White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Beautiful Spring Day, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy



This odd looking centurion normally stands frozen at attention in the Piazza San Michele. If you throw a coin in his collection pot, he will move or pose for a photo.



Here he is on the way back from a break. Always a head-turner to see him out of context.



It is a little early for the lunch crowd at Piazza Napoleone but the trees have filled in in the past couple weeks creating a shady oasis.



Folks start to fill the Piazza dell' Anfiteatro looking for a place to eat lunch.



On the wall looking toward the north of Lucca. It has turned chilly with a fresh breeze from the mountains but, what a spectacular day it makes! (Panorama - click to view full width if your device supports that action).



On the south side of the wall, pedestrians are heading back into the city through one of the tunnel access points.



Although traffic is fairly light at this moment, when the wall is full of people it amazes me that each moment to moment potential collision is averted at the last possible second. Potential collisions exist between walkers, strollers, joggers, runners, skaters, bikers, quad bikers, the occasional car or police vehicle, and thousands of ambling pedestrians all enjoying the same space at the same time. Somehow, it all works together.



It looked like this a month ago at the end of winter. Ah, Lucca, what a special place you are.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nottolini Aqueduct, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy



Back in Lucca after our visit to Venice and to shake some of the city dust and cobwebs out, we headed south of Lucca on foot to enjoy a walk along the Nottolini Aqueduct.

Built in the 1800's by Lorenzo Nottolini, it brought water from the mountains near Pisa to the city of Lucca. Alas, during major highway construction during the Mussolini era, the aqueduct was shut down and split in the middle to make way for the new multi-lane highway that connects Pisa to Florence. (Panorama - click to view in full width if your device supports that action).



Another view of the aqueduct from an adjacent stand of trees. (Panorama - click to view in full width if your device supports that action).

Lorenzo Nottolini was also known for his efforts at the urban rehabilitation of the Piazza dell' Anfiteatro inside the city of Lucca as well as other projects.



It was a spectacularly beautiful walk but the dark clouds gathering on our return started looking like showers were imminent. The image above is on the south side of the city wall.



People were carrying umbrellas and if you didn't have one, there was someone nearby always ready to sell you one for a few euro.



Many folks simply sat under restaurant umbrellas to pass the time and wait out any shower.



As always, the rain stopped, the puddles formed, and photographers were seen aiming low to get reflection images. Even wet, Lucca is beautiful.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Arrivederci Venezia! Part 5 of 5, Venice, Veneto, Italy



I find that I am liking the timelessness of black and white images of Venice. This one could have been made last week or last century (except for the small speedboat in the distant background).



Like sardines in the can, or riders on a subway at rush hour, everyone packs onto the vaporettos for transport along the Grand Canal.



Some still take the slow boats.



This red boat is a postal package delivery service.



A view from onboard the vaporetto heading back to meet our ride back to Lucca. Note the yellow boat at right - it is the delivery service DHL.



A gondola glides by the vaporetto I am riding.



And another.



Considering the chaos of thousands of people pouring into Venice daily whether by car, bus, train, boat, ship, or plane, Venice's traffic officers keep the throngs moving in spite of the challenges at the main arrival point.

Some final thoughts: It is difficult to be a walking man in Venice. There are just too many people and crowds clogging the narrow arteries - it is difficult to keep up a consistent walking pace like when in Lucca

I expect that I was imagining it but, it sometimes felt like the earth or buildings were shifting, swaying underfoot. Whether stone, wood, stair, bridge, floor, store, house - I imagine I feel the slight shifts of the ground beneath my feet. Knowing this city was built upon the millions of trees cut for the purpose and driven into the ground, it predisposes me to think that way.

This whole amazing place is balancing on sticks - for centuries so far. So, the city is probably not moving as I imagine it. I must just have some old age vertigo and/or an overactive imagination. I did note that floors slope badly in odd ways whether inside stores, or houses, or on sidewalks, or footbridges. That said, I am surprised that doors seemed to open and close with such ease.

Arrivederci Venezia, it was great to visit you!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Amazing at Every Turn, Part 4 of 5, Venice, Veneto, Italy



There seems to be more musically sophisticated buskers in Venice - classical music to enrich the soul.



Here's another form of busking. Put some coins in the box to take a picture, or, pose with them for a picture. Either way, put money in the box.



A warm sunny wharf near the Rialto Bridge is just perfect for a pair of tourists to rest and recharge their batteries.



Gondolas at dock, the Rialto Bridge in the background.



Ready for passengers.



We had a great lunch along this wharf just below the Rialto Bridge. Even though most/all customers were tourists, the standards for food quality were high. Protecting the Italian reputation for quality food was evident everywhere.



Blue and green pilings and color coordinated clothing.



Along the Grand Canal.



Ditto.



This "grocery store" is on a boat docked along a side canal. Customers stand beside it on the sidewalk and the greengrocer passes over what the shopper can't reach from the bins.



A department store just north of the Rialto Bridge, Fondaco dei Tedeschi, has a rooftop deck that visitors are sometimes permitted to access. This view is looking northward up the Grand Canal......



.....and this one looking southward at the Venice skyline (with some post-processing enhancements added).


Saturday, April 22, 2017

A City Unlike Any Other, Part 3 of 5, Venice, Veneto, Italy



I removed the color in this image to create sort of a timeless feel.



One of only four bridges that span the Grand Canal, the Ponte dell'Accademia was near our house and I must have crossed it dozens of times in addition to taking night photos from it.



A touch gaudy perhaps but, part of the gondola charm.



I noticed many gondolas have mats for the gondolier to stand on the raised rear surface.  Perhaps to protect the finish and perhaps for better traction. It looks like quite a balancing act to stand and row.



I never did figure out the coloring system for the dock pilings - if there is one.



The waters are much calmer in the smaller side canals.....



...but the boat traffic can get busy and congested sometimes which can lead to minor disagreements.



I'll let you imagine what is being said between two gondoliers by this gesture and expression.



It is busy on the water with all the boat traffic. Everything - goods and people - move by water. The large vessel at above left is part of what amounts to the Venice bus transportation system - vaporettos.



But on land, photos rule the day. Selfie sticks are still popular here and for sale by roving hawkers.



This is a remarkable sight for one reason - it is the only street I encountered where I was the only human on it - a dark back alley apparently where the tourists do not normally go.



Where else but Venice would you enjoy live music of this style at an outdoor cafe?



So, I did it again. As in Part 1, I dragged my tired body out of the house after 10pm to see how tonight's full moon over the Grand Canal looked. I'm glad I did. It was much better than the last one - a sharper image, fewer clouds obscuring the moon, shutter speed 1/10 second, f1.8, ISO 5000 and less foot traffic tonight on the bridge to shake my camera.



Friday, April 21, 2017

A City of Gondolas and More! Part 2 of 5, Venice, Veneto, Italy



If I have learned nothing else during this visit to Venice it is this: neither photos nor videos do justice to this city - they do not capture the feel of the air, the smell of the ocean, the light, the energy, the sounds, the frenzy.



I don't know if this man is just out exercising or what but, he sure caught my eye.



A gondolier waiting for a customer. I will never look at a black/white horizontal striped shirt the same again.



It was a slow moment for these gondolas and a good time for this pooch to enjoy the warm sunshine while he waited with his human friend.



The water is choppy with the wind and the power boat wakes on the Grand Canal but the gondolas cruise right along anyway.



This gondola and others at set locations criss-cross the Grand Canal ferrying passengers for a small fee. Very small fee if you are a resident.



This view is in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute looking across the Grand Canal towards the bell tower of San Marco in the distance.



Looking up the Grand Canal from the same location. And yes, all those buildings are standing on millions of wood pilings sunk into the sea floor hundreds of years ago.



The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is in the background but, the artwork at left is what captured my attention.



The white marble sculpture had that Michaelangelo kind of quality that just stunned me in its beauty and detail.



This busker sat down in an echoing pedestrian tunnel to sing for his tips - at this moment, a James Taylor song - go figure - not quite what I expected in Venice but, James Taylor tunes are known and loved the world over. And speaking of love........



......it is in the air everywhere in Venice!........



....as the blooming wisteria reaches it's springtime climax.