Sorrento, Capri, and Napoli… The dreamlike beauties and chaotic back alleys of the Campania… Southern Italy… Always I hear the sirens call. Ruins, art, the pastoral by the sea, sweeping views, intense, looming cities and everything in between.
There were some days I had to dedicate to love and experience (so I took spontaneous shots with my iPhone) because if I don’t check myself I live, sleep, eat & breathe my cameras and film. (And men like attention sometimes)
There’s old Winston Churchill watching Big Ben, in Westminster, London, in March 2014.
An anglophile’s dream: the omnipresent iconic red telephone box.
Wandering around Portobello Road, in the Notting Hill neighborhood.
The street art / grafitti is like The Sex Pistols and the Bbc all rolled into one.
Tea at Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s house was quite amusing.
Enjoyed searching for british china tea cups and white darjeeling on a half deserted faire.
Making the pilgrimage to John Keats house at Hampstead Heath, London, after years of visiting the flat he died in, and laying flowers at his grave, in Rome.
A room with a view…over the Thames, I was always excited to wake up to (and to raise my glass to) Big Ben.
Saw the beautiful La Boheme set in 1940s Paris at the Royal Albert Hall.
From the window of “221 b Baker Street, London
From the beautiful garden of John Keats home, where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne and wrote some of his greatest poems.
From the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. I do love a cloister.
You have no idea how deep my anglophilia goes because I am always going on about Italy but these signs gave me a profound joy.
This sign is so British it hurts.
One of those moments in London an American or most foreigners savor.
Down the cloistered hall… like a dream of English classics, literary characters dancing in my head, London, a city looming in my brain of larger than life characters and eccentric, wonderful stories and frightful tales.
The heartbreakingly beautiful dream of Italy view from my dreamy Sorrento hotel room terrazzo.
Walking along the Appian Way on a quiet, car-free Sunday in Rome or along the Renaissance Via Guilia, I am forever excited and in awe over the small beauties and signs of the ancient world in this magical, mysterious city open-armed to the world.
The architecture and cafes are familiar but I feel and live Rome anew each visit. There’s always something new to discover or a passion to stumble onto. Life is in the moment. It is heavy with the past, it is so alive it smacks of the future, but it is so wildly, lightly felt in the now, in the moment, Rome is like dreaming awake, feeling everything. Everything!
Finding new off the beaten path cafes was a big favorite of mine in Italy this year. Always in search of the quiet moments and the hidden corners of Rome. This cafe was in Trastevere where you can sit and sip espresso and gaze at a Baroque Madonna painted onto a church exterior wall.
I love the Eternal City because it has so many layers of history and love and unknown stories and marks of time and beauty in decay and new life bursting forth in a macabre, colored, brilliant celebration in Roman life today.
Took a boat around my favorite island and swam in the Tyrrhenian sea on Capri, a place which invokes everything beautiful, lush and ancient about Southern Italy. There’s nothing quite like it.
Returned to a lot of the same pleasures of the past, freshly squeezed oranges and lemons, under the Italian sun, by a Neapolitan woman who sings all day as she flitters around her Kiosk on the gorgeous Via Tragara.
A return to Pompeii, the fascinating buried city with Vesuvius watchful in the distance.
Meeting new friends abroad 🙂
Long walks soaking in the sun and the past.
Architectural details in half-obscured gardens of small villa art museums (full of amazing Renaissance, ancient and baroque Italian art)!
Being the foreigner in a city you fall into like a comfortable affair.
The moments you can’t anticipate but happen upon in the most beautiful of happenstances.
My favorite spot on earth for the golden hour, on the Pincian Hill in Rome. This is before the view of the Popolo.
A typical Roman street, wrapped into the mystery of fragments and pieces of history.
The beauty of being overwhelmed in Rome.
Cafe life in Italy, a class of wine or a coffee, a little treat, there is nothing like it. Another layered moment captured, to be savored and remembered palpably.
On every wall there is a reminder of death and a reminder of love, the eternal kind, of love that lasts, and of life in the hand too.
Rome, a city to return to, one that keeps its shutters open to the world, long enough for an unforgettable peek.
Since that first moment I arrived there, now, and always, for Roma.
For traveling, for seeing the world, for meeting new people, and for being at home in the world.
Here’s to 2014… and here is a cheers to 2015 and a new year of adventure and experience and chasing beauty!
Spend some time in the eternal city and you will feel death like a whisper on the back of your neck.
Go there young, when you still feel invincible, and watch the tombs and monuments to a crumbled past deathmask-smile at you.
Return after you’ve loved and lost a little, when you’ve begun to collect possessions interchangeably with memories, hold hands past paupers and ruffians and the modern courtesan; the tourist liaisons hovering by menus, beckoning, offering, waving.
Return next when you’ve hit your peak and now the edges are fraying a little. When fountains and paintings once trumpeting romance and pleasure are grimier and more worn than you remember. When the seducers and the money takers suggest more pallid languor than sex, where every turned corner is a missed opportunity or a new experience, depending on how beaten down or defiant you’ve become since that earlier youth on your first visit. You have a decision to make… Strength for strength or a quick decline.
Return a final time, as cherubs and seraphim throw off shrugs and hands in the air when the whisper of death becomes an aria crowding out the ears. Stare at the details or miss them, memorizing the picture of life doesn’t matter so much in the short term. The marks on your soul have already been decided for you. This is the golden amnesia hour, where every thing thought and felt is only for the rushing moment, water slipping through fingers, spilling out of the mouth, tasted, cooled but most of it landing on your face, your shirt, your shoes, the uneven cobblestones. Keep drinking it in.
It is see Naples and die.
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* an extra note on rome:
Roma was my first European city.
It was my first glimpse of the things I find most beautiful in the world.
There were ruins, Renaissance architecture, 600 year old fountains and marble floors.
There were Greco-Roman mosaics, pagan temples, frescoes, umbrella pines and cypress trees in manicured gardens.
And ancient aqueducts to wander around in.
There was hot espresso and spicy wine to drink and penne all’arrabbiata, a classic Roman dish, to taste.
Rome had decayed beauty balanced out by its bright earthy colors against the perfect sunsets.
There were fat clouds against azure skies.
When in Rome that oft used but true cliché – that la dolce vita – the sweet life, is alive and well in the eternal city.
There were a thousand church bells ringing throughout the city on afternoon walks, from the very churches packed with masterpieces.
There were elegant villa museums full of Italian art and baroque curves and decorated with ancient statuary. Rome was everything all at once.
I have a wanderlust for all the beautiful and fascinating places in the world, especially art filled cities full of history and literary haunts.
In 1998, when I was 22 I first traveled to Italy. From the moment we stepped out of our tiny Hotel Genio and around the corner to the Piazza Navona, we knew Rome was going to answer our wildest dreams with an even greater beauty. I tell people who have not been there or who have been there and have somehow not appreciated the treasures of Rome: Rome is a feast of all senses, an open air museum, a celebration.
Rome is the place I love and crave and long for because nowhere else in the world can I wander into a church and see several Caravaggio’s against the backdrop of somber hymns and sit in a pew and admire his work in silence.
There’s the wild strawberries to eat on cobblestones from a market.
There’s the ruins at night, to stand above them and linger there for an hour, to feel transported back in time, very far back in time.
There’s wandering in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde wandering in the footsteps of Keats and Shelley. There’s Babingtons (there’s my anglo side which needs to be satisfied).
There’s Artemisia Gentileschi paintings scattered across Rome (and Florence and Naples) awaiting my worshipful gaze.
There’s Sundays in Rome, the greatest day, the only place you feel you should be in the world on a Sunday when you are there. Away from the awful pollution of the cars (my one pet peeve of Rome)… to roam on the Appian Way, to stop and eat somewhere or pick red poppies along the road.
Pizza at Bafetto. Pinot nero. Frascati. Tears of Christ. The view of Rome atop the Wedding cake. The Borgia rooms. Artichoke season. Hazelnuts. Pine nuts. Capreses. Prosecco. Oranges. Lemons. Olives. Trastevere apple bread and long lunches there and hours photographing the grafitti. Nuns walking through the city. Red domes turned gold. Unexpected art exhibitions. Villa Borghese. Penne alla’arrabiata. Porcini. Truffles. White fish. Fisherman’s stew. Capotoline Hill.
There are a thousand other moments I love in Rome. These are just a few.
I love the cemeteries of Rome. I live for all the architectural details. And the marble. And a thousand saints and angels and statues. And all the Renaissance art and intricate Pompeiian mosaics. And the ruins. Not to mention I have an almost inexpressible feeling of happiness in certain slants of Italian sunlight and shadow, with the scent of lemon and orange trees accompanying me on a ramble, content with a glimpse of a white dove on Palatine hill or brushing past an olive branch. Just fountain hopping at night makes me happy. I cannot tire of the umbrella pines and cypress trees. Or taking afternoon tea at Babington’s or daydreaming in 18th century splendor at Caffe Greco, where the English Romantics mused and drank at the same tiny marble tables.
Finding a room with a view. And following the Roman cats through the ruins! And trying to visit all nine hundred beautiful old churches. (Impossible). And the Borghese gardens and palazzo museums and the sound of water fountains and sculptures and Italian gardens and vespas and red roof tiles. And a hundred thousand other things I will try to capture on this blog. (And I love Naples & Florence & all of Italy, which will be featured some times, as well as related art exhibits, books, music & films)!