Thursday, March 24, 2011

Italy! Capri!

The island of Capri is located in the southern part of the Bay of Naples and consists of two plateaus, separated by a fertile plain. The island has been inhabited since the VIII century B.C., when the Greeks and Phoenicians settled there. However, the first person to really appreciate Capri was the Emperor Tiberius, the man who took control of Rome after Augustus. In around 30 A.D., Tiberius had 12 sumptuous villas built for him on the island, including the Villa Jovis, naming each building after a god. From the fall of the Roman Empire (476 A.D.) until the end of the Early Middle Ages (1000), Capri was under the control of Naples, without however being influenced by the political changes that occurred in the ruling city due to the alternation of various dynasties, from the Angevins to the Aragonese. In the meantime, Capri had to deal with its own very different problems that continued to plague it for centuries: it was continuously subjected to pirate raids and left to fend for itself by Naples, meaning that the population had to move away from the coast, seeking refuge on the plateaus that rise up in the center of the island. This caused a sort of crash in the island’s economy, which primarily relied on fishing, but also led to the creation of the two urban settlements of Capri and Anacapri (1200). Between 1200 and 1500, the island came under the control of the Normans and then the Swabians, passing into Spanish hands and then, until the fall of Napoleon, into French hands. The island’s cultural reawakening began in around 1800 thanks to a lively, growing interest from European artists and intellectuals. Attracted by the wonderful climate, the island’s location and its natural wonders, the island was subjected to a peaceful invasion by the English, Americans and Germans and consequently began to equip itself with tourist facilities. In the early 20th century, the island took in some political refugees, including the Russian writer Maxim Gorki and Lenin, followed by the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in the 1950s, who lived in exile on the island for several years. There are many things to explore while there.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Italy! Ischia!

Ischia is the largest island in the Bay of Naples. An extinct volcano, Ischia's craggy mountain slopes are covered with pine and chestnut forests, and fragrant Mediterranean scrub. This lush vegetation has earned it the name the 'green isle', and it was used for some scenes in the film The Talented Mr Ripley. The island's main town is Ischia on the east coast: divided into Ischia Porto, the ferry port, and Ischia Ponte, the quieter historic heart. The liveliest resort is Forio in the west. With an abundance of thermal springs, a legacy of its volcanic origins, Ischia has long been famed as a health resort and now the island's main attraction is its many spas. Ischia has plenty of golden, sandy beaches and 23 miles of coastline to explore. The best are around the resort of Forio: Citara, to the south, reached by a longish walk along Via G Mazzella, and Chiaia, just a short walk to the north. Further away is San Montano Bay, a strikingly unspoilt bay. Beaches closest to Ischia Porto are the Spiaggia degli Inglese and Spiaggia San Pietro. The island's main historic attraction is the Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle perched on an islet. It's close to Ischia Ponte and reached by a causeway. Forio has a pleasant historic centre and is close to the lush gardens of La Mortella (Via F Calise), created by the widow of the composer William Walton. Energetic visitors can take a bus to Montana, from where it is possible to walk up Monte Epomeo - the island's extinct volcano.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Italy! Verona!


If you wander the streets of Verona on a winter’s night you might just believe the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet to be true. You’ll find plenty to keep you occupied in one of Italy's most beautiful cities. Known as piccola Roma (little Rome) for its importance in imperial days, its truly golden era came during the 13th and 14th centuries under the Della Scala family (also known as the Scaligeri). The period was noted for the savage family feuding of which Shakespeare wrote in his play. Verona is in the Veneto Region of Italy, on the Milano-Venice train line, 70 miles west of Venice. There is a small airport just outside of Verona. Verona has many attractions to go and see there. Here are a few: Arena di Verona - a 2000 year old Roman Arena and it's still going strong. The opera stage is the largest in the world. In the summer months the arena hosts opera and other performances. Make sure you get tickets early. 2 bridges (ponti) Visit the Ponte Scaligerofor a beautiful view, and the Ponte Pietra, a roman era bridge over the Adige river. Juliet's House (Casa de Giulietta). Ok, we're not even sure that Shakespeare ever visited and the characters come from a story by Luigi da Porto of Vicenza but hey, you can rub the right breast of Juliet's statue for luck and take a picture of the balcony like everybody else. Piazza dei Signori - a central square including a statue of Dante because he resided in Verona for a while. Piazza delle Erbe- It used to be the Roman Forum but now its a wonderful open air market surrounded by historic buidings with frescos and peppered with sculptures. Go here for a cheap meal. Castelvecchio (the Old Castle) Beautiful Views and an interesting art collection inside.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Italy! Fountain of Love!

The fountain of love also called the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. This fountain stands 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide and it took 30 years to build. The order came from Pope Clementine XII, it was started by artist Nicola Salvi, but he died in 1751, with his work half-done. Giuseppe Pannini resume the job and finished it in 1762, long after the Pope died. The central figure of the Trevi Fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. To the side are the statues of Abundance and Salubrity. The water at the bottom of Trevi Fountain represents the sea. A lot of people miss-interpreted that throwing coin to this fountain water will bring good luck in love, said that two coins will lead to a new romance and three will ensure either a marriage or divorce. Actually, legend has it that you will guarantee that somehow you will find your way back to return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water. You should toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain. An estimated 3,000 euros (which is about $4131.90 in the U.S.) are thrown into the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome's needy. However, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Italy! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first came out in the 1980s.
 Leonardo (Leo) — The courageous leader and devoted student of martial arts, Leonardo wears a blue mask in some versions and wields two katana. He is the oldest of the four. Leonardo was named after the Italian polymath, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, and painter, Leonardo da Vinci.
Michelangelo (Mike or Mikey) — Easy-going and free-spirited, Michelangelo wears an orange mask in some versions and wields a pair of nunchaku. Michelangelo provides much of the comic relief. He is named after the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer Michelangelo Buonarroti. His name was originally misspelled "Michaelangelo" by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.
Donatello (Don or Donny) — The brilliant scientist, inventor, engineer, and technological genius, Donatello wears a purple mask in some versions. He is named after the sculptor Donatello.
Raphael (Raph) — The team's bad boy, Raphael wears a red mask and wields a pair of sai. He is named after the Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raphael.\
The ninja turtles have been a comic, TV show, movies, and etc. throughout the years that they have been in existence.