Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Ostuni Bowling Sign

I live in the Italian region of Puglia, the high heel of the boot.  But within Puglia there seems to be a very limited number of bowling alleys. I say this because to find one from where I live in Grottaglie you just have to follow these signs.
Follow the arrow sends you on a 26.8km (16 miles) trip across the heel of Italy, about a 40 minute drive.  Along the route there is about 10 signs that seamlessly guides through and around a couple of towns before reaching the southwest corner of the city of Ostuni.  But this is the problems start, the signs lead you up to the city boarder and end, at this point you are on your own.  From the southwest side where the signs end to the northeast side where the bowling alley is takes about another 20 minutes to find.  On that sign, I could not figure out what Q.Zar is.
Best of all, to get home you just follow signs back to Grottaglie.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1972 Jupiter-12 Lens

Jupiter is a brand of rangefinder camera lenses made in Russian by a company called KOMZ and later by another company called LZOS, production started around 1942.  In the past when I was visiting used camera shops in Japan I would always keep my eyes open for these Russian made lenses but had very limited luck finding them. A few months ago when I the visited Prague, I stopped in the  camera store called Centrum Foto҆koda and found a small collection of Russian made lenses including the 35mm Jupiter-12 lens.  Of course you can find this stuff on eBay, but that's no fun.
I tried and it worked without an issue on my M8.  There is actually a lot of information about these lenses on the internet.  This particular copy was made at the LOZS factory just southeast of Moscow in the city of Lytkarino. 
 The bottom of the lens says "Made in USSR", but I'm not sure why this is printed in English.   This copy was made in 1972 (you can tell by the serial number, first 2 digits) making it over 40 years old. This lens is also a copy of a German Zeiss 35mm lens form the mid-1930's.
It's amazing, but this lens is very capable of taking good photos, here are a few random shots from old town Grottaglie.
A light outside the main church.
To correctly take color photos, the Leica M8 needs a UV/IR on the front of the lens, without it some colors are not correct, black sometimes become purple.  The Jupiter-12 has a non-standard filter threads, so using a filter is not possible... One way around this is to convert photos to black and white.
 A ceramic phone on the side of a building.
Some random street signs... Parking in the direction of private property?... This lens is the most antique shopping that I have done in years!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Drift-Trike Grottaglie

The South-West side of Grottaglie, about 1/3 of the city is built on a face of a hill.  My apartment is actually in the middle of the hill, so except for the pizzeria across the street, I need to go up or down whenever I go somewhere.  This weekend I noticed a flyer for Drift-Trike, and I guess the hill that runs through Grottaglie makes this a perfect location for drifting.
Most events in Grottaglie are easy to find, just follow the arrows.
First things first, the trikes need to get from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill, I assume they would just walkup.  But nope, they were pulled by a Fiat Multipla.... Worlds most ugly car.
This would not pass the US suburban definition of safe.
 It was funny, the group of drifters were getting some direction from the local municipal police officer.  This went on for 10 minutes, they would talk, the police would walk away for a few minutes talking on the phone.  And eventually return to tell them something.  After awhile what ever the issue was, was resolved and everyone went back to drifting.
Course clear.
And this is drift-trike'ing.
 Compared to the movie, The Fast and the Ferious: Tokyo Drift, except for drifting this is the complete opposite.  Most of the trikes had wheels covered in plastic, so they were drifting all over the place.
 It was kind of like a race, but not really.  I think more effort was put into the performance of the trike drifting down the street.
 Usually Drift-Trike does not use the city of Grottaglie as their track, but use the small mountains outside the city for drifting.  They are a club too, if I can find a garage, I might need to try making one of these things.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Pompeii is the ruins of an old ancient Roman city that was re-discoved about 250 years ago.  It was lost for a while after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the city in 25 meters of ash in 79 AD.
 The site opens at 8:30am and it turns out arriving at 8:20am is a good idea.  For at least an hour or two you can enjoy Pompeii with very few other people inside the park.
 It's also a good plan to visit just after a rain, makes the sunlight reflecting off the stone sidewalks very dramatic.
 This is an old amphitheater, it's in amazing condition and still used today.  But the seating area also has lights embedded into the stone... so some aspects of this structure is not original in the name of modern day safety.
 This is famous tile work of a dog, it's basically an ancient 'beware of dog' sign.
 Who ever lived here did some amazing tile work, this is looking into the living area where the 'beware of dog' sign is.
... 8:30am... That last time I arrived at a popular tourist spot this early in the morning is when I reached the summit of Mt. Fuji, 30 minutes after sunrise.  :) 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Amalfi is a town centered on the Amalfi coast of Italy.
 Getting to the city of Amalfi is half the fun, if you decided to drive it's a winding road along an amazing coast.  I would recommend a small sports car, something like a Lotus Elise, for this drive.  Lots of crazy tight turns with bus' as oncoming traffic and hill climbs.
 The piazza is filled with restaurants and other shops.
 On the day we visited a live marching band keep playing jingle bells and We are the World.  This band might play daily or at least on the weekends.
 A water fountain in the Piazza del Duomo.
 The city of Amalfi is kind of small, every intersection has signs to help you get around.
 Duomo di Amalfi!
Looking north from the entrance of Piazza del Duomo


The Godfather movies were based in Corleone but that's not where they were filmed, one of the smaller cities the series was filmed at was Savoca.  Savoca is on the east side of Sicily, not far from the ferry crossing from mainland Italy.
 This is the bar where in Godfather II the wedding scene left the church and walked down to a circle of family.  Today it's under restoration.
 The town looks like  a post card.
 The clock tower is Church Saint Nicola, again from the wedding scene in Godfather II.
 Museo is Italian for Museum, but it was closed on the day we visited.
 Coppola was here!