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Sunday, 09 December 2012

A funny, short, no-budget film by Giovanni Scala.

Posted by bigblue on 09/12/2012 at 12:26 PM
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Monday, 13 June 2011
Playing with your life


On your scooter, talking on your mobile phone, driving on the same street as my crazy taxi driver ...

Posted by bigblue on 13/06/2011 at 08:48 AM
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Friday, 10 June 2011
Cycling in Milan
Posted by bigblue on 10/06/2011 at 03:43 PM
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Sunday, 28 November 2010


This is Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius and Emperor of Rome from 180 to 192.  The sculpture is a 16th Century renaissance creation, set on an ancient (unrelated) bust, and spotted in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples recently.

One of my companions thinks Comodus looks like a cross between the French actor Jean Reno and the American actor Chris Elliott.

Posted by bigblue on 28/11/2010 at 08:12 AM
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Thursday, 30 September 2010
Meridian Hall


This is the Meridian Hall at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.  Originally intended, at the time of the original attempt at construction in 1615, to house a public library:

The room underwent transformations between 1790 and 1793, when it was decided to install an Astronomic Observatory in the North-West wing at the suggestion of the astronomer Giuseppe Casella. However, the project was soon abandoned and only the meridian on the floor was built, giving the room its name. Designed by Pompeo Schiantarelli and over 27 metres long, it consists of a brass strip arranged between marble panels in which beautiful painted medallions are set depicting the twelve signs of the zodiac. At midday local time, the sunlight enters the hole of the gnomon placed high up in the South-West corner and its rays strike the meridian line of the floor, running along it according to the season.

The room housed a dinner of leaders of the G7 group of industrialised nations in 1994.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2010 at 08:20 AM
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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Vesuvian sunset


Looking across the Bay of Naples.

Posted by bigblue on 29/09/2010 at 08:06 AM
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Tuesday, 28 September 2010


We spent an interesting day in Pompeii wandering around the ruins. It was a hot languid day and we took our time, drinking frequently from water bottles that we took with us. The photograph above is of one of the victims of the eruption of 79AD which buried the city in ash. In the eruption Pliny the Elder died while attempting to rescue inhabitants, as admiral of the Imperial Fleet. His nephew Pliny the Younger wrote one contemporary account of the event.

During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realized these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies and so devised the technique of injecting plaster into them to perfectly recreate the forms of Vesuvius’s victims. What resulted were highly accurate and eerie forms of the doomed Pompeiani who failed to escape, in their last moment of life, with the expression of terror often quite clearly visible. This technique is still in use today, with a clear resin now used instead of plaster because it is more durable, and does not destroy the bones, allowing further analysis.

Fiorelli, refers to Giuseppe Fiorelli the fifth or sixth leader of the excavations.  Even animal remains were found, and the cast below is of a dog that archaeologists believe was chained outside the house of Vesonius Primus, a Pompeiian fuller.


Some of the houses at Pompeii have a mosaic of a dog at the entrance, and the words cave canem, or beware of the dog in Latin.


Parts of the ruins have been “restored” at some time in the past (see above) and there were announcements of impending restorations in other places, but I still got the impression that the ruins had been somewhat neglected over the past century and a half.

Posted by bigblue on 28/09/2010 at 08:08 AM
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Monday, 27 September 2010
An Italian Courtyard


At the Museo Archeologico in Naples, the most important archaeological museum in Italy. It was originally a cavalry barracks, and then housed the University of Naples from 1616 to 1777. There’s an excellent guide to the museum here.

The museum holds the so-called Secret Cabinet, of erotic frescoes which were retrieved from Pompeii.

Throughout ancient Pompeii, erotic frescoes, depictions of the god Priapus, sexually explicit symbols, inscriptions, and even household items (such as phallic oil lamps) were found. Ancient Roman culture had a different sense of shame for sexuality, and viewed sexually explicit material very differently to most present-day cultures. Ideas about obscenity developed from the 18th century to the present day into a modern concept of pornography. Although the excavation of Pompeii was initially an Enlightenment project, once artifacts were classified through a new method of taxonomy, those deemed obscene and unsuitable for the general public were termed pornography and in 1819 they were locked away in a Secret Museum. For good measure, the doorway was bricked up in 1849 (Garcia y Garcia et al. 2001). At Pompeii, locked metal cabinets were constructed over erotic frescos, which could be shown, for a modest additional fee, to gentlemen but not to ladies. This peep show was still in operation at Pompeii in the 1960s. The cabinet was only accessible to “people of mature age and respected morals”, which in practice meant only educated males. The catalogue of the secret museum was also a form of censorship, where engravings and descriptive texts played down the content of the room.

From Wikipedia, which reminds us that the practice of locking away “erotic” objects was also practised by the British Museum in London.

Posted by bigblue on 27/09/2010 at 08:34 AM
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