Category Archives: Italy

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…

People Pictures – Street Beggars

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken whilst on a gondola ride through the back canals of Venice…

Begging is quite normal in Europe, I don’t quite know where I stand on it, I am certain some of it is based on genuine hardship and some is based on a scam.  I quite often hand over some loose change just to massage my conscience.

We had spent 100 euro on a gondola ride and she was asking for just a few cents.

I sensed this woman was genuine, she has the look of being genuine and I would have gladly tipped some coins into her collection cup but we were in the middle of a canal  and how was I to get it to her.  I felt guilty about that.

Some people however I would never give money to, like this pair of scammers in Oviedo in Northern Spain…

 

Monday Washing Lines – Burano, Venice

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

 

It is a Challenge, feel free to join in…

A to Z of Balconies – Verona

Supposedly the location of the famous balcony scene from Shakespeare’s love story, Juliet’s house in Verona is a popular romantic shrine and tourist honey-trap where lovers leave messages to each other on the walls and attach the dreadful lovelocks to the fences and the railings.

Although the place has become a major destination for tourist pilgrimage the house of course has no connection at all with the bard’s fictional characters and although it is old and looks authentic enough, the balcony was actually added in 1936 and declared to be “Juliet’s house” by the city authorities in a blatant attempt to cash in on the Shakespeare connection and to attract more tourists.

The balcony overlooks a tiny courtyard containing a dainty bronze statue of a graceful Juliet and people were waiting impatiently for their turn to be photographed with the heroine and to touch her right breast which is supposed to bring good fortune but I was worried that public groping was inappropriate and ever so slightly ungentlemanly so I steered clear and elected to do without the good luck boost and on the way out decided not to waste my money on a lottery ticket next weekend.

It is an interesting fact that thirteen of the thirty-seven plays of William Shakespeare were set either completely or partly in Italy and if we rule out the ten English history plays (which naturally have to be set in England) then half of the remainder of the major works are set in the Italian states and no one knows for sure just why.

Those who question Shakespeare’s authorship make the point that he sets his plays in Venice, Milan and Florence not Warwick, Oxford and York and they just may have a point!

The plays in which some or all of the action is set in Italy are: All’s Well that Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter’s Tale.

“Ever a shadow, he disappears, all but utterly, from 1585 to 1592….There is not a more tempting void in literary history, nor more eager hands to fill it” – Bill Bryson on Shakespeare.

People Pictures – Waiting For The Bus

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in the tiny country of San Marino…

San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the World (it is .0008% the size of Australia) and the third smallest in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being tinier. It is also World’s smallest Republic. I have been to the Vatican City but not to Monaco.

Nearly fifty years ago at University I studied the ‘Unification of Italy’, it was my specialist subject, but I don’t remember it ever occurring to me to wonder why San Marino is an independent State (perhaps that’s why I didn’t get a First) and not simply a part of greater Italy because Italy is one hundred and sixteen thousand square miles of territory and San Marino is only twenty-three (.02%). Visiting the country made me belatedly curious.

One explanation offered is that during the wars of Italian unification Giuseppi Garibaldi (he keeps cropping up) in 1849 was on the run from Austrian, French, Spanish and Neapolitan troops and sought refuge for himself and his small army in San Marino where he was given welcome and refuge. In recognition of this support Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state and in 1862 a friendship treaty guaranteed its continuing independence.

Click on an image to view the Gallery…

Read The Full Story Here…

Monday Washing Lines – Venice Canal

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

“The Venetian gondola is as free and graceful, in its gliding movement, as a serpent. It is twenty or thirty feet long and is narrow and deep like a canoe; its sharp bow and stern sweep upward from the water like the horns of a crescent…. The bow is ornamented with a battle axe attachment that threatens to cut passing boats in two.” – Mark Twain – The Innocents Abroad

Our friendly gondolier took us first through some narrow back canals heading for the Grand Canal that without pavements or people were curiously quiet as we passed by the back doors and water garages of mansions, shops and restaurants but the main canals were busier, lined with cafés and restaurants and with crowds of people crossing the narrow bridges every few metres or so.

I preferred the quieter back canals where it was possible to get a real taste of Venice. The Venice where people live. At water level there was a completely different perspective to the buildings and down here we could see the exposed brickwork and the crumbling pastel coloured stucco giving in to the constant assault of the waters of the lagoon as it gnaws and gouges its relentless way into the fabric of the buildings.

 

It is a challenge, feel free to join in.