hanh's dream

Certosa di Padula (5)

From the kitchen we wandered out into yet another courtyard.

This one had a cloister on only one side, but the floor was fantastic despite the relative plainness of the rest of this area.

Through a passageway off this courtyard was another courtyard with clearly a more workaday function.
hanh's dream

Certosa di Padula (3): the chapel

I don't think I've ever seen anything like this chapel. By now I've been in quite a few Italian churches full of painting on every available square inch of space. But this one was just full of light by comparison.

The choir stalls with just unbelievable inlaid wood.

I don't know what these are, but I would guess they are fetishes.

The altar is decorated with a technique that is supposed to look like inlay work, and it does, but it isn't. There is a name for this technique, but I've forgotten.

According to the security guard, the blank panels used to contain frescoes that were stolen by Napoleon.

More to come.
hanh's dream

Certosa di Padula (2)

In the entrance hall where you buy your ticket.

From the ticket office you enter the first of several cloisters.

Then you go into an antechamber to the chapel where there are on display a number of extremely old books. This book, for example, was published in 1570.

From the old books room you also get your first glimpse into the chapel.
hanh's dream

Certosa di Padula

I have a large collection of photos that I took in October 2011 and never got around to posting here. As it's Saturday night and I'm doing nothing at all, I'm going to try to catch up a bit.

The Cilento National Park is a strange place with some non-contiguous sections separated by a so-called 'buffer zone'. This buffer zone is the Valle del Diano, a narrow, elongated, completely flat plain between two mountain ranges. There is a freeway through the middle and the Diano seems to have been forced into a dead straight concrete channel that feeds irrigated agriculture. In short, most of the Valle del Diano is characterised by industrialized agriculture and architecturally nondescript towns. From Fogna, where we were staying, you have to drive over the western mountain range (steep climb + winding road = car sickness for me; happens every time!). At the southern end of the Valle is the Certosa di Padula, a Carthusian monastery nestled into the side of the eastern range. The Carthusians were a silent order, and they originally owned vast tracts of land extending down to the Gulf of Taranto (the instep of the Italian boot). Nowadays the monastery is part of the Cilento World Heritage area, excised from the rest of the buffer zone and included in the National Park. The Certosa is a truly fabulous place - one of the more amazing historical monuments I've ever seen. I took masses of photos, so I'm going to present them in a series of posts.

First, the approach and the grounds. First up is the view from the car park. I don't know if this palazzo ever belonged to the monastery, but it gives a good idea of the flatness of the land. Looking towards the western side of the valley.

Then you have to walk along a narrow, tree-lined street with the wall of the monastery on your left and a view of the village of Padula, on the edge of the eastern range, ahead.

After about half a kilometre you turn into the entry courtyard of the Certosa. It was too big to get into my viewfinder! So here you see just one side of it.

On entering this forecourt we had to decide whether to go into the park or into the building. We chose the park.

There was a dry well with a spiral staircase. From N, aged not quite 2.5 at the time, we learned that throwing stuff into the well was the obvious thing to do. Fortunately, unlike others, the only things he could find to throw were sticks, leaves and so on. Most of the other stuff was plastic.

An elegant side gate.

We occupied quite a lot of our time throwing sticks up into the trees and making the autumn leaves flutter down on N's head.

Eventually you come out of the woods to some open fields.

... with sheep and some very vigilant dogs!

Cute caterpillar.

Finally, this track leads back towards the monastery buildings.
hanh's dream

Coming down the mountain

Some pictures taken as we came down the mountain after our snow adventure. A lot of the higher landscape is very barren, but is still used to graze cattle in the summer months.

Below the snowline we saw horses grazing. The one with the bell is the leader. These horses are used for meat.

Further down we got a view of basically the entire river basin in which most of the villages of the Alto Cilento are located. The two that can be seen here are Valle del Angelo on the left and Piaggine on the right. The trees down here still had their autumn foliage at Christmas and the colours are stunning.

The view further to the northwest. Valle del Angelo in the foreground and you can see a couple of other villages in the distance. I think they are Bellosguardo and Roscigno on the other side of the river.

Still further down. Getting close to Piaggine and the fields of olive trees.
hanh's dream

Bonn Christmas market

At the end of the first day of the workshop we went on an excursion to the Christmas market

It was fun, but freezing. The stalls had products from all over the place. I bought myself an Indian shawl. No idea whence all the wooden things in this photo came from, but note the didgeridoos at the stall behind it.

We stopped for a gluhwein (sp?). I remember having that when I was young, but it was too sweet. This one was perfect - warm, spicy and not at all sweet. Unfortunately it was way too cold to hang around there for too long.

Afterwards we went to an Italian restaurant called the Cat House (!). Germanized italian food.
hanh's dream

Final post about my Darwin trip

I've been meaning to post this picture for ages. There are many unpleasant aspects to Aboriginal life in the Northern Territory, and also in Darwin. Mostly in Darwin they seem to be related to alcoholism and the sometimes life-threatening behaviours (like lying down to sleep in the middle of somebody's driveway, domestic violence, etc.) and poor health outcomes that can result. There's also an informal system of apartheid in most of northern Australia - like the sign I saw in an outback pub once saying that Aborigines were not permitted to drink in the front bar. When I asked the barman about it, he said that they preferred it that way. They liked to sit outside in the beer garden. So why have the sign then? is the obvious retort. So I was a bit surprised to see this scene when my friend and I sat down for a drink in a pub in the middle of Darwin. Just a normal after-work gathering of colleagues.

In Darwin there's a clear divide which you can see on the buses. The back part of the bus is 'reserved' for Aboriginal drunks - other people just don't go there. The front part is for white people and non-drunk Aborigines. But white people are also sometimes drunk - I once sat next to a guy who had a rather obvious case of the DTs and was also shouting incoherently at nobody. So the divide is partly black-white, and partly based on the level of inebriation. On the whole, I thought the degree of segregation manifested in Darwin was not so great as elsewhere.
hanh's dream

The Rhine

I confess that before I went there, I had no idea that Bonn was on the Rhine. I found it out by studying the map in my hotel room, so the next morning I went for a walk to see it - the famous river that I'd never seen before. There were little patches of snow lying around and puddles that were essentially ice, so I had to walk rather gingerly through the park in front of the hotel. Then I climbed up something called the Alte Zoll (which I think means old customs) from where there is a good view of the river, which is impressively large. The first thing I saw was this big industrial barge, amusingly called Little Flower (a bit like those smoke belching tractors in Vietnam called Lotus and Peach Blossom).

Looking towards the south, the view opens up more towards the hills and the struggling sun. The tall buildings are in a precinct where all the government buildings used to be - and where our workshop was held.

Most of this old part of Bonn seems to be architecturally 18th-19th century, but I liked the new building by the river. It's sort of Mondriaanish and I like the fact that the vertical lines are not symmetrical. I'd have liked to be able to take more time to explore the old city centre, but I had to go back to my room and spend the day reading papers.
hanh's dream

Female train driver

As I was leaving Italy a couple of weeks ago and waiting on the platform at Napoli Centrale, I noticed that the FrecciaRossa (Italian TGV) coming into the station was being driven by a woman. I was infatuated with trains as a small child, but soon learned that train driving wasn't for girls, so it was a kind of extra pleasure to see that.