estimate 1 January 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). The name is derived from the ancient Celtic tribe of Veneti that inhabited the region in Roman times. The city historically was the capital of an independent city-state. Venice has been known as the “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”. Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”. Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe’s most romantic cities.

The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon.

The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain and spice trade) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice an extremely wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several considerable artistic achievements, and history of excellence in most of those aspects, notably during the Renaissance period. Venice is also famous for its musical, particularly operatic, history, and its most famous son in this field is Antonio Vivaldi.

Anthony Lujan Photography
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