Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The eclipse makes the stars shine

The lunar eclipse on September 28th early in the morning in the UK was well worth missing some sleep for. 

It all began with a wonderful sunset on Sunday evening.

Then the harvest moon rose and hung low and lustrous in the sky, and huge as it does just after it appears.

A few hours later I grabbed some sleep, knowing that my resident astronomer would wake me up later to see this and more.
Photograph by Harry
Harry played magician and camera wizard with some more great pics

The constellations grew clearer in the still night as the moon's light dimmed. I recognised The Plough, Orion, Cassiopeia, Auriga, and Perseus - getting better! 

The only downside was that I was late waking up to lead my friends on a walk the next day, but they were quite affable and what's an hour among mates?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

La bella città - part 5

Day 6 - Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori, back to the Borghese Park, and a disappointing meal.

First stop - coffee at the Bibliobar.

There's a hint of autumn in the leaves.
The  cycle track by the river is well used today.

Did you ever see an ice-cream walking...?
On to the lively Piazza Navona, on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, and still the same shape.  Most of the stalls are selling paintings and caricatures - rather like a less claustrophobic Place du Tertre.

Egyptian obelisk with the fountain of the four Rivers

Harry meets the Invisible Man
Harry's cousin Morton has recommended the Campo de' Fiori, so we head in that direction.
 It was once a meadow, then became the site of many burnings at the stake, including Giordano Bruno, a 16th century Dominican friar and philosopher, whose statue in bronze by Ettore Ferrari dominates the square. He was executed in the Campo de' Fiore for heresy - he denied several Catholic doctrines (including the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and Transubstantiation) and the Inquisition was not pleased. 
 There was an excellent little sandwich and snack shop near by - more pizza and some biscuits. Onwards. Well, well, here's another old ruin . . . 
 and the second cat I've seen in Rome.
 We pass the lovely creature below as we walk on towards the Borghese Park - I know something I could introduce him to nearer home.
We have a quick pitstop in a cafe, then head to the Borghese Park. We find a bench and eat our lunch under the disapproving gaze of this serious-minded statue - Angelo Brofferio, a poet and politician, with anti-clerical views, who supported the freedom of the press, and opposed the death penalty and torture. 

Grazia Deledda, writer
 Sunday afternoon and the park is full of young families and couples relaxing and enjoying the sun and the breeze!
We don't even try to resist the temptation to hire a rowing boat for twenty minutes on the little lake.
 In the middle of this artificial lake is the "Temple of Aesculapius"

The sky is clouding over - a storm is forecast.  There are a couple of claps of thunder, and at least ten drops of rain. The street vendors swap the sunhats for brolleys alongside the inevitable selfie sticks.
 Dramatic skies over Rome, seen from the Piazzale Napoleone
We'd decided to eat out, but our choice of steamed salmon and veg was rather uninspired and expensive, even if it was healthier than the usual pizza! We followed it up with a visit to a gelatteria and an expresso, so all was not lost.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

La bella città - part 4

Day 5 - Saturday - The Botanical Gardens and the Gianicolo

A lateish start, with a coffee at the Antico Caffè Doria on the Via Andrea Doria -  a 16th Century Genovese Admiral, and also the name of a ship which sank off Nantucket in 1956 after a collision , and several other earlier ships.
Postcards . . .
We called in at the market for some lunch supplies, and food for tomorrow, since the market is closed on Sunday.
In the Mercato Trionfale
 We walked alongside the blond Tiber, seeking the Orto Botanico.

  and back along the river

That looks more promising . . . 

For a 30 acre garden, this was hard to find! It's between Via della Lungara and Colle de Gianicolo and is a Museum of the Department of Environmental Biology of the Sapienza University of Rome.  €4 each for ancients is a price well worth paying. Palm trees and a fountain with ducks and a gull . . .

enormous bamboos . 

From the highest areas there are glimpses of the city . 

There's a Japanese garden complete with fish . . .

 and waterfalls . . .

 a cactus house . . .
 a café . . 
and a children's play area, where lots of the local parents met to enjoy the late afternoon . . and more - this was a real discovery. 

After the gardens we made our way to the Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill - not one of the seven) to the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi - there was a welcome breeze after the hot day, and fantastic views over the city, to the surrounding hills.

 Traditional Italian songs
volare . . .cantare . . .

It grew darker so we made our way down passing several busts and statues.
Filippo Zamboni
I didn't think this sinister looking character was the inventor of the ice smoothing machines at Peterborough - turns out he was a 19th century poet  . He looks friendlier on the wikipedia page, but did have interests in spiritualism and hypnotism . . .

Back to base for a much appreciated meal!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

La bella città - Part 3

Day 4 - Friday - Open top bus, Villa Borghese Gardens, Piazzale Napoleone and Piazza del Popolo.

Getting on the tour bus near the Vatican was perhaps not the best move, and for the first part of the ride we were squashed into the downstairs section. A couple of stops later we were able to clamber upstairs and breathe.

Hats for sale!

Orange trees

We went round one and a bit times, and got off at Barberini to walk up to the Villa Borghese Park, a wonderful public park with trees, water , a replica of the Globe Theatre, bikes of various kinds for hire, more trees, statues, places to sit.
 Fontana dei cavalli marini
We hired a couple of mountain bikes for an hour - there were also the four-wheeled multi person pedal-powered vehicles and Segways too.
Byron - all the way from Notts!

Goethe was torn between north and south
 Going towards the Pincio (Pincian Hill) we came across the Water Clock - Orologio ad Acqua.
This section of the park looks (to me) more like 'Italian style' with more formal avenues.  As we walked towards the Piazzale Napoleone, we caught sight of the silhouetted skyline, as though someone had drawn it on the sky.

There's a terrific view over the city, and down into the Piazza del Popolo.
More giant bubbles
 I had to snap this poster by the metro station, advertising learning language that is really useful!  Alas poor cat!