PhotoHunt: "Framed"

Two very different shots from my jaunt back in early August to the colorful island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon, taken expressly for this week's PhotoHunt theme, "framed"!

Here, I'd turned a corner in Burano and stumbled upon what was once a Venetian Gothic window that had been turned into a brightly painted, impromptu shrine with the addition of this improbably small icon. Still, it made a perfectly unique frame.

Below, on the other hand, is a view of the 1000+ year-old basilica on the adjacent island of Torcello, the oldest continually-inhabited area of Venice (and well worth a whole trip in itself!)

Back in May, the belltower (campanile in Italian) was closed because of an imminent risk of collapse resulting from a recent lightning strike. It is therefore currently undergoing restoration, and thus is appropriately - as you can see here - also framed!

Have a great week! ☺

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PhotoHunt: "Numerical"

Howdy all!

Since I was in the midst of my preparations for this year's "transhumance" back to the States, I was unable to dedicate a whole lot of time to today's PhotoHunt theme, "Numerical." So I grabbed this shot on the fly this past week!

It's not much... a simple detail from the pegboard that keeps all the keys for the beach cabanas at the Kuyaba Beach (also known as Spiaggia Garbisa) on Venice's Lido...

See you next week... with better photos even!! ☺

PhotoHunt: "Orange" Houses for You & Me

Ever seen an orange house? Well, you're about to see a bunch right now!! ☺

Today's PhotoHunt theme, "Orange," is again brought to you courtesy of Burano, Italian island of many colors!

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The Iron Curtain Once Fell Here

This past spring, I was startled to realize that, for the first time ever, students to whom I was teaching the Cold War had never lived during the Cold War.

That's right, they were born after the attempted coup of August 1991 that effectively rendered the Soviet Union moot. Now, we've truly arrived at the end of an era, even though for years now I've already had to point out regarding the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain which was the physical barrier and which was the metaphor... ☺

As you will see, however, even metaphors have a history...

Yesterday, we were driving around the Collio "wine road" in the Italian region of Friuli near the Judrio river that forms there the Slovenian border, when we chanced to see a small gravel track on a little bridge which crossed the river bed. Thinking I'd suddenly get to add visiting an additional country (even just for a few minutes) to my vacation, I suggested we stop and walk across.

That's when my husband noted, "Once upon a time, this is where the 'Free World' ended."

Sure enough, I'd forgotten that not only was this the boundary between Italy and Slovenia, but it had also been the frontier between Western Europe and the communist East.

Now, however, the end of the Cold War and the Schengen Agreement unifying the borders of the European Union have rendered all that obsolete. So together we sauntered unhindered down a path which once separated two worlds...

What's left here where once the Iron Curtain fell? Not much... On the Italian side, there is a little checkpoint hut falling into ruin and a flagpole that used to fly the good ol' Red, White and Green. (Another view, together with the former crossbar, is here, and the bridge with the river here...)

On the other side, we found a building (now a private house) that had performed the same function for Yugoslavia (together with the unused flagpole) and the little hamlet of Mišček. At one time, there were in this village a number of inhabited structures, but it seems now that many are abandoned (as also pictured here).

A search for this placename came up with a traveler's account in Italian, which seems to put all these enormous geopolitical changes into context in this lonely rural place. "Here, everything's falling to pieces..." one inhabitant said. "Here, nothing's changed. Yugoslavia, Slovenia... it's all the same. Now, Europe... but what's changed? Here nothing."

PhotoHunt: "Colorful" Burano! [UPDATED]

If you were to ask anyone in Venice where one could take good photos of things that were "colorful," there would only be one answer... Go to Burano!

So, for this week's PhotoHunt theme, I did just that. I took advantage of what seemed like it would be a mild day yesterday and rode the vaporetto across the northern Venetian lagoon to the little island of jewel-colored houses.

The story about why the buildings are painted so brightly seems to be that, in ancient times, the colors allowed the fishermen to find their way home in the fog (see above!) I don't know, but I just don't quite buy it... Lots of foggy places live off fishing but aren't so vividly painted. Besides, it doesn't explain why practically all the houses look like that, not just those on the waterfront...

No, IMHO, it's because there are few places as melancholically gray as the northern lagoon during the wintertime, and the brilliant colors lend a much-needed joyful glow to what otherwise would likely be a very dreary little place for nearly half the year!

So, for my PhotoHunt entry for this week, here is a "colorful" visit to Burano! Enjoy!!

UPDATED (8/7/2010): Want to see more of multi-colored Venice and Burano? Here's a short but breathtakingly lovely technicolor video called "Around Venice" which celebrates just that! Enjoy!! (via OpenCulture)

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Beautiful "Astronomy Picture of the Day"

From a few days ago on APOD... it's what's called a "little planet projection."


There's an entire literary genre of uptight and/or disillusioned Anglo-Saxon women who come to Italy, (usually) get laid by an Italian and then finally begin to enjoy life by letting their hair down!*

Stuff in Italy about the latest made into a film, "Eat, Pray, Love," is only just beginning to break on the internet, but the great blog "Blingdom of God" reports that spiritual tourism (together with its souvenirs) has already been hounding Indonesia. So I think they should totally sell a whole new tourist tee: "I came to Bali for Enlightenment and all I got was this stupid t-shirt"! ☺

More spiritual-tourism, "EPL" cross-promotional marketing bling (rated, even, for your enlightened shopping enjoyment) can be seen here! (Gots to love the Buddha cocktail ring!)

P.S. More ironically materialistic imagery is available for your viewing pleasure at Che Spotting! (If only I'd snapped a shot of the faboo Che Guevara wallet and cellphone lanyard combo I once saw!!)

*For example, "Room with a View," "Enchanted April," "Under a Tuscan Sun,"
and, for a cute Italian twist on the theme, "Bread and Tulips."
(My personal life story may or may not be one of these... ☺)