Photo of the Week: Summer in Florence

Photo of the Week: Summer in Florence

Summer is officially here! On June 21st we experienced the Summer Solstice, where the sun moved to its furthest point north of the equator and we enjoyed the longest day of the year. However, I don’t think any of us here even noticed! With about 5 days leading up to the 21st hovering at a balmy 93 degrees, we got the message. Which was apparently to get our tank tops, light dresses, linen, and mesh (whatever you got!) out of the closet cause summer ain’t messin’ around. Luckily for us, it rained again (never thought I’d say that!) and the heat wave was temporarily broken. On San Giovanni day the late afternoon thunder storms gave way to an amazing double rainbow and perfect fluffy clouds to frame the festivities and fireworks. Then yesterday’s on-and-off-again showers made way to this breathtaking sunset that (with the hundreds of tourists and locals stopping to photograph it) seemed like the perfect opening to what promises to be a wonderful summer. So until the fall equinox, gelato wishes and granita dreams to all!

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Going #2 in Pompeii (and other things you never knew you wanted to know about)

pompeiiWhen I first travelled to Pompeii as an undergrad, I had read all about it in my art history textbook and thought I had a handle on what to see and where to go (I had been elected official guide by my group of friends who I had dragged there with the pretext that it was near the Amalfi coast). Instead I was completely overwhelmed and admittedly, a little disappointed. Ok…I was a lot disappointed. I had imagined it full of artifacts, art, plaster casts of various things, with, of course, educational signage and helpful personnel. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was so struck by how much was not there (based on what I had imagined in my head) that I couldn’t see the many things that were there.
 
So in this post, I want to take the opportunity for those of you who haven’t been or for those of you who have, but perhaps didn’t have an outstanding guide, no guide at all, or else just one of those generic guidebooks, to try and show you a glimmer of the magnificence of this incomparable site. Because the truth is that to the untrained eye (and under the blazing southern Italian sun), this magnificence can sometimes be a little hidden.
 
What I have learned now, however, thanks to these last few visits and some research of my own, is that not only are there many, many things of significance to see at Pompeii, but that the best things are not what you would necessarily expect and perhaps a little harder to see. These tend to be the things that really help our understanding and appreciation of the Roman World circa 79 AD and once you realize they’re there, they have the potential to change your entire experience.

So, without further ado, here are just a few of those wonderful details you don’t learn about in your average Art History survey course and that are not necessarily the easiest to see but are definitely easy to appreciate (warning: there will be discussion of toilets and materials that go into toilets so if you’re squeamish…well…get over it):
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Photo of the Week: Holy Capri

Photo of the Week: Holy Capri

If I had not taken this photo myself I would think it was a fake; an island shot masterly blended with moonscapes and imagined places by some unknown artist. However unbelievable, this is a real place. It is the view from the highest point on the Island of Capri, Mount Solaro, looking out towards Sorrento. In the lower foreground is the city of Capri. To the right (out of the shot) would be the recognizable Faraglioni, a word meaning “stacks” and used to refer to the limestone crags that jut out of the water off the corner of the Island.
 
Want to recreate this stunning view for yourself? I don’t blame you. Getting to the top of the highest hill in Capri is not easy, but if I can do it, so can you. First things first, get to Capri. Easier said than done, I know. It took me ten years to get back there after my first visit way back in 2003, but I am so glad I did. While you will have to change your mode of transportation several times (in my case, five times), it’s well worth it. Pack light and get ready to be mobile (all you need a swimsuit anyway).
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Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Looking for a picturesque and doable walk into the hills around Florence, through some beautiful back roads, and with some award winning views? We’ve got you covered. In fact, thanks to our recent move out of the city center we’ve found the perfect 1-hour walk out of the clogged centro and up into the quiet and charming Tuscan hills. The walk leaves from Piazza delle Cure and takes you through some magical winding roads (with several fun stops on the way) to the main piazza of the gorgeous hilltop town of Fiesole. For those of you who are not interested in an uphill climb (which for the last 20 minutes can get a bit steep), but would still like to enjoy this lovely town, jump on Bus #7 (picks up in Piazza San Marco and drops you in Piazza Mino da Fiesole). For those of you who don’t mind the burn or are looking for an excuse to eat more pasta tonight, read on. Continue reading…

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Photo of the Week: Accidental Art

Photo of the Week: Accidental Art

Staring out from a door near Piazza Santissima Annunziata is the image of what might be the face of a lion or a bear. But this is no painting or sculpture. It’s not even art at all. It is simply the ghostly remnants of an old door knocker that was removed only to reveal something so much better.
 
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