Monday, November 7, 2016

An elephant in Sardegna

Driving through the northern area of Sardegna, not far from beautiful Castelsardo, you may be surprised to come across an elephant.

Sicilian Cart

The traditional Sicilian Carts are becoming rarer and rarer to find.  This beautiful one was on display at the entrance to a contemporary art exhibition in Siena in September 2016.

Medici in Siena

On a wall of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, at the centre of Siena in Piazza Salimben,
 is a sculpture which looks remarkably like a Medici stemma (coat of arms).  Just a little different!

An Indian in Florence: Maharaja of Kolhapur

Prince Rajaram Chhatrapati
Cascine Park is a beautiful large green oasis in the centre of Firenze/Florence, a relaxing spot (at the far end away from the market) for a stroll, walk or run when a space to slow down is needed.

Around 150 years ago 21 year old Prince Rajaram Chhatrapati had left India with his wives and entourage to visit England.  Whilst there he was advised to visit Firenze on the way home.

Unfortunately he acquired a sudden illness while is was visiting and died soon after.  In keeping with Brahmin traditions he had to be cremated and his ashes had to be scattered where two rivers converge.  There is only one spot where this could happen in Firenze, so the ceremony took place at the convergence of the Arno and Mugone rivers.

The memorial(foto at above) is near the place where his ashes were scattered.

And now it's also the place where a single span bridge of 200metres was built in 1978, now called the Ponte all'Indiano. It has two levels, one for vehicles and the other for walkers.  A little piece of somewhat secret history.

And the shrub? Who knows what it is?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Crossing the Grand Canal in Venice, local style

The Grand Canal is a 3800metres long snake, weaving its way to the lagoon. With only 4 bridges crossing this canal , it can be very frustrating  getting around, trying to find the best bridge to cross to get to see the sights or do the shopping.
Its not exactly a secret, but certainly not well known unless you actually live in Venezia, there is a local way to cross the canal.  Use a gondola!  Not just any gondola,  but a specific type, with their own little stations.  It will cost you Euro2. And you have to stand up! Well, that's not actually compulsory, but the locals do stand up for the crossing.

crossing the canal, local style standing up

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


 Three young tenors aged between 21 and 23, and from 3 different Regions of Italia (Sicilia, Emilia Romagna, Abruzzo), Il Volo, performed a Tribute Concert in Piazza Santa Croce, Firenze on July 1, 2016.

The first photo shows a much younger group, early in their career.

Second photo, Il Volo with Placido Domingo.

Third photo, the day's free insert into local newspapers.

Fourth, grazie mille Patrizia.  What a wonderful farewell evening!

Fifth, arriving at our platea seats after a very hot day in Firenze, but a glorious warm evening to enjoy the music.  The last one, around 11.30pm.

The backing orchestra from Teatro Massimo di Palermo, conducted by Placido Domingo.

sindaco mayor in Italy

 The sindaco in Italy (mayor of the town/ city/ province) is powerful and important in the everyday life and political life of their area.

At left in white is the Sindaco of Roma, Virginia Raggi.  Below her is the Sindaco of Cascina, Susanna Ceccardi.

The Sindaco is often seen at public events with an official  red white and green sash over his/her shoulder and across the chest.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

gondola ride in traffic

 These 5 fotos were taken within minutes of each other, late June.  If you are considering a quiet, relaxing or romantic ride in a gondola, choose your  time and place for getting into the gondola carefully. This looked like peak hour.  How skilled the gondoliers are, never touching each other's gondola, passing and waiting for one to turn into the canal.

Even the motor boats have a little difficulty passing each other in some of the narrow canals.

Think carefully too before you take a ride in a gondola  on the Grand Canal.  Can often be very busy: other gondolas are not the problem... think of the ferries!

Florian Venice

 One of Italy's oldest caffe establishments, Florian has been operating since 1720 in the heart of Venezia at Piazza San Marco .  In summer it's best in the morning or evening as the full sun is a killer , not to mention the tourists, in Piazza S Marco.

An orchestra plays at most hours. On the occassion of our visit in late June we had a pianist, a cellist, a violinist and a man playing the piano accordion.

There's Florian's Tea Rooms, Florian's Bar, and a good section of the piazza also.  A great spot to stop for a drink or snack.  You could get a coca cola for Euro11, a cappuccino for Euro 12.50, a gelato for Euro19.50, or an aperitivo rosso florian for Euro 12.50.  And many other treats on offer of course also. A bottle of Bollinger would set you back Euro300.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Harry's Bar, Harry's Dolci: Cipriani in Venezia

On my final day in Venezia we decided to take a trip to Giudecca, the long thin island not far from San Marco square in central Venice. A short trip on public transport (ferry) Linea number 2 took us to stop Planca Giudecca at around 1.30 pm,
peak time for a light lunch.  The temperature was 30 degrees plus, so somewhere in the shade on the lagoon's edge was  the place to go.  Not wanting to go into the nearest restaurant we strolled along to Fondamenta San Biagio and a restaurant that took our eyes, an all in white terrace with a floating white canopy right on the water's edge.  It wasn't until I read the
menu (with prices) that I realised we had inadvertently landed at Harry's Dolci, a less formal side of one of the Cipriani family's upmarket eateries. Service was courteous, food was simple and well presented, table cloth and serviettes were of white linen,  acqua frizzante was cold,  the waves of the lagoon almost lapped at our feet and the busy movements of hundreds of various boating vehicles kept us entertained and relaxed: postal service, tour groups in private boats, wooden taxis, builders carrying heavy equipment, ferries with trucks on board, even a "Red Bus" (in this case a red boat) for tourists' views of the city by boat.
kept us entertained and relaxed.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania Sicilia Italy

Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.  on the night of Friday June 10, a magnificent performance of Spartacus - Balletto Classico.
Inside Ceiling
This narrow "street" on the left side of the theatre building is now named after Maria Callas... Bellini's famous opera Norma was one of her favourites, which she sang here at Teatro Massimo Bellini.
Inside the reception foyer... never-ending mirrors.
The sophisticated chandelier in the foyer / reception room
Vincenzo Bellini
Bellini's statue in the foyer