Venice, Italy (2018)

Centuries of history have taken place on this wide, flat open space -- Piazza San Marco (St. Mark_s Square) -- the symbolic heart of Venice that Napoléon called “the drawing room o

Centuries of history have taken place on this wide, flat open space — Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) — the symbolic heart of Venice that Napoléon called “the drawing room of Europe”; The Basilica di St. Marco is located at one end, and the Campanile di San Marco bell tower rises in the middle and cafés, restaurants and shops can be found on the piazza’s three sides and adjacent narrow streets; Venice, Italy

 

Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea.  It has no roads, just canals – including the Canale Grande (Grand Canal) thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces.  The central square, Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), contains Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica), which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile di San Marco bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.  Only about 55,000 people live in the historic city of Venice, with about 260,000 in the greater Venice commune area.

 

Basilica e Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark_s Basilica

Basilica e Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica and Bell Tower) is one of Venice’s most iconic attractions, Venice, Italy

 

“The Republic of Venice was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century.  The city-state of Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center which gradually emerged from the 9th century to its peak in the 14th century.   This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history.    It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period.   After the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Republic was annexed by the Austrian Empire, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, following a referendum held as a result of the Third Italian War of Independence.  Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.  Venice has been ranked the most beautiful city in the world as of 2016.   The city is facing some major challenges, however, including financial difficulties, erosion, pollution, subsidence, an excessive number of tourists in peak periods and problems caused by oversized cruise ships sailing close to the banks of the historical city.” – Wikipedia

 

Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark_s Basilica) celebrates Byzantine architecture, featuring marble floors, gold mosaics, elaborate sculptures, red porphyry stone, and the Pala d_Oro alt

Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica) celebrates Byzantine architecture, featuring marble floors, gold mosaics, elaborate sculptures, red porphyry stone, and the Pala d’Oro altar piece, Venice, Italy

 

A Gothic architectural masterpiece, the extravagant Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) housed Venice’s rulers for more than 1,000 years and was a popular gathering spot for Venetian dignitaries.  Marble decorations, grand staircases, gilded ceilings, ornate sculptures by Jacopo Sansovino, and paintings from Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and other Venetian masters adorn the palace.  The Museo dell’Opera exhibits original sculptures from the palace’s 14th-century arcade.

 

The enclosed white limestone Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) – the smaller, elevated bridge, not the one in the foreground -- was built in 1641 to connect the extravagant Palazzo D

The enclosed white limestone Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) – the smaller, elevated bridge, not the one in the foreground — was built in 1641 to connect the extravagant Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) that housed Venice’s rulers for more than 1,000 years (building on the left) with the Prigioni Nuove (New Prisons), on the right; Venice, Italy

 

As our ship sailed west towards our dock, on the main shipping channel (Guidecca Canal), we passed the beautiful domed Basilica di Santa Maria dell Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health

As our ship sailed west towards our dock, on the main shipping channel (Guidecca Canal), we passed the beautiful domed Basilica di Santa Maria dell Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health) with its entrance facing the Canale Grande (Grand Canal), Venice, Italy

 

From the main shipping channel, you can_t notice the lack of streets in Venice, Italy; it_s only when you start walking around the city (or riding in water taxis or gondolas) that yo

From the main shipping channel, you can’t notice the lack of streets in Venice, Italy; it’s only when you start walking around the city (or riding in water taxis or gondolas) that you find out that Venice has no streets – only canals (and sidewalks)

 

The long and sleek waterbuses in Venice, Italy – called vaporettos in Italian – pull in to regular “stops” (piers) along the major canals on different bus routes; one is pulling

The long and sleek water buses in Venice, Italy – called vaporettos in Italian – pull in to regular “stops” (piers) along the major canals on different bus routes; one is pulling into the pier in the photograph

 

The restaurant on the right has al fresco dining not on the sidewalk, but on a pier in the canal, Venice, Italy

The restaurant on the right has al fresco dining not on the sidewalk, but on a pier in the canal, Venice, Italy

 

Boats and gondolas are parked all along the canals everywhere in Venice, Italy

Boats and gondolas are parked all along the canals everywhere in Venice, Italy

 

A typical small canal with an adjacent pedestrian sidewalk, Venice, Italy

A typical small canal with an adjacent pedestrian sidewalk, Venice, Italy

 

The Canale Grande (Grand Canal) is the main aquatic route in Venice carrying the bulk of the city_s transportation; the sides of the canal are lined with palaces, churches, hotels and

The Canale Grande (Grand Canal) is the main aquatic route in Venice carrying the bulk of the city’s transportation; the sides of the canal are lined with palaces, churches, hotels and centuries-old buildings (now housing government offices, international banks and art galleries) in diverse architectural styles; Venice, Italy – this photograph was taken from the from the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), an architectural and engineering Renaissance marvel in the center of Venice

 

Just off the Canale Grande (Grand Canal) is this “parking” area for the gondolas that are awaiting their turn to queue for a fare, Venice, Italy

Just off the Canale Grande (Grand Canal) is this “parking” area for the gondolas that are awaiting their turn to queue for a fare, Venice, Italy

 

Little Known Fact:  All gondolas are painted black, the result of a 17th-century law to eradicate the then-rising rivalry among noble families for the swankiest vessel.  The ironwork design on the front of the gondola represents Venice’s six districts, the Ponte di Rialto and the Doge’s hat.  There are more than 400 gondoliers in Venice; the first female did not appear until 2010.

 

Near our ship_s pier was this canal with an interesting business located on it – the city_s main gondola repair and painting company, with several gondolas “dry docked”; Venice

Near our ship’s pier was this canal with an interesting business located on it – the city’s main gondola repair and painting company, with several gondolas “dry docked”; Venice, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Lipari, Italy (2018)

A popular summer retreat, Lipari, Italy, is the largest isle in the idyllic Aeolian archipelago; its ancient volcanic history has earned it a place on UNESCO_s World Heritage List

A popular summer retreat, Lipari, Italy, is the largest isle in the idyllic Aeolian archipelago; its ancient volcanic history has earned it a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

 

The largest isle in the idyllic Aeolian archipelago, Lipari, Italy’s ancient volcanic history has earned it a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.  Sharing its name, the island’s main town (population 11,000) is home to the Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano and the chiostro Normanno (Norman cloisters) in the Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo.  A popular summer retreat, daytime pursuits include diving, snorkeling or hiking through the wild countryside, followed by a colorful nightlife along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  Nearby Aeolian islands include Vulcano Island (where the most recent volcanic activity dates to 1890), Stomboli and Salina.

 

Located in the heart of the citadel and framed by hilltop views, Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo (the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew) was constructed in the mid-1500s and is the oldest and la

Located in the heart of the citadel and framed by hilltop views, Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo (the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew) was constructed in the mid-1500s and is the oldest and largest church in Lipari, Italy

 

The interior of Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo (the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew) features ornamented altars, frescoes, and a silver statue of St. Bartholomew, Lipari_s patron saint., Li

The interior of Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo (the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew) features ornamented altars, frescoes, and a silver statue of St. Bartholomew, Lipari’s patron saint, Lipari, Italy

 

The view from an arched window in Castello di Lipari (Lipari Castle), Lipari, Italy

The view from an arched window in Castello di Lipari (Lipari Castle), Lipari, Italy

 

Locked door, Lipari, Italy

Locked door, Lipari, Italy

 

Little Known Fact: At the top of the list next to pumice and Malvasia wine, capers are one of the region’s most popular products and widely used (often with fresh tuna) in Aeolian cooking.  Considered to be the best in the world, Aeolian capers are picked by hand, one by one, covered with sea salt and later with oil.

 

A side street in the main part of Lipari, Italy, with both residences and shops at the far end

A side street in the main part of Lipari, Italy, with both residences and shops at the far end

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Sailing the Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri, Italy

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #1 – “the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with pastel confections of holiday homes and sumptuous villas, which have elevated the coastline to one of the

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #1 – “the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with pastel confections of holiday homes and sumptuous villas, which have elevated the coastline to one of the most fabulous and unique destinations in the world” — http://www.travelandleisure.com

 

On our second day anchored off shore from Amalfi, Italy, a group of us chartered a motor launch to sail around the Amalfi Coast and cross the bay to the Island of Capri for a late afternoon visit.  The scenery is spectacular and we had a chance to dock at a seafood restaurant for a nice local cuisine luncheon in a small village along the Amalfi Coast.  Unfortunately (for some members of our group) we didn’t have enough time to do some serious shopping on Capri.

 

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #2 – one of many small coves that hide a local beach

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #2 – one of many small coves that hide a local beach

 

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #3 – a nice perch for a hotel; check out the walking path down the left side from the hotel to the water!

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #3 – a nice perch for a hotel; check out the walking path down the left side from the hotel to the water!

 

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #4 -- the town of Positano

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #4 — the town of Positano

 

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #5 -- a typical beach (and hotel-restaurant) along the coast

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, #5 — a typical beach (and hotel/restaurant) along the coast

 

Capri (Island), Italy, #1

Capri (Island), Italy, #1

 

Capri (Island), Italy, #2 -- the famous arch just offshore Capri, with the island still partially shrouded in fog, mid-afternoon

Capri (Island), Italy, #2 — the famous arch just offshore Capri, with the island still partially shrouded in fog, mid-afternoon

 

Capri (Island), Italy, #3

Capri (Island), Italy, #3

 

Capri (Island), Italy, #4 – a shopper_s paradise in the town on top of the hill (island)

Capri (Island), Italy, #4 – a shopper’s paradise in the town on top of the hill (island)

 

Capri (Island), Italy, #5 – your blogger relaxing on the boat on the way back to Amalfi

Capri (Island), Italy, #5 – your blogger relaxing on the boat on the way back to Amalfi

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy

The terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #1

The terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #1

 

On the Amalfi Coast, with friends from the ship, we decided on another splurge luncheon at the best known restaurant along the coast — Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, on the eastern outskirts of Positano. We took a taxi for the short drive (which lasted over an hour due to the terrible traffic jams as cars stopped to allow buses and trucks to navigate the hairpin turns without causing an collision!) from the pier in Amalfi to the village of Positano where we explored on foot before meeting our taxi driver on the (top) edge of town for the drive back east on the Amalfi Drive (the coastal route) to the Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel.  There we were met by several staff members who graciously showed us around the property and sent us down the elevator to the terraced (Michelin-starred) Zass Restaurant where we had a resplendent luncheon overlooking the Amalfi Coast.  Chef Alois Vanlangenaeker oversees a talented staff that works with the freshest local ingredients to produce dishes that are both creative, and delicious and showcase the local ingredients.  A memorable restaurant that is highly recommended (along with the hotel rooms where other friends stayed in advance of our arrival in Amalfi).

 

A view of the town of Positano, looking west, from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #2

A view of the town of Positano, looking west, from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #2

 

The view looking east towards the town of Amalfi from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #3

The view looking east towards the town of Amalfi from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #3

 

The view looking down at the water and nearby wine vineyards from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #4

The view looking down at the water and nearby wine vineyards from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #4

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #5

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #5

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #6

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #6

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #7

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #7

 

“The cuisine of Campania, one of the most appealing Italian cuisines, is served at this restaurant [Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel].  It has a creative touch and exploits the full intensity of its colours and flavours.  A dream come true thanks to the terrace overlooking the sea.” — www.viamichelin.com

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #8

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #8

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #9

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #9

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #10

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #10

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #11

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #11

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #12

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #12

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #13

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #13

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #14

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #14

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #15

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #15

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #16

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #16

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #17

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #17

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Amalfi, Italy

The allure of the Amalfi Coast_s natural beauty has been drawing people to the region long before it had a name -- today the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with pastel confections

The allure of the Amalfi Coast’s natural beauty has been drawing people to the region long before it had a name — today the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with pastel confections of holiday homes and sumptuous villas, which have elevated the coastline to one of the most fabulous and unique destinations in the world; pictured: the coastline in and around the village of Amalfi, Italy

 

“The allure of the Amalfi Coast’s natural beauty has been drawing people to the region long before it had a name.  Its dramatic charm and idyllic weather enticed ancient Roman nobles to build their villas there, a real estate trend that, overtime, never faded.  Today the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with pastel confections of holiday homes and sumptuous villas, which have elevated the coastline to one of the most fabulous and unique destinations in the world. Its fragile cultural landscape — churches, gardens, vineyards and towns — are divided into thirteen different municipalities, and were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1997.  Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello are the area’s top destinations, attracting thousands of jetsetters each year.” — www.travelandleisure.com  

From its forested cliffs to its sparkling blue sea and the winding roads in between, the village (population ~5,000) at the heart of Costiera Amalfitana (the Amalfi Coast) is a graceful place with countless examples of Medieval architecture and Mediterranean landscapes.  Visitors can walk along the Piazza del Duomo, the focal point of the historic center, to discover Amalfi’s charming sidewalk cafés and shops.  It’s a good climb up the steps of the Duomo Sant’Andrea, a Byzantine church with Moorish arches to visit the cathedral and the hidden Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise), but the efforts are rewarded with a view back over the Piazza del Duomo and entry into the highly decorated cathedral interior and, separately the Cloister of Paradise.

 

From its forested cliffs to its sparkling blue sea and the winding roads in between, the village at the heart of Costiera Amalfitana (the Amalfi Coast) is a graceful place with countless

From its forested cliffs to its sparkling blue sea and the winding roads in between, the village at the heart of Costiera Amalfitana (the Amalfi Coast) is a graceful place with countless examples of Medieval architecture and Mediterranean landscapes; Amalfi, Italy

 

Little Known Fact: According to local legend, the ancient monastery turned-hotel called the Capuchin Convent, located on the Amalfi Coast, is where Capuchin monks are said to be the first to add warm milk to their coffee, creating what we know today as a cappuccino.

 

The view of the village of Amalfi, Italy, from our tender boat as we first came to the tender pier at the Amalfi harbor – in the center is the Cattedrale di Sant_Andrea (Cathedral of

The view of the village of Amalfi, Italy, from our tender boat as we first came to the tender pier at the Amalfi harbor – in the center is the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) complex

 

The Cattedrale di Sant_Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) complex represents a historically significant and striking monument -- the cathedral dates back to the 11th century, Amalfi, Ita

The Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) complex represents a historically significant and striking monument — the cathedral dates back to the 11th century, Amalfi, Italy

 

The Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) complex — formed by the combination of Amalfi Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise), the Crypt of St. Andrew, and the Basilica of the Crucifix — represents a historically significant and striking monument.  The cathedral dates back to the 11th century; its interior is adorned in the late Baroque style with a nave and two aisles divided by 20 columns. The façade of the cathedral is Byzantine in style and is adorned with various paintings of saints, including a large fresco of Saint Andrew.  An extensive array of Medieval murals and religious treasures are on display including an 18th-century Sedan chair from China, statues and intricate mosaic work.

 

The façade of Cattedrale di Sant_Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) is Byzantine in style and is adorned with various paintings of saints, including a large fresco of Saint Andrew, Ama

The façade of Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea (Cathedral of St. Andrew) is Byzantine in style and is adorned with various paintings of saints, including a large fresco of Saint Andrew, Amalfi, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy

Luigi Pesce's Acqua Pazza is Ponza, Italy's leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace

Luigi Pesce’s Acqua Pazza is Ponza, Italy’s leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace

 

With friends from the ship, we decided to splurge and enjoy the Michelin-starred restaurant in Ponza for a delightful luncheon. “Luigi Pesce’s Acqua Pazza is Ponza’s leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace. The owner-chef celebrates the island’s produce in his imaginative cuisine, from raw fish dishes to the acqua pazza (fish poached in a tomato sauce) from which the restaurant takes its name.” — www.viamichelin.com/web/Restaurant/PONZA

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #1

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #1

 

Little Known Fact: The term acqua pazza, which literally means “crazy water” in Italian, was coined in Ponza at the iconic Acqua Pazza restaurant where the recipe for the lightly herbed broth made of fresh tomatoes, olives and capers used to poach white fish, was created

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #2

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #2

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #3

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #3

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #4

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #4

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #5

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #5

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #6

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #6

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #7

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #7

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #8

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #8

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ponza, Italy

The picturesque and low-key island of Ponza, Italy, hosts Roman vacationers escaping the crowds; most arrive by boat in the harbor of the main town, also called Ponza

The picturesque and low-key island of Ponza, Italy, hosts Roman vacationers escaping the crowds; most arrive by boat in the harbor of the main town, also called Ponza

 

Ponza is the largest island of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea, southeast of Rome, and is also the name of the commune of the island (population 3,300).  The picturesque and low-key island of Ponza hosts Roman vacationers escaping the crowds, and keeps the famous jet set searching to bask in the sun away from the public eye.  The crescent-shaped terrain has plenty of wide scalloped bays, ancient sea caves, and swimming coves like Cala Feola and Piscine Naturali.  The city’s beach, Chiaia di Luna, is reachable on foot from the harbor by way of a 2,000-year-old Roman tunnel and is a veritable outdoor playground.  Beginning at the busy Piazza Pisacane, visitors can walk along the waterfront promenade, Corso Pisacane, to browse the shops and crowded cafes.

 

Pastel colored homes cling to the hillside in Ponza, Italy

Pastel colored homes cling to the hillside in Ponza, Italy

 

The crescent-shaped terrain of the island has plenty of wide scalloped bays, ancient sea caves, and swimming coves, Ponza, Italy

The crescent-shaped terrain of the island has plenty of wide scalloped bays, ancient sea caves, and swimming coves, Ponza, Italy

 

A secluded beach, reached only by water, Ponza, Italy

A secluded beach, reached only by water, Ponza, Italy

 

A typical home in Ponza, Italy, painted in Mediterrean blue shades

A typical home in Ponza, Italy, painted in Mediterrean blue shades

 

Exploring the coast of Ponza in a chartered, private local motor boat

Exploring the coast of Ponza in a chartered, private local motor boat

 

In order to explore the coast of Ponza, a small group of us chartered a private local motor boat.  From the tender pier, our captain guided the boat out of the harbor and around the southern tip of the isle, marked by the Guard’s Lighthouse.  We then headed up the western shore, passing Chiaia de Luna, site of a tunnel excavated by the Romans and Grotto di Capo Bianco.  We continued north along the photogenic coast, making our way to Cala Feola, a popular bay where we had the opportunity to go swimming.  Afterwards, we motored past the small island of Gavi on the northern tip of Ponza, viewing the natural arch, said to grant a wish to those who pass beneath it. After motoring past Cala d’Inferno and its heart-shaped rock and Frontone Beach, we then completed our voyage back in Ponza’s harbor.

 

The eroded rock formations along the coast of Ponza, Italy, were full of pastel colors

The eroded rock formations along the coast of Ponza, Italy, were full of pastel colors

 

We motored past the small island of Gavi on the northern tip of Ponza, viewing the natural arch, said to grant a wish to those who pass beneath it, Ponza, Italy

We motored past the small island of Gavi on the northern tip of Ponza, viewing the natural arch, said to grant a wish to those who pass beneath it, Ponza, Italy

 

Looking through the natural arch located past the small island of Gavi; Ponza, Italy

Looking through the natural arch located past the small island of Gavi; Ponza, Italy

 

Carla Power had an interesting story about the island in her September 2017 article in CNN Traveller.  “I was pretty sure Ponza existed. And yet, Italy’s mainland sceptics have a point: peer at an atlas, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the fleck in the Tyrrhenian Sea, roughly midway between Naples and Rome, is just a printing glitch, not a real place.  Scattered as though some petulant god had tossed a handful of pebbles into the sea, the six Pontine Islands have occupied a spot between fantasy and reality for millennia.  The archipelago’s largest island, Ponza, showed up in Homer’s Odyssey as Aeaea, where Odysseus and his men stopped for sex, drugs, and ‘wine as tawny-mild as honey’.  When Odysseus lands on the island, the beautiful sorceress Circe uses potions to change his crew into pigs, then seduces their leader.  ‘Low she sang in her beguiling voice, while on her loom she wove ambrosial fabric sheer and bright, by that known to the goddesses of heaven.’   The island enchantments worked so well that the Greeks ended up staying a year.” — www.cntraveller.com

 

Local advertising that Ponza = PARADISE!

Local advertising that Ponza = PARADISE!

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

A panorama of the seaside town of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

A panorama of the seaside town of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

 

Sailing back to the coast of Italy from Elba, our next scheduled port of Porto Ercole had to be missed due to rough seas.  Instead, we found a sheltered harbor in Porto Santo Stefano where we spent a very pleasant day.  “Porto Santo Stefano is a charming tourist destination with an impressive seafaring tradition as well as being the most important town in the Monte Argentario area.  The town, north of the headland, occupies the picturesque bay dominated by the Spanish Fortress and, together with Porto Ercole, is part of the municipality of Monte Argentario, located south of the mountain but in a similar position.” — www.visittuscany.com

 

The Spanish Fortress dominates the skyline of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

The Spanish Fortress dominates the skyline of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

 

A close up of the promenade in the center of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy; we had a nice seafood luncheon at one of the restaurants (with the outdoor umbrellas), overlooking the bay (Stadi

A close up of the promenade in the center of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy; we had a nice seafood luncheon at one of the restaurants (with the outdoor umbrellas), overlooking the bay (Stadio del Turchese)

 

Hotels and residences along Via del Molo, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Hotels and residences along Via del Molo, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hiking on Elba (island), Italy and Eat Local: Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba

The slopes of Elba’s highest peak, Monte Capanne

The slopes of Elba’s highest peak, Monte Capanne, were the setting for a round-trip, guided hike from Marciana Alta, the island’s loftiest village, Elba (island), Italy; the yellow “baskets” on the slope are the gondola servicing the peak (hidden in the morning clouds)

 

A small group of us from the ship, accompanied by a local hiking guide, journeyed to the western mountains on Elba for a day’s outing.  The slopes of Elba’s highest peak were the setting for a round-trip, guided hike from Marciana Alta, the island’s loftiest village.  The trailhead was about an hour’s drive from the pier, on the northern side of Monte Capanne, the island’s highest mountain.  We hiked across green fields in the Pedalta Valley and into a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, eventually making our way uphill to the Hermitage of San Cerbone, about 1,740 feet (530 m) above sea level.  Built by the Benedictines around 1421 A.D., the small church was restored in 1993.  Although our trek did not reach Capanne’s peak, we had panoramic views of Elba and the seaside village of Marciana Marina and passed under the gondala for hikers going up to the top of the mountain.  After hiking up approximately 3 miles (5 km), we headed back down to the medieval village of Marciana Alta, passing by the Pisan Fortress. In Marciana Alta we had a multi-course feast of a luncheon at Osteria del Noce, specializing in local seafood and pasta.  We ordered local wines and the local specialties, particularly the homemade pastas.  Everything was delicious and we were quite impressed with the quality of all the dishes, high up in the mountains.  The quantities certainly were right for our group, too, famished after a long morning of hiking on Mount Capanne.  We probably consumed more calories that we burned off that morning – par for the course in Italy!

 

The hiking trail went up through a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, Elba (island), Italy

The hiking trail went up through a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, Elba (island), Italy

 

Our hike afforded excellent views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea, Elba (island), Italy; the coastal town is Marciana Marina

Our hike afforded excellent views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea, Elba (island), Italy; the coastal town is Marciana Marina

 

As we descended Monte Capanna into the hillside village of Marciana Alta, we passed by the Pisan Fortreess, Elba (island), Italy

As we descended Monte Capanna into the hillside village of Marciana Alta, we passed by the Pisan Fortreess, Elba (island), Italy

 

To begin our small hiking group luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy, we were served some homemade bread with a nice bottle of local vino rosso (Red wine) – grown a

To begin our small hiking group luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy, we were served some homemade bread with a nice bottle of local vino rosso (Red wine) – grown and produced in town (Marciana Alta)

 

Lightly fried local sardines with a pine nut sauce was a starter in our luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Lightly fried local sardines with a pine nut sauce was a starter in our luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Squid and bean salad, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Squid and bean salad, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Tomatoes topped with thin slices of tuna, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Tomatoes topped with thin slices of tuna, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Fresh clams, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Fresh clams, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Steamed mussels, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Steamed mussels, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Linguine with a tomato fresh crab sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Linguine with a tomato fresh crab sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Spaghetti with fresh clams, mussels and tomatoes, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Spaghetti with fresh clams, mussels and tomatoes, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Homemade linguine with truffles, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Homemade linguine with truffles, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

A local Tuscan special pasta, trofie (corkscrew-shaped pasta), in a tomato sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

A local Tuscan special pasta, trofie (corkscrew-shaped pasta), in a tomato sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

Portoferraio is the main town on the island of Elba, part of the Italian province of Livorno, and is best known as the residence of the French conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, while in exi

Portoferraio is the main town on the island of Elba, part of the Italian province of Livorno, and is best known as the residence of the French conqueror, Napoléon Bonaparte, while in exile beginning in 1814 at Villa dei Mulini atop a hill in Portoferraio

 

Portoferraio is a town and comune in the province of Livorno, Italy, on the edge of the eponymous harbor of the island of Elba.  It is the island’s largest city. Elba is mostly know as Napoléon’sisland of exile.  Elba’s main town of Portoferraio holds a handful of architectural gems within its tree-lined hillsides, including Fort Stella and Fort Falcone, the historic lighthouse Faro dei Lorena, and the Church of the Santissimo Sacramento.  Walking under the ancient Porta a Terra brings visitors into Portoferraio’s old town, the historical center with plenty of alleyways dotted with monuments, small shops, and hidden staircases leading to the port.

“The name of Portoferraio (meaning “Iron Port” in Italian) comes from the iron mills which allowed the city quick growth during the XIXth century: it became, in fact, the main shipping port of profitable iron ore towards the mainland.  Thanks to Napoleon’s stay, as he was exiled in Elba in 1814 after his defeats in Europe and his forced abdication, Portoferraio and the entire island enjoyed an age of glory.  He set up the infrastructure for the exploitation of the iron mills (which constituted the main economic industry of the island even after the end of Napoléonic era when Elba returned to the Gran Duchy of Tuscany), and carried out a series of economic reforms to improve the quality of life and set up a modernization of existing society.  Actually, the island became a constantly evolving open-air building site, but mainly, a place worthy of an Emperor’s presence.  Like a magnet, he attracted to the island all those people who were respectfully curious to meet that person who had been able to play a skillful game with Europe to achieve his goals.  Without plan, they turned the island into a melting pot of different cultures and modern schools of thought as it had never been before.” — www.discovertuscany.com

 

The main harbor of Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy, is filled with brightly painted fishing boats

The main harbor of Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy, is filled with brightly painted fishing boats

 

The island has been tossed back and forth between Italy and other European countries for hundreds of years. Portoferraio “was founded by Cosimo I de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1548, with the name of Cosmopoli (“Cosimo’s City”), to balance the presence of the Spanish citadel in Porto Azzurro. Porto Azzurro. It had three forts (Forte Stella, Forte Falcone and Forte Inglese) and a massive line of walls, all still visible today. The city remained attached to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the late 18th century, when, due to its strategic position, it was contended by France, Great Britain and Austria. A British garrison withstood the Seige of Porto Ferrajo in 1801, but the 1802 Treaty of Amiens transferred the town to France. In 1814 it was handed over to Napoléon Bonaparte, as the seat of his first exile. In the 19th century, the city grew quickly, due to the construction of infrastructures and the exploitation of new iron mills in Rio Marina. Portoferraio then became the main shipping port of the ore towards the mainland, whence the current name, meaning “Iron Port” in Italian. After the end of the Napoléonic Era, Portoferraio returned to Tuscany, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.” — Wikipedia

 

When exiled in 1814 to Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy, from France, Napoleon Bonaparte took up residence in the Villa dei Mulini atop a hill overlooking the sea and the town, executi

When exiled in 1814 to Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy, from France, Napoléon Bonaparte took up residence in the Villa dei Mulini atop a hill overlooking the sea and the town, executing many renovations and additions to the villa

 

“The Villa dei Mulini (literally “Villa of the Mills”) is located on the promontory of Portoferraio and was chosen by Napoléon as his primary residence due to its strategic location which allows a wide view of the sea where he could keep under control any approach and landings of boats in the bay. The Villa was built between two windmills, hence its name, but both were already gone by the time of Napoléon came along. Upon his arrival on the island, Napoléon personally designed and managed renovation work on the villa: he ordered the addition of the upper floor, planned the renovation of the nearby small theater and personally took charge of the interior design of the home, which unfortunately has been lost. Part of the furniture today in the Villa does however date back to the Napoléonic era. The Villa is now a national museum.” — www.discovertuscany.com

 

The Villa dei Mulini was extensively restored in the twentieth century with period furniture acquired to resemble the appearance and functionality of the rooms during Napoleon_s exile

The Villa dei Mulini was extensively restored in the twentieth century with period furniture acquired to resemble the appearance and functionality of the rooms during Napoléon’s exile in the period after 1814, Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

 

A portrait of Napoleon with the “King of Rome” (as he affectionately called his son) on his lap, with Empress Marie-Louise by his side, and Madame de Montesquieu joining the family f

A portrait of Napoléon with the “King of Rome” (as he affectionately called his son) on his lap, with Empress Marie-Louise by his side, and Madame de Montesquieu joining the family for the portrait; Villa dei Mulini, Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

 

Napoleon_s bedroom in the Villa dei Mulini, Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

Napoléon’s bedroom in the Villa dei Mulini, Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

 

The view from the garden at Villa dei Mulini, designed by Napoleon after the removal of several small buildings behind the villa, looking east, back at the mainland of Italy and the city

The view from the garden at Villa dei Mulini, designed by Napoléon after the removal of several small buildings behind the villa, looking east, back at the mainland of Italy and the city of Piombino; Portoferraio, Elba (island), Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.