29 June, 2013

Cinque Terre - by boat

On the 4th of June I took a real nice boat tour of  the famous Italian CINQUE TERRE.  It was wonderful.  Calm sea and no breeze added to the enjoyment of seeing these amazing little villages from the ocean.  All 5 of the small medi-evil villages are built on almost impossibly high steep mountain sides.  As you come by boat from the east you are only able to see a few small houses of each village perch precariously on top of rocks.  This was apparently a form of defense against enemy attack when the area was under Genoese control back in 1600's.  Good ploy because you have to be almost inside the village before you notice how large it is - this must have won them many a battle back then.  

We left La Spezia and started out journey passing a huge mussel farm way out int he bay, but still within the harbour walls.  Quite interesting to watch the 'farmers' at work but I don't think that I would like to be involved in that.  

The first town that you pass is Porto Venere - stunning place that has its own whole posting, but I can just add that this is the home of Basil Pesto and the smell in the town is just too wonderful!!

Below is the first little mountain village that you pass.  Not necessarily a medi-evil village, but it gives you the idea that the small villages are built on steep sloes, without roads that access each individual home.  Rather there is a road at the top of the hill and you have to walk to each house - carry all that you require for daily living or new furniture etc.  Makes you think about what you purchase at the store when you have to lug it so far and so steep!!
 To the right is RIOMAGGIORE village and you truly can't see much of it unless you are up close.  The main street runs from the shore line / harbour straight up next to the river that gave the village fresh water.  On the right hand side is the church which was - and still is - the centre of village life.  
To the left is CORNIGLIA and the only village that is not accessible from the sea when you do the boat tour.  The little village has a small boat harbour so that the fishermen can go out and get a days catch, but you can't tie your ferry up there.  You can walk in easily from the hiking trail though.  

Below are 2 pictures of the 4th village VERNAZZA.  Very nice place but you get the idea that these people live in a stairwell. Everything is up or down.  No wonder they lived to a ripe old age, they were truly fit!!  This village also suffered an almost catastrophic flood in 2011 when the river flooded higher up the mountain and send tons of water gushing through the narrow streets washing just about everything away.   

 The last of the 5 villages is Monterroso and it is definitely the largest of the villages.  You can end your ferry tour here if you like and take a train back to La Spezia or like me, you can just take the boat back to the beginning and enjoy the view and the lone fisherman that you pass along the way.  

24 June, 2013

Milateus + Marcus Aurelius Bath house

This was my first visit to Milateus - think I have the spelling correct but it changes according to which language you are reading it in.  

This is a farily unvisited site about 75 minutes drive from Ephasus.  Very worth the visit though.  In summer you must watch out for scorpions and snakes , so ensure that you wear the correct shoes.  
This beautiful, well preserved and enormous amphiteatre was found after the little village siting on top of it was destroyed during an earthquake - late19th Centurary I think the guide said.  This led to the moving of the village and excavation work taking place.  During summer there is not much archealogy going on as the whole area is exceptionally hot. 

 Above shows the view from the middle of the centre ailse.
On the right is a view of the whole amphiteatre.

Below is a record of the second known workers stike - complete with names and demands.  Apparenlty the workers did not want to work in the heat of the day, asked for better food and more water!

The amphiteatre is very well divided with sections for wealthy patrons who supported the amphitheatre financially, then for individuals who bought their seats, a section for families with children - at the back so the kids didn't annoy anyone - and even a section for people who came from out of town for the games.  Very cool.  You can see letter carved n the marble indicating how all this is divided.  
Walking around the back of the amphitheatre you see the remnants of the town / city with a nice sqaure complete with fountain and lion and a temple and off to the left a magnificent Bath houser reputed to have been built by Marcus Aurelies for his wife.  According to our guide it boasts the first real example of private cubicles for massage that are seperate from the main hot and cold baths.  Very lovely to walk about and you can even see some of the original painting on the marble walls - awesome!!  Also loads of large lisards that live in the brick work and pop out now and again to try and scare you!!  
I think that I will have to look up and see if Marcus Aurelius was actually in this area although I have no reason to disbeieve the guide who is an acrcheologist himself.  
The other thing about this little place that I liked is a little "motel" that has been here since 1410 or so and still functions as a motel for travelors!!  Amazing.  Completely refurbished and now equiped with all mode cons, it does still hold to the original style and building matierials.  

section of the Motel wall showing the 'recycling' of building materials!

Ephasus again!

Once more I was privilaged enough to visit Ephasus.  I can see from my photographs that I have been coming here since 2008.  Nice that I have the opportunity to visit this amazing place so regulalry.

 Above  is a view of the University and Hospital where they trained dcotors.   

To the right is the sign now universally recognised as showing that there are medical and pharmacuetical services available.        One of the guides told me that when Cleopatra arrived she was told that she need to bathe and see the physician as everyone else entering the city had to - and they didn't care if she was a Queen or not!!              

Below is the script on top of the column at the library clearing showing the latin writing and noting cearar.

I was also very pleased to see that the custodians of Ephasus have taken more steps to stop all the tourists from ruining this site.  Have nice ropes erected everywhere and have special places that you can walk.  However, you can see the additional waer that hundresds of feet have made on the marble streets - little ridges have got bigger.  It is still really amamzing though and I love going here.  From the start I have had a very emotional reaction to this site.  Cried huge corcodile tears when I first entered in 2008 and everytime since then I seem to cry at some stage about something real small - this time it was in the area where they are preserving the sarcophogi.  

I am looking forwrad to returning again - perhaps when there are fewer people around in the winter months.