6 Oct 2017

This and that

This morning in South Yorkshire the sun is shining and there are clear blue skies Even though the temperature has dropped another degree or two it's the sort of day to be out-and-about. 
In Italy our grapes were collected last month by relatives as they had matured early this year and the wine process has begun. We've been told that the weather is still warm, but thankfully not as hot as we experienced it. The swallows that were perching on the overhead electric cables when we were there will have migrated to a warmer climate by now. 

It was good to see butterflies in the garden and countryside. Most of them were, I think, varieties of dusky meadow browns. The one showing the underside of the wings on the bottom right was interesting. (I took the photo through a not-very-clean balcony window so it's not so clear, but it had very interesting markings just like a piece of bark and this must be good for camouflage against predators.  I think it's a tortoiseshell butterfly, but let me know if  I'm wrong. Thank you).

The grandchildren were fascinated by the lizards and the granddaughter took this photo.  It had been dozing undisturbed in the jasmine bush until we came along to prune the branches. I'm not keen on lizards ever since I saw one grab a huge praying mantis. The lizard scuttled away into the vegetation with the poor creature in its jaws.  I suppose that's the law of nature, but I had taken an interest in the praying mantis and felt sorry for its capture and obvious demise. 

Yesterday in Yorkshire, I was pleased to see this butterfly in our garden. Again, I'm not sure, but I think it's a comma butterfly. 

The sunflowers are just beginning to flower.  The roses continue to bloom.

The grapes will be left for the birds.

When we got back from Italy we found three nectarines had matured. The skin on one had wrinkled, but they were all delicious to eat. 

The fig tree is dropping its leaves and the figs still on the branches will not ripen now, but we gathered many bowls of  figs in September.

Our daughter, who was looking after our house and garden when we were in
Italy, picked many ripe tomatoes and put them in the freezer before she returned home. Usually we bottle them, but we were grateful that she froze them as they'll come in handy when the fresh ones have finished.  We can use them to make tomato sauce. We've been picking tomatoes off the plants ever since we came home and we still have a few ripe tomatoes on our plants in the covered yard. The tomatoes that were growing in planters outside have been gathered as we're now starting to experience frost during the night.  A few were gathered and ripened indoors. I also froze some rhubarb on our return from being away and will make rhubarb crumble. We've also gathered the pears and have stored them indoors. They're gradually ripening.  On the other hand, the apples are still on the tree, but they'll also need to be gathered soon.

Lastly, I've started planting Spring bulbs in pots and I bought some pansies to add some colour and variety.

As always, wishing you a good day and a peaceful weekend.  We're looking forward to a visit from our son, daughter-in-law and grandson tomorrow. I shall be busy today preparing some food in advance for our Saturday lunch so I'll catch up with you after the weekend.

1 Oct 2017

Our time in Italy (3) a day out in Rome

Our daughter and grandchildren were eager to spend a day in Rome when they joined us in Italy for their fortnight's holiday. They had a list of the sights they wanted to see again.  (The two grandchildren were young when they last visited Rome).  I expect you can guess what they were - the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and St. Peter's Basilica.  Knowing Rome's historical city centre as I do I knew we had to be realistic about how far we could walk in the intense heat. I don't use the tourist buses - at 20 euros a person for the day they're expensive for a family, although you do see most of the famous sights and can get on and off to take a look around.  I much prefer to walk and take short cuts through familiar streets, go into the cool of churches along the way, stop for refreshments and a rest when necessary.  The first three sights on the list were manageable as we could do a circular tour beginning and ending at the train station. St. Peter's and the Vatican would have to be visited some other time. With an ice bag containing bottles of iced water and some food for a picnic we caught an early train so that we could visit a church or two as they close about midday and don't open again until late afternoon.  It was important to get going before it got really hot.
Here is a whistle stop tour of where we went.....

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

a side nave

the high altar

the 13th century mosaics in the apse behind the high altar

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is a beautiful church.  You can see more from a previous visit here and here.

It was time to stop for a mid-morning picnic and a rest sitting under some shady trees overlooking the Colosseum before walking along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali stopping every now and again to look down at the ruins of the Roman Forum.

The cool spray coming off the fountains of the Vittorio Emanuele Monument was
very welcome.

Palazzo Venezia and Museum

The Trevi Fountain

The above photo is from the visit in November 2015 when the water had been drained so that the monument and basin of the fountain could be cleaned.

It was good to see the water flowing again - the highlight of the day for me. I had hoped to come back when the fountain was functioning again not knowing what was around the corner in 2016 with my health issues. Thankfully I'm much better now and very pleased that I could spend a full day in Rome with a daughter and grandchildren. 

It must have been the dream of this newly married couple coming down the street to have a photo taken at the Trevi Fountain although they had to compete with the crowds wanting to do the same. However, I'm sure they were oblivious to everyone around them and will have wonderful memories of their wedding day in the city.

Soon it was time for an early lunch in one of the many pizzerias in the area.  All I wanted was a drink!  We paid a reasonable price for a slice of pizza and a soft drink. As we sat there we noticed that the man behind the counter charged whatever he thought people would pay (more expensive than what we paid for the same thing) to which they agreed without querying what should have been a fixed price. This was sad to witness and the negative side of tourism.  It wasn't as good as the ones my husband used to make in our Italian pizzeria, but the others enjoyed theirs. After another good rest we made our way to the Spanish Steps. On the way we noticed this church was still open and we went inside to take a look around and I'm glad we did. On nearly every street there's a church which has special meaning for the people of Rome and is full of beautiful features and treasures of historical importance. Often these smaller churches are overlooked as visitors go to the more famous ones which is understandable if time is limited when on a short break.

San Marcello al Corso was one of the first sites of Christian worship in Rome.  A later Romanesque building burned down in 1519.  During the night of 22nd May a fire destroyed the antique church although the walls, a few columns and the wooden cross amazingly remained undamaged.  The rebuilding of the church was started almost immediately, but momentous events such as the sacking of Rome and floods from the River Tevere slowed the work down. The interior was not completed until 1592. The travertine stone facade in Baroque style was finished in 1686. There is a single nave and several side chapels one of which contains the antique cross that escaped the fire.

the high altar

The Column of Marco Aurelio erected after the death of Marcus Aurelius in AD 180 is composed of 28 drums of marble. It was restored in 1588, the Emperor's statue on the top was replaced by a bronze of St. Paul. An internal staircase leads to the top.

(Below) The Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps and surrounding buildings.  The steps lead up to the Trinità dei Monti Church. 

The Barcaccia Fountain designed by Pietro Bernini, which also has been cleaned recently.  On the left is Babbington's Tea Rooms and on the right is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House where the poet Keats died in 1821.

I couldn't resist taking this lady dressed so beautifully in her national costume - I'm not sure which country - as she gracefully posed for a photo shoot, perhaps for a magazine?

We walked up Via Condotti which is one of the smartest shopping areas in Rome.
In fact, as well as elegant boutiques there are beautiful old buildings in this area as it was the place to stay when doing the Grand Tour of Europe or live if you were an artist, writer or composer.

Nearby is this beautiful 19th century theatre which specialises in lyrical opera performances traditionally preceded by a light supper in the small restaurant.   

We were nearly at the end of our walk which would not have been complete for the grandchildren without choosing and enjoying an ice cream. 

The walk to the train station was uphill and we were glad to top up our water bottles from one of the fountain taps that continually flow with safe drinking water before we caught the train for the hour's journey home.

one of the four fountains at the crossroads on Via delle Quattro Fontane

I hope you enjoyed the walk and you're not too tired!  Wishing you a good day and a peaceful week ahead.
Linda :)