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October 17, 2007

Italy Album, 2007

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

When I returned from my recent trip to Italy, I got my orders from Michael: pictures!!

That being the price I (and you too) have to pay for my nearly three weeks of lollygagging from blog duties, here goes ...

Galleria Italia

I'm hardly a day off the airplane in Rome and, by golly, who do I spy but Julius and some of his buddies/assassins/entrepreneurs. You'll see a few of these guys hanging out at the Colosseum end of the Forum. If you want to take a picture of your spouse or friend with them, they'll ask for a tip: we forked over two Euros each for a pose with Nancy and two of them. The photo you see here was taken using a telephoto setting, so I didn't have to pay them one red Euro-cent. I fugure the nearly $6 the previous encounter cost us was plenty for that crew.

This is the Colosseum taken from the hill to its north. Yes, it really is big: note the size of the people nearby.

Here is a view of the Forum. For some reason, ruins don't move me much. What I found most interesting, as with the Colosseum, was the scale of the place. Again, note how small humans are in relation to the structure elements.

Another view in which I try to illustrate the scale.

This was taken at an Autostrada rest stop. Along with normal travelers and some tour buses were a couple of vans with Italian soldiers (now volunteers, not conscripts). Yes, the fellow you see is packing serious heat.

Eyecharts seen along the main shopping drag in Capri. (By the way, Italians pronounce it KAH-pree.)

What? Chinese and Greek not enough to cover the touring throngs? Then try this.

Milan doesn't strike me as being a comfy, touristy place, unlike many other Italian cities. The one really nice spot is the Galleria, charming visitors and locals for around 140 years.

For the Venice part of the tour, rather than staying in Venice itself or at nearby Mestre, they put us up at a place more than an hour's drive south, at the other end of the Venetian lagoon: Chioggia. It's a quiet place with (unusual for Italy) lots of kids. It has canals, too.

What's a trip to Italy without a visit to Florence and a visit to Florence without seeing the Ponte Vechio ("Old Bridge")? We were there twice -- once with the tour and later while on post-tour traveling. The Arno River was low and slow so I was able to get a lot of nice reflection-shots, but most of those were at higher densities than permitted for this blog.

This is Sorrento, on the Bay of Naples, taken from the harbor area. The buildings perched on the cliff fascinate. Also note the motor scooters and cycles below.

As a parting shot, here's Vesuvius at daybreak.



posted by Donald at October 17, 2007


Those are some beautiful pictures, Donald.
Especially the last, romantic, shot.
But..."place with (unusual for Italy) lots of kids"? Unusual? Things did change since Gorky's stay on Capri!

Posted by: Tat on October 17, 2007 9:54 PM

Where are the ladies at? You can't tell me they're not a national treasure that all Italians are proud of!

Posted by: agnostic on October 18, 2007 1:03 AM

I spent a month in Italy when I was a kid in the early sixties. I absolutely loved it. Thanks for the pics - they brought back some really nice memories.

Posted by: Former Lurker on October 18, 2007 6:42 AM

Nice pics! Looks like you had nice weather.

Posted by: annette on October 18, 2007 8:47 AM

Tat beat me to it. Isn't it amazing and awful that Italy, that great mama mia of a country, has joined the ranks of the - to use MB's phrase - nonbreeding nations?

Posted by: ricpic on October 18, 2007 9:07 AM

Thanks for sharing the photos. I especially enjoyed the ones of the various ruins of Rome, as they seem to give a better feel for what the places are actually like -- and their scale! -- then most other photos I've seen.

I believe I've seen somewhere that some computer scientists have put together a computer simulation of the ancient buildings of Rome. Your photos are the next best thing.

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on October 18, 2007 11:03 AM

What, nothing from Amalfi? I'll have to post some of my own travel pics from last summer.

The Milan Galleria looks an awful lot like a similar "classical" urban mall in Naples. Aren't they quite remarkable spaces? (And quite the conundrums for the theory of modernism...which is probably why they doesn't feature much in histories of modern architecture.)

And I'd second Agnostic; it's hard to beat sitting at a little outdoor cafe anywhere in Italy and just taking pleasure in the local ladies. it makes you realize that the Italians aren't kidding when they say they taught the French everything they know about art, fashion and taste.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 18, 2007 11:18 AM

I'm joining the chorus -- nice pix, tks. Looks like a great time of year to visit too -- busy but not mobbed.

Is my mind blanking, or have you not mentioned the food? How was it?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 18, 2007 11:20 AM

Sorry, forgot...very classy photos. You should set up a website just to post pictures of your travels!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on October 18, 2007 11:21 AM

Tat, ricpic -- Italians have low birth rates, even by European standards, and the tourist sites tend to be nearly child-free.

Agnostic -- The ladies? Uh, well, I was with my wife and that might have inhibited my photography a little in that department.

F. Lurker -- You're welcome.

Annette -- Yep. Temps ranged from 70-83 for highs. And the rainy season seemed to be late. We did experience a few showers and the Milan day was overcast.

Benjamin -- There seems to be no lack of conceptualizations of ancient Rome. One can buy posters of such, and Nancy got a book with overlay pages showing (perhaps) how the old looked when superimposed over a recent photo.

Friedrich -- Unfortunately, the tour group (our trip was 2/3 group and 1/3 on-our-own) only did the north half of the peninsula and missed Amalfi (drat!). Later on we were in Cinque Terre, but I forgot to take blog-density digitals there.

Michael -- Food? Nancy is the adventurous eater in the family. She went to a place in Sorrento where everything, salad included, was seafood-based. Fussy me, I was content with good ol' spaghetti, penne, pizza and gelato.

Speaking of gelato, there seems to be rivalry as to who makes the best gelato on the planet. A Florence place mentioned in some guidebooks had good stuff. But I think it was marginally edged by a shop in the tower-town San Gimignano that had won some prize or other -- really smooth, good flavor, no bits of ice.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on October 18, 2007 11:46 AM

Donald wrote:

. . . Nancy got a book with overlay pages showing (perhaps) how the old looked when superimposed over a recent photo

Benjamin writes:

Thanks for the info. The conceptualizations that I've seen so far don't really give you a sense of how the old compares with the new. That's just the kind of thing that interests me.

Along similar lines: once for a booklet that I was doing, I re-sized different maps of NYC to the same scale and then superimposed one upon the other to show a) how a cloverleaf interchange compares to a few blocks of the Upper East Side (i.e., to illustrate how many celebrities, millionaires/billionaires in Manhattan live in the same space as a highway interchange); b) how Manhattan below 34th Street compares spatially with JFK airport (many guidebooks point out that Manhattan below 34th St. can basically fit inside JFK airport).

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on October 18, 2007 5:21 PM

I don't get the eye charts; were they in an opthamologist's office, or an eyeglasses store? And why the different languages? And pictograms? What's up with that? (I realize Europeans would rather read comic books than novels, but still...)

Posted by: Will S. on October 19, 2007 4:47 PM

Will -- The charts were near front doors of dispensaries (eyeglasses shops). So I assume they were just for fun. And perhaps to catch the passerby eye.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on October 19, 2007 5:00 PM

Ah, okay; that makes sense. Thanks!

Posted by: Will S. on October 20, 2007 10:52 PM

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