I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Italy. But it was so fast and furious, and Ann and I experienced so much, that I’m still processing it. And when it comes to pictures, I mean I’m literally still processing. When we got back I couldn’t wait to work up my pictures and post them, to the point that I burned out. Now with some perspecitive, and outdoors here being in the grip of an ugly winter, I find myself taking refuge in the warmth and beauty of these reminders of our trip. And nowhere is that warmth and beauty more present than in the churches we encountered. There is so much history there, but also amazing architecture, craftsmanship, and art – in the paintings, in the stained glass windows, in the woodwork, in the tile floors – majestic beauty everywhere you look. I realize I’ve posted some of these here before, but not together as a theme, and many of these are here for the first time, or at least here in color for the first time.
This is why I wanted to go on this tour – the Amalfi Coast. More than a decade ago a happened on an old book at Glover’s Bookery in Lexington. I was told that it was about 100 years old and that books like this had been popular at the time as tourist items among those on their grand tour of Europe. I fell in love with the black and white pictures sandwiched between browning, crinkled leafs of glassine. I hoped that I would one day make it there.
Ann, too, fell in love with pictures from the region, and has a painting of Amalfi hanging in her office.
And then, for a few short – too short -days in early October, we were actually there. And as amazing as pictures of the area are, they pale in comparison to actually being there.
A few shots from Sorrento.
And a few from Amalfi.
We had wanted to go to Capri and see the Blue Grotto. But the weather was bad the day we were supposed to go to Capri, so we went to the Emerald Grotto instead. Yeah, I know it’s blue, but I guess that name was already taken. Basically the water glows because of an opening in the cave that is just below the surface allows in some sunlight.
Okay, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this – Positano!
Remember at the beginning – the title referencing the law of attraction and Ann’s painting in her office? Our tour guide, Stephanie Chance, graciously took a picture of Ann and me in the same spot as the painting in Ann’s office. It’s kind of like “Where’s Waldo” – can you spot us waving in this photo?
So, think positive thoughts! You might end up someplace nice.
Street photography is very popular these days, although I haven’t done much of it because it is just plain hard, though being in places crowded with interesting people helps. I haven’t seen my Canon EOS M camera recommended for such photography by anyone due to relatively slow auto-focus. But that is what I used for most of these. The rest were taken on an aging (but beloved) Ricoh GRD III. And, as has always been the custom, I’ve added some grain and contrast and converted to black and white for a gritty look. I really enjoyed taking these and need to do this type of photography more often.
We’ll start with the smokin’ women. Cigarette smokin’ women I mean.
At first, Matera was like other places we visited on our tour of Sicily and Italy. Castle remains on the hill? Check. Fashionable guide with matching shirt and glasses? Check.
Colorful newstand? Check.
But after a fair amount of climbing uphill, we came to an overlook of the older part of town.
This substituted for Jerusalem in the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” And filming of a remake of “Ben Hur” recently wrapped up here. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped when I saw this before me.
This area has been inhabited continuously for 11,00 years, starting in caves like the ones below.
Early buildings were built to incorporate the caves inside of them. There is a “new” church, Matera Cathedral, built in the 13th century in the lower left of the picture below. The older church, built into the rock, is just above and just left of the middle of the picture.
We go to tour one of the old homes and get a glimpse of the way life used to be.
People do actually still live in this neighborhood.
Taormina is another small town perched on the side of a mountain in Sicily. But it is a lot more fashionable and touristy that the quieter, more spiritual Erice. It is home to a film festival and has long been a resort for the rich and famous. It served as “home base” on our tour for several days so these pictures will be spread out over several posts.
Palermo is over 2700 years old and is the capital of Sicily. Our first stop was the the Capuchin Catacombs, which contains about 2000 mummies and skeletal remains, all dressed in clothing that often has survived the centuries better than bodies. I saw a couple of skeletons dressed in their military uniforms, complete with Napoleonic hats. I surely would have loved this if I were still twelve years old. But the jaw dropping amazement soon vanished when we came to the bodies of children who never agreed to be displayed for centuries. No pictures, but if you want to see and read more, here is the website.
We also visited the Cathedral of Monreale, a fine example of Norman architecture on which construction began in 1174. It’s exterior is stunning.
The interior is quite impressive as well.
The trip to Palermo also included a marionette show. These are no toys but are made entirely by hand from wood with hand-made clothing, armor, swords, etc. Each one weighs about 40 lbs and the puppeteer works up quite a sweat during a show. I know all of this firsthand. There is a great deal of craft and art involved in a Sicilian “L’Opera deî Pupi.”
And, of course, Ann makes friends everywhere she goes, including Palermo.