Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Walk Thru a Tuscan Village
I just couldn’t get enough of the small, old villages that we saw throughout Europe.  This is another in a wonderful series of them.  I converted most of these images to paintings or sketches because that best captured what I felt when we walked thru it.  The name of this village is Monte Carlo - not to be confused with the Monte Carlo in Monaco!
Tuscan Eatery
How charming is this!  We slowly walked down what we think was the main street of the village and came across a small shop with a small table and chairs out front, for customers who might want to sample the treats they just bought from the shop, or just enjoy a cup of cappuccino! 
Door with a Crooked Handle
It took me a bit to figure out what I was drawn to by this door – was it the rock arched doorway, so full of texture?  Maybe.  Was it the ornate iron work on the top of the door?  Could be.  Was it the vivid color of the door, the small sign just to the right of the door, or the plant to the left of the door?  Perhaps.  Or, was it that lovely crooked handle of one of the doors?  Yep!  It just drew my eye toward it over and over again.  So perfectly imperfect!
Private Door
I was drawn to this door because it appeared to be the entrance of a private home, but the roofline above it really made it stand out more than some of the shops next to it!
Tuscan Alley
I was constantly surprised by how picturesque the alleys were in these small villages.  I love the texture of one wall, and the smoothness of the other.  The paving stones on the alley presented two different variations of the same texture.  Then, at the end of the alley is a picket fence gate and the wall of the building facing me has some interesting texture to it as well.  It would seem that all these conflicting textures would overwhelm……but it doesn’t.  It all just blends and melds wonderfully.
Village Main Street
As we reached the end of the street, I turned around and captured it framed by an archway that we walked thru and cars drove thru.  The cars that drove down this street were all very small cars.  The car I drive back in the States would be considered, in all likelihood, too big for these streets, and I drive a moderately sized crossover vehicle.  It’s amusing to think of it as being a “big” car by this village’s standards!
Rustic Inside Wall
What a contradiction this image is!  I would expect to see smooth walls on the interior of a building, and, if there are to be rough, textured walls, they would be on the outside.  But, in this case, the opposite is true.  And what wonderful texture is on that inside wall.  I wish I could have seen more of that!
Door Reflection
The glass in this door’s windows was more like mirrors than clear glass, altho they were clear glass.  It must have been the way the sun was shining that morning.  I was drawn to the greenery not only in front of this door, but also reflected in its windows.  It feels remarkably peaceful.

Tuscan Countryside
Our next port of call was Livorno, near Pisa, Italy.  We did not visit Pisa, altho we did see the Leaning Tower from our tour bus as we headed for the Tuscan countryside and visits to a charming village and a winery.  For this post, I’m focusing on the countryside and scenes outside the winery.
Tuscan View
I took this image as we road along in the tour bus.  I loved the look of what appeared to be an old farmhouse with the fabulous mountain range in the background.  I believe the name of the mountains is the Apennine Mountains.
Autumn in Tuscany
We were in Tuscany at the beginning to peak autumn color.  Aren’t these trees vivid?  We missed autumn colors at home, and it was great to see some color on our journey!
Small Tuscan Village
While we were wandering around the village you’ll see in the next post, I came upon a view of another part of the village just down the hill.  I look at this view and to me, it cries out “Tuscany” !
Village Park Walk
As we walked down the hill from the village to our bus, we walked thru this lovely little park.  To capture the feel of walking thru it, I converted it to a painting.  It was such a peaceful little place.  And, you may be wondering why we were walking down the hill to our bus.  Well, the streets were so narrow, the bus couldn’t fit!
Village Roses
There were still some roses blooming at the end of October, and I couldn’t resist capturing these beauties!  And some new blossoms were still opening!
Tuscan Vines
After visiting the winery, we wandered around a bit, and I captured this image of vines and a cool tower in the background.  The lines across the image are some fencing that was containing the vines, so they didn’t grow all over the place!
Favorite Color Combo
One last view of glorious autumn color!  And, orange and blue is a favorite color combo of mine!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Santu Pantalleu
On our way back to the ship from the winery, we stopped off at a small village called Santu Pantalleu.  I have to say, I just loved the small villages that we saw in our sampling of Europe.  Each one was so charming in its own way.  And, this one resulted in many photo paintings!
John Paul II
This is not a painting, but a rock sculpture that sits in the village center honoring Pope John Paul II.  I had to include this in the post because I really loved the simplicity of the workmanship – and the detail.  The folds of his cloak, the Madonna and Child carved into the cloak on the right as we look at it, his face, etc.  All of these items are simply done, yet provide enough detail for our imaginations to fill in the rest.
Village House
I love the simple, rustic charm of this home.  I especially love the shutters with the level of texture detail in them.  And, I love how apparently, the windows open into the house, while the shutters open out.
Moorish Chimneys
There was a great deal of Moorish influence that could be found throughout this area of the country, and the chimneys provide an especially charming detail illustrating this. 
Village Doorway
This image feels to me like it’s stepped out of a story.  I love the front steps with the pots of flowers alongside it.  The detail in the wrought iron decoration in front of the door is lovely and I even love the table sitting outside next to the door.  I feel like whatever is typically sitting on the table had just been taken in for the evening (we were there in the afternoon).  Whatever the story is, I think I’d like to read the book!
Shop Sign
I don’t know how to pronounce the name of the shop or what it sold, but I just loved the sign and the flowering vine that grew alongside it.  The name to me appears to be French.  I know we are in Italy, but the French island of Corsica is very, very close to Sardinia, and I’m guessing there are a variety of French influences here. 
Window and Wall Plantings
Another charming aspect of this village were the number of homes and other buildings that had greenery spilling from window boxes and from planters hanging on the wall. The different shapes of the planters only add to the interest.
Vines and Plants
Here’s another example of what I mean – the flowering vine growing up the wall of the building, complemented by the window box with other flowers blooming there. The vine is covering some sort of pipe that is barely visible – it would have been an eyesore, if not for the vine – now it’s lovely!
Decorative Greenery
Some buildings really went all out on the decorative greenery.  I can’t recall if this was a business or home, but it reminds me of how some folks go all out with their Christmas decorations!  They went all out with greenery!
Front Stairs
No overly elaborate greenery here!  But there was something about the simple lines of the front of this home that appealed to me.  There is a touch of greenery at the foot of the front steps, but otherwise, it’s the color of the building and steps that make this image!
Low Window Box
I almost walked right by this without seeing it, but I’m glad I didn’t miss it.  It reminds me of a young person who can only afford a basement apartment.  They put the greenery in the window to add a little beauty to the outside world when they open up their curtains.  Ok, that’s totally my story about this image, but I’m sticking to it!

Sardinia Countryside & Winery
After we left the ruins, we took a drive thru the countryside to a lovely winery where we had lunch and had a wine tasting.
Sardinia Countryside
It’s definitely the harvest season, as you can see by the rounded bales of hay scattered around the countryside.  I really liked how vibrant the colors were – and the yellow dots of color the dandelions gave were a nice highlight.
There was an interesting exhibit in the winery – of cork.  This image compiles the 3 images I took of what we found most interesting.  The image on the left is the bark of the cork tree.  In the middle is the image of the inside of the cork tree, and the image to the right is what a slice of cork looks like when the wine corks have been punched out of it.
Olive Tree
Here was a olive tree on the winery property – it’s over 100 years old!  It’s sort of an oddly shaped tree – with the very stumpy looking trunk, hardly any branches and then leaves on the ends of the tiny branches.  Of course, I guess if one lives to be over 100, one can look however one wants and be simply amazing just by being!
Hollow Inside
One of the interesting things about olive trees is that, apparently, their insides are hollow.  I’m not really certain how they live, since hollowing out any other tree would kill it. 
Sardinia Vineyards
I was able to capture this image of the vineyards right outside the tasting room of the winery.  They grow grapes for both red and white wines here, and surprisingly, Jeff & I liked a white wine best and bought a bottle to enjoy later onboard the ship.
Shades of Green
And, finally, I’ll close out this post with a close up of some of the leaves from the vineyards.  I love the variations of color and the texture visible on the leaves.

This ruin was occupied from about the 14 century to the 9th century BC, and covers several hundred kilometers.  It is estimated that between 90 – 100 buildings made up the complete village in its hey-day, but the ruin today consists of far fewer buildings.  There is much more of the village that needs to be excavated and explored, but it seems that archeologists only work on this ruin over the summer months, so the exploring is a slow process.  There are several of these ruins around the island of Sardinia, but this was the only one we were able to see.
Ruins around the Tower
As we walked around the central, beehive shaped tower, we saw numerous ruins.  I was quite surprised by the sort of good shape the foundations of things were.
Rock and Wood Natural Sculpture
As we walked along, and I looked down, I saw this lovely natural sculpture – rock and wood sort of flowing over and around it.  I have no idea what the shape of the wood was originally, but it seems to have molded itself around the rock over time.
Hut Ruins around the Tower
Here’s a better look at some of the ruins of the huts that were once all around the central tower.  All that’s left now are the foundations, but you can see how circular they were.  I was actually quite surprised at how even the circles were.  I wonder what type of measuring tools they had.
Stairs to Doorway
As we approached the tower, I noticed these rock stairs that led up to the doorway.  Could it be that the doorway was to one of the huts surrounding the tower, or was it to another portion of the tower?  So many questions surface when walking around the ruins, and an indicator of the mysteries held close by these ruins.
Stairs in Tower
As we entered the tower, off to our left was a stairway leading up to what must have been the second floor of this tower…..or to the absolute top of the tower.  I’m not certain which, and the archeologists are working on restoring this part of the ruin.
Looking Up the Tower
In the center of the tower, we could look up toward the top of the beehive cone shape.  The blue at the top is the covering across the opening at the top of the tower, to keep out any rain, so the archeologists could stay dry while working!
This “tomb of the giants” was located about a mile or so from the actual ruin.  There is another “tomb of the giants” located to the south of Olbia, near another set of ruins.  This is a burial chamber for presumably rulers back in the Bronze Age when the people who lived in the ruins lived.

Sights Around Sardinia
Sardinia is an island off the coast of Italy, between Sicily and Corsica, just south of Corsica (which is actually part of France).  Our port was Olbia, and on this day, we went for a tour to see the countryside of Sardinia, an ancient ruin, a winery and finally a small charming village.  Let’s start with the countryside views –
Moon Over Sardinia
This was early in the morning, off our verandah, as we approached the port.  I loved the fact that we could still see the moon up in the sky!  It was rather overcast, but it just added to the mood of the image.
Early Morning Sardinia
Now the sun was beginning to shine thru the clouds somewhat, and I really liked the way it added some depth to this image.
Sardinia Coastline
Here we are driving along the coast, and I really loved the feeling of space that this image provides.  I had no idea Sardinia was such a pretty place.
Natural B&W
I did not convert this image to black and white.  It just sort of came out as various tones of grey, with the sun’s rays visibly shining down to the sea.  What a peaceful image!
View through the Trees
This last image was taken further inland, and you can see more of the greenery of the island, along with some mountains on the island.  I thought the trees acted as a nice natural frame.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Leaving Sicily
There were a number of really nice images that I managed to capture from our ship as we said goodbye to Sicily……
Light Rays
As we were preparing to leave the port, the skies clouded over a bit, and there was this lovely image of the sun’s rays shining down thru the clouds onto the mountain top.  How could I resist?
Looking out onto the Mediterranean, the colors of sunset were very cool and peaceful.  A very calm end to a wonderful day.
As we left port, this was the very edge of the seawall, marking the entrance/exit to the port.  This just felt like we were so alone, even tho we weren’t quite at sea.  I love how the sea sort of blends into the sky on the horizon.
Farewell to Sicily
The sun has pretty much set, and the city lights are beginning to sparkle as we took our last look at Sicily.  What a wonderful day.

Paintings and Sketches from Palermo
Here are a collection of photo paintings or sketches from Palermo.  So many of the images I took would lend themselves to paintings and sketches, but I limited myself to these (and the one I also included in a previous post!) –
Palermo Flea Market
Down one of the little side streets off the plaza where the cathedral was, there was a small flea market of sorts.  I’m not certain that’s what they would call it in Palermo, but it certainly reminded me of those we find in the States!  I wish I could have had more time to truly peruse all the offerings in this market; however, I was lucky enough to find a really cool old black and white photo that I couldn’t resist.  I can’t wait to incorporate it into some future piece of art! 
Laundry Day
As we came out of the Oritorio di Santa Cita, and walked toward where our tour bus was to meet us, I noticed this woman taking a break from doing her laundry perhaps, and couldn’t resist capturing her and converting the image to a painting.  Again, it was just a little snippet of everyday life for those who live in Palermo, and I felt so lucky to have gotten even a glimpse of it.  I think I love these types of things just as much, if perhaps not more, than seeing all the towering cathedrals, etc.!
Clean Laundry
We were in Palermo on a Tuesday, I believe, and I guess Tuesday is laundry day there!  I love how so many people seem to hang at least part of their laundry out on their balconies.  I’m not certain if it smells nice and fresh, tho, given that generally there is all sorts of traffic going on below them!
Palermo Harbor
On our way back to our ship, we passed the small harbor that contains smaller private boats.  It was such a beautiful day out, and I loved the reflection of the masts in the water.
Port Scene
Back on board our ship, I was able to capture this view of the harbor our ship used, with the various pilot and tug boats in the foreground, and the mountains of Sicily in the background.