51 Shades of Grey

•November 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

DSCF4196 bw

With a Little…Lucca…

•November 12, 2017 • 3 Comments



Lucca is primarily known for, and touted for the thoroughfare that runs atop the wall that encircles the city.  Granted, if you have the time or inclination, it is a good place to walk, jog, or ride a bike around.

DSCF4133 but there is enough to experience within the walls that a whirlwind tour will leave you just as breathless.

DSCF4069 Lucca Piazza


The original Cathedral, the Duomo of San Martino, was built in the 6th century at San Martino Square, but this building was begun in 1063, using some of the original materials.







Ilaria del Carretto’s tomb.  She was Mrs. Guinigi whose family built this tower.



The one with the trees….photographed from the bell tower of the ‘hidden cathedral’…. in which there were….





Legend has it that the citizens of Lucca were asked to design the columns and the ‘prettiest’ would be chosen, but instead they used all of the design entries. Another story says that they had various artists to do the designing and then the citizens opted to use them all, without compensation to the artists for their individual efforts…You know, that kind of “We’re still making up our minds” line.  Somehow, I’m afraid, that story rings more true…  Sempre allora…







Inside the Duomo of San Martino







Through the streets to…


The more prominent Cathedral of San Michele







But, time has NOT passed this city by……







And, as noted in my last post,


the journey literally ‘inside’ the walls is a unique experience.



Within the Walls

•November 8, 2017 • 3 Comments


No, literally…

Not inside the walls…well, yeah, I guess we were INSIDE the walls…Anyway…

These are images from Lucca. Italy.  I won’t, on this post, go into my research into the historical facts about Lucca…this is about the modern art that has embedded itself within  and on top of the traditional marble, oil, and culinary art of Italy…or I guess I should have said UNDER…



Ostriches…or is it Ostrichi…?

So…briefly…Vicki and I made a quick stop in Lucca.  She wanted me to see it and I am again grateful for her suggestions and knowledge of what would interest, excite and inspire me.  As with every other stop, there was simply not enough time to do it justice.


Under the city




Back to the point…On our way out of the city we got turned around a bit and instead of passing through one of the gates out we found ourselves passing under…

This is what we saw there.  And there was no one else around.  We felt as if we had stumbled upon hidden treasure.

I guess we did!













More from Lucca soon.  My Italy edit has gotten slowed down because of that pesky work thing…


History Does Not Repeat Itself…But It Often Rhymes…*

•October 31, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sempre Allora…




The tourists have eaten their gelato, published their selfies and climbed back aboard their buses outside the gates…except for the few of us who are staying the night within these archaic city walls.

As the Autumn sun slowly declines and brushes the labor of a millennium, the stacked and mortared stones, with burnished gold, the crisply defined shadows of the city towers creep across the quiescent Piazza della Cisterna and close their cooling fingers over the ancient well, the former and current gathering place for wanderers, travelers, pilgrims, gossips and lovers.  Tonight, for now, the only voices in the square below are the residents and shopkeepers, ending their day and catching up on personal and public news.

The lilting speech with its universal inflections of joy, laughter, sorrow or angst conduct the smattering of sound into and through the dream state and touch upon and  eavesdrop on the ‘ghosts’ of this timeworn city.

Imagery is pulled by the voices across the times and concerns of the lives of those who have passed here over the centuries…the reverberation of whispers slumbering in the well.

As the chimera drift in and out through the window onto the piazza and down the narrow cobblestone streets where the echoes of a thousand years of footsteps trod, these murmurs from the past are passed through as an aural mist swirling around the central theme…

Sempre allora…


Ghost 6 plus


“…the poet who was here as ambassador from Firenze…?”

“Si, I remember him well. He is the first poet who made sense to me”

“That is because he speaks in our language, NOT the language of Roma.  Anyway, He has been banished from Firenze for life!!!”

“What?  Why?  Oh, Si, he was aligned with the Bianchi, no?  The wrong side of this constant political battle”

“All sides are wrong in their own ways, if you ask me…”


 Sempre Allora…


Ghost 12

“… is bragging about the tremendous tower he wants to build next to St. Agostino…did you hear?”

“Yes, I heard.  His fleet is growing and everyone in Pisa talks about his wealth…

…and laughs at his poor taste”

“They won’t allow it!!  He wants the tallest tower…We CAN’T allow it!  No matter how much gold he offers…”

“…and that wife of his…Aye…money cannot buy everything…!”

Sempre allora…



Ghost 9


“… it says, has been commissioned to carve the altar for the cathedral.”

“Another sculpture!?  Is that where my alms go? I could use new wheels for my cart!”

“Hush!  Don’t say such things!”

“The priest can’t hear me.”

“No, but God can….!”

“Maybe the Saint of cart wheels will find it in his heart to….”

“I said Silenzio! Chiudi la bocca!  Hush, shut your mouth!  You will be struck by lightning and I am right here next to you…don’t take me with you over that nonsense…!  We should feel honored.”


Sempre allora…



Ghost 10



“…is coming here to paint?

I must send some cinghiale for him to eat…you know…just as a welcome gift.  Maybe my daughter can borrow your carriage to deliver it to him.”

“Your daughter!?  My carriage?!  Why would….ahhh….”

“Si, the Madonna has to look like someone, no?, and she needs to look fresh and at her best!  Now, what should she wear…?  Oh…I know just the right thing…”


Sempre allora…



Ghost 7


“Ciao, bella donna, what is your name?”

“Shhh…Not here at the well…I can’t talk to you now…”

“Because of that fellow staring daggers at me from across the piazza?”

“That is Pietro.   And he is also carrying daggers…He thinks he is my boyfriend.”

“But he is not?”


“He looks mean”

“He is… so you must go. But do you know where the pools are at the end of Via Garibaldi…..? Meet me there after the bells of Matins and we can…talk… Don’t smile… Now pretend that I am giving you directions to the blacksmith and then you must go that way…and talk to the blacksmith because Pietro will check up on you…ask him about gate hinges or something…anything…!  STOP SMILING!!!  So, sir, if you turn down by the…..”

Sempre Allora…



Ghost 8


“Hurry up with that stone!  These towers won’t build themselves…”

“Scusa! I was thinking about what the Medici’s new wonder-boy said about our wine”

“Who is this?”

“The great sculptor and artist.  He said our Vernaccia wine, “Bacia, lecca, morde, pica e punge!” “

“What!?   It kisses, licks, bites, pricks and stings….? What does this mean?”

“I don’t know, but when a famous artist talks about us it must be good for business, no?”

“Bah…what does an artist know about wine except how to drink too much?!  Now, bring me the stone next to your foot…the OTHER foot…quickly so we can get home and see what this ‘great artist’ is talking about…maybe we can be bitten, kissed and stung…Ha, ha, ha, ha…!”

“Oh… wash your shirt tonight. The owner is coming to inspect our progress tomorrow.  I don’t want him to think we are building a tall stable and the horses are already here….!!!!!”

 Sempre allora…



Ghost 3


C’mon, C’mon! Fretta! Hurry!  We have to be back at the castle before curfew.  Coach says we start intensive training for The Games tomorrow at sunrise…”

“Sunrise?  No, no, no!  One more hour!”

“Absolutely not!  That pretty little girl I saw you talking to will have to wait until after Berlin…Now, Come on!”

 Sempre allora…




Ghost il treno


“Lucchio, did you see the new train that runs from Pisa to Florence?”

“Il treno? What? When?”

“It passed through the valley last night carrying marble from Carrara.  …A great lumbering beast that spits smoke and shakes the earth.  Surely you heard its whistle.”

“So, that’s the racket that awakened me…and the bambino also!  I’m with the Pope on this one…devilish work!  What is wrong with horses and burros?!”

Sempre allora…






“…The Nazisti?  What have we to do with the Nazis?  Why will they come here?  I thought we were on their side, anyway.”

“Ah, Il Duce is on their side but we are NOT!  It is said that if they visit, we are to open our doors to them and offer them wine, but in my opinion it is best not to let them smell our cooking or they may never leave.”

“Il Duce had better be careful. You have heard the saying, “If you lie down with dogs…”

“Si, si…”

“Do you think Il Duce knows about Sant’Anna di Stazzema?”

“No, dimmi!  Tell me!”

“A trader from Lucca came to buy saffron and he told me not to tell anyone because if it reaches the wrong ears…”

“But it’s me..!”

“Si…well, he says…but you can’t say a word to anyone…”

Sempre allora…


Ghost 11



“Grandma, Nonna, Nonna….!  I Favolosi are coming to Rome in Guigno!  Maria already has the tickets for her and me and Gina and she says we can stay the night with her cousin’s family.  Can I go?  Per favore, per favore?”

“How will you get there?  Your Papa’s car will not make it to Roma.”

“Oh no, Nonna, if Papa will drive us to Poggibonsi we will take the train…or, I could ride my bicycle…I’ve saved my money for the ticket and Maria’s aunt will pick us up at the station.  If I don’t go I will die…!!”

“Well, we can’t have that.   I’ll talk to your Papa.  He won’t understand but I will try to help…I know how to soften him up.  It wouldn’t hurt if you will make those torte dolci that he is so fond of…and clean your room…And you know what your Papa will say,  “Why  must I Favalosi try to sound so American with their “Yeah, yeah, yeah!?”

“Oh, Nonna….Grazie, grazie, grazie!!!”


Sempre Allora…


“Sempre allora” which literally translates as “always then” but, as explained to me is used to mean “always so”…possibly with a shoulder shrug thrown in…

Some things never change.

If you have managed to read this far, Thank You!  All images are from San Gimignano, or thereabouts, and this is an experiment, for me, in a photo processing style.  (I hope it worked!)  I didn’t capture any of these images with this theme in mind, but after being awakened in the middle of the night and experiencing the quiet from the piazza, these stories actually did carry me through the streets.  All ‘dream’ sequences are based on historical happenings.  There is a ‘ghost’ in each image…some more obvious than others…

The one color photo was from our bed looking out over the city, and No, I don’t take my camera to bed, but I do keep it close at hand.


*The post title is attributed, possibly, to Mark Twain but I got it from my buddy Jon.


… in Chianti

•October 28, 2017 • 3 Comments


Grapes, Olives, Hills and Villas…

On the 3rd day of our getaway to Tuscany we opted for taking the Fiat Panda through the rolling hills of the Chianti region.  Chianti is roughly situated between Florence and Siena, and is known for their wine grapes, olive oil, balsamico, and cinghiale…wild boar.

I had mapped a course that would lead us through Vinci, Panzano, and Greve in Chianti with a lunchtime stop to tour the Castello di Verrazzano, which has been in operation since the 7th century.  Their vineyards are mentioned in a manuscript from 1150.


Verrazzano 1

(I have yet to mention that for this entire trip I took only one camera and lens, a Fuji XT1 with an 18-55mm.  It was a great camera…light and easy to use… after a little manual perusing on the flight over… but I can’t tell you how many times I missed having a wider lens and especially a longer lens…along with the comfort of using a tool that has been a part of many very diverse situations.  But, not only will I remedy that on my next excursion, but also will want to spend more specific times to capture the wonderful light instead of driving and shooting sketches.  I could spend days at each of these locations, not only waiting for the perfect light, but also breathing in the air and culture.)

Okay, technicalities out of the way…there is no proven, authenticated birthplace for Leonardo in the small village of Vinci, but it becomes fairly obvious that this is where he first observed the nuances that distance creates concerning color, light and perspective and the development of his ‘sfumato’ technique…and the air was almost alarmingly refreshing!



It seemed that everywhere one turns, there is another villa, castle or cathedral nestled into the cypress and the hills…with grapes and olives planted in every valley and undulating slope.




















…maybe a  mausoleum or two…..



Castello di Verrazano is also a source of absolutely stunning balsamico …thick as syrup and sweet as honey…with a sting thrown in for balance…paired with pecorino cheese…!!!!!    When you stick your head through the window of this room, your mouth begins to water…actually, mine is now just looking at it.  And, I’ve got that little tingle in the back part of my lower jaw.




DSCF3904 crop

Balsamico, aged 10 years in oak barrels  (48 euros for about 8 ounces…237 ml)

Bruschetta made with Verrazano grown tomatoes, basil, olive oil and fresh baked bread.


…and the grapes…









These images were all taken in one half day…gimme 2 weeks and I’ll REALLY have some fun….!!!!





Olive grove…do these trees spell out something?


A Couple in Chianti…mtk

•October 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment





Still working through Chianti…more to come





Ghosts in San Gimignano?

•October 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment


Ghost 6 plus


I am still editing photos from Chianti but with Halloween coming up I couldn’t resist another view of San Gimignano… Is that Dante leaving the Sala del Consiglio…?

This is a prelude to a post that will be coming up hopefully on October 31st…mtk