Renaissance – rebirth – is the Medieval realisation that the classical world, in particular Greece, has something to offer us. One of the places where you can observe Renaissance best ‘in action’ is the Italian city of Florence, in Tuscany, a northern region of Italy. For all that it’s a famous tourist destination, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you do enjoy immersing yourself in the Renaissance – because apart from that, there’s not a lot else to do.
Last week I was an idle woman; an idle woman in Sicily.
Bank Holiday Monday
The sky is as low and grey as no sky has a right to be on the 29th of May. The only splashes of colour on Trafalgar Square were the high-vis jackets of the far too many policemen in attendance.
And then it rained.
Mediterranean brilliance hit me like a bolt of lightning; the whole of human life was enacted on a single, fabulous, public stage against a careless backdrop of thousands of years of sublime art. Colours, foods, markets, clothing, gestures, language: everything seemed more refined, more vivid, more vibrant…
For today’s Mediterranean theme, we’ll take a painter. From a Mediterranean country, clearly. He’s a painter I cannot be indifferent to: I either hate his pictures – or love them.
whhheeeeᴇᴇᴇᴇᴇᴇᴇᴇEEEEEEEE! The scream of jet engines rises to a crescendo on the runways of the world. Every second, somewhere or other, a plane touches down, with a puff of smoke from scorched tyre rubber, or rises in the air, leaving a smear of black fumes dissolving in its wake. From space, the earth might look to a fanciful eye like a huge carousel, with planes instead of horses spinning round its circumference, up and down, up and down. Whhheeeeeeeeeee!
Small World by David Lodge
In response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: New Horizon.
A few weeks ago, when I was writing about Egyptian poetry, I made the point that reading poetry in translation is a deceptive exercise since you’re not reading the same poem that poet had, in fact, penned. You might like the translation but quite possibly would not like the original or vice versa. A sonnet by Petrarch today in two different English translations will serve to illustrate the same point… and the Venetian balcony at night will serve to illustrate the sonnet.
Un soneto de Petrarca (Un balcón en Venecia por la noche)
Hace unas semanas, cuando escribió sobre la poesía egipcia, he señalado que leer poesía en traducción es un ejercicio engañoso, porque no estás leyendo el poema que el poeta, de hecho, había escrito. Así que te puede gustar la traducción, pero lo original no, y viceversa. Hoy un soneto de Petrarca con dos traducciones ingleses servirá para ilustrar la misma idea… y el balcón de Venecia servirá para ilustrar el poema. El texto original italiano está abajo de los versiones ingleses si quieres leerlo – no hay que hablar italiano para apreciar la cadencia bella del idioma de Petrarca. (También puedes encontrar un enlace abajo para la traducción española.)
There’s a new exhibition about to open in the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, titled Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity. For the sake of those among you who ‘didn’t win first prize in the lottery of life’: Lady Hamilton is famous for being the lover of Admiral Nelson, the victor of Trafalgar and the saviour of England.
I first heard of Nelson when I was about seven and the Hungarian Television broadcasted the 1941 black-and-white tearjerker, That Hamilton Woman. Being too young to grasp that the handsome Royal Navy officer on screen was in fact Laurence Olivier, rather than Nelson himself, at the end of the film I was left with a life-long admiration for Nelson, a life-long dislike for Bonaparte and a complete unawareness of who Laurence Olivier was.
It’s been a while since we’ve been to Italy… and the weather outside is pretty grey (this passes for summer hereabouts), so I thought it was time for a new instalment of Venice in Black & White.
The oranges of the island are like blazing fire among the emerald boughs,
And the lemons are like the pale faces of lovers who have spent the night crying.
Two widely quoted lines from an obscure poet. If you can name the island this quote refers to, I’m impressed. If you can also name the poet, you know far too much about literature and history – would you be interested in writing a guest post for me?
As for the rest of you, the hoi polloi, the mere mortals 🙂 reading this:
I wrote the weekly photo prompt post this week for Bloggers World, and as luck would have it, I was invited to write it on the subject of doors. Or entrances. Exits and gates. The means of leaving and entering enclosed spaces, basically. Owing to the limitations on that forum, I was only allowed to share one door to play the part of the challenge prompt.
So here come a few more doors, constituting my reply to the weekly photo challenge by Bloggers World and being this Sunday’s miscellany.
I should re-brand this blog Waterblogged: Dry Thoughts On Damp Venice the rate I’m going.
I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand.
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV. by Lord Byron
I blush to admit it here but before I read City of Fortune, before I stood on the Bridge of Sighs myself, looking out at the view towards St Mark’s Basin, I used to be under the impression that the Bridge of Sighs in Venice had to do with sighing lovers, like some sort of a Juliette’s balcony. In fact, the Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s Palace to the new prisons on the other side of the canal and the sighing was done by the condemned men as they were led across the bridge, this being their last glimpse of the views of Venice.
The Arsenale, the ‘Forge of War’, was Venice’s naval dockyard where the Serenissima Repubblica built the fast, sleek war galleys that ran the length and width of the Mediterranean, protecting Venetian trade and interests.
A Service Message
As you might or might not have noticed, for reasons too tedious to go into here Waterblogged moved house and this is where it’s going to live from now on.
From your point of view, I hope this means that the site will load ever so much faster, even if I put photos on it… From my point of view, hopefully it means that I can spend my time blogging rather than fixing endless software problems.
For the moment the old site is still up with loads of links still pointing to it which I will fix bit by bit before taking it down. But it’s not being updated anymore. I tried to make this site look similar to the old one and in the end, I think it actually looks better. You’re welcome to disagree. 🙂
Normal service will resume here tomorrow with the Mediterranean Miscellany but in the meantime it occurred to me it would be a good idea to find out if your subscriptions did in fact safely transfer with the blog and is there actually anybody reading this, so…
…I thought maybe we could have a caption contest!
A Take on the Column
Amateur photographers say that it’s impossible to take a good picture of a column. Viewing the results of numerous attempts I made on Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square, I have to agree. Nevertheless, recently in Venice I managed to take this photo:
Any ideas for a caption, please leave a comment.
Well known fact: staring into the sun will dazzle your eyes. And worse: as Galileo Galilei found out to his cost, if you do it often enough and for long enough, it’ll blind you. Staring at a chandelier doesn’t quite do that – although, depending on the chandelier, it might well dazzle you.
Murano glass chandeliers from the fancy palazzos of Venice:
Apologies for being a day late with the Mediterranean Miscellany but I was on holiday – in the Mediterranean (of course).
So today: Venice, a fantastic city with loads of history, since I just came back from there.
If you ever go to Venice, don’t begrudge the 5-euro entry fee to the loggia of San Marco (the church itself is free). From this loggia the Doge and Petrarch watched the tournaments held in celebration after Venice had successfully quelled a rebellion, the so-called Revolt of St Titus, in Crete in 1364. And the view over St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the seafront is indeed delightful but the most memorable thing up there is…
My Sophisticated Young Lady has jetted off to Rome with her Classics class a couple of days ago. This lead to three immediate consequences:
- Young Friend of the Elephants acquired her own e-mail address so that she could send e-mails full of anguish to her big sister.
- I have to do all the housework.
- I was left ruminating enviously about books set in Italy.
But while I’m ruminating about those books set in Italy, I’d like to invite you for a fleeting visit to Rome:
Coordinates: 41°54′N 12°30′E
Time zone: Central European Time
Founded: 753 BC
Population: 2,9 million
Current weather: 17 C, sunny
Some sayings about Rome:
All roads lead to Rome
To see Rome and die
Rome wasn’t built in a day
When in Rome, do as the Romans do
And some more…
Buenos días • Bongu • Bon jour • Dobro jutro • Καλημέρα (kalimera) • Bon giorno
- Sunrise over Barcelona – Photo by Andrew E. Larsen via Flickr
- The military band en route to the changing of the guard in Valletta
- Sailing boat leaving the harbour of Marseille – Photo by blandineschillinger via Pixabay
- Sunbathers on the Adriatic coast near Trogir – Photo by Mária Dobi
- Table laid for breakfast in St Thomas B&B, Athens – Photo by St Thomas B&B
- Tourists on their way to St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican, Rome – Photo by Mária Dobi
With thanks to the Facebook page of jotdown.es for the idea of a photographic Good Morning.