Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

This week’s photo challenge is ‘curves’.

My first pics are taken at The Vatican. Here is an Arnaldo Pomodora sculpture which I saw in the grounds outside. It’s a sphere within a sphere, and the original was designed for the Vatican, although several others have since popped up around the world. It looks like a new world trying to burst out through cracks in the old one, don’t you think?

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Another curve very close by, is the Dome of St Peter’s Basilica, the tallest dome in the world, being 136.57 metres (448.1 ft) high.

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The inside of the dome is even more exquisite, and was painted by Michelangelo himself.

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Another curvaceous construction in Italy, is the Colosseum in Rome, the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, which was opened in A.D. 80, and for many years, was the site of many bloody combats between man and beast.

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I couldn’t resist adding the beautiful curve of a rainbow at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

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Last but not least is this painting of African dancers enthusiastically shaking their curves. It’s been for sale for over a year at one of the stalls along our promenade. I can’t imagine why no-one has bought it yet. Wouldn’t you like it for your entrance hall? 🙂

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To see more contributions to the curvy theme, just click here.

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Italian Walls for Ailsa’s theme.

Ailsa’s new travel theme is walls, and so many of my photos have buildings in them, so this challenge called for a bit of restraint, or I’d be posting a gallery of hundreds.

I really loved the Italian architecture when I visited in October 2011, so decided to feature some of the walls I saw there. Click on any image to be taken to the photo gallery.

To see more bloggers’ interpretations of Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

“If music be the food of love, play on.”  ~ Shakespeare

Whilst roaming in Rome, we were on our way to view some archaeological excavations, when I heard beautiful music and went to investigate. There under a shady tree, was a young clarinetist serenading the passersby. People dropped a few Euros into his case, as they literally danced past. An elderly Italian couple, obviously still very much in love, stayed and danced for quite a while, as he played the wonderful love song, “Besame Mucho.”

Besame, besame mucho,
Each time I cling to your kiss, I hear music divine,
Besame mucho,
Hold me my darling and say that you’ll always be mine.
This joy is something new, my arms enfolding you,
Never knew this thrill before.
Whoever thought I’ll be holding you close to me,
Whispering it’s you I adore.

They seemed oblivious to everyone except one another and the music, which obviously evoked for them, wonderful memories. I stayed and watched them dance, and I really felt the love.

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To see more entries for this challenge, just click here.

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Red

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is “Red’ and she has some amazing images of red landscapes in her latest post.

I also have a few photos to show you, which depict the colour red. The first is my favourite, and I used it for my ‘Capture the Colour’ entry, which I didn’t win of course. 🙂 It’s of a baby polar bear at SeaWorld in San Diego, fast asleep, cuddled up to his red plastic comfort toy.

Next up are these modern-day Gladiators posing outside the Colosseum in Rome, looking very dashing in their red costumes.

Red seemed to be the dominant colour at this market stall in the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu. The lady minding the stall, was however, oblivious of anything around her at the time when the photo was taken.

This no entry sign in the courtyard opposite our hotel in Florence really amused me. The black silhouette, sneakily carrying away the no-entry bar, is just one of several such signs, created by French artist Clet Abraham, who has lived in Italy for 20 years.

Here is Luanne, who cooked for us last year when we stayed at a villa in Round Hill, Jamaica. The lobsters were fresh that morning out of Montego Bay. When I asked her for a photo, she quickly went and put on her chef’s hat for the occasion.

They were even redder, and utterly scrumptious, when they were served up for dinner that evening.

Talking of food, I do love to use red place mats when we have friends around to share a meal with us. It always makes the table look more festive, don’t you think.

What would a ‘Red’ post be without a wonderful sunset? This shot was taken from the jetty outside our hotel on San Clemente Island in Venice.

Last but by no means least, is our distinctive 21 metre high Umhlanga Rocks lighthouse which dominates the lovely beach here. It was completed in 1954, and its beam emits a light equivalent to six hundred thousand candles flashing three times every twenty seconds. It can be seen from as far as twenty-four miles away at sea during visible conditions. The circular tower, with its bright red top, serves as a ‘guiding light’,  which leads vessels through some of South Africa’s most treacherous coastline and warns them of hidden dangers.  It is fully automated, and has never had its own lighthouse keeper, the lights being operated from the nearby Oyster Box Hotel, which has been its official warden for almost sixty years.

I hope you enjoyed my red photos. To see more red entries to Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

Ad visits the Pope’s place.

The second day of our Italian trip was very hot, and by the end of the day we were totally exhausted after walking for hours, up and down many steps, both in the Vatican City, and the Colosseum. It was really fascinating though, and we saw such a lot of amazing sights, and took many photos.

Here is the outside of the Vatican fortress wall. It’s really high, and I’m sure not even Spiderman could manage to scale it. We were told that there are about 20,000 visitors per day. Vatican City has 850 inhabitants and is a separate country from Italy.

It’s guarded by the Swiss Guard, and also has it’s own police force.

The gardens were really beautiful and well kept, as one would expect.

Here is a pic of the 136.57 m tall St Peter’s Dome, viewed from the Vatican Gardens. It’s the tallest dome in the world, and looked so magnificent as it glistened in the sun against the blue sky.

Here is the inside of the Dome looking up.

The entrance to the Saint Peter’s Basilica is decorated with a myriad statues!

Once inside, there were so many photo opportunities.

This sculpture by Michelangelo is entitled “The Pieta, It’s the first of a number of his works on the same theme, and is the only one which he actually signed.

This one, executed by a team of artists under the supervision of the sculptor, Bernini, is Pope Alexander VII’s tomb. It shows him kneeling on top of his grave, surrounded by the four virtues (Charity, Truth, Prudence, and Justice). Death is underneath the shroud and is holding up an hourglass.

The vast proportions of these beautiful marble pillars and sculptures are truly breathtaking.

We really did see so many wonderful sights, too numerous to show you here.

My head was bobbing up, down, and round and round, trying to take in all the beauty from marble floors,

to magnificent walls and ceilings.

When we entered the Sistine Chapel, no photography was allowed, so here is a photograph of a photograph of the end wall depicting the “Last Judgement.” We were told that Michelangelo had superimposed the faces of some people who had given him a really hard time during his career, on those folk relegated to Hell at the bottom of this “Judgement Day,” scene.

There are 1,100 sq m of paintings in the chapel, and it’s beauty is astounding. One isn’t allowed to talk at all, and every few seconds, a pre-recorded and rather loud “Sshhh,” came over the speaker system, to remind everyone to keep QUIET. 😉

We marvelled at, and wondered about the meaning of this interesting bronze sculpture outside the Vatican museum. It’s called “Sfera Con Sfera” (“Sphere Within a Sphere”) and was created by Arnaldo Pomodoro. I read that several such sculptures of varying diameters, are to be found at other places around the world, including the UN Headquarters in New York.

Inside were so many statues, which were all white, but here is a replica of what they would have looked like originally; very colourful indeed. I was so surprised, as I  didn’t imagine that they had once been painted.

We visited the many galleries in the museum, and looked up in absolute awe at the beautiful ceiling frescos in the “Map Gallery.” These, and so many others were absolutely magnificent.

It was about here, that hubby almost lost me forever. It was very crowded, and I’d wandered off on my own, which is always a mistake.  Not seeing him and the rest of our group, I decided that they must be ahead of me. In a bit of a panic, I went charging off to catch them up, not realising that they were still way back. My guardian and protector eventually managed to catch up with me, and lead me back to the safety of the fold, giving me strict instructions to stay close. 😉

The Tapestry Gallery was also a wonder to behold. The mind boggles just imagining all the work that must have gone into creating these enormous tapestries.

There were statues everywhere we looked, and I think I saw enough to last me for quite a while; in fact I believe I actually overdosed on statues that day.

As we were leaving the museum, we passed the private entrance to the papal apartments. How I would love an invitation to enter through that glass door.

Well I think that’s quite enough photo downloading for today, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to wander around the Colosseum with me.

AD goes roaming in Rome

Buongiorno everyone. I decided that it’s time I shared my Italian trip with you, and Gilly did ask so nicely, so for the next few days my posts will be about will be about all things Italiano.  Last October, we were on our way from South Africa to Florida, and after a stop-over to see my MiL in England, we decided that a little detour across to Italy would be rather nice.

We arrived in Bella Roma, on a late afternoon flight from Heathrow, and took a taxi to our hotel through the Sunday night rush hour traffic. It was dark by the time we arrived, and we were most impressed when we pulled up outside the Boscolo Hotel. I had no idea it was going to be so magnificent.

The lobby and lounge were equally grand; so much marble everywhere!

After unpacking our cases, we went out in search of dinner, and found a little Pizzeria, run by Egyptians. We were offered lobster, and were introduced to the two choices, either Peter or Michael. I felt sorry for those poor little lobsters, and so we decided that they could “Die another day.” I wasn’t going to be responsible for depriving either of them of their best friend in the tank, so we settled for a pizza instead, washed down with a bottle of Frascati  wine, which was very tasty indeed.

The following morning, after a sumptuous breakfast, we strolled down to the Trevi Fountain, and of course I did what all tourists must do; I threw in a coin and made a wish.

On our walkabout we passed this lovely sculpture of Romulus and the wolf.

The narrow cobbled streets are quite a challenge for both cars and pedestrians alike. There are so many scooters around, which isn’t really surprising, as they are much easier to park, and to drive around. We remembered from our last visit here, that to cross the road, you just have to walk purposefully, and fix the motorist with your “I dare you to run me over!” look, and they will stop for you.  There are so many leather shops, and quite reasonably priced too, although I really didn’t think I needed to add to my luggage so soon, so we rather concentrated on the beautiful architecture.

This building is the Pontificia Studiorum Universitas, and was definitely worthy of a pic. It looked so magnificent against that blue sky. I wish I could have moved that white van out of the way. 😉

This typical example of Italian architecture, had been turned into a restaurant.

As we were on our way to view some archeological excavations, I heard beautiful music and went to investigate. There, under a shady tree, was a young clarinetist serenading the passersby. People were literally dancing past, and dropping a few Euros into his hat. This elderly couple, obviously still very much in love, stayed and danced for quite a while, as he played “Besame Mucho.”

I saw something I hadn’t seen in ages;  a roast-chestnut seller on a street corner. I didn’t like to take a pic unless I bought some though, and I just wasn’t hungry enough, but they did smell good. There are very few new buildings in Rome. Most are either old or ancient, and many have been built on top of old Roman ruins. Some are being excavated now, and here you can see all the bits and pieces of beautiful columns and statues that they are discovering.

Later, we went to meet our tour guide and the rest of the group, over wine and snacks. There were forty of us, from all over the world. Many folk had just flown in from the USA, Canada and Australia, and were somewhat jet-lagged, but when we all went out for dinner, they seemed to recover, and we  had a lot of fun and an excellent meal at The Cabiria Restaurant on the Via Veneto. We ate a four course dinner, sitting up on the roof deck overlooking the city. The evening was so mild and there was fortunately no wind either; a perfect meal, lovely company, and even an Italian singer/guitarist to serenade us.

When it was time to leave, rather than wait for the lift, which could take only seven people at a time, some of us opted to go down this spiral staircase. I counted 186 steps…. a long way down. Imagine falling over the balustrade as they sometimes do in the movies!

Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, as well as the Colosseum and Michelangelo’s steps, so for now, it’s “buono giornata,” everyone. 😉

Travel Challenge “Rhythm”

Ailsa, of the “Where’s my backpack” blog, has given us a travel challenge this week. The challenge is ‘Rhythm’, and some of you may know that I’m in Phuket Thailand on holiday at the moment. I have heard the rhythm of the beginning of the monsoon rains, most evenings, as well as the rhythm of the waves crashing onto the beach just across from our room. The rhythm of the wind in the palm trees lulls me to sleep at night. I’ve been looking out for street musicians here, but so far haven’t seen even one, so I decided to use photos taken in other places on my travels.

This one was taken in Rio, as we were sitting having lunch at an open restaurant just across from Copacabana Beach. Halfway through my meal, a band of merry minstrels appeared, and insisted that I come join them whilst they serenaded me.

Whilst in Venice last year, we were sitting at a street Pizza Cafe, when these three brothers stopped to sing to us. They weren’t very in tune, but it was nice all the same, and added to the  romantic rhythm of that wonderful city.

One evening, whilst staying at a resort on the banks of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, we were entertained by these guys who performed some of their local music for us. It was a fascinating performance, and quite different from our Western style music.

If you would like to see more entries for this challenge, just click here.