(Happy Thanksgiving to Your Family!)
Lisa, Lucas and I are thankful for each other, our health, our home, our friends, the good food and wine God graced us with, the beauty of nature... and we're also thankful for the visits of our Grand Voyage Italy friends. We are blessed with the fruits of our garden, the wide variety of trees growing around us, the sightings of turkeys, racoons, eagles, hawks, frogs and deer. We are blessed also with the warmth of our new fireplace, the music that surrounds us, the coziness of our beds, and the creations from our cucina that grace our table.
We treasure memories from our lives past and look forward to our future adventures together, hopefully in visiting La Bel Paese once again, perhaps visiting the many Finzi cugini we have met on our Garden of the Finzi Famiglia page on Facebook. Most of all, we are thankful for the Creator and all the wonders he has given to us all on this beautiful, big blue marble of a planet...
We all hope you are having the very best Thanksgiving ever.
Felice Ringraziamento tutti!
--Jerry, Lisa and Lucas Finzi
Italy is much more interesting than just going there to check off "must see" tourist sites from a list. And there's more than one way to take a Voyage around the country. In a country shaped like a boot, surrounded by crystal clear seas on three sides, filled with volcanic activity in both the people and geology, and with architecture that goes back hundreds if not thousands of years... and being the birthplace of the world's most favorite foods--pasta and pizza--well, this place makes for one hell of a visit...
from space on Google Earth.
First, take a look at this straight looking shape jutting out over half a mile into the Adriatic Sea at Trave, Italy? It looks like a man made jetty with boats anchored on the leeward side. Well, it's not man made. It's a natural geological formation--a angled uplift of layers of ancient seabed that you can see in the second photo going straight op the mountain. The effects of vulcanism in Italy are amazing to see.
What do you think these strange arrow shapes are that I came across on Google Earth while trolling around Trevignano, Viturbo on Lago di Bracciano? They are an interesting type of fish trap called an arrowhead trap. Fish swim toward shore, then when they swim out to deeper water again, they get trapped in the arrowhead. They look very cool when seen from above.
How about these circular shapes I found just off the southern coast of the Gargano Peninsula in Puglia? Yep... floating fish farms.
This wasn't planned.... or was it? Looks like a bull dog puppy staring into the eyes of his master.
I wish we were seeing more of this next one in the States. This is one of the largest solar power plants in Italy. It's almost a mile long and produces 70 megawatts, enough to power over 16,500 Italian homes. Why aren't we doing this here in the U.S.?
Everyone knows what this shows... snow on mountaintops, right? Wrong. This image shows mountains entirely made of white marble, just outside of Carerra where Michelangelo found David hidden in a huge hunk of the stuff.
Another jetty? No... it's actually a shipwreck, left there to rust. Italy has a decent number of these wrecks making their coastline much more than just a place to lay out in your Speedo.
This is the Italian Space Agency's radio telescope field in Ortuccio in Abruzzo, but Google Earth shows the importance of this complex. Built in 1963, the Fucino Telespazio Center contains over 100 working dish antenna radio telescopes.
I was checking Google Earth for the location of a museum in the town of Mantova (also, Mantua) in northern Italy when I saw this sight. Mantova is a town with three man made lakes surrounding it (built as protection in the 12th century). In one of the lakes is this mile long leaf shape. It's the Isola del Fior (Flower Island), not an island at all, but a one mile long bed of water lilies.
This one is a shocker. I knew where it should be, but I didn't know Google Earth actually had an image of it.... Here's the Costa Concordia laying on it's side, as view from space. AMAZING!
And now, how about a little salt on your steak? Sea salt, that is. Yes, these are salt drying marsh pens in Trapani, Sicily. They flood the fields with seawater and let the sun do its work.
Now this one is one of the oddest things I've found on Google Earth. Believe it or now, this huge pattern is concrete--covering the ruins of an entire town that was destroyed in an earthquake. The artist entombed household items--dolls, beds, chairs, tables--in this web of concrete. The really strange thing is, the pattern are actually the old streets where people can visit and wander through this oddity. Read more about Cretto do Gibellina HERE.
Then there is this strange, pie-sliced pattern, looking very much like an interesting pizza. This is the town of Cerignola, in Puglia. I find it fascinating the way they've developed the roads and farmers' fields into this radiating pattern. It reminds of how Washington DC's avenues or the les Grands Boulevards in Paris radiate out from a central point, like the Etoile. Very cool.
In the end, this one gets my vote as the absolute strangest sighting found on Google Earth: The giant white rabbit in the Italian Alps. An art installation on a mountaintop, it has suffered the ravages of the Alpine extreme weather--along with and hikers and skiers climbing all over it. The current Google Earth image shows a mere road-kill outline of the bunny's former self.
I hoped you enjoyed this bird's-eye view of la Bel Paese...
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Here's a photo of the "We Three" Jack-o-Lanterns for this year...
Babbo (Dad) did the "Green Man" on the left, Lisa created a great eye-gouging homage to the last Walking Dead episode, and Lucas created his Android Man.
Casa Malaparte is a house in the Italian Moderne style on Punta Massullo, a peninsula on the eastern side of the Isle of Capri, Italy. The house was conceived in 1937 by Italian architect Adalberto Libera for Curzio Malaparte. Malaparte eventually rejected Libera's design and built the home himself with the help of Adolfo Amitrano, a local stonemason.
Casa Malaparte looks like it was designed by my son in Minecraft--a strange, fish-shaped building with pyramidal stairs clinging to the edge of a hundred-foot cliff at the edge of Gulf of Salerno. Access to this private property is either by a half mile trek from the edge of the Town of Capri, or by boat and a staircase cut into the cliff.
When we recently brought our son, Lucas, to visit Liberty Island and to see his grandfather's name on the Immigrant Wall of Honor on Ellis Island, our eyes, hearts and minds couldn't help focusing on the new Liberty Tower across the Hudson in Manhattan, and to the empty space in the sky where our beloved Twin Towers once stood. Lisa and I felt it strongly. Lisa used to work in the Towers when she first started her career in the financial industry. Once during a power blackout, she actually had to walk down 102 floors in the narrow, over-crowded, pitch black stairway to get back to ground level. Because of this, she had a first hand feel for what a nightmare it must have been for rescuers and workers alike trying to negotiate their way through the inadequately sized and poorly lit stairways of the Twin Towers during that frightening and terrible ordeal.
As a teen, I watched from the New Jersey Palisades as the Towers started going up. They became part of the New York skyline just about the time when I was starting my career as a photographer in Manhattan. I had been to them many times as a businessman in Manhattan visiting either the City, State or Internal Revenue offices that were tenants there. I had shopped and eaten lunch in the Mall underground. In later years, I cycled past them daily on my ten-mile bicycle rides along the Hudson and East Rivers. Whenever I left home, the Towers were there at the foot of Manhattan or in the nighttime illuminated skyline as I drove back from Kennedy Airport. I also have done a lot of boating around Manhattan waters, the Twin Towers always shining down on us or glowing like a beacon at night. I once was fortunate enough to fly in a vintage biplane within close range to the Towers, looking up at them from my windy, piston-firing perch. That was quite an experience.
On 9/11, Lisa was working down on Wall Street, only a half block from the Twin Towers. For some reason or other, Lisa had decided to work at home on 9/11. Her plan was originally to go down into the shopping mall underneath the Towers to buy me a present for our upcoming wedding anniversary. She had planned to shop early in the morning, before starting work. That would have been around 9am.
We didn't even think of this as we watched the first Tower burn, and then saw the second plane crash into the second Tower on live TV that horrible, bright sunny morning. It was only when we saw the first tower collapse that we suddenly looked at each other, realizing the happenstance that kept Lisa away from this disaster that morning.
This changed our life forever. When we saw the madness in the world, we decided to concentrate on making our own little part of the world better... and have a child.
Lucas is our tribute to the souls lost on 9/11. In August of 2003 he was born--three weeks early and anxious to start his new adventure. He is all love. He is everything that is right about the world. He is our hope for the future. He is our way to fight back against the madness and leave our amazing boy to hopefully make the world a better place... even if only in his small part of it.
Remembering the glory of those magnificent Towers and the Souls lost on that terrible day...
Macchina is another word Italians use when referring to their car. Sure, they say auto too, but most people seemed to use the word macchina (MAK-eena). Even in the Godfather, when Michael tells Fabrizio to get the car (just before Apollonia gets blown up), he uses the word macchina. Macchina also means machine. Sure. Makes sense. You have to examine the Italian psyche to figure out why they think of their vehicles as machines.
I think of how they drive. With abandon. Seemingly fearless, not afraid to die. They will pass you on a blind curve with a cliff on one side and nothing on the other. They will pass you on a straightaway but wait until there is a car in the opposite oncoming lane so they can pass in between both cars. Towns like Naples or Bari don't have stop lights where you think they'd be, and even when there is a red light, the driver commands his machine to ignore it--and the cross traffic.
Is it bravado? Is it too much wine? Perhaps it's just that they trust their car more... their macchina. Think of the expression "a well oiled machine". Consider the Italian race driver who trusts his car more than his wife. Consider the little, treroute (three-wheeler) which is seen hauling everything from grapes to cement to olives to hay to furniture or cases of wine. The slow-poked three wheeler will be seen on unpaved farm paths, the streets of Rome, and even the Autostrada. It might be taking a bride to her wedding, hauling trash or rigged out to sell gelati.
Then you have the tiny cars... the CinqueCento (Fiat 500), the Pandas, the Puntas, the Smart ForTwo and those one person cycle-cars. Americans buy cars because of the emotional feeling it gives them... cars gives us a persona. Not the Italian driver. He is more practical, seeing his vehicle as a machine--macchina--a tool to get things done. Sometimes la macchina does specific tasks, other times more like a multi-tool or a Swiss Army knife--the treroute again. Small means you can park anywhere--literally--anywhere. Small means you can drive down the white line like a scooter. Small means you'll never get stuck in a ultra-narrow street in a small village. Small means you can have a parking space in your home, even if it's a tiny little platform hanging over the edge of a cliff--or on your roof, or in a small cave (I saw all three types on the Amalfi Coast.) One was a concrete pad hanging over thin air with barely enough space to fit a teeny Fiat Panda with the sea below. Check out the photo on the left.
Paul Simon sings, "Cars are cars. All over the world." Not so, Paul. Not so. In Italy they are machines. Tools. Macchine. Even the Pope has his PopeMobile... a very specialized tool.
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