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Two fine watercolours of Venice © by Stan Miller (reproduced here with kind permission)

If you like this...

[One of my photos of the quiet Western Quarter of Venice]
[My photos of Venice in September 2001 - and what came after]
[Try clicking some of the tags at the top of this post... just a suggestion!]

Click either image above for more on this amazing place, and there are lots more links about it here if you are interested.

If you like this...

[More about Giuliano Mauri]
[More about Bergamo]

“Surrounded by the Italian Alps, Funes is blanketed by a layer of crystal white snow every winter.”    —photographer: ewitsoe (exceptionally recommended)

Shirakawa-go is a small, traditional village known for its incredibly steep roofs that were made to withstand some of the heaviest snowfall in the world.”    —photographer: Miyamoto Y

Vyborg lies on the border between Russia and Finland and is surrounded by the Saimaa Canal, which freezes over in winter. From the castle tower, the entire town is visible in its snow-capped beauty.”    —photographer: EGRA

This page is unusual in crediting, and linking to, the sources of all of its photos, including the three shown here - sources that are well worth following up!

Many thanks (again) to Renaissance2007 (Julian) for this find.

Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast, Italy, September 2013

My photo of the sailing cruise ship Club Med 2 lying off Sorrento, with Vesuvius in the background

Start of a beautiful day in late September, leaving Sorrento for Capri

Click either picture, or go here, if you would like to see my photoblog of our recent trip to the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast (you can skip the photoblog if you click the >> below)

Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast, Italy, September 2013

We spent the last two weeks of September on Italy's Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast (new to me), sharing a very nice villa (Sorrento Villa's Villa Vervece B) with two other couples from our family.

A two week stay is recommended at this time of year, if you can manage it. We had 3 days of wind and rain, which seems not unusual at this time of year, the rest of the time being glorious weather with temperatures in the mid 70's - much more pleasant than July or August! 3 days out of 14 isn't bad... but 3 days out of 7 would be a different story!

Our villa was located on a hillside above the Marina della Lobra (the lowest red blob on the map below), within walking distance of Massa Lubrense, a small bustling "comune", and easy driving distance from Sorrento. Click the image below for my full Italy map, if you are interested.

Click the map if you want to explore!

Our villa was nice and spacious inside (with a few maintenance and equipment issues), but its outside terraces were where we spent most time while we were there...

This was the main private terrace, with a wood-fired grill (the pool terraces on the next level up are shared with the other villa below us, although nobody was there). The villa's flowerbeds also contain herbs, chilli peppers, aubergines and such-like, which guests are free to pick.

The simple things in life taste so much better here... opinion shared by our regular visitor (do you remember Corsican Cats?)

The terraces have stunning views - this is an evening view of the Marina della Lobra (taken from the pool area, one level up)

The rock with a light on it, on the left edge of the picture, marks a fish sanctuary, and we could often watch scuba dive boats in action there

Night view across the bay to Naples, taken from the kitchen terrace (makes great desktop wallpaper, click the image for my 1280 x 1024 version)

Funiculi Funicula, our favourite restaurant in Marina della Lobra, and the place where locals go. After we were here a few times, Nino gave us free small proseccos before hand and free small limoncellos after each (excellent) meal. The olive oil served here (like the limoncello) is locally produced (see a bit later below). A very fine meal with fish and plenty of wine came to about 33EUR per head, but it was often cheaper.

On 16th September it was quite windy, and we watched rain move in...

...but halfway across it kind of turned left...

...and headed away again...

Sunny again!
The Marina della Lobra and Capri in the background, taken from a road below Massa Lubrense

Another day of wind, with rain to start...

Very few fishing boats going out today!

It cleared up quickly, and we had one of many beautiful sunsets (taken from the kitchen terrace)

Visit to Sorrento, about 20 minutes away by car (depends on the time of day)

There are nice houses and hotels in this part of Sorrento, near the cliff edge

On the right is a very nice hotel, with private grounds (the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, if I remember correctly)

We walked a little way into the hotel grounds (before being politely turned back). Behind us were these views (the stairs reminded my of the outside of the Bath House in "Spirited Away").

We returned to Sorrento the next day for a boat trip to Capri

An early swim... this definitely wasn't me!

The Club Med 2, a beautiful looking cruise ship with sails

Capri (actually taken on our way to Positano a few days later)

Climbing up from the Capri port (quicker than queueing for the funicular), via four sections of shady narrow ways, but not something I'd want to try in really hot weather ... seems to be the only decent photo I took on the island!

Returning to Sorrento - on top of the cliff is the Foreigners' Club. My American aunt visited there with the USN not long after WWII, when it was open to servicemen only (now anyone can have a snack, drink or lunch here, it was our favourite lunch-time place in Sorrento - reasonable prices, too)

The terrace of the Foreigners' Club - great views from up there (and a very popular place for wedding receptions)

Another beautiful sunset...

Vesuvius through a telephoto lens from our villa, not a great pic but unusually it shows the crater (it was normally hidden in cloud)

Back to Sorrento, this time for a boat trip to Positano, some way along the Amalfi Coast

Approaching Positano - like Capri, and unlike Massa Lubrense, it's an expensive place!

A great local wine, noted for future reference (still only about 18 EUR, would be twice that in an English restaurant) - served in the restaurant of the Hotel Buca di Bacco...

...which seems like a really nice place, and very quiet at this time of year (I took a look upstairs)

The hotel restaurant where we ate (cheaper than a Prezzo in England!) is about a third the way up this picture, just to left of the central clump of trees

Back in inexpensive territory... Walking from our villa down to the Marina della Lobra or across to Massa Lubrense, we passed these olive nets which were just being set out...

...and a fixer-upper being (very) slowly fixed up...

The walk to Massa Lubrense requires a certain sense of direction and faith. This looks like a dead end...

... but you can turn right just in front of that house...

... and you are then walking along a narrow footway beneath a high wall above on one side, and lemon groves below (protected by nets)

Eventually you come out under the scaffolding here...

...cross the road and head up here...

... eventually reaching the final stretch, quite steep...

...bringing you out at a very nice restaurant with a great terrace and views...


...located just beneath the "bottom end" of Massa Lubrense's main drag

I liked this map mosaic of the Sorrento Peninsula, located near the (very helpful) tourist office, which has password-free Wi-Fi which you can access from outside even when it's closed

A wonderful Aladdin's Cave of a shop near the top end of the main drag...

...where you can buy almost anything... if it isn't on display the Signora will disappear somewhere into the back and find it!

Last night in Marina della Lobra, where we ate at "Funiculi Funicula", our favourite restaurant

Last day, driving back to Naples... we stopped at the Foreigner's Club in Sorrento for lunch and a farewell toast

If you like this..

[Places to enjoy life... in Italy]

If you liked reading The Little World of Don Camillo and its sequels, then you will love this blog by “An American Fan”. It's more or less complete now, but it stands as a wonderful work in its own right - a true work of love. You will also discover that there was much more to Giovanni Guareschi than Don Camillo.

If you haven't read the books (so much better than the entertaining screen adaptations), then may I strongly recommend them!

From the blog intro:

An unusualy quiet evening at the hotel Villa La Massa, Florence (a truly wonderful place to treat yourself for a few days, as will be seen if you click the link), taken in late June 2013.

This hotel is situated on the river Arno, about 8 km upstream of the centre of Florence, and comes into my "died-and-gone-to-heaven" category. Worth saving up for!

If you like this...

[A much less expensive but beautiful hotel in Majorca]

BBC4 recently repeated Monty Don's Italian Gardens, a series of 4 one-hour programmes of which we caught the last three. The gardens are all wonderful, but I particularly enjoyed the programme on gardens in the South of Italy, which are less formal than the others.

The screenshots below are of Ninfa, in Lazio, a very ancient town with a really interesting history (a good brief description here). It was sacked, beset by malaria and finally abandoned to the elements, but has now been transformed into a unique botanical garden.

Nonsense writer and painter Edward Lear described it in 1840 as one of the most romantic visions in Italy...

...and the New York Times called it "The most beautiful garden in the world". The views up and down this river (seen in the programme, but hard to reproduce here) are quite something.

The garden is intended to look like a ruin that has been beautifully reclaimed by nature, but Monty discovered that even details like this have been carefully cultivated.

The programmes are available on DVD, and Monty Don has also written a book called Great Gardens of Italy. Either would make a great present for a lover of gardens and/or Italy!

If you like this, you might like these photoblogs...

[Isola di Garda]
[Cannero-Riviera on Lake Maggiore, including the Villa Taranto]

and also ...

[More great stuff from the BBC]

Algae in the Venice lagoon, a new kind of "power plant" (the source of this image will be found here)

This excellent article looks first at the problems of Porto Marghera, the industrial zone of Venice, where declining industry has left behind it abandoned sites and major pollution (Porto Marghera is referred to in Italy as "the mother of all contaminations"), threatening the Venetian lagoon and the cultural value of Venice itself.

The article takes this as an example of many cities with similar areas near a waterfront, and suggests that these areas should be seen as opportunities rather than problems.

In the case of Venice, there has already been considerable success in this area, itemized in the article with many links, including Pandora, described as the first "intelligent" building, a green oil refinery that will produce biofuels, additives and antioxidants for foot, medicines and other things from biomasses, a Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF or CDR) power plant supplying green electricity to the island of Venice, the world's first hydrogen power plant, and a project to build an algae power plant, among others.

I first came across the algae power plant here (from which the above image comes). Recent links about the project ("recent" meaning in the last year relative to when you look at this post) will be found here.

The use of algae is one of the most promising developments in the field of biofuels, and some very interesting recent links on the subject will be found here.

BBC4 seems to have created (or discovered) an audience for excellent foreign crime fiction (strangely undeterred by subtitles) in its Saturday night slot. In 2009 it dabbled with the superb Swedish Wallander starring Krister Henriksson, before showing the entire first series, followed later by the equally superb second series. Then came two series of The Killing, an equally impressive offering from Denmark, and just recently Borgen, a cracking political thriller from the same company.

Some time ago BBC4 also dabbled with Inspector Montalbano, a very different kind of crime series from Italy. True to form it first showed two random episodes (Excursion to Tindari, from which my screenshots above come, and Montalbano's Croquettes) some months apart. Now, thankfully, it has decided (after much dithering) to show us all 10 of the RAI TV episodes, starting with The Snack Thief.

I am already a huge fan of the TV series, which is about as far from Nordic gloom as a crime series can get (OK - except for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency), and all of Camilleri's novels are now on my reading list!

An excellent description of everything you might want to know about Inspector Montalbano will be found here.

From Wikipedia (my links):

Inspector Montalbano lives and works in the fictional town of "Vigàta", in the equally fictional district of "Montelusa". Camilleri based Vigata on his home town of Porto Empedocle, on Sicily's south-west coast, while Montelusa, the district headquarters, is based on Agrigento. However the dramatizations of the Montalbano stories were mainly filmed at Ragusa, while the seaside and harbour locations were at Punta Secca and Licata.

If you would like to see a lot more good stuff that has been on the BBC...

[ the BBC tag at the top of this post!]

The wonderful Licia Maglietta as Rosalba

Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) is one of those movies that makes you think: "This is how life should be". It is basically an Italian variant on Shirley Valentine, where Rosalba, an under-appreciated housewife, gets left behind at a motorway rest-stop (for a reason that will make you wince in sympathy) by the rest of her family who don't even notice that she isn't on the bus.

Rosalba starts hitch-hiking, deciding on the way to take a detour via Venice and live a little for herself. Without much money, she finds lodging with Fernando Girasole, a kind but gloomy (even suicidal) Icelander who runs a not-too-great restaurant, and whose Italian is peppered with archaic literary expressions (conveyed nicely via subtitles). In the same building she befriends Grazia, a "holistic beautician and masseuse", and in the city she eventually finds work in a florist's shop, run by a crusty old man with the general charm of a Basil Fawlty, whom she gradually wins over, entertaining him in the absence of customers with an accordion lent to her by Fernando.

(About that accordion... Fernando got it in payment for a gambling debt. Rosalba's grandfather taught her to play one when she was 12, shortly before he died cycling over a bridge which he believed, erroneously, to have been completed...)

Meanwhile, Rosalba's cheapskate husband, finding himself deserted by his chief cook, maid and bottle-washer, hires Constantino, a bumbling, over-weight plumber, as a private detective to locate his wife, whom he knows is somewhere in Venice. Constantino isn't as lucky as Rosalba in finding accommodation in that super-expensive city, ending up in a seedy converted barge on a canal. In his search he encounters and falls in love with Grazia, the masseuse. Fernando, discovering who Constantino really is, confronts him with an ancient rifle while he is with Grazia, in a scene made hilarious by Fernando's style of speech.

The movie delivers everything that a romantic comedy should, but with a delightful, quirky Italian flavour that makes it unique. It took me a long time to track down a Region 2 copy of the DVD (exasperatingly, Region 1 was readily available), but you can get hold of it at the moment (I see that Amazon UK currently has 3 copies). If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it...


"thROUgh tHe aRCh" (taken in Arezzo, Tuscany) by the Italian photographer David Butali, whose other work is well worth checking out

One of many treasures to be found on the wonderful pages of hhj.

"Count of Tuscany" © by the Italian photographer Mauro Tronto

(If you click the image above, and then click the image that you find when you get there, you will follow a trail of awesome landscape photos by different authors, and Mauro's own work is well worth checking out)

"Venice" (which the artist says he drew from this photo by Monika)

"Milano - Santa Maria Nascente"

"Szczytno in the Rain"

Some of many beautiful watercolours by the Polish-resident artist Minh Dam

Found via this site recommended by Cyrion, who has so many beautiful things on her pages.

This lovely young Italian girl was photographed by my sister-in-law while on a boat trip on Lake Garda, Italy.
My sister-in-law and her husband were staying at Sirmione, for reasons that my Sirmione Photoblog should make clear!

(Original post: August 7th, 2011)

I have just updated my Italy web page, which has information and/or links about our favourite places there (which include the Italian Lakes, Tuscany and Umbria).

Sirmione on Lake Garda, Italy, July 2011

Some posts about our recent visit to Sirmione on Lake Garda (with some side trips) appear below.

If you are interested, here are the direct links:

[Verona and an "agriturismo" vineyard]
[Isola di Garda]
[Catullus's villa, Sirmione, and Lausanne]

You might also like...

[Places to enjoy life... in Italy]

Sirmione on Lake Garda, Italy, July 2011

This year we had a different kind of holiday - a train trip to Sirmione on Lake Garda, spending a week there with a few guided tours (we ducked out of several - too little time and too hot!). French and Swiss trains are great, but train travel in Italy... not recommended! Sirmione was a nice place, though - we'll be back (by air).

Sirmione is on a long, thin peninsula, jutting out into Lake Garda (this is a photo that I took of an information board!) The remains of a huge Roman villa belonging to Catullus are at this end (see Part 4), with Maria Callas's villa (where she lived in the 50's) on the road leading back down to the town. The peninsula is surrounded by a limestone shelf that drops away steeply.

Sirmione castle, seen from the lake (I actually took this on the way back from Isola di Garda, see Part 3)

Bijou residence on a little raft kindly placed in the castle moat

The local lads...

... and the local attraction?

Views of Sirmione from half way up the castle... the town was absolutely hotching with people, especially in the evening, but it absorbed them all quite happily (and is mostly car-free in this part)

Going up to the top...

View from the top of the castle, looking south to the edge of the lake

Looking the other way over the old town. Our hotel was on the lake, in the far distance, about 10 minutes' walk from here

A wonderfully secluded private spot... if it weren't for tourists like me on the castle tower!

Near the castle... People out at a sensible time of day...

Evening on the lake, a short walk from our hotel

[Italy visit continues in Part 2]

[Italy visit continued from Part 1]

A day trip to nearby Verona, sizzling in the heat. It was about 100 degrees...

The old Roman bridge (Ponte Pietra) across the Adige

Looking across to the ancient Roman Theatre, which houses a wide range of theatrical productions (including Shakespeare, of course, thanks to Romeo and Juliet) - we'll have to come back to see at least one opera production in the famous Arena, as well - but not at this time of year!

The famous notch-shaped merlons associated with the "Ghibelline" faction supporting the Holy Roman Emperor... and some nice balconies!

It was about here that we peeled off from the guided tour and headed for a shady lunch spot!

Later... brave tourists regrouping... if anything, it feels even hotter...

The Piazza delle Erbe (I think)

Some of the cafes had these fans under the awnings, blowing water mist as a kind of air conditioning. When we come back to Verona, it will be for longer and not at this time of year!

On the way home, when it was much cooler, we had a traditional supper arranged at an "Agriturismo" vineyard. They used to grind maize and flour at this water-mill before converting the family business to pure wine production.

We had a tour and a great meal here, many small courses each accompanied by a glass of a different wine!

A very welcome reception for survivors of the day...

I hope this translation is OK: "Bring up your children to the love of the fields, the joy of the light and the free breath of the wind. Agriculture is science, it is art, it is life, it is riches, it is everything." I felt like sincerely adding, "Amen."

Loved this poster...

A few days later, at the hotel, enjoying two nice glasses of Bardolino Chiaretto! (Bardolino, Soave and Valpolicella are all local wines here.)

[Italy visit continues in Part 3]

[Italy visit continued from Part 2]

Approaching Isola di Garda, which has had a very long and varied history. It is actually 4 long thin rocks, joined together and converted to a lovely park and landscaped villa over many years

The original tower... it leant too far and the top bit had to be removed!

A nice cool place to arrive!

Julia, our lovely and very knowledgeable guide, explaining how olive trees can survive so long (this one is 500+ years old). This local girl speaks several languages almost perfectly, including Japanese, and is currently learning Finnish (because of boyfriend).

Two villas have become one. The section in the foreground is actually quite shallow. The space between it and the higher building is filled in with earth and a terrace laid across the top.

St Francis was here for a while. This place goes back a long way!

Not a cemetery... just a decorative way of using materials left over from past construction!

In the background is a walkway, joining up with a tunnel which leads to caves on the north side of the island, used by monks in the past

The terrace (with skylights) on top of the lower villa section and the earth-fill that joins it to the higher villa, allowing trees to be planted between the two.

Swamp cypresses in the park section. We couldn't visit much of the park this day because of a huge society wedding that was being set up.

Leaving the island after a tour of the inside of the villa (no photos allowed, alas), which is still lived in, followed by wine and olive-oil tasting on a terrace

[Italy visit continues in Part 4]

Sirmione and Lausanne
[Italy visit continued from Part 3]

That poster again... the sunset pictures in Part 1 were taken at the corner at the top right of the big section in the foreground (if that makes sense)

Visiting "Le Grotte di Catullo", a name which does not do justice to the place. It was a grey, slightly rainy day, but was still a very enjoyable and calm place to visit

The public lido below the ancient villa, with the limestone shelf visible

On the coach trip to Milan station to catch the homeward train to Lausanne, many of the big rest stops make good use of their open spaces by placing many solar panels like these, offering both power and shade. Will we ever catch up?

Lausanne - actually Ouchy, on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) a short distance below the main city. You can get around Lausanne and its surroundings on a newly re-done Metro underground system, quiet and very efficient (being Swiss, the trains can climb a quite steep gradient as they go up from the lake and under the city)


...quite a stiff wind blowing, and about 30 degrees F cooler than Italy!

Nice playground at Ouchy

Juvenile sandwich hawks... (my ornithology isn't great)

Evening view from near the cathedral in Lausanne (HDR photo). This district of the city is a bit charmless at night, being a commercial district. Evian (famous for the water) is across the lake. It would be nice to come back one day and explore the surroundings... but right now Lausanne is stupidly expensive for a tourist, at least from England!

Farewell to Lausanne... and from here, the TGV and Eurostar trains back to London were great (at the beginning of the holiday, the TGV from Paris to Milan started well but broke down on the Italian border, which was a fair indication of things to come...)

"Boardwalk Northern Italy"

"Evening stroll, Italy"

Paintings by C T Wicke (no information about the artist found yet!)

"Vineyards of Tuscany" by the Canadian artist Bill Saunders

One of my favourite parts of the world!

From my web site...

[Places to enjoy life... in Italy]

Cannero-Riviera on Lake Maggiore, Italy - July 23rd 2009

Cannero Riviera on Lake Maggiore is one of our very favourite places.

A photo-blog of our 2009 visit there will be found here.

Cannero-Riviera on Lake Maggiore, Italy - July 23rd 2009

We had an absolutely wonderful 10 days on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy - it got too hot sometimes, but several fast-moving thunderstorms (mostly overnight) freshened it up again.

We fell in love with this place in 1997 (see here on my web site) and it is still one of our favourite spots on the planet.

Hotel Cannero, opposite the boat pier - no need for a car, we travelled everywhere by boat! The promenade in front of the hotel is quiet and car-free, the road through Cannero Riviera is some way up the hill.

View from our hotel bedroom... We felt like we had come home again!

One of many nice touches all round the hotel

We liked peeking into people's front gardens...

Behind the hotel

The courtyard between the original hotel (left) and the new section (right) - my current desktop wallpaper!

One of the many "Botticelli Kids" who are a special feature of this place

Another of the hotel's nice touches...

The boat pier, start of many outings. There's a very useful website for travel on the lake (and information about the lake).

Evening view from the dining terrace

One of many reasons why family life is so nice in Italy is that older kids take charge of younger kids...

Evening view from the dining terrace - first signs of an approaching overnight thunderstorm

Later the same evening... A hand-held photo - it would have been impossible to take a picture like this in the old days without a tripod. Digital cameras are amazing!

Next morning, the overnight storm clearing away...

... and it's another beautiful day!

Cannero Riviera also has many nice touches, like this one

The little communal port (which is very near the hotel, it's just out of sight at the right hand side of the first photo in this photo-blog)

Ouch! These taps appear all over the area, but not usually attached like this!

Picture on the wall of our local art shop, just up the hill from the hotel. It's by Erika Wagner, a local artist whom we met.

A typical street in Cannero, leading up from the hotel (the "Riviera" got added to "Cannero" in 1946, when the town met criteria for having this term added - before that the town was just called "Cannero")

Another thunderstorm... What the pictures can't show is the effect of the strong down-draughts from the thunder-clouds above, causing rapidly-expanding rings of flattened water on the lake, like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie. When the rain fell the lake turned entirely white, as if being bombarded by huge hailstones.

... which cleared over very quickly

Flood levels in October 2000 and October 1868. The recent flood came several inches above the hotel dining room floor, but caused little damage (water is very clean) - apart from to the back of Raffaele, our wonderful Maitre D, when he was quickly moving the dining furniture upstairs! Sluice gates at the south end of Lake Maggiore prevent lower lying regions around the rivers Ticino and Po being overwhelmed - it's better to flood the lake (more on the floods...).

I just love the colours around the hotel, and all over the area

If you ask for mineral water in many places, you now get micro-filtered water produced on the premises (still or sparkling) in these beautiful glass bottles, which are washed and reused (see the AQUACHIARA web site). The water is usually free, and this practice is great for the environment.

The main Cannero harbour at the other end of the promenade (left hand side of first photo in this photo-blog)

Another beautiful evening...

Villa Taranto, great botanical gardens easily reached by boat

Villa Taranto - the Scotsman who developed it and donated it to Italy

Villa Taranto, looking north

Isola Madre, a garden island which is one of many destinations on the boat schedule

Looking down... the water beyond the rock must be well over 100 feet deep

Isola Madre

Yet another beautiful evening!

Raffaele and young hotel guests

The promenade, still unseasonally quiet. What I haven't photographed are the many well-cared-for dogs that appear on the promenade, sometimes taking themselves for a walk. An amazing thing about Cannero is that there is no dog poop anywhere - not even temporarily, as it were. Must be special breeds of dogs!

The local communal harbour

One of the many "Botticelli Kids". This one was full of beans and always had a smile or a laugh.

The candle floating ceremony that is part of the annual blessing of the lake. Thousands of candles are floated from pedalos.

Procession of the Virgin Mary, at the end of the ceremony

Still life with reusable water bottle!

On the day after the candles ceremony there is always a community concert in front of Hotel Cannero. Lucky guests at the hotel have a grandstand seat, and we always feel privileged to be allowed to be part of this event.

Erika Wagner, our local artist, strolling by and chatting to Sue

Another thing that's changed since 1997 is that we could see the occasional glow of a mobile phone being used by one of the younger orchestra members between musical numbers for a swift text message!


The end of a hot and brassy day... the first time we saw market stalls on the promenade

This smelt good, too!

Storm coming... very welcome

The local cemetery. It's a beautiful place, making you feel that the departed are very much in the thoughts of the living.

Sundial on wall of courtyard around the hotel's swimming pool

The manager Samuele, his mother and co-manager Maria Carla, and his brother-in-law Alfredo. If you read my description of our 1997 visit, Alfredo is the man with the bike and the small daughter Benedetta who is now nearly 14 years old (we missed her by one day!). I have never visited a hotel with nicer people.

Our last evening... I'm sure that we will be back again one day.

If you liked this...

[Some Places To Enjoy Life.. in Italy.]

This is one of my own photos of the quiet Western Quarter of Venice.

It has appeared before (in my Venice post) but I just wanted to see it again...

[Venice, September 2001]

This was Venice in early September, 2001. It was our first trip, and we loved it. We only had a week, so we saw all the "must see" places like the Ca' Rezzonico...

...and the Piazza San Marco (and many more that you have seen zillions of photos of before).

Only a few hundred yards west of the Rialto Bridge, the crowds magically disappeared...

...and we greatly enjoyed exploring the (much) quieter Western Quarter.

Such a beautiful place - and nobody here but ourselves!

The weather was hot and brassy that week, so we mostly had a siesta in the afternoon and went out for an evening stroll just before sunset. We caught the low sun reflecting on the gold leaf of the Basilica...

...and enjoyed window shopping (much cheaper than the real thing!)...

...while trying to choose a nice place to eat. At one of these places, we learnt the hard way that fish was priced by the 100g, not by the course!

Walking home one night after our meal, we encountered this spooky looking wall of masks in the window of a shop that had closed for the night.

And then we returned to England. It was September 11th, and we were greeted by our daughter running across the drive, telling us what she had just seen on television.

We knew, over the next hours and days, that the world would never be quite the same place again. There were acts of incredible tragedy and heroism. There was a feeling of solidarity across the Atlantic that was quite astonishing, as the e-mails, forums and phone calls went to and fro.

A few days later, in our small town of Epping, England, scenes like this were taking place, similar to those in many, many other places.

At the time, I remember thinking that there were going to be very bad times ahead - and there were - but also that really bad times seem to bring out the best in people - and they did, nowhere more so than in New York. Among the good things that came out of this tragedy, there was New York's "Pay It Forward" programme, described here on my web site.

This is a picture that I took of Rievaulx Terrace, Yorkshire, England, on a not-too crowded day in June 2001. A long way down the steep bank to the right, people are admiring the Abbey, but a quiet walk and a picnic up here is hard to beat!

The picture comes from a section of my family web site which is a record of places where we have enjoyed life, and which other people might enjoy also. At present these places are in England, Italy, Corsica and Florida.

In the Italy section of these pages you will find a description of a magical week that we spent on the shores of Lake Maggiore - made magical because of the community of people there. If you like this description then you are definitely my kind of person, but rest assured that the converse is not true!