Category Archives: Italy

Verona – Arena

This is Google Awesome’s result. They combine a set of your (own) photo’s for you into a Pano.

I like it!

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Castle Miramare

Just outside Trieste on the northern Adriatic, in what is Italy today, you will find Castle Miramare.

Maxxie (of Hapsburg) was shipwrecked off this coast. He was saved by fishermen and fell in love with the beauty of this area. He decided to build Miramare here (1856 – 1860) for him and his wife Charlotte of Belgium to spend their summers. At the time it was part of his empire.

The inhabitants of Miramare were not exactly fortunate though.. Maximilian never saw the castle completed, he left for Mexico and was murdered there.

His wife initially accompanied him to Mexico, but returned to garner political support. She never saw him again. After staying in Miramare a few years, she returned to her native Belgium.

Empress Elizabeth was next, she lived there with her son, – who later committed suicide with his mistress.

Frans Ferdinand took over and if I’m not mistaken, he’s the guy who was shot in Serajevo, – the beginning of the first world war.

At the end of the first world war,  Amadeo, archduke of Aosta lived there, – he later died in Nairobi in a prisoner camp during the second world war.

The last inhabitans were two Brittish major generals. They both died of heart attacks.

Perhaps he misunderstood the message of the sinking ship..

Maximilian was an amateur botanist and started developing the (22ha) grounds.

Whether it was started then of later, I couldn’t say, but someone planted hundreds of laurel trees. The combination of their subtle scent and the sea air is truly sublime.

Modena

Mutna apparently, to rhyme with… That’s what you find out when you try to buy a ticket and they don’t know where you want to go. Modêêna??? Ooooo Mutna,  there you go. Just goes to show…

The town of Ferrari, Luciano Pavarotti, Lamborghini, Maserati, de Tomaso and Balsamic vinegar.

In the region of Emilia-Romagna – where they make all those tons of Parmesan cheese for the whole world. Here are a few photos taken from the train.

A kind concierge gave me a map and this was the first building I found going into town from the station.

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Not too ugly is it..

And there is good water for who’s thirsty as long as someone with hands will  help..

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There was a better photo, but madam in red was identifiable. Geez hope the dog doesn’t sue..

Horse chestnuts, the basis of badedas.

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The Italians do know how. If the streets look like this, who wouldn’t be inspirered to design and to sing.

The elegant Duomo complete with lions and Byzantine arches.

Everywhere in the south of Europe you see memorials to those who died in the world wars. Looking at a few of them you soon notice that the majority of people killed in wars are not solders, but women and children and other non combatants.

In Modena they went to the trouble of getting a photo of everyone to put on display.

Always knew the Italians were caring people.

And it wouldn’t be Italian if food wasn’t involved.

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and drink seemingly..

And guessing from the final word, it’s sacred as well ;- Don’t eat unholy food, ever, be warned.

So here we go, out of town. Always too short.

I am sure I remember having a drink on some piazza.

Don’t know why I didn’t take some pictures of the hip teenages at the table next door. In the South you have to be seen, you cannot simply be, you must be seen to be.. Frederico Felini with his La Dolce Vita isn’t from nearby Rimini for no reason.

I’ll post something on them soon. So luxurious, sun sea and gelato.. You have to have a different one every day, melon and coffee and chocolate and lemon and mint and raspberry and every possible flavour you can think of.

PS Seen the post on Arundel?

Taormina – Sicily

A charming town on the west coast of Sicily. They are perched, – quite gracefully, on the cliffs. It is not so far from Catania.

A waiter in Catania asked where I was going next. He was very surprised that I chose to go to Agrigento (on the east coast), if I was going to Taormina, that he could understand, but Agrigento?!

Well his tactics worked, I went to Taormina the same afternoon. And Agrigento later the evening, but that is another story.

A rare breed the Sicilians. Sometimes you can see the vulcano smoldering behind their eyes. Hard eyes, quick to anger and smoking practically all the time.

You can see Mount Etna in the distance from Toarmina.

The town is well kept and in souvenir shops you can still see some of the traditional goods 😉

Their island forms a triangle and they use a symbol with three legs reaching out to the three corners. I seem to remember it is on their flag as well.

Their history is so old and filled with many influences. The people of Taormina were formed from many different tribes, although the Greeks found the Siculi in residence when they arrived 734 BC.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediteranian and has always  been important because of her resources and position. Being so important makes you popular and just about everybody was there.

The Phoenecians, from Carthage, were there and later the Romans ruled one side of the island. (Taormina was one of the first cities to be taken by them). The Punic wars started in Sicily if I’m not mistaken. It was Greek as well off course, Archimedes lived in Sicily, – they still have the most beautiful of all the Greek temples.

Because of their defensable position Taormina was one of the last cities the East Roman Empire held on to. But they fell to the Arabs in 908 after a two year siege.  In 1078 the Normans invaded them and later they were under Aragon (of Spain). In 1675 the French besieged the town.

In short everbody who was anybody was there. 

You can find wonderful things in these country towns, I bought  cherry tomatoes from a little shop in the via Cappucini, just past the fountain. Never a mistake when you are near a vulcano, the soil grows the sweetest tomatoes.

Rather an amusing lot in Taormina as well. For afternoon entertainment at the coffee shop, we had A VERY upset gentleman wanting to park his car while I was having tarte Tatin. After he took the two filled plastic bottles out of the garage to keep the doors open, I just had to move my table a liiiittle bit out the way, so that he could turn into the garage. The poor guy looks like he has an ulcer from the parking problems he has to live with. And the car has more than a few dents as well.. And mean while the café owner gives an almost convincing performance, -nothing is wrong, this is all absolutely normal.

Well all I can say is life in the countryside is not always as quiet as it seems..

To go on, – the Romans left their usual traces.

In Taormina they also have churches..

And everything else I didn’t know where to put 🙂

Villa d’Este – Tivoli

Outside Rome is the town Tivoli, and in it the well known Villa d’Este.

For everyone who watched the Borgias, Lucrezia’s (pope Alexander VI’s daughter) son, cardinal Ippolito de Este, had the villa built.

Fresco
Frescos

The architect drew inspiration (as well as marble and statues) from the nearby Villa Adriana, Hadrian’s country home. It is still there, rather neglected, but there.

The gardens were revolutionary for their times and all formal gardens from Poland to Portugal followed this new pattern, started here in renaisance Italy. It is filled with fountains, and in the intense summer heat of Romania, the water is very welcome. Old Roman hydrolic knowledge was used to power all the fountains.

Quite a feat really, without electricity and considering the scale.

The Peacock

The Peacock

A drinking fountain before you go down the stairs

Neptune is also there, but only since the 20th century.

There is a water organ as well, how original it is I don’t know, but there is nothing like a program to set your tourists in motion. If the organ plays on the hour, everybody is rushing off to the organ to be there on time. If you had to see people shoving and jostling for position you would think you couldn’t hear the organ from one meter back. Quite sad really.

We also have the bigger ponds as well as the dragons. Some pope had the dragon on his crest I believe.

Impressive what you can do with a good architect, engineer and a few artists isn’t it. And a few pence off course.