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Archive for 'Italy'

Mt Vesuvius Erupts, this day in history #travel

Mt Vesuvius erupted at midday on 24 August in the year 79AD. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and thousands of Romans died during the eruption.

Quite a lot is known about the day and the aftermath since Pliny the Younger witnessed and wrote about the eruption. 14 – 17 feet of ash and pumice buried the city of Pompeii while mud and volcanic material devastated Herculaneum. Locals, who had escaped, returned later to salvage their belongings but mostly the cities were forgotten. It wasn’t until the 18th century when a well-digger discovered the ruins of Herculaneum. In 1748 a farmer found traces of Pompeii beneath his grapevines.

Mount Vesuvius remains active but hasn’t erupted since 1944. It is the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

Pompeii

Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in background

Main street in Pompeii

The above photos were all taken at Pompeii.

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum and Mt Vesuvius in background

I enjoyed wandering around Herculaneum. It was quieter and less touristy with more to see. The volcanic mud preserved the buildings better than the ash did at Pompeii. The above five photos are from Herculaneum, and you can see Mt Vesuvius in the background of the fifth photo.

View from top of Mt Vesuvius

This is the view from the top of Mt Vesuvius. You can see how dense the population is in Naples. I’ve visited Naples three times and have yet to get a truly clear shot of the mountain. Every time I go, it’s hazy. Below you can see the crater plus me posing at the top.

The crater

Me at the top of the mountain

We caught a bus from Naples that drove almost to the top of the mountain. We walked briskly for almost an hour to get to the summit. If you’re ever in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit to all three sites.

Rome Coliseum, Italy #travel #history

I felt like stepping back in time and scrolled through some of my photos from previous trips. Rome caught my eye, so my photos today are of the coliseum.

Although we’d visited Rome before, we’d only seen the coliseum as we drove past. On this visit I was determined to venture inside.

coliseum

The thing that fascinated me was the huge scale of the place. You’ll see in some of the following photos that vehicles and the people (both inside and out) appear so small in comparison.

Building on the coliseum began in AD 72 and finished in AD 80. Of course, successive rulers decided to put their stamp on the coliseum and additions were made after this date.

The coliseum held between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators with an average crowd of around 65,000. That is a lot of people. It was used for gladiator battles and during other public occasions. Both animal hunts and executions took place at the coliseum, so the Romans loved their blood sports.

coliseum5

See how the people and vehicles are dwarfed by the arched coliseum?

coliseum1

A shot of the interior.

coliseum6

coliseum7

We toured through the areas where animals and slaves were kept, and it was all too easy to imagine the cheers of the crowd and their excitement.

These days the coliseum is surrounded by modern life with busy traffic and countless tourists plus pollution. During the ages, parts have been reused and repurposed but it is still a magnificent sight and well worth a visit if you’re ever in Rome.

Venice, the Romantic Destination #Travel

In a walk down memory lane, and because I’m planning to use a Venetian setting in an upcoming book, I was looking at some of the photos we took during our visit. Venice is a romantic city, and my favorite thing to do whenever I have a chance to visit is to wander and explore all the tiny back streets. Getting lost is part of the fun, although if I’m with hubby we’re seldom lost. He has an excellent inner GPS.

Here are a few photos of Venice:

St Marco Square

This is a view of the Doge’s Palace and the entrance to St Mark’s Square taken from the cruise ship as we arrived at Venice.

Venice Market

Regular visitors already know how much hubby and I love markets. These hot peppers caught my attention because they look like bunches of flowers. The market in Venice is amazing.

Bride and Groom, Venice

This bride and groom were having their wedding photos taken, just off St Mark’s Square. What did I tell you? Romantic.

Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs

This is a view of the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the palazzo with the prison. This photo was taken from the cruise ship. During our visit, we did a tour of the Doge’s Palace, which we pre-booked. Along with the palatial rooms, we saw the secret rooms where the “worker bees” hung out. We stepped through an ornate door from the palace proper into plan rooms that were very simply furnished. Photos weren’t allowed, but it was still very interesting, the contrasts between the two halves amazing. It was like stepping into another world. We also walked across the Bridge of Sighs and saw Casanova’s cell—the one from which he escaped. I highly recommend this tour, if you ever visit Venice.

Canal Traffic

The canal traffic was constant. Small ferries, barges loaded with cargo, baggage boats heading to hotels, gondolas, ambulance and fire boats. It’s amazing sitting at a cafe and watching the world pass by…

Canal traffic

More canal traffic.

Palazzos

The canal view of some of the old palazzos and gardens. Some of them are beautiful and I can only imagine what they look like inside. Maybe next visit…

Looking through the photos again has given me some great ideas for my story. I can’t wait to get writing.

Have you visited Venice?

Recipe: Delicious Limocello

When we visited Italy last year, we took the opportunity to taste lots of limocello. We also brought some home with us. Limocello is actually very easy to make, so if you have a surplus of lemons, give this recipe a try.

This recipe is from From Simple Pleasures by Annabel Langbein.

Limocello

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups vodka

Peel of 8 lemons

Juice of three lemons, strained

¾ cup sugar

3 whole cloves

Method:

1. Combine vodka and lemon peel, cover and leave for 48 hours in a cool, dark place. i.e. pantry.

2. Strain the liquid.

3. Boil lemon juice, sugar and cloves with one cup of water until syrupy.

4. Cool, remove cloves and mix into lemon vodka.

5. Serve chilled in short glasses or with ice and soda.

Note: My photo is of Limocello cream, so when you make the above recipe, it won’t look quite as creamy. The final product will taste delicious though! It’s perfect during summer or any time of the year.

What is your favorite summer drink?

Doing The Pisa Dance

Most tourists who visit Pisa can’t resist taking a photo that looks as if they’re holding up the leaning tower or pushing it over. We have some of those photos from our last visit. During this visit we couldn’t resist taking photos of people taking photos.

I give you…

The Pisa Dance!

The Pisa Dance

Gargoyles. I have a fascination with them, especially since they’re not common in New Zealand. Their purpose is to shoot water off a roof and away from the side of a building. In other words, a gargoyle is a fancy water spout.

They’re quite common on churches throughout England and Europe. My fascination means I’m always gawking up at the carvings and strange figures decorating the old buildings. Here are two we saw on the cathedral in Pisa.

Gargoyle Pisa Pisa_gargoyles

The bottom one isn’t a true gargoyle, but it’s certainly interesting with his sly expression and his tail.

Do you think gargoyles (i.e. gargoyle shapeshifters) make good heroes in romance novels? Or do you find the idea of a stone man a bit icky?

Look at that Tower. It’s Leaning!

Pisa_1

When you’re growing up you hear about the leaning tower in Pisa. You’ve probably seen pictures of the bell tower, but actually walking through the archway and seeing it in person is a “wow” moment. We’ve visited before when we were in our early twenties, yet it was just as magical seeing it again.

Pisa

The buildings are (from left to right) Baptistry, Cathedral, Bell Tower. The land on which they’re built is unstable and the bell tower started to lean as soon as it was built in 1173. This visit we didn’t have time to climb the tower, which is 294 steps, but last time we did puff our way to the top. At the time there were no railings and I worried about slipping on the marble and falling off the edge. The distinct tilt added to the sensation of unease!

Pisa_Shelley 

And here’s another photo of me standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our visit took place early in the morning and there weren’t many people. By the time we left the crowds were starting to arrive and the rain was coming down. The young boys selling umbrellas made a killing. We’re the proud owners of a souvenir Pisa umbrella. We had a fun visit.