Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

Posts tagged ‘Italy’

Travel theme: Modern


a modern take on an ancient stone circle at Campo del sole on Lake Trasimeno, Italy


the Harmonic Fields sonic installation in Dorset

animal sculpture in human pose (Luxembourg)

this hand sculpture in Ettelbruck (Luxembourg) gives me the creeps with all its little mouths

Do you like modern art? I’m not always a great fan but sometimes it surprises and delights me.

sharing with Ailsa and other travel themers

weekly photo challenge: descent

Even if we didn’t manage to descend to the bottom of St Patrick’s well in Orvieto, Italy my glasses did. I leaned out to take a photo looking down the well and my camera jogged against my glasses knocking them off. I watched, horrified, as they bounced off the window ledge and then down into the void over 100 metres below…. We were at the beginning of our day’s outing and still had places to go. To make matters worse on our return to the hotel, when I put my spare pair of glasses on one of the lenses fell out of its frame. It was a public holiday just before a weekend and it was 3 days before I could get them repaired. Of such joys is life made!


the cascate delle marmore at nearby Terni

the chairlift down to Gubbio


descent from Schafberg, Austria

When I was looking for suitable images for this challenge, although I found lots looking up various staircases, I had none looking down. I wonder why that is. Note to self – must take the occasional shot looking down a staircase

How did you interpret this week’s challenge?

word a week: spray

Autumn spray in Turkey


cascate delle marmore, near Terni, Italy

the magic garden, Koh Samui, Thailand

Khang-Si waterfall, Laos

the water cannon at Lynmouth

coffee barista in Thailand

A word a Week

travel theme: gardens

This week Ailsa led us up the garden path.

the gazebo (*) at Sissinghurst, Kent


gazebo in the grounds of Holcombe House near Lynton, Devon

The Parc de Wesserling in Alsace, France, holds a garden festival each year. It’s situated in an old industrial complex that used to be a fabric mill. Its displays therefore are linked to fabric in some way. There are always a couple of “follies” (**) hidden away:

fabric hut based on a dream catcher

inside the garden shed of my dreams …

entrance to the grass house

The whole complex of La Scarzuola could be described as one large folly. See more of my pictures of this extraordinary place here.

Inspired by the idea of having a retreat of my own, In a corner of our garden I maintained an area that I called the wild patch and in it I constructed my ‘folly’, complete with an old iron grate in which I planted geraniums. Unfortunately our next door neighbours cut down some of the trees forming the boundary between our two properties thereby removing much of my privacy.

the basic construction

inside looking out

I added a candelabra

and decided to create a little magic….

(*) A gazebo is a pavilion structure, sometimes octagonal or turret-shaped, often built in a park, garden or spacious public area.
Gazebos are freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed, and open on all sides; they provide shade, shelter, ornamental features in a landscape, and a place to rest. Some gazebos in public parks are large enough to serve as bandstands or rain shelters.
Gazebos include pavilions, kiosks, alhambras, belvederes, follies, pergolas, and rotundas. Such structures are popular in warm and sunny climates. They are in the literature of China, Persia, and many other classical civilizations, going back to several millennia. Examples of such structures are the garden houses at Montacute House in Somerset, England.

(**) In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs. In the original use of the word, these buildings had no other use, but from the 19th to 20th centuries the term was also applied to highly decorative buildings which had secondary practical functions such as housing, sheltering or business use.

18th century English gardens and French landscape gardening often featured Roman temples, which symbolized classical virtues or ideals. Other 18th-century garden follies represented Chinese temples, Egyptian pyramids, ruined abbeys, or Tatar tents, to represent different continents or historical eras. Sometimes they represented rustic villages, mills and cottages, to symbolize rural virtues. Many follies, particularly during famine, such as the Irish potato famine, were built as a form of poor relief, to provide employment for peasants and unemployed artisans. (Wikipedia).

I make no apologies for borrowing Ailsa’s wonderful garden quotes:

Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. – Richard Brinsley Sheridan

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

a word a week challenge: high

Sue’s dictionary fell open at the word HIGH this week.

high up in the mountains in France, close to the Italian border

Siena rooftop view

view from the top of St Patrick’s well in Orvieto, Italy, where my glasses fell to the bottom ….

the waterfall at Terni, Italy

view from the castle of Haut Koenigsberg in Alsace, France

city of lights, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpur

La Sagrada familia, Barcelona

Barcelona’s cable car

Singapore’s cable car

view from the top of a hilltop temple in Cambodia

she holds her baby up on high

Do you like heights or are you afraid of them? Do they inspire you?

Visit some other high places here.

a word a week challenge: mountain

Once a week Skinnywench’s dictionary falls open at a word. The word this week is MOUNTAIN

Mount Batur in Bali

Mount Agung in Bali


mountains around St Ours in south eastern France near the Italian border


Swiss mountain scenery



mountain pastures

Switzerland, Lake Maloja


McLeodanj, home to the Dalai Lama in exile in northern India

the Dalai Lama’s monastery is right in the centre of the photo with what looks like tents on the top of it

mountain scenery in the Himanchal, India



en route to Kumbalgarh, Rajasthan


views from the top of Kumbalgarh fort



flying from the UK to Turkey over snow covered mountains

You can climb some more (virtual) mountains here

Cee’s fun foto challenge: circles and curves

I missed part one, on angles and squares, of a series of four challenges Cee is featuring on her blog. So here is part two:

the leaning tower of Pisa


the interior of the cathedral in Pisa

feline curves

this is how silk worm cocoons are “farmed” in Luang Prabang, Laos





art journal March planner
an art journal page I made last year

a year in my life: 2012

2012 saw us travelling again:

pink water lilies

and the white temple in Chiang Rai in Thailand in January.

Luang Prabang in Laos at the end of January

and the sunbirds nesting outside our window in Thailand produced 2 babies.

In March we went to Hamburg for our friends’ wedding, our first visit there – bitterly cold but we’d love to return

In April I took my parents, aged 88 and 91, on holiday for a week to Lynmouth in north Devon, in the UK

July saw us cat-sitting for friends in Germany and I took this photo of allium flowers in their garden. I used what I’d learned in one of Kim Klassen’s lessons in Beyond Layers to make this storyboard

In August we went on our trans-European trip passing through France, Italy and Germany. This photo was taken in the mountains above the tiny hamlet of St Ours near the Franco-Italian border.

In Italy we visited Pisa,


and Assisi, to name but a few of the wonderful sights we saw

In Alsace we found the virgin with the opening stomach.

Towards the end of the year I concentrated on creating more digital artwork using Photoshop Elements



and used some of these manipulated photos in my sketchbook project which I have now sent off to the Brooklyn Library for its 2013 project.

We will be travelling again in 2013 so there will be more photos and more stories, I hope.

Thank you for following my blog and I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

last day in Italy

Most of our last day in Italy was spent in the car as we drove from Passignano up to Lake Como where we would be staying the night. We left just before 10am and drove past fields of sunflowers in varying stages of development. We traveled the first couple of hours along the mountainous spine of Italy as far as Bologna and then down on to flat plains of fields of maize, vines and apple orchards.

We got to Varenna early afternoon and checked into the hotel Olivedo. Apparently glamorous at ground floor level, its glamour dimmed the higher we climbed up the 7 flights of stairs to our attic room on the top floor. It had a skylight but no proper window, the only “window” being at floor level which meant you could only see out if you sat on the floor. The bed was rock hard as were the pillows and I hardly slept a wink that night. Part of the joys of travelling …..

the hotel, right next to the lake ferry terminal

We walked along the edge of the lake into the village


and I went in search of the Villa Monastero, now used as a conference centre, as I wanted to visit its gardens. Unfortunately the gardens didn’t turn out to be as spectacular as I had hoped but it was my first visit to an Italian lakeside villa garden and it was interesting nonetheless.



door knockers on two of the doors belonging to the accommodation area

I did however manage to get some recommendations for eating places from the receptionist. Varenna only has one road running through it but there are a couple of very narrow “streets” running parallel to it

view down to the lake from the pedestrian-only “street”

one of the elegant villas in Varenna

After visiting the various venues she had recommended we finally settled on one which had a terrace overlooking the lake. We booked ourselves a table for later that evening. As my husband is a smoker we were offered a table on a small side terrace, away from the main terrace. There we were able to dine in quiet intimacy and enjoy the views of the setting sun, followed by a firework display on the other side of the lake. Small boats ferried passengers to and fro across the lake and we thought how romantic it must be to go out for dinner taking a small boat rather than a taxi.


The food was fantastic as was the wine. I had foie gras ice cream on a lolly stick, dipped in essence of balsamic vinegar and then rolled in crushed nuts – it was a bit like a Magnum ice cream on a stick. I tried another ice cream for dessert, this time a gorgonzola cheese one – it was delicious too. This was the second time I had sampled savoury ice creams, the last one being garlic ice cream served with red mullet and I’ve decided they are a good thing. I must learn how to make them for myself now.

Terni and Spoleto

We left the hotel early as planned and drove to Terni to visit the cascate delle Marmore. These are most impressive waterfalls created by the release of water on a timed basis from the lake above. As the water is only released for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon we had to time our arrival quite carefully.

According to Wikepedia: “The Cascata delle Marmore (Marmore’s Falls) is a man-made waterfall created by the ancient Romans. Its total height is 165 m (541 feet), making it one of the tallest in Europe and the tallest man-made waterfall in the world. Of its 3 sections, the top one is the tallest, at 83 m (272 feet). It is located 7.7 km from Terni, a provincial capital of the Italian region of Umbria.

Its source is a portion of the waters of the river Velino (the rest of the river flows into a hydroelectric power plant), after flowing through Piediluco lake near the community of Marmore. It pours into the valley below formed by the river Nera. Its flow is turned on and off according to a published schedule, to satisfy the needs of tourists and the power company alike. Tourists try to be there the moment the gates are opened to see the powerful rush of water”.


It was obviously a very popular spot with families at the weekend; the car park was soon full and there was standing-room only on the small viewing platform. The water thunders over the ledge and down in the valley far below, sending up plumes of spray with rainbow lights in them.




view into the valley below

After we had seen the falls from the top we drove down into the valley to see if we could view the falls from below but it was impossible to find a parking place and the police were there in full force preventing people from stopping in the road (and thereby holding up traffic) while they took photos.  Time to move on to our next destination.

If Siena had been all raw earthy colours, Spoleto was a vision of the muted palette of Farrow & Ball colours (beiges, greys, pale greens, etc.) so beloved of country house restorers, with its painted houses with decorated facades.







Spoleto was an ancient Roman town and it’s still possible to see vestiges of Roman architecture

remains of a roman arch

We walked around the foot of the Rocca Albornoziana fortress, constructed in the 14th century


as far as the ponte delle torri (bridge of the towers), a 14th century bridge supposedly built over the foundation of a Roman aqueduct with dramatic views over the surrounding countryside.



the bridge of two towers

view over the lower part of Spoleto

Yet again we mistimed our visit to the duomo of Santa Maria Assunta to find that it was closed for lunch so I had to content myself with taking photos of the facade



sgraffito decoratio on the facade of a building, where the design is scratched into the plaster


note the painted ceiling under the arches


part of an art exhibition featuring juxtapositions of ancient and modern

DH had decided that we/he had seen enough churches and wanted a bit more variety. Anticipating that this might happen I had researched some sculpture gardens to visit. We tried to find the sculpture garden of Daniel Spoerri but the directions I had found on the internet incorrectly placed the garden in Umbria and not in Tuscany. On the third phone call it was obvious that something was seriously wrong when the exasperated woman on the other end of the ‘phone said she’d never had someone ‘phone 3 times to say they couldn’t find the garden and that we needed to take the Grosseto direction from Sienna. It was then that I realised we were in wrong Seggiano; there we were in the middle of nowhere, a tiny dot on the map off the radar of our gps and the right one was 150km away between Siena and Grosseto.