Down the Road

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Driving around Tuscany offers never ending vignettes. At every turn in the road there's another picturesque scene waiting to be photographed or painted. Thank goodness for digital cameras. In the days of film, I would have run out.

"Down the Road" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Geraniums in the Window

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nothing brightens a day like looking out a window with flowers in the window box.

"Geraniums in the Window" © Kathy Dunham 2009


Ever wonder what someone's thinking when they get that far away look in their eye? Those were my thoughts when I saw this young girl leaning against a church. Was it about something she saw inside or maybe what she was going to eat for lunch?

"Contemplation" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Sorrento Afternoon

Sunday, September 27, 2009

There weren't many flowers to be found in Italy this time of year. There were plenty of the proverbial geraniums but the sunflowers were gone and so was everything else. We were headed out of our hotel when I spotted this one. And the light coming from behind added to the enjoyment of finding a blossom.

"Sorrento Afternoon" © Kathy Dunham 2009

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This movie is a Halloween/Christmas movie. I watch it every year. Gotta love Jack Skellington, who is a being from "Halloween Town,"  as he discovers a portal to "Christmas Town." Danny Elfman wrote the film score and and provided the singing voice of Jack as well as other minor characters. This was a 1993 film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton.

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She's a Beauty

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We were getting ready to leave the quaint hilltop village of Radicofani when I spotted this gem. Can you imagine the fun of driving the Italian hillsides in this beauty?

"She's a Beauty" © Kathy Dunham 2009

The Amalfi Coast

Friday, September 25, 2009

There's not much I can say about this one except - Spectacular. Around every turn there's a picture. The most interesting part is the drive. When I looked back along the coast I could see this narrow road, sometimes hanging over the edge of the cliffs. Oh boy!!!!

"The Amalfi Coast" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Angels and Demons

While in Rome last month my friend Joanne and I took a tour of the city based on Dan Brown's best seller, Angels and Demons. We had a great guide and saw most of the key locales that were in the book. As we crossed over the Ponte Sant' Angelo on our way to the Castel these angels, each representing key events in Christ's life stood tall and almost brooding in the overcast day.

"Angels and Demons" © Kathy Dunham 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
GreetingSpring.comHO, HO,HO!

Christmas Vacation

When this movie first came out, we went to the theater to see it. What a riot! I laughed so hard and still do everytime I watch it, which has been quite a few times! It's one of my favorites!


This film is a 1989 Christmas comedy starring Chevy Chase who just wants to have a "good old fashioned family Christmas." It turns out to be anything but that!! What a holiday classic!

Is it Spring Yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Most of California has been in a heat spell and the thought of a cool, brightly flowered spring sounds might good right now.

"It is Spring Yet?" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Do You Think We're Lost?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's fun watching tourists trying to figure out where they are and where they're going. I spotted this group on a side street in Florence. I sure hope they got everything figured out.

"Do You Think We're Lost?" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Roman Door Knocker

Monday, September 21, 2009

I started taking pictures of door knockers when I was in France earlier this year. Then it became an obsession by the time I traveled to Italy. But I must say one thing. Italy wins hands down. More unique styles and a wider variety of doors.

"Roman Door Knocker" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Night Market

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Most businesses close in the afternoon in Italy and reopen around 4:30 p.m. and stay open into the early evening. These onions, garlic and shallots were on display outside a small market near our hotel in Sorrento.

"Night Market" © Kathy Dunham 2009


Saturday, September 19, 2009

If you really want to end your meal with a kick try some Grappa. It's one potent drink. At one time it held a lowly position that only the farmers and those not able to afford the "finer" wines were the ones drinking it. Times have changed and as you can see, so have the bottles and many types of the juice.

"Grappa" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Waiting for the Mail

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mail boxes in Italy are so much more interesting than ours. And I think geraniums are the most popular flower for potted plants.

"Waiting for the Mail" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Dinner - Yumm

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I enjoyed the flora and fauna of Italy but it's also great to be back with all the desert life we have here. This little bee was sure busy when I found him digging for his dinner in a gazinia flower.

"Dinner - Yumm" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Early Morning Flight Line

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I hate getting up early in the morning and a 3:45 wakeup is not my idea of a way to get some beauty sleep. But it does mean we'll arrive in Palm Springs at a reasonable hour. This shot is O'Hare Airport in Chicago at 6:10 a.m. waiting for our push back from the gate. Next stop, Dallas then home. BTW... I'm posting this from 34,000 feet in the air. Pretty neat having WiFi in the air.

“Early Morning on the Flight Line” © Kathy Dunham 2009


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We left Rome this morning and after a long flight we are now in Chicago. We had a great time and saw many spectacular sights. And oh, the pasta. But seeing these flags flying with the Chianti Valley in the background was a fitting way to end our trip. Tomorrow we make the final leg home.

“Arrivederci” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Land of Pinocchio

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In case you've forgotten, Pinocchio is Italian and from this area in Italy. So naturally, everywhere we go we find Pinocchio's of all sizes. He's such a happy little guy that it makes you smile as he brings back childhood memories.

“Land of Pinocchio” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Skyline of Florence

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Here we are in the city of the Renaissance, Florence Italy. WOW!!! Home to Michelangelo, the Medici's, to Dante, where Leonardo di Vinci painted the Mona Lisa and where Galileo is buried. And we saw it all today. Quite a way to wrap up a trip to Italy.

“Skyline of Florence” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Abbey of Sant' Antimo

Friday, September 11, 2009

I don't think there are words to describe a wonderful opportunity we had today. Our guide, Simone, took us to the Abbey of Sant' Antimo in the Orcia Valley of Tuscany. This 1,200 year old Benedictine Abbey, isolated in a rural area south of Siena, is an architectural delight of simplicity. But the best part was being treated to the actual service of a Gregorian Chant. This isn't a performance, but rather a religious ceremony. We've seen a lot of spectacular sights on this trip but I think this has to be the highlight for me. I've never experienced anything like it. The acoustics were perfect and nothing could be better than the original setting.

“Abbey of Sant' Antimo” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Duomo of Siena

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today was one of the jewels of Tuscany.... Siena. A beautiful medieval town that looks today just like it did 700 years ago. A tight cluster of narrow streets and buildings, it's alive with locals and tourists alike. And the shopping!!! Lots of beautiful high end merchandise to spend money on.

We were lucky, only in the months of September and October do they uncover the inlaid marble floors. They are something to see so plan your trip accordingly if you want to see them. We were also allowed into the library where there are brightly colored frescoes that have never been retouched, and they're as vibrant today as they were when first painted. The outside facade is in black and white marble and these white marble statues adorn the outer edges above the doors. Another definite must see when in Italy!!

“Duomo of Siena” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Windows in Assisi

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The church in Assisi has been marvelously restored after all the damage it suffered in a major earthquake many years ago. The beauty of the church is not in the outside facade, but rather in the spectacular interior. There are three levels high and each one is magnificent.

The tomb of St. Francis is at the very lowest layer and no matter what your beliefs or religion, it touches your soul. He was the saint who believed that all living things are God's creatures and should be treated accordingly. He is known as the patron saint of animals. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside so I'm sharing this image of a beautiful window in trhe old town of Assisi, and if you look closely at the relief on the left of the windows, you'll see an image of a mean looking dog. I guess it's their version of “Beware of the Dog”. But it's awfully high to do much good.

“Windows in Assisi” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Cameo Makers Tools

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

After our tour of Pompeii we visited one of the oldest cameo factories in Naples. Cameos are hand carved from the shells of conches and other unique sea shells. The thin outer layer is filed down leaving a white layer upon which the designs are carved. Once it is completed, the unwanted white layer is carved away leaving the inner layer of colored shell as a background to the carved design. It takes years to learn the trade and the prices vary depending on the quality and how intricate the design.

"Cameo Maker's Tools" © Kathy Dunham 2009

Decorations in the Sauna - Pompeii

Although it's void of most of its original frescoes and mosaics, Pompeii is an amazing marvel of a 2,000 year old town in a well preserved state. When an erupting volcano buries you in ash in a 24-48 hour period, not much escapes. These beautiful decoarations ringed the upper edges of the central sauna. When they went to the gym, they went in style.

"Decorations in the Sauna - Pompeii" © Kathy Dunham 2009

The Villas of Stabiae

Monday, September 7, 2009

When Mt. Vesuvius blew her top in 79 A.D., Pompeii wasn't the only town covered with ash and mud. On the southern shore of the Bay of Naples is an area known as Stabiae where there were many exclusive villas for the wealthy to get away from the rigors of Rome. This image is part of the inner courtyard of the Villa San Marcos. There are a lot of wonderfully preserved frescoes and mosaic tiled floors, and there is still a lot to be uncovered. But if you'd like to see more of similar villas in this area all you have to do is visit the Getty Villa in Malibu. J. Paul Getty was quite a collector and managed to bring a lot of the neighboring villa to the U.S. for all to see.

“Villas of Stabiae” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Into the Fire

Getting an Internet connection when you want is not easy in Italy. If your hotel doesn't have one you need to search out an Internet cafe which could be across the street or across town. Luckily, the one I was using in Sorrento is across the street from the hotel but opens on Italian time; late in the morning, closed from 1:30 to 4:30 and open until 8:30 at night. If that doesn't match our touring schedule, I'm out of luck. And it's even worse if their connection shuts down, which it did for two days and of course, they weren't open on Sunday. So obviously, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday evening we visited a small local farm. In the southern part of Italy, they terrace the hillsides and pass the farms down in the family, generation to generation. Agritourismo is business to these farmers. They open their farms to tourists and make extra money this way. The farm we went to has 11 family members working it. They have olives, grapes and small areas of row crops on 4 acres of terraced land. After our “tour” we learned how to make pizza the Neopalotano way. They use a wood fired oven and as you can see the flames were pretty hot.

"Into the Fire" © Kathy Dunham 2009

It'a a Beautiful Day on the Amalfi Coast

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There's no shortage of tourists today. We left early this morning and drove over the crest of the peninsula that separates Sorrento from the Amalfi coast. First stop.... Positano. We weren't able to get into the town as buses aren't allowed. I was amazed how the Italians build their houses right into the sides of the steep cliffs. I don't think they'd pass building codes in California. Further down the road we stop at Amalfi. A small town, similar to Laguna Beach, California, in that the town sits where the road drops to the level of the sea and has a small beach. We took a boat ride to view the gorgeous villas from the water. We saw Gina Lolabrigida's house, Roger Moore's and Sophia Loren's. Oh, to be among the rich and famous. Then it was up the hill to Ravello and the Villa Rufolfo whose tropical gardens inspired the composer Wagner was inspired to write Parsifal. They hold major music festivals there most of the year. What a great spot to listen to classical music as you overlook the blue Mediterranean.

“It's a Beautiful Day on the Amalfi Coast” © Kathy Dunham 2009

Welcome to Sorrento

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Here we are, high above the Bay of Naples, enjoying the beauty of the steep cliffs as they knife into the water. There are some black sand beaches but they are few and far in between. It was a long bus ride but it gave us the chance to recuperate from all the walking we did in Rome. I don't know if my feet will ever be the same again.

“Welcome to Sorrento” © Kathy Dunham 2009