Category Archives: Italy

A to Z of Cathedrals – B is for Bari in Italy

For B I was tempted to go for the obvious choice of Barcelona and either the modern Sagrada Familia or the old town traditional Cathedral.  I decided against that and also what is probably my most favourite of all, Burgos in Northern Spain and chose instead the Cathedral of Saint Sabinus in Bari in Southern Italy.

Saint Nicholas was a fourth century Greek Saint who had a reputation for giving secret gifts, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for our Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which is itself a  corruption of the transliteration of ‘Saint Nikolaos’.

In 1087, part of the relics (about half of his bones) were stolen from a site in Turkey and relocated in Bari and I am now able to tell my grandchildren that although they think Santa Claus lives at the North Pole I know where he really is.  Bari may not be Florence, Rome,Venice or even Lecce but it does have Father Christmas.

Read The Full Story Here…

If I was staying in the United Kingdom I would have chosen Bury St Edmunds …

 

A to Z of Cathedrals – A is for Alghero in Sardinia

 

I first visited Alghero in Sardinia in 2009, I remember that it rained a lot.  I thought that it might be a good idea to stay dry and visit the Cathedral but sadly it was closed for restoration.

This has happened to me quite regularly I have to say, I am quite  unlucky when it comes to visiting Cathedrals and I very often find scaffolding, men at work and no entry signs.

Eventually the rain eased.  There was a little bar that overlooked the sea and we ordered Italian beer and some sandwiches that when they arrived we had to eat quickly because of the unwanted attention of hundreds of irritating flies that quickly became uninvited guests at our table.  The waiter apologised and explained that this time of year is always bad for these little pests.

It was really warm and we were glad of the seafront location as we sat and watched the activity on the promontory overlooking the sea and we were envious of the unhurried pace of life that the local people seemed to enjoy.  A bit of a walk, a bit of a chat, a bit of a walk, a bit of a chat, a bit of a walk, a bit of a chat and then turn around and do it all over again as they dawdle back in the opposite direction.

We navigated the city and as went peered down slightly shabby narrow streets, disfigured by graffiti, care worn but lived in with brightly colour-washed buildings with ancient coats of paint like fragments of history which have blotched and blurred by a combination of successive harsh summers, equally hard winters and general neglect resulting in a glorious wash resembling water colours running in the rain, everything dripping and running, liquefying and merging, leaking and fusing.

The streets between the houses were like deep gullies made brilliant by vibrant washing lines even after a night of torrential rain strung outside of windows like carnival bunting as though in anticipation of a parade, stretching across the streets dripping indiscriminately and swaying gently backwards and forwards above the secret doorways and back alleys and with realistically today, in view of the weather, only an outside chance of drying out.

Alghero has a Catalan heritage and even today Catalan is recognised as an official language and street names appear in both Catalan and Italian. A good percentage of the population speak this language although being rather isolated from direct Catalan influence over the years the dialect of Alghero today is said to be similar to the language spoken in Catalonia between the middle of the fourteenth and the end of the seventeenth century.  For an Algheran to speak to a Catalan today would be rather like me trying to have a sensible conversation with William Shakespeare.

As if to emphasise this Catalan connection Alghero has four twin towns, Tarragona and Balaguer in Catalonia, Encamp in Andorra (almost Catalonia) and Catalan speaking Palma in Majorca.

We walked along the city walls with the stunning views out to sea and we made note of promising looking restaurants for our evening meal.  We frequently detoured into the labyrinth of streets to explore the town and especially liked a deli bar/restaurant but were shocked by the price of the wine and decided instead to look for a supermarket.

 

Images of Vesuvius

Continuing the editing of the pictures of my visit to Naples I came across these images at an exhibition about the famous volcano…

I added one of my own…

Read the Full Story Here…

 

Streets of Naples

I visited Naples in April 2018.  Recently I was editing my pictures so thought that I might share these images of an exciting and eclectic city that I haven’t used before in my posts…

Top Five Searches 2009- 2021

Always, at this time of the year I spend some time looking at my statistics. This year I have been looking back over twelve years to find my Top Five most searched terms which may or may not have brought people to my posts…

Number 5 – Ponte Veccio – 2,508 search clicks

Florence and the Ponte Vecchio

First posted – February 2010
Total visits – 114
Best Year – 2015, 54 visits
2021 – zero visits

A bit of a mystery this one.  I love the stats but there is something wrong here, 2,508 search clicks but only 114 post visits?   Just another WordPress anomaly perhaps.

Number 4 -Wieliczka Salt Mine – 4586 search clicks

Wieliczka Salt Mine

First posted – April 2010
Total visits – 18,340
Best Year – 2013, 5016 visits
2021 – 46 visits so still nice to get visits to a ten year old post.

Number 3 – Vesuvius – 4858 search clicks

Mount Vesuvius, Living on The Edge of Disaster

First posted – April 2010
Total visits – 18,654
Best Year – 2013, 5016 visits
2021 – 465 visits so the oldest posts with the longest legs.

Number 2 – Moulin Rouge – 7,340 search clicks

Onyx UK and an Inappropriate Visit To The Moulin Rouge

A bit of a surprise this one

First posted – August 2011
Total visits – 6,788
Best Year – 2012, 4427 visits
2021 – 15

Number 1 – Vikings – Way out in front with 20,775 search clicks

Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings

First posted – March 2011
Total visits – 24,710
Best Year – 2012, 14,773 visits
2021 – only 15 visits so well past its sell by date.

A to Z of Statues – Z is for Zeus

And so my A to Z of statues comes to an end.  Z is for a statue of the Roman God Zeus in the Piazza Navona in Rome…

Read The Full Story Here…

 

A to Z of Statues – U is for King Umberto I of Italy

This one was taken in the City of Naples…

Umberto was king of Italy from 1878 – 1900 when he was assassinated by an American/Italian anarchist

This is an interesting but unlikely story about him..

One day he was eating in a restaurant when he noticed the owner was a near-exact physical double. It emerged that both were born on the same day, in the same town, and had married women with the same name. The restaurateur had opened his establishment on the day of Umberto’s coronation. Umberto was shot dead on the day he learned the restaurateur had died in a shooting.  His dad had no doubt been playing away.

Umberto was allegedly an uneducated man which led him to have the unfortunate nickname of Umberto the Simple.

Lots of Kings in history have been given unkind nicknames…

Read The Full Story Here…

Odd One Out – Reflections

It was Venice for all the reasons you came up with.  Well done everyone.  Too easy by far, I am working on something more challenging for next time.

I thought that the cruise ship might have confused some of you…

Reflections

Based on the success of my previous ‘odd one out’ posts here is another.

Which one is it?

A to Z of Statues – J is for Juliet in Verona

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun!”

I have backed myself into a corner with this one.

A few days ago I used Juliet’s Balcony in my A to Z oz of balconies and now I have to use Juliet herself  in my A to Z of statues.

Before anyone pulls me up on this point again I know that Juliet’s balcony is not the original and that Juliet never stood on a balcony but rather looked out of a window

The statue is situated in a delightful courtyard but sadly and inevitably it attracts the vandals who are determined to attach padlocks (so called love locks) to any available opportunity.  These mindless morons naturally flock to Juliet’s house in Verona where there are security guards who ensure they only vandalise the designated corner.

This is a lover’s plague whereby signing and locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river they become eternally bonded, inspired it is said by ‘I Want You’, the 2006 novel by Federico Moccia where by inscribing names, locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river they become eternally bonded. 

Bloody Hell that is ludicrously reckless.

This is an action where I would recommend extreme caution because it sounds dangerously impulsive to me; I think I would further recommend taking the precaution of keeping a spare somewhere in case I needed releasing later.

The tradition might sound all rather romantic and lovely but apparently all of these love tokens do lots of damage to the bridges because as they age and rust this spreads to the ironwork and thousands of padlocks need to be removed every year from bridges across Europe.  In Venice there is a €3,000 penalty and up to a year in prison for those caught doing it and that is a much, much higher price than I would be prepared to pay for eternal bondage.

To anyone who thinks this is mean-spirited please bear in mind that in June 2014 the ‘Pond des Arts’ in Paris across the River Seine collapsed under the weight of these padlock monstrosities and had to be temporarily closed.  They are not just unsightly – they are dangerous!

Read The Full Story Here…