Italy

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Re: Italy

Postby Sharon » Thu May 28, 2009 11:26 am

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The forum from capitoline hill (best viewed with a past present book - sadly i didnt pick up one of these until on the way home...)
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From the rooftop of the capitoline museum (can get to this for free)
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Beware of yawning dogs.
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Re: Italy

Postby rabmania » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:57 pm

Some different views of Rome; the EUR district, read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EUR,_Rome

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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:40 am

Still not been to the notorious EUR district. I was in Roma in February during the biggest snow fall the city had seen in 25 years.

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Piazza del Popolo

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The buses vanish, Piazza Venezia

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Marcus Aurelius

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Foro Romano

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Temple of Saturn

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Top of Via del Corso, traffic vanishes

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Doria Pamphilj courtyard

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Snow falls in the Pantheon

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Snow clearers arrive, note lack of shovels.

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Teatro Marcello

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It snows all night

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Next day the Romans go crazy. All the tourist sights shut but the Colosseum becomes like a scene from a Fellini film as seemingly the entire city comes out to see the snow.

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Snowmen (and women and animals) appear everywhere.

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Parco Traiano

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Villa Borghese

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The momentous date etched in snow

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Scalea del Tamburino. Sergio Leone grew up on this street

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Viale Adamo Mickievicz

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Mercati Traianei
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Re: Italy

Postby rabmania » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:57 pm

Great stuff TB! 35 degrees when I was there last week! One of the headlines was 'Italia come un forno' as the temperatures stayed high for 10 days and more, unbroken. EUR is worth a trip, even if you end up hating it (and I didn't, although I didn't love it either), and you can get off at Pyramide on the way back for the Protestant Cemetery.
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Re: Italy

Postby Lucky Poet » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:22 pm

Brilliant stuff, that.

Not as spectacular, but never let it be said that Charles Rennie Mackintosh isn't known internationally - this was a in a wee display in Como in May this year, part of some very public Secondary School 'show us what you know, then' sort of thing:

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That is indeed the Glasgow School of Art in the wee photos, and the comparison is with Guiseppe Terragni; more than slightly associated with the Fascists, but those were the days. I think it's rather touching that kids on the verge of leaving school are allowed (and expected) to publicly demonstrate that they are fully functioning intellectual creatures.
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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:25 am

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The harbour, Portovenere

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Portovenere

The Cinque Terre, mentioned on the first post of this thread. Last month I finally walked through the Five Lands, a national park in La Riviera di Levante (in Liguria, my favourite region of Italy and to date,anywhere on Earth). Looking on the maps though I decided a more interesting way to arrive there instead of by train would be on foot, hiking the 8 and a half miles from Portovenere to Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the Cinque Terre villages.

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St. Pietro, the 13 century church built on the site of an ancient temple of Venus which the port is named after

I’d been to Portovenere a few years ago and had been stunned by the sea cliffs stretching north and now this is where I’d be heading.

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The way ahead

The trail (through the Portovenere National Park) starts at the foot of the Castle dominating the village, consisting of a series of boulder formed steps which rapidly become steeper and more demanding even before the fortress is left behind.

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The trail begins

I started about 10 in the morning and the temperature was already 34 degrees, but at least this part of the trail occasionally ran through some shade giving woods.

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It was resting under one these trees on yet another break that I had a close encounter with a tiny red squirrel which slowly ambled down one trunk and across my path, almost close enough to pet before vanishing.

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The way behind

This frankly shattering climb, near vertical in parts took about 40 or 50 minutes but led to spectacular views over the “Gulf of Poets”, named after Percy Shelley and Byron who also loved this bay, to the distant Carrara marble mountains just visible in the summer morning haze.

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Unfortunately, arriving at the abandoned Fort Muzzerone the path is badly signposted and I took three different directions before hitting the right one (the trail counterintuitively heads off downhill and back inland towards the big port city of La Spezia).

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Towards the Gulf of La Spezia

From now until the village of Campiglia the way was nowhere near as demanding.

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It’s not for the faint hearted though; rising in places to 1,750 feet above the sea at times you have to scramble along cliff sides on a very narrow ledge with little to hold onto, walking on severely folded and jagged metamorphic rocks. Unlike the Cinque Terre you need proper walking shoes for this (if you are scared of heights, don’t even try it).

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Vertigo

The stunning heat meant I had to take frequent breaks under the increasingly rare patches of shade (and it was now round noon). The occasional cool breeze blew from the impossibly azure sea far below, sweet zephyrs indeed, and you finally understood what the classical poets were blethereing about. The vistas are unforgettable.

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Campiglia is a small village pretty much halfway between Portovenere and Riomaggiore and provides a welcome break for food, rest, shade and taking on more water. On the road again I entered a pine forest which could have almost been in the Highlands if it hadn’t been for the frantic sound of the cicadas (and the stifling heat).

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The path now winds up and down hill through a variety of landscapes, across terraced vineyards and olive groves, through maquis and woodland.

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Schiara far below

Suddenly you encounter another rather severe climb heading to the tiny church of St Antonio. A series of stone steps running through vineyards relentlessly wind seemingly ever upwards until they enter a deep forest (the sounds of the cicadas fade away here), every turn on the trail reveals yet another steep slog up and up until you suddenly hit a tarmac road, the church and, as an unexpected bonus, a tiny café. Never has a humble Wall’s cornetto ice cream tasted so good!

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On the climb up to St Antonio

So far I’d seen birds of prey, dragon flies, gigantic bees and more butterflies than I’d ever seen in my life in the wild before.

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A last look back

The path now narrowed dramatically through meadows, cork woods, thick thorn filled maquis and at one point, an extensive and rather spooky stretch of forest charred by a huge fire.

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For the first time all day I saw a sign saying “Riomaggiore”, only about 45 minutes walk out of town.

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The fish scaled dome on the spire of the little church of Santuario della Madonna di Monte Nero suddenly rose above the trees and I had a first glimpse of the Punta Mesco, the dominant feature of the next day’s hike, the Cinque Terre itself and the end of the day’s journey.

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The Punta Mesco and la Cinque Terre

I rested at the church drinking in these sea views a long time before descending into Riomaggiore.

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Riomaggiore

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The pilgim’s way

The path down is an easy going pilgrim’s stairway which suddenly crosses a busy main highway and then twists through a narrow river valley flanked by market gardens and suddenly you’ve arrived at Riomaggiore and the Five Lands.

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Riomaggiore

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The harbour, Riomaggiore
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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:40 pm

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Riomaggiore

Next day I walked the Cinque Terre trail. The five villages from south to north are Riomaggiore, my starting point, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and finally Monterosso Al Mare. Based in their own UNESCO world heritage site National Park, the villages are linked by a trail which, on paper at least, sounded like a much easier proposition than the walk I’d done the day before. The trails are all on well maintained, well signed paths lacking any especially killer ascents (at least if you travel south to north). Some people happily do sections in beach sandals and the first bit between Riomaggiore and Manarola even has disabled access ramps and lifts.

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Monterosso Al Mare

However, the day I walked it Liguria was experiencing the hottest weather ever recorded at that time of year, temperatures were nudging 40 degrees. For various annoying reasons I couldn’t start the walk till near 1pm and had to carry my backpack all the way, the heat remained staggering all day and I was suffering quite badly from it by the time I neared Vernazza. Anyway, I’d spent the night in Riomaggiore,

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Riomaggiore

a village notable for its dramatic rise from the sea, excellent fresh sea food and some of the most bonkers municipal art I’ve ever seen, all painted by Silvio Benedetto, an Argentinian artist who has lived in the region for decades.

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His work is a trippy take on late 19th century neo-realism, full of heroic locals scrabbling a living from the sea and soil (certainly the regions hard won terraces for vines and olive trees are mind boggling constructions).

You need a pass to walk the trail, and the access points are policed at various locations to make sure you’ve got one. The pass includes free rail travel between the five villages.

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Via Dell’Amore begins

The road begins with a lovers walk, the Via Dell’Amore, a short, easy and level stroll along the cliffs to Manarola by the railway, a mini version of Riomaggiore.

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Approaching Manarola

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Manarola

The sea side section between Manarola and Corniglia was closed, and I didn’t have time to take the longer path over the hills so I did this bit by train.

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Corniglia

Perched on top of a cliff rather than at sea level, Corniglia can only be reached from the station by a winding road or by a set of 384 steps.

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Stairway to Corniglia

Its “main street” is a tiny, medieval ally way which leads to a viewing point commanding dramatic panoramas along the coast.

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The high street, Corniglia

Corniglia also has the only hostel in the National Park and is only 20 Euros a night to stay in.

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Punto Mesco and Monterosso Al Mare

The path to Vernazza under normal circumstances should have been a doddle, but in the heat became a bit of a nightmare,

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Leaving Corniglia

I had to stop and hide under the rare bits of shade frequently (if they weren’t already filled by other walkers) though it was entertaining to see people half my age struggling as much as I was. Unlike the Portovenere trail where I hardly saw anybody else all day, the Cinque Terre is very popular and busy, sadly with the attendant lack of wildlife.

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Vernazza

I couldn’t believe Vernazza when I first saw it (and its “revealed” very suddenly on the walk) it’s almost ABSURDLY beautiful, as though designed by a gang of especially happy children. It’s my favourite of the villages and its recovery from the horrific floods which devastated it last October is near miraculous.

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Vernazza harbour

I had a good long, ice-cream filled rest here, hoping the temperatures would go down a bit later in the day, but as I set off again at 4.30 it felt hotter than ever, the cicadas seemed to be getting louder as it got warmer.

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Leaving Vernazza

The walk to Monterosso Al Mare became another sweltering slog, but the Campari and soda I’d promised myself kept me going. The descent into the village, the only one with a sandy beach in the Cinque Terre, was a tough one and confirmed that the south to north approach was the best one, I’d hate to climb out of Monterosso Al Mare by that route.

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Monterosso Al Mare

Sadly the final village (town really) is the least interesting. It’s the largest, and resembles many another beach resort up and down the Ligurian coast. Being a Saturday it was mobbed too. The Campari by the beach was fab though.

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Monterosso Al Mare

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Manarolo

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Riomaggiore

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Corniglia
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Re: Italy

Postby Lucky Poet » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:00 pm

Remarkable. I love all the improbably steep wee lanes and whatnot. I wonder what it's like to actually live in a place like that? (Apart from often too damn hot.)
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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:31 pm

Lucky Poet wrote:I wonder what it's like to actually live in a place like that? (Apart from often too damn hot.)


Well wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out for a few months? Must admit I won’t be back again in the summer to do any hiking, it was just too hot. I’m doing it all again in May, but this time going from north to south on the Riomaggiore to Portovenere bit.

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Sestri Levante

Next day I'd smashed my knee up swimming at Corniglia, so I didn’t get to trek over the peninsula between Portofino and Camogli. It was so bloody hot again I may not have done it anyway, instead I hobbled around Sestri Levante for a tiny bit before heading back to Genova to rest the cursed leg.

As I mentioned before many of the Sestri’s old buildings are covered in wonderful tromp I’oeil frescos, giving the place a sweet, toy town aspect, one appreciated by Hans Christian Anderson who briefly stayed here.

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Tromp l’oeil wall

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The town’s smallest bay is the poetically named Baia del Silenzio, the Bay of Silence, a real haven of peace out of season. Despite its beauty I’ve never managed to get a decent photo of it. Didn't help this time that many of the buildings were being restored and so covered in scaffolding.

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Baia del Silenzio

Sestri is a place I’ve been to many times over the years (I first tasted Ardbeg whisky here) in all seasons and would be my dream place to live in the world.

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Sestri fountain
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Re: Italy

Postby Lucky Poet » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:26 pm

Toby Dammit wrote:
Lucky Poet wrote:I wonder what it's like to actually live in a place like that? (Apart from often too damn hot.)


Well wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out for a few months? Must admit I won’t be back again in the summer to do any hiking, it was just too hot. I’m doing it all again in May, but this time going from north to south on the Riomaggiore to Portovenere bit.

Too flamin right it would. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with some friends a bit to the north of Como for a week last May, and I'm rather envious that they're able to stay for a few months at a time in some similarly narrow and winding built surroundings, but high summer sounds a bit on the evil side of warm - and that in a relatively temperate part of the country.

I liked the wee hand doorknocker above, by the way; there's definitely a taste for things like that over there:
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I'll look forward to going back. Oh and thanks for such an involving series of posts, by the way.
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Re: Italy

Postby Bridie » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:39 am

Wonderful pictures! Thanks Toby.
I have relatives who live near Positano - great memories of visiting them in the small villages off the beaten track and still exploring round the main toursty bits of that area.
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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Wed May 01, 2013 3:43 pm

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Piazza Garraffello is a small square in Palermo surrounded by what can only be described as magnificent ruins and crumbling tenements.

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Street art and paste-ups adorn the place and by day it bustles with couples strolling by, kids running and playing, the odd gypsy racing horse and trap trundles through and tourists like me are shooting pictures because the area (just off the famous Vucciria outdoor market) is edgy, slummy and yet it has its own grandeur.

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Vicolo Sant 'Eligio

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Via Garraffello

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Vucciria

However after dark it was taken over and access was controlled by a noisy gang of drug dealers operating totally openly and with apparent impunity, even at one point administering a punishment beating to one of their own.

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Via Materassai

During this some of the people living in the tenement above the juice Bar which was one their hangouts appeared on their balconies and joined in the general cacophony, like a grotesque parody of hecklers at a theatre. All this I saw as a casual tourist and I’m sure the gang will be there again tonight. But that’s Palermo after dark, and it was the second time I’d watched the mafia operate so brazenly during my Sicily trip. According to David Lane’s 2009 book Into the Heart of the Mafia, three quarters of all businesses still pay protection money to these sorts of people.

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Vucciria

More rather cheerier Sicily tales to follow later.

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Via Della Loggia
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Re: Italy

Postby Lucky Poet » Wed May 01, 2013 10:49 pm

You are now HG's official roving reporter, only just stopping short of being our war correspondent :)

Some very nice bits of graffiti, though is it just me:
Toby Dammit wrote:Image

...or is that a half-demolished Nazi eagle hanging around there?
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Re: Italy

Postby rabmania » Thu May 02, 2013 7:56 am

TD on tour, what a treat.
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Re: Italy

Postby Toby Dammit » Thu May 02, 2013 2:20 pm

Lucky Poet wrote:is that a half-demolished Nazi eagle hanging around there?


It is a puzzle. Artist Uwe Jaentsch used the piazza for a number of years for installation projects (hence the large "Uwe love's you" message which still dominates the old bank building). He is Austrian so it may be something he did, or even a reaction to his work. Those particular buildings are still in this state from WWII. I assume they were destroyed by allied bombing in 1943 rather than by any Axis counter attacks. That they are still in this state 70 years later tells it's own story about post war redevelopment in Palermo.
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