Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A little Melancholy, and its Antidote, in Rome

A very quick post to keep the solo travel picture honest. I'll write more about this later, but for now let me just say that this morning was tough, at least tough in the admitted context of privilege. I felt existentially alone, with those prickling hot tears that will have their way. Technology does not serve communication, in some ways, as well as the old landline which really rang and was rarely shut off. And there are nine hours (sleeping hours) between my woes and my dearest ear...

Brisk and brusque was the answer. A shower, breakfast, an outfit, a destination, a long walk, and a few reminders about the good fortune I inhabit.

And then the wonders began to show up. Small, discrete pleasures. I spotted a leather bracelet in a window, and this lovely man and I had a conversation in my fractured Italian. He customized the band for me, and conferred something intangible that I will carry home (I asked permission --in Italian! yes! -- for the photograph).


The other small joys will show up in Instagram, eventually, and I'll write more about Getting Lost and Finding My Way later. Solo travel isn't always easy, but it allows, as an Instagram friend commented over there, the "delicious freedom" of getting lost.

For now, I have to run, following a route I've come to know very well. Just a few blocks up the hill is a little girl who needs to be distracted while her Momma makes dinner. A job for Nana...

And when I get back here, perhaps you'll tell me how you manage the down times in solo travel. Or perhaps you never experience those, loving every minute on your own. Or perhaps you avoid solo travel for this very reason. I'm waiting to hear....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Bikes, More Colours, More Rome


You're all so kind in your comments, encouraging me to post even more bike photos. It's fun to choose a theme like that, actually; it invites me to observe a bit more attentively than I otherwise might, and perhaps that offers a little freshness.

Aren't these colours, above, luscious against each other? And surely you want to lean your forehead against that window, peer into the deepest corners of this framing and picture restoration shop....I know I did...and isn't that the perfect bike to park there, all elegantly cream-coloured against the richly chromatic backdrop?


Love at first sight when I saw this pairing!  A room in these colours? Or a garment, or outfit...

This combo also appeals (red and all those wonderful neutrals!) although it's in a slightly different register--more modern, perhaps, even more cerebral. Or am I just over-thinking now...

Thought I should try a different angle, and I rather liked the way bikes and benches lined up, with those shots of red as links.


And since I'm shifting to a bit of novelty...


And finally, let me close with this cavalcade of motorcycles threatening a renegade riderless run up this alley...


With this post, I may have exhausted our collective patience with bike photos. But I've been collecting windows....

So tell me, have you ever tried photographing a series of, well, anything? And you might also tell me if you think these Roman bikes are the most stylishly parked wheels you've seen? Don't they manifest that Italian predilection for la Bella figura, and yes, I'm even including the dusty ones...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bikes of Rome, Colours of Rome

I'm amassing a shockingly large archive of photos of Rome. Really, there's such an extravagance of beauty here, and when I'm on my own, rather than burst into exclamation and raise the eyebrows of my fellow pedestrians, I pretend I'm checking an incoming text and then surreptitiously (I try, really!) snap a picture so I can share my exclamation later.
Today, I walked 14 kilometres, ate carciofi Al giudia (Jewish-style artichokes, they're deep-fried whole, so good) by myself for lunch at a trattoria, and played with a little girl while her mom took a yoga break. My B&B room is lovely, but not soundproof, and the folks next door will not be letting me sleep for sometime, but I haven't the energy to organize many words. Pictures of bikes in Rome though? That I can do. Might that suffice?
I'll just roll them out, shall I?

I love the variations on a theme, personally. Hope you enjoy them as well...
I have at least this many more, but perhaps I'll save some for another post...

I do think you might like this one departure from the genre. Rather than a stationary, riderless bike, shall we close with one in motion, being ridden and pushed. And the colour departs from our established norm as well. What do you think?











Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On the Ground, In Rome . . .

Struck again by Rome's astonishing beauty, its colours, its splendid light, the way it casually mixes high and low, old and new, chaos and tranquility, I've been snapping so many photos -- you can check out some of them on Instagram, if you're interested and don't mind adding another social media platform to play on/with.  Soon, I'll post more here -- I have a slew of early-morning photos taken as I ran through the Borghese Gardens. But I just wrote a fairly long post on my reading blog about Early One Morning by Virginia Baily, set in Rome during the Second World War and then in the mid-70s.  The novel involves a young Jewish boy who was left behind in Rome when his family was deported, so that I was perhaps even more moved that I already would have been when I looked down, walking through the old Jewish ghetto with my family on Sunday, and noticed these brass plaques tucked in amongst the cobblestones. I've written a bit more about them in my reading blog post -- they're called stolperstein, which translates, apparently, as "stumbling blocks."  Each one commemorates a Jewish person who was deported from Rome to die in a concentration camp. We should, indeed, stumble over them, pointers to, reminders of, such a tragic and shameful history.

I will be back, as I say, with happier photos soon, but I was glad I spotted these and if you're looking for a novel set in Rome, I think you might enjoy Baily's book.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Postcard from Rome

 

I thought I would have posted by now, but the flight was long and delayed and I missed a connection...and the little one's been sick since I got here, so I've been trying to help as much as I can. Jet lag hit hard, and the combination of travel tension, suitcase carting and backpack wearing, and granddaughter hefting and cuddling did something to my shoulder that has me guarding my movements carefully and popping Aleve...

 

Today, though, I'm finally feeling caught up on my sleep and The Roman Toddler is feeling a bit better, and we had an absolutely splendid day in the sunshine, culminating in an opera evening for my daughter and I. Couldn't have been a more perfect day, and perhaps I'll get to tell you more about it later, but I'm Soooo tired. I'll just show you a few photos for now, and do my best to get back here soon. Okay?

 

The sheer pleasure of walking in Rome, on a sunny day in January, and seeing it through a toddling granddaughter's eyes...

My daughter and I at the opera, Rossini's La Cenerentola --this production might just be the prettiest of any of the 40+ operas I've seen. Such a delectable colour story!

I know it's a meagre post, but I also know you'll understand that time with the family here is precious. I'll try to post again very soon.

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More Portland, Before Rome

 In preparation for my two weeks in Rome, I've begun reading a book I picked up at the marvelous Powell's Books in Portland (in case you're interested in what else I've been reading lately, I've added a few posts on January reading over here). In Rome from the Ground up, James H.S. McGregor  rehearses the three essentials that early Roman architect Vitruvius insisted on for Roman building. Bridges and buildings and other architectural structures must manifest firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, or, as McGregor translates these terms, stability and endurance, usefulness, and beauty of materials and proportion. It pleases me to revisit, through photos, the buildings I admired in Portland and evaluate them according to a book on Rome (to which I'm flying tomorrow) that I bought in the so much younger northern Oregon city.

If you look back at my last two posts, I hope you'll agree with me that the buildings I've photographed show their stability and their usefulness while manifesting a simple beauty. I haven't shown you much of the ornamentation that can be found there, but I did take a few pictures of the cast-iron ornamentation that fronts the Sinnott Building, constructed in 1883 at the peak of the trend of decorating facades with cast iron.

Only several blocks away, this more contemporary use of metal to decorate a building's facade swims into view. . . .
and since this fishy façade has taken us back to Nature, let's have another look at the botanically inspired Nepenthes sculptures I introduced in the last two posts. . .

Such sumptuous curves and colours, don't you agree?

I'm so wishing, now, that I'd found the fourth, especially as I review the strikingly different, yet equally strong, graphic surfaces on the three I did see. These stripes!
The way the pitcher's mouth kisses this building . . .
The rather baroque (not in period, obviously, but in richness of ornamentation) intersection of decorative detail between the different centuries these adjoining structures represent.
I mean, swoon! It's not Bernini, which I'll be swooning over in a few days, but let no one say that contemporary sculpture can't be sensuous, voluptuous, absolutely gorgeous as well.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd better go review my packing. I hadn't planned to post on what I'm bringing for my two-week stay in Rome, but it will all fit in my carry-on case quite easily. In fact, I found that my week in Portland reminded me how happily I could dress with only a few simple favourites, and I edited my capsule even more tightly on return. Let me know if you're really curious, and I'll try to include a list. . . .

And next time we chat, I'll be in the Eternal City -- I hope you'll keep me company!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Magic Potion Against Sorrow and Suffering? Who Could Ask for More!

It's beginning to look as if we may have had a dash of Norovirus this past week, rather than food poisoning. Paul managed to get us home Friday (the car rental was only in his name, on work expenses, so I couldn't help with the driving) before succumbing to his iteration of Yuck!! We're on the mend now (I ran, slowly, yesterday, and he insisted on doing a short run today), but still fatiguing easily. Also, sadly, we're staying away from the grandkids for fear of infecting households, especially one that's dealing with a bout of pneumonia. A grandson has pulled himself to standing, moved his crawling skills up substantially, while we were away, and I'm itching to see them. But. Anything with the "nickname" of Winter Vomiting Disease should not be released on any household.

So I'll wait another day or two, packing for my trip in the meantime, and reviewing photos of Portland. In my last post, I mainly shared images of the brick architecture that caught my eye -- so much evidence of a wonderful tribe of artisans hanging out in this city in the early decades of the 20th century. Some day, I'll do a bit of research about this -- I'm curious to know why we have so little of this (left?) in Vancouver, comparatively. What social or economic conditions or aesthetic trends and preferences could account for the difference.

I love the way the clean edges of these stolid buildings meet the sky, especially the wintry sky, softened in many places by the rather melancholy beauty of bare deciduous trees. And I'm crazy about the rich, subtle, sophisticated colours, the way they're drawn from the fields and forests and hillsides of the Pacific Northwest.


But I promised last post to show-and-tell you more about this sculpture, introducing glorious curves into a rectilinear context and sparking a dialogue between buildings and colours and spaces.  More than that, the sculpture brings Nature into the conversation.  It's one of several (I've got photos of two more) made by Dan Corson of fibreglass, steel, a photovoltaic system and LEDs, so that it glows, although I never managed to get back after dark. The sculptures are titled Nepenthes, an acknowledgment of their inspiration in the carnivorous plants more commonly known as Pitcher plants, of which there is one native to Oregon. The plants draw their name for the mythical Greek potion, antidote to sorrow and suffering.
Check it out! As such an antidote, this uplifting beauty. . .

Had I been sorrowful or suffering (from, say, the lingering effects of Norovirus!), these glorious curves would be the potion I'd choose. . .
I'm head-over-heels with the way the sculpture carves/curves negative space out of the sky
and plays nicely with other silhouettes on the horizon, changing with every perspective, different in all weather -- I'd love to get back and see it against a night sky or against a cerulean background.
What do you think? If you're interested, I've got photos of the other two I saw (next visit, I'll be sure to seek out all four) plus a few more examples of the buildings and the ornamentation I love. I'll leave you with a teaser,  probably my favourite of all the photos I took last week. I hope you enjoy it as well.

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