September 2013 Archives

Picture of the Day

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Greenery from close to home, at the base of Grand Hill in Saint Paul. (click to enlarge)

Ligurian Greens



There hasn't been much greenery in recent postings, so here are a couple from Santa Margherita Ligure. The first in the central square, the second along the sidewalk below our hotel. Click photos to enlarge them.

Picture of the Day


Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. Our version of baroque holiness? (click to enlarge)

Santa Margherita Ligure Churches

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Click photos to enlarge them.

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Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa. His statue is in the main square of Santa Margherita Ligure, near the harbor, where it provides a convenient roost for birds. (click to enlarge)

Trompe l'oeil in Santa Margherita Ligure



Two more examples of trompe l'oeil, except that the barred window, and the statue and the niche, are real. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Night lights of hotel swimming pool in Santa Margherita Ligure. (click to enlarge)


Santa Margherita Ligure is a pleasant small city near the much more trendy Portofino on the Italian Riviera. It was our starting place for our tour of Liguria: the Cinque Terre and Genoa. The walls, with bright earth tones and trompe l'oeil paintings, were particularly striking.



Picture of the Day


After a series of rather melancholy photos from Genoa, I thought to end my coverage of that city with a more colorful image: a remarkably ornate cabinet from the Palazzo Rosso. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Far and Near



A crowded, interesting city. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Sidewalk in Santa Margherita Ligure at night. (click to enlarge)

Immigration from Italy

An exhibit at the Galata Naval Museum in Genoa, which details the desperate conditions confronting people who sailed steerage from Italy to the Americas. Click photos to enlarge them.


Men's sleeping quarters in steerage.


Gangplank to enter the ship (and the exhibit)

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Detail of the well-worn floor of Chiesa del Gesù e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea in Genoa, a fine Baroque church dating from 1589. (click to enlarge)

In the Red Palace

The Palazzo Rosso in Genoa. Two more examples of virtuoso painting, the first being a fascinating room-sized trompe l'oeil production, and the second a wonderfully ornate ceiling. Click photos to enlarge them.



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Another example of intriguing accidental art in Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Building Art

Outdoor paintings in Genoa. High class graffiti, perhaps? The first is relatively frequently seen: a quasi-monumental painting on the street-facing wall of a building, often repeated several times along the facade. (See the second photo.) The third is on the highway bridge support across from the building and near the Aquarium. It's clearly not a slapdash, middle-of-the-night job, but it's got a somewhat outlaw flavor to it. More interesting, to my taste.

Click photos to enlarge them.




Picture of the Day

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On a signpost across from the Saint Paul Cathedral. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Graffiti

Interesting interactions with the walls and residue thereon. Click photos to enlarge them.




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Saint Paul, Minnesota has a cathedral, also, with a copy of Michelangelo's "Pieta". (click to enlarge)

Baroque Church Interiors

The first image is from the Cathedral San Lorenzo in Genoa. I neglected to record the information for the second, but it's still impressive. Click photos to enlarge them.



Picture of the Day


Church of Gesu, Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Baroque Churches of Genoa

Resplendent variations on a theme! Click photos to enlarge them.




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Big, fat mushrooms on a produce cart in Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Variations in Black and White

Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa. This place is almost as amazing inside as outside. It offers a seeming infinity of compositional possibilities for a photographer. See earlier posted images here, here, and here.

Click photos to enlarge them.




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Detail of a portrait of a nobleman in the Palazzo Rosso, Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Walls

A visually intriguing city. Click photos to enlarge them.





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Paganini's violin case, in Palazzo Tursi, Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Shop Windows




Click photos to enlarge them.

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Another charming Genoese chicken. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Arcades

Along Via San Vicenzo, an engaging combination of old and new. Click photos to enlarge them.



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One of the narrow, dark streets so characteristic of old Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Street Scenes

People hanging out. Click photos to enlarge them.




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Ceramic chickens in a Genoa craft shop. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Aquarium

Supposedly the biggest and best in Europe, it has a wide variety of species and attractive displays. Click photos to enlarge them.






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Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa: On the Steps of Cathedral San Lorenzo

From the sublime to the ridiculous, and back again. Click photos to enlarge them.




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Shop window display with reflection, Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa Pharmacies

We kept running into representations of old pharmacy paraphernalia and researchers in Genoa. The first of these pictures is from the wall alongside a contemporary pharmacy, and the last is from the Palazzo Tursi. The middle three are from some old building that we wandered into on our way to the Aquarium, but I didn't record more precise information. Click photos to enlarge them.






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A grafitti in the central business district. More like a Warhol than a Pollock. (click to enlarge)


Genoa Grafitti

Wednesday, September 11. We're back home in Saint Paul, after a very good vacation in a relatively unfamiliar part of Italy: Liguria, including the Cinque Terre and Genoa.

The walls of Genoa are rich with grafitti and peeling posters, a boon if - like me - you're a fan of the Jackson Pollock/Robert Rauschenberg/Jasper Johns school of art. (Otherwise, maybe not so much.) The tunnel underneath the Brignole Railway Station near our hotel was particularly rich in vivid material. Click photos to enlarge them.





Picture of the Day


Paganini's violin, kept in a climate-controlled case in the Palazzo Turci in Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa, Day 3

Tuesday, September 10: Genoa was a very wealthy city in the 15th-17th centuries, so it attracted and supported some great artists. Their work is displayed in churches and in a UNESCO World Heritage complex of three "palaces": Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso, and Palazzo Turci, the former homes of wealthy merchants and rulers of the city. We saw Palazzo Bianco on Sunday; today we saw the others.

We're flying home tomorrow.

Click photos to enlarge them.


Baroque interior of the Church of Gesú, with a Rubens painting of the circumcision of Christ.


Statue of the penitence of Mary Magdalene by Canova in the Palazzo Turci.


Detail of a painting, "The Cook", by Bernardo Strozzi in the Palazzo Rosso.


Detail of a painting by Anthony Van Dyck in the Palazzo Rosso.


Roof terrace of the Palazzo Rosso, with a stormy sky.


Street musician, a good jazz guitarist.

Picture of the Day


A child, helped by its mother, petting one of the lions on the steps of Cathedral San Lorenzo in Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Genoa, Day 2

Monday, September 9. Another day to explore Genoa, much of the time in the vicinity of the port. Click photos to enlarge them.


A temporary stand with beautiful produce, just outside the Brignole Railway Station. When we returned in the evening, it was gone.


Window display in the Via San Vicenzo arcade.


The strong Gothic interior of the San Lorenzo Cathedral, which was closed yesterday (Sunday!), perhaps to focus attention on the spectacularly decorated exterior.


We spent much of the day at the Aquarium. This fish posed nicely for its portrait.


Across the way from the Aquarium is this elaborately painted palazzo/apartment. Similar decorations are seen throughout Genoa, though few are so extensive.


We spent the latter part of the afternoon at the Galata Naval Museum. The top floor had a very interesting exhibit on emigration and immigration, relating the Italian outflow of the 19th and early 20th centuries to the current inflow from the currently stressed parts of the world.

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Detail of a door of the Ducal Palace in Genoa. (click to enlarge)


Sunday, September 8: This morning we took the train from Riomaggiore to Genoa, where we'll spend the next three days before returning to Minnesota. Genoa is rougher and less elegant than Rome or Florence, but it's got a lot of visual interest and variety. Click photos to enlarge them.


Lots of interesting graffiti and peeling posters, especially in the covered passageway by the Brignole railway station.


Some of the narrowest streets, flanked by tall buildings, that we've seen in any major city.


Lots of sidewalk cafes.


The San Lorenzo Cathedral, with perhaps the most highly decorated exterior we've ever seen.


An exceptionally good-looking couple sitting on the steps of the cathedral.


Shop window displays that interact interestingly with goings-on in the street.


An extremely elaborate baroque church.


A red-light district comparable to Amsterdam's, with men (perhaps sailors from the nearby port) milling around.


One of the workers.

Picture of the Day


Sitting on a hot day in Monterosso, Cinque Terre. (click to enlarge)

Cinque Terre: Vernazza to Monterosso

Saturday, September 7. This morning we took the train from Riomaggiore to Vernazza, and then made the trek - about two hours - to Monterosso. This was nominally a bit more challenging than the Corniglia to Vernazza hike, but it didn't seem any harder or take us any longer. Perhaps we're getting conditioned.


The path was this steep, and generally much rougher, for the first 1/3 of the walk: a gain in elevation of 385 meters.


Below we could see one of the railway tunnels, used by the trains that serve the Cinque Terre.


Once the path leveled off, it was frequently like this: narrow and shady. Note the wire netting on the cliff to the right, to fend off rock-falls.


Down and to the west one saw occasional bright white sailboats, inverse-silhouetted against the deep blue sea.


A pretty stone bridge crossed a narrow stream.


In Monterosso, two of the main attractions are old churches. This one is the Church of Saint John the Baptist, notable for its black and white striped decor.


The other is the Oratory of the Dead, the home of a Catholic brotherhood that helps with funerals, assists widows and orphans and victims of shipwrecks.


To end on a less somber note, Monterosso has the only sand beach in the Cinque Terre. It is provisioned by multitudes of colorful beach umbrellas for rent.

Picture of the Day


Sculpture in a niche near the train station in Manarola. (click to enlarge)

Manarola in the Cinque Terre

Friday, September 6. We took the train (about a three minute ride through a tunnel) to the neighboring town of Manarola, where we spent the morning.


Manarola is a small, colorful, vertically-stacked town that nestles against a rocky seacoast.


There's no beach, but swimmers enjoy jumping off the rocks. And we enjoy looking down on them from high above.


Plants growing on the cliffs gain luminance framed against the blue sea.


Aside from tourism, the main industry of the town is grape growing and wine production. Vineyards closely abut the town.


There's not much land, so most burials in the beautifully-sited cemetery are in above-ground niches.

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Two tourists lighting candles in the harbor-side church in Vernazza. (click to enlarge)

Cinque Terre: Corniglia to Vernazza

Thursday September 5. Today we took one of the famous walks between towns in the Cinque Terre: from Corniglia to Vernazza. (We took the train from Riomaggiore, where we're staying, to Corniglia; and a ferry back.)

Click photos to enlarge them.


A dramatic rocky staircase in Corniglia, a rocky town.


Despite being on the edge of the Mediterranean, this is in many ways a desert climate, with cacti and agave (century plant).


But there's also lush vegetation to accompany the stone bridges.


The beautiful town of Vernazza, "the jewel of the Cinque Terre", seen from above as we approached on the high path.


Vernazza suffered a devastating flood on October 25, 2011. The waters punched a hole in this rock face, opening a path to a new pebble beach.


Despite all the tourist hubbub, a resident enjoys a peaceful time with his newspaper.


It was very sunny and hot, so sun hats and sun glasses were on display on the rocks near the boat landing.

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The subway corridor from the train station to the town of Riomaggiore, facing a crowd that just arrived. (click to enlarge)

First Day in Riomaggiore

On Wednesday afternoon we took a train to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the the five towns of the Cinque Terre. We will make it our base for the next four days. Click photos to enlarge them.


Riomaggiore has a profusion of good public art - mainly murals. Here is a section from one that emphasizes the labor and dangers of wresting a living from the sea. Tourists may be easier!


In the evening, women and men gather - separately - in lines along walls to talk over the day's happenings.


The sunset was beautiful, illuminating the waters and the boats in the tiny marina.


A crowd gathered on the rocks by the marina to watch the sunset, and were themselves illuuminated.

Last Day in Santa Margherita Ligure

Wednesday, September 4. On our last morning in Santa Marhgherita Ligure, we wandered around the city center, visiting some of the important churches, buildings, and parks. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Black Christ in Oratory of Sant'Erasmo (St. Elmo), the protector of sailors. A particularly human face, due in part to the mustache.

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Large and elegant mosaic of black and white stones - a particular art form of Santa Margherita Ligure - in the courtyard of Villa Durazzo.

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Sculptures of musicians in a niche of the Villa Durazzo.

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Elegant trompe-l'oeil painted wall - also a Santa Margherita Ligure specialty - set off by some not quite so elegant laundry.

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Colored buildings along the marina in Portofino Mare, reflected in the rippling water. (click to enlarge)

Portofino Regional Park

Today we took a four hour hike after breakfast, from Santa Margherita Ligure to Nozarego, then into the Portofino Regional Park: Gave, Sant'Anna, Mulino, Olmi, San Sebastiano, and down into Portofino Mare. Lots of ups and downs, some of them steep, but all along a paved trail. The weather was great and the scenery was beautiful: one of the best hikes we've ever done.

Click photos to enlarge them.


The path was like this the whole way: stones underfoot and stone wall alongside.


View back down to Santa Margherita Ligure from an outdoor cafe in Nozarego.


An old olive press in Mulino, where we stopped for a cold drink.


A bright red church stood out against the olive groves on the hillside in San Sebastiano.


Archway in Portofino Mare


Portofino Mare buildings and marina. We took a ferry back from here to Santa Margherita Ligure.

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Detail of display case in our hotel in Santa Margherita Liguria. (click to enlarge)

Santa Margherita Ligure

We've just managed a long, connection-filled trip from Saint Paul to Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera, our jumping-off place for the Cinque Terre. The trip was long, of course, but also more stressful than expected. Our flight from MSP to AMS was smooth and got in early (about 5:45 AM), which was a relief because we had a tight connection to Paris CDG. Unfortunately, heavy air traffic and a broken door hinge delayed our flight to Paris by about an hour, leaving us only 15 minutes to get to our flight from Paris to Genoa. With zero help from Air France ground personnel, we managed to get to the most distant terminal (2G) and onto our plane with one minute to spare. The flight to Genoa was fine, and we had an interesting bus ride through Genoa (big bus, narrow, winding streets) from the airport to the train station whence we took a comfortable half-hour ride to Santa Margherita Ligure. We were met and taxied to our charming hotel, Villa Anita, where we rested for an hour and then spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through the town.

Click photos to enlarge them.


Santa Margherita Ligure is on the Mediterranean, so there is a lot of recreational boating and commercial fishing, with a lively marina. This red boat was just unloading its day's catch in tne late afternoon. We may have had one of the fish (orato) for dinner.


It also has a small but well-populated beach, nestled picturesquely at the base of some low mountains well-covered with houses, hotels, etc.


The commercial and tourist hub of the city has some nice little parks. This monument memorializes the contributions of soldiers and sailors in World War 1.


There are numerous gelaterias, with lots of interesting flavors. Note the intense concentration.

Picture of the Day


Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, at 6:30 AM Monday (11:30 PM CDT Sunday). Waiting for our flight to CDG Paris and then on to Genoa. (click to enlarge)

Light and Shadow

Nils Hasselmo Hall, University of Minnesota. Click photos to enlarge them.

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We'll be traveling for the next ten days, in Italy's Cinque Terre. We expect to have internet access, and I'll try to post photos from the trip. But postings may be a bit erratic, so please be patient.

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