Churches of Italy

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.

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The Amalfi Coast and the Law of Attraction

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.

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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.

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First glimpse of the coast from the bus

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A fishing village

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A few shots from Sorrento.


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And a few from Amalfi.

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Amalfi Cathdral. The remains of St. Andrew supposedly lie here.

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Amalfi Cathedral

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Citrus is big here.

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Ann in a store specializing in limoncello.

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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.

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This is the boat that Ann and I had to use to row into the grotto. Not really – it was there for show. We walked into the grotto and a guy rowed a boat  loaded with tourists around the small cave. The most impressive part was probably that he gave his narrative in three or four languages during the short trip.

Okay, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this – Positano!

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A move star, I think. Sandra Bullock?

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Ann shooting a panorama with her phone.

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My panorama of 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.

Smokin’ Women. Gelato Eatin’ Men. And More Street Shots from Sicily/Italy

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.


Amalfi waitress


Taormina waitress


Toe tapper. Taormina.

Now for some gelato eatin’ men.





And now, other pictures taken on the streets.


Cool cat in Taormina.


Fiat driver, Taormina.


Checking out the merchandise. Taormina.


Strolling. Alberobello.


Waiting for someone to drop something on the floor. Matera.


Runch. Amalfi.


A somberer ponderer. Amalfi.


Fresh produce was everywhere. Amalfi.


Weddings were everywhere. Amalfi.


Shoppers were everywhere. Amalfi.


Hangin’ with the guys and lookin’ good!

Some Time in Jerusalem. Wait, I Mean “Matera”

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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.

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Ann and Peggy with our Matera guide.

Colorful newstand?  Check.

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But after a fair amount of climbing uphill, we came to an overlook of the older part of town.

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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.

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This area has been inhabited continuously for 11,00 years, starting in caves like the ones below.

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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.

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Matera Cathedral

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The church in the rock.

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Inside Matera Cathedral

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Stained glass windows in Matera Cathedral

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An oasis of color

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Ann and Peggy

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Larry and Vicki

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We go to tour one of the old homes and get a glimpse of the way life used to be.

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People do actually still live in this neighborhood.

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Our guide in front of his bed and breakfast

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Modern art beside a Matera mansion

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The Trulli of Alberobello

The trulli , limestone dwellings found in the southern region of Puglia, are remarkable examples of drywall (mortarless) construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region. The trulli are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields. Characteristically, they feature pyramidal, domed or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs.

from UNESCO’s website


As far as I could tell, everyone in Alberobello earns their living by selling things to tourists.  Which is okay.  One of things that struck me in our travels in Sicily and Italy was the general quality of the items sold to tourists, which usually tended to be practical, even when decorative.   Items for sale were based on the local history and culture.  So, not one Smurf item even though the buildings resembled their cartoon homes.


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