Saturday, June 30, 2007

Canada Day, minus the Mountie.

Hey world, we're 140 years old now!
Just babies in the whole scheme of world history.
We didn't spare any time selling out the rights of our precious 'mountie' image to Disneyland, however.
Unfortunately, I can't find any information on the innernets, but I know it to be true.
Why would we do this?
I have no idea.
If anyone can explain this to me, I'd be thankful.
BUT, I still love my country.
Happy Canada Day everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Venice ti amo molto molto!

What can I possibly say about Venice that hasn't been said in a dozen better ways? Well, not much, except that I really really love it.

So, without further ado, I present for your viewing pleasure: Venice!

“If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you've imagined. Venice is -- Venice is better.”
~Fran Lebowitz

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” ~Truman Capote

"Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors." ~Henry James

Streets flooded. Please advise. ~Robert Benchley, telegram from Venice to his editor

"Prosecco! Ti amo molto molto! Heywaitaminute...that's the bottom of my glass!" ~Tai

(Spider and Jeff took some of these pictures, too. I felt secure in the knowledge they would want me to use them, as they are splendid!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Among the ruins of Ostia and one lone Bernini Angel.

This is a detail from the face blocks at Ostia Antica (you can see in the last post that I'm casually leaning against them. I really did enjoy my time there!)Interestingly, it reminded me of another place I hold fond in my memory.

And it was, oddly enough, Blarney Castle in Ireland.

Beautiful Blarney Castle, where Spider Girl and I roamed free in '99. Climbing trees, scrambling through dark under tunnels deep below the walls and scaling the ruins of the castle itself, free from red velvet ropes and warnings not to touch. (Also very free from handrails and other safety features that are so predominant in other places more concerned about litigation!)
(Pssst, I didn't take that picture. It's from Wikipedia. It was "Taken by Valdoria august 2006").
Most other countries (it seems to me) have their history and precious artifacts tied up, nailed down and encased in plastic only available from viewing at a great distance.

Not so Ireland, and not so Italy!
No, my experience with both countries was a general welcoming to experience first hand the art and architecture. (Lounging was obviously encouraged as seen by the strategic placement of low lying walls, placed most advantageously for weary Canadians.)
It said to me, "Here. Here is how we lived. What we walked upon and the things we saw. It's been here for hundreds of years before you arrived and will be for many more centuries after you pass."
That being said, I understand the necessity of 'protecting' things from humanity.

We'd be fools to allow all our precious objects exposure to the elements and religious dictate (witness the loss of many fine genitals to mallets, chisels and fig leaves), but sometimes history really needs to be touched to be understood. (And no! I'm not referring to the aforementioned lost genitals!)
So I'm really grateful to Italy for allowing it's history to absorbed in a more visceral manner.

And I'm really thankful to Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) for carving the angels on the Ponte Sant'Angelo! My friends may laugh, but I've been crushing on Bernini since my last trip to Rome, and this trip just reinforced it.

We even made the trip to the church Santa Maria Maggiore to see his extremely modest tomb. In fact, it was so modest it was no more than a 'step up' to the main alter.

As that area was under some kind of restoration all I could do was wave and say 'thanks' to the man who took Baroque art and architecture to such marvelous heights in Rome.
(I didn't take that picture either. I couldn't even get near it! Thanks to mcsmith.blogs for this one!)

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Oh yes, I'm BACK! And I'm TIRED!
We travelled in Italy for three sublime weeks.
Rome, Venice, Stresa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Siena and back to Rome for a final week where Spider, Jeff and I rented an apartment.

I wrote this post last night whilst still very tired so I thought I'd come back and fill in some gaps:
Spider Girl, her husband Jeff and Pol' and I all decided several years ago that we should go travelling together. We decided this was the year.
Pol had to leave after week two from Firenze (Florence), but the remaining three of us went on to spend a day in Siena and then on to a week in Rome in our very own apartment.

There are SO many pictures to choose from I can hardly decide on which to post.

I was thinking of doing a post for each city/town we spent time in...maybe I'll do that.

So to begin.

2 days in Rome and Ostia Antica *:

This is first picture is a detail from the fountain in the Piazza della Rotonda (outside the Pantheon)

And this one is me and one of the three 'faces' on display at Ostia Antica. I loved Ostia Antica. You could climb on the old walls and race around really exploring the grounds close up and personal. Though, truth be told, there wasn't much 'racing' going on as it was hot. Damn hot.

And the next two are from the forum. Blue sky, ancient marble and poppies.

Thanks to Spider for this picture, it's beautiful!

There will be more to come, I promise! But right now jet-lag has me cornered and cowering sleepily in a corner (yes, jet-lag. Still. But I think the cold I caught just before we left might have something to do with it as well.)

*Ostia Antica stood as a major port town for Rome from about the 3rd century BC. It was even larger than Pompei; about 3 times the size at one point. But times changed, of course and the Tiber began to silt up making it's use less reliable. By the 9th century Ostia was almost completely abandoned. Then came the tourists!

Oh, here's an interesting fact: The Leaning Tower of Pisa (never did see that, though we were at the train station in Pisa for about an hour!) was entirely built of material originally belonging to Ostia.