Monday, April 25, 2011

An elevating start . . .

. . . to my week

Or not.

I leave for work at about 5:45 a.m., and arrive around 6:15.  On most days, there are only a couple of people in the building at that time.

Usually, I use the stairs - exercise, and all that.  Today I was a bit tired because of a big Easter weekend and decided to take the elevator.

It's only one floor, but in the middle of the ride, the elevator lurched, bounced, than ground to a halt.  So, here I am in a stalled elevator.  The building is virtually empty, and all the local Italian employees are on holiday.  And no bars on my cell phone.

Not to worry.  There's a call button - which, luckily, connects directly to base security.  It took a while for security to understand who I was and where I was stuck. 

Guessing it would take a while for the cavalry to arrive, I had just started to sit in the corner with a good book when the doors started to open. 

Special tools?  Electronics?  No.  Just three burly Italians prying the doors open with their bare hands.

It turned out the elevator stalled just four inches from my floor.

No harm, no foul.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

There's no point . . .

. . . to this video

Except to show you what we have to put up with almost every waking hour. 

I understand why the Italians keep dogs.  There is quite a bit of crime here, and a dog provides some warning.  But what is the worth of the warning if it never stops?

Our American neighbors have their dogs socialized, and they only bark when someone strange comes to the gate.  Our Italian neighbors next door and down the street just let them howl.  Luckily they are fairly quiet at night.

Graphical . . .

. . . math

Nature by Numbers from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

Vir 'o mare quant’è bello . . .

. . . Ispira tantu sentimento

Don't try to translate this one.  It's in Napolitano, which even most Italians can't understand.  You might recognize the Dean Martin version, though.  He sings it in Italiano.

Friday night, we decided to drive to Sorrento the next morning for pizza.  I know, there are many more exciting things to eat here than pizza, but Sorrento has Da Gigino Pizza a Metro (pizza by the meter). 

Yes, you can buy a pizza two meters (6.54 feet) long.

We didn't.  We opted for the plate-sized pizza - about 12" in diameter.

The pizza was OK.  Better than anything we ever had in the States, but not as good as the restaurant in Ravello. 

After lunch, we decided to drive around the Amalfi coast through Positano, Praino, Amalfi, Minori and Maiori, then over the mountains back to Napoli.

I didn't take many photos because the traffic was very heavy, and there was almost nowhere to pull over.  For about 20 kilometers in the Amalfi area, every inch of the right side of the road was nose to tail with cars.  That left a lane-and-a-half for two lanes of traffic, including the occasional tour bus.

Then, there were the Italians who decided to stop in the middle of the road to shop or chat or even park for 10 or 15 minuts.  Couple that with Ms. Garmin losing her mind now and then, a large funeral and the Easter weekend festivities, we averaged about 25 miles per hour.

With the views of the Amalfi coast, however, who cares?

An overlook in Vico Equense northeast of Sorrento.

Cliffs outside Sorrento with Vesuvio in the background.

An ancient stairway cut into the cliffside. 

Vico Equense 

Italian builders are not afraid of any project.

Sorrento lemon, anyone?
(Update.  Not a lemon, but rather a citron - and useless)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Posted . . .

. . . a bit late

But on April 3, Mrs. B and I drove to Vomero to tour the Certosa di San Martino.

The Carthusian order, or order of St. Bruno of Cologne, was founded in 1038. The Carthusians did not follow the rules of the Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines), but rather had their own rules called Statutes. This particular monestary, or more properly hermitage, was built in 1368 and dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (316 - 397 AD).

The drive was interesting, primarily because it was through the downtown streets of old naples to the top of Vomero hill.

It was made interesting because my guide, the sometimes reliable Ms. Garmin, was off her game that day. She kept telling me to turn AFTER I entered an intersection rather than before. Between Ms. Garmin calling the wrong turns and the transit strike filling Napoli with thousands of extra cars and scooters, the drive took longer than the tour of the monastery.

The Carthusians, who spent most of their time in their cells writing and praying, were noted for their patience and craftsmanshop.

I believe the photographs below bear that out.

The altar and surrounding room are crafted mostly from marble, with inlays and joinery that would baffle a master woodworker. The patience necessary to work marble with this amount of precision is incomprehensible to me.

What appears to be a quiet garden in the cloister is a burial ground for the monks. True to their ascetic lifestile, there are no grave markers. The carved stone skulls on the surrounding wall are a reminder of its real purpose.

Another view of the altar showing the frescoes and giltwork in the vaulted ceiling.