Sunday, April 27, 2014

Massafra Caves

This was my second visit to Massafra, a city just north of Taranto.  The first visit was to the city center, this visit was to the famous Massafra caves and the Madonna Della Scala.
 This is one of few valleys that run through the city of Massafra, the tour today will go down into this valley where the church and caves are located.
 Next to the church is a crypt with many old frescos, this is one of the Madonna.
 I think these frescos date back to the 1700's.
These are the stairs, or the 'della scala' that leads down to the church at the base of the valley.  The legend is that it's not possible to count how many steps this stair case has.  No mater how careful you are, if you count steps walking down, you will always get a different number when you try to verify your count by going up the staircase. 
 The church Santuario Della Madonna Della Scala was completed in the year 1731.
 The interior is simple, but hey, this structure is over 280 years old.
 The back of the church is the trailhead that walks thought the valley and onto the caves.
 There are many caves with many ways to enter.   The cave we were given a tour of used a ladder to get to the first floor landing.
 But the first floor landing was just a transfer to a second ladder that leads up to the main floor.
 The caves are amazing, these were all carved out of the valley walls.  Years ago people lived in this area of Massafra but for a numbers of reasons including many earthquakes the caves are not abandoned.
 You can look across the valley and see other caves.
 This particular cave was huge with many rooms.  To enter some rooms you need to pass through little openings.
 No one was sure what the little pockets cut into the wall were for but I assume at one time they were filled with statues or decerations.
 I was walking around the cave with my head kind of kept low, although this room had a a high ceiling other rooms did not, I wanted to avoid walking into a rock.
 The path between the cave and church was nice too, very nice nature.
 The current set of stairs that lead down to the church was built in 1899, about 160 years after the church was complete.  I was wondering what was in the stairs place before the current stairs.
Massafra is not a place you would normall visit but if you have time it's worth the effort.  To tour the caves, I think you need to contact the mayor or information desk to schedule it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ciro Annicchiarico

In the old town of Grottaglie is a stone mural that although I walked past it many times I could never quite figure out what was being depicted.
Today I walked past a restaurant in a different part of old town and noticed name of the restaurant thought restaurant and the stone mural might be related.
Google was able to confirm my suspicion was correct, the guy in the stone mural is Ciro!
Ciro was born in 1775 in the city of Grottaglie and in his youth entered the priesthood.  But before becoming a priest he started a gang and murdered many people, the first of which is shown in the upper left hand corner of the mural.
As a gang leader, Ciro claimed to be the ancient Roman God of Jupiter, most gang members believed him.  In 1817 Ciro was executed in a nearby city of Francavilla Fontana for the murder of 70 people and other crimes...
Not the most appropriate post for easter day, but hey, learn something new everyday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Welcome to Glasgow

I made my second visit to Scotland and my first visit to Scotland's second largest city.  As you step off the train from London, first thing you see if Welcome to Glasgow.  This place is at your feet, which could not be more true!
 The Virgin train from London, it's about four and a half hours from Euston Station.  This train is great, the free wifi is about as fast as Italian internet.
 Glasgow central has connections all over the United Kingdom.
 As you exit the station you walk right into central Glasgow and if you exit from the north exit you walk right into the shopping area.
 Everyone likes the pope.
 This is the Art Gallery of Glasgow, I could not tell if the orange cone on the statue was Art, political statement or vandalism.   Or maybe all three.
 America has dollar shops, Japan has hyaku-en shoppu, United Kingdom has the POUND SHOP.
 If spoken in Hiberno-English, this activity would be referred to as 'taking money out of the wall.'
 All over Glasgow, and Europe, are some great murals / graffiti. If you enjoy the Art of the Squirrel, this painting is a must see on anyones European tour.
 Nature and hiking was a theme of Glasgow graffiti.
 Except for this one of a cat who just finished eating a cute bird (seen to the left of this painting).  Bad cat!  Nice Car!
Bridge over the River Clyde.
 This bar was closed during my morning walk through the city, but, what more does a bar need.  
 Never, Never park illegally in Glasgow.  They don't toe your car here, they pick it up and drive it away.  This is why I only Italy, you can park almost anywhere, no one seems to care. I think you could talk your way out of this situation in Italy.  Or at a minimum you could call up someone who knows the guy towing your car.
Glasgow is a great place to visit, very relaxed, but if you only have time to visit one city in Scotland, goto Edinburgh first.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sunset Over Taranto

Spring is here!  This past weekend was the return of day light savings, now I can BBQ into the evening, well past 7pm.  I'm lucky that my roof top faces towards the Ionian (Ionio) sea, in the direction of the sunset.
Lots of air traffic over Italy, most of these planes are heading in the direction of Paris and London.
 Good night for a glass of wine.  Recommendation: Cantine Due Palme Serre Susumaniello  Salento Rosso 2011... Locale.
I hate to see the evening sun go down.