Saturday, June 28, 2008

sunday mass, 11am: sorry, no spaghetti

We called ahead to schedule spaghetti and beers with the Pope. The angry silence which met such sacrilege is something I will never forget.

Fine, then. So on to the same tourist tack as everyone else.

The School of Athens by Raphael, one of the standout frescoes of the Stanza della segnatura (Signature Room) and the Vatican Museums in general. Vatican City. (2008). As can be clearly seen, Raphael was famous for his use of colour. Sorry for the distorted perspective of this picture - I had to point my camera upwards to get the shot.

Landlocked enclave of Rome, the Vatican serves as the power base for the Roman Catholic Church and constitutes the smallest sovereign state in the world. On this particular hot, scorching day, Pope Benedict XVI himself is addressing the crowd in front of St. Peter's Basilica.

Maybe it's because I'm not a Catholic, but the religiosity of this spiritual domain seems lost amongst the scores of daytripping tourists. Well, no matter. We take a few obligatory snapshots of St. Peter's Square, then get in line to enter the extensive, art-ladened (and air conditioned!) Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms await.

Here are a few pictures.

An impressive fresco (work and artist unknown, at least by me), Vatican Museums, Vatican City. (2008).

Ceiling frescoes. Vatican Museums, Vatican City. (2008).

An impressive rotunda, Vatican Museums, Vatican City (2008).

Connie at St. Peter's Basilica and Square during Pope Benedict's weekly address. Vatican City (2008). If you squint your eyes really hard, you can see the Pope in this shot. Give it a try.

One of Bernini's famous colonnades in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City. (2008).

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Ciao, Bella: Connie at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. (2008).

The urban crush of crowds and traffic wears thin when brief respite falls in the form of rare June rain. Footstepping it drenched along grimy streets, we lose ourselves somewhere off the edge of most tourist maps, not really knowing where we go from here.

Towering pillar of Western civilization, Rome needs no introduction. However, the Città Eterna (Eternal City) forever etches itself in memory not for all of its culture, history, and legends, but for the dynamic range of human emotion endlessly on display ... even when it's yours, and even when it's mine.

More from Italy to come.

Customary touristy shot of the Colosseum with Palatine Hill in the background. Rome, Italy. (2008).

A typical street scene in the inner city neighbourhood of Monti. Rome, Italy. (2008).

Even when hung from the ears, Pooh Bear takes a long time to dry in Rome's sweltering summer humidity. (2008).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

higher order thinking

Longer days inspire fewer words in this quiet starfish and waffles summer. Thinking past due, actions speak loudest now. So that means I'm on the road again ... this time, with Connie, to the charmed wine country of Tuscany, then the chaotic civilization of Rome.

This June, Italy is imminent ... but do ruins or Renaissance lie beyond the bend? I don't know, but it's time to find out.

Arrivederci for now.

The silent city of Mdina, Malta - antithesis to touristed Tuscany and raucous Rome. With Malta in the rear-view mirror and Italy out in front, what lies beyond the bend? Stay tuned, and find out.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The blue waves of the sweeping Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) crescent softly along the pebbly beaches of Nice, France. (2008). This picture is best viewed large; click on the photo for a higher-resolution version.

It's just before dark. We take off our sandals. Smooth beach pebbles cool the bottoms of our feet, but the hushed roar of the sea kindles our senses warm.

We walk speechless for a mile ... then, together, we sit with the glowing lights of the city behind us. Ahead, the water gradients a billion shades of blue, fading in luminance toward the ultimately sightless horizon.

I look at you.

You smile.

Whether this is the beginning or the end, for the two of us, it'll never exactly be like this again.