Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sharing a friend's blog

For visitors to this blog who are interested in an ongoing account of life in Italy, I present you with "Pensieri italiani", written by a friend and colleague of my dad. It has the advantage of being written in both English and Italian, and is self-described as " A bilingual, unordered sequence of thoughts about living and working in Italy"

Have fun!

Per visitatori a questo blog che vorrebbero un racconto della vita quotidiana in Italia, vi presento "Pensieri italiani", scritto da un amico (eppure un collega) di mio padre. Ha come vantaggio il fatto che รจ scritto in italiano ed anche in inglese. In fatti, l'autore lo descrive come "Una sequenza bilingue di pensieri in ordine sparso sul vivere e lavorare in Itali"


Click --->Pensieri Italiani

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Packing to leave

Well everyone, the time has come. I'm sure most of you know this, but our nearly 2 years of life in Italy are coming to an end. We fly back to the United States on January 7th, 2009. It has been a great run - more on that later! For now, here are a few pictures of the movers taking away all our things. Right now we're living only on the items that we'll be carrying with us in our suitcases on the airplane. It's been interesting :)

The moving van parked in front of the house.

Poor guy! For some reason they didn't have any box cutters with them, so this guy had to pack all our boxes cutting the tape with his teeth!

We all got a chuckle out of the Italian phonetic spelling of "computer". Cute....

A shot of the weighing operation down in the basement. This has been a job. Everything must be weighed to make sure we're within our allowance.

The men at work in the living room.

Philomena is thinking of trying out for the weightlifting title next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


These pictures are from our excursion to Pompeii's sister city Herculaneum. Unlike Pompeii which was buried under ash and lava, Herculaneum was covered in a massive layer of volcanic mud, which led to an even better state of preservation that at Pompeii.

This is a shot of the volcano across the Bay of Naples.

This is part of the city of Herculaneum.

A shot from inside the city. The grass, shrubs, and trees gave it a much more lifelike appearance. Looking at this picture you almost expect to see a rich Roman walking along under the portico.

The droppings of pigeons and doves which congregate on the ruins end up making a mess of them, so here is one of the solutions to keeping them away. This falconer patrols the grounds with his bird, daring any pigeons to perch on the ruins.

A picture of one of the roads leading to the center of the city.

Underneath the city was the sewer, which you can see in this picture.

A beautiful mosaic in a niche.

A shot of a bar, similar to the ones we saw in Pompeii.

A shot of us and our guide.

One of the rooms in the baths. Note the fluted ceiling designed to trap condensation from the steam.

This wonderfully-preserved fresco depicts Hercules. It is located in one of the main villas.

Another part of the villa, complete with more frescoes. Take a look at the carbonized wooden beams protruding from the wall.

A closer picture of some of the wooden structure of the villa, now completely carbonized.

These marble chips in the road acted as reflectors, illuminating the street for passersby by reflecting the light of the moon at night.

A wine shop, offering four types of wine. The prices are written beneath the jugs.

The atrium of another house.

As you may have read, the swastika was an ancient symbol used by many cultures throughout the world, long before Adolf Hitler came to power. Here we see it as part of the mosaic floor in this house.

A merchant's storeroom. You can see amphorae stacked in original wooden holders, and on the floor jugs which would have held oil, wine, and the fermented fish sauce common to the era.

The beautiful mosaic of Neptune and Amphrite. It looks 3-D but it's really not.

Another mosaic in the same area.

Some of the ancient lead plumbing, still visible.

This was another large villa, very sumptuously decorated. The rooms to the side were bedrooms.

An original bed frame, charred, but for the most part intact.

Some original rope, again, charred but intact.

On this wall you can see the classical style of brickwork using blocks of tufa embedded at 45 degree angles. The same method was used at Pomepii, and Ostia Antica in Rome. You can also see the original metal grates in the windows, and the carbonized lintels above them.

After leaving Herculaneum we drove up to the National Park near the cone of Vesuvius. A shot of the volcano in the distance.

Andrew and Augustin hunting for bits of lava on the mountainside.

We stopped on the way home to get some wood-fired pizza.

Mmmm, look at that bread!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Here are some pictures to the excavated ancient Roman town of Pompeii. The most famous archeological site in the world, it was buried under a storm of ash and cinders from the massive Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. It was lost for 1,700 years and only reappeared after accidental discoveries led to its identification in 1748.

17 years before the eruption of Vesuvius the town experienced an earthquake which damaged many buildings. The inhabitants repaired cracks in foundations and walls with these bricks.

A shot of the volcano in the background. You can see the cone, covered by clouds.

The welfare state was alive and well even in the first century. This was a device for measuring the allotment of grain per person or family depending on their status and rank.

An altar that was dedicated to Jove.

This is a building which holds the hundred upon hundreds of amphorae and other artifacts that are waiting to be cataloged. All are originals.

A plaster cast of a dog which died during the eruption. You can see its muscles twisted in agony. The ash and lava which covered people and animals solidified, leaving a void the shape of the body after it had decomposed. This void was then filled with plaster, and the ash removed, leaving archeologists with these casts.

A cast of a woman covering her mouth trying to escape the sulfurous gasses.

An anchor, amid miscellaneous other artifacts.

This was an ancient safe. The metal is quite corroded as you can see.

This is one of the streets of the town. The large stones in the middle were so that pedestrians could traverse the muddy streets which were often filled with sewage, and also served to block areas of town from carts and other animal-drawn vehicles.

They had street signs back then too. This was the street of the porters which led to the market.

The house of a very wealthy family. This is the central atrium.

The interior of the house. The doors lead to bedrooms. Note the mosaic on the floor.

This was the equivalent of a fast-food restaurant back then. The openings are large jugs built into a stone counter with a fire underneath to keep soup and other foods warm.

Another view of the street, with two exits for sewage and rain water also visible. These openings led into the cloaca, the main sewer of the city.

This was the shop of a baker. You can see a flour mill in the foreground and a stone oven (not very different from the ones still used to make pizzas in today) in the background.

Another house, this time showing the room dedicated to the family gods, complete with the little shrine where offerings were left to statues.

An elaborately painted room. These frescoes are all original.

Augustin, mom, and Andrew walking through the 2,000 year old city.

A large square in front of the theater where patrons gathered at intermission.

The theater itself.

Next we visited the modern town of Pompeii to visit the famous church of Our Lady of Pompeii. Here is the facade from the outside, in the evening.

The stunning ceiling.

The image of Our Lady of Pompeii above the main altar.

Last picture - some of the beautiful mosaics in the apse.