Tag Archives: Italy

9 May 2018:
Portofino, Italy:
A Fine Port, With or Without Dolphins

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

No one would ever blame you if thought the name of this lovely town and harbor meant “Fine Port.”

Alas, that’s merely a coincidence.

Portofino is truly a fine port.

But according to Pliny the Elder, the great Roman chronicler of the first century, Portofino was founded by the Romans and they named it Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf.

The dolphins are mostly gone now, replaced by swarms of tourists who come to see the fine harbor.

I went with a group of guests up the hill on the promontory on the left side of the harbor to Castello Brown. Here is some of what we saw:

Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Castello Brown is a former fortification, now converted to a private residence. The hike up the hill and the stairs at the castle were quite a workout, but well worth the effort.

Midway to the castle we stopped at the Church of San Giorgio, where the castle was framed by a cemetery with one of the world’s best views.

Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Back down in town, Portofino was as attractive as ever.

All photos copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

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Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

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8 May 2018:
Livorno, Italy:
Gateway to Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re here in the city of Livorno, Italy’s second-largest port (after Genoa.)

I’ve been to Livorno many times and I always find it interesting, perhaps because almost all tourists have headed elsewhere, mostly to its famous inland neighbors: Pisa, Florence, Lucca, and Sienna among them.

Livorno, home to about 160,000 today, was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance, among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals.

LIVORNO

On this visit, we stayed in town and made a pilgrimage to an unusual church: very unassuming on the outside, with an unadorned exterior around its octagonal core. Within, something very different.

The church of Santa Catarina was completed in 1753 in the New Venice district. Its dome is 63 meters or 207 feet., higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The altar includes a painting by Giorgio Vasari.

FLORENCE

Florence is just under two hours northeast by car or train.

It is a place that is famous for the its amazing art and architecture, and it never fails to deliver on that promise.

At its center is the Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori, begun in 1296 and completed in 1436. It is topped by Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest, and for that reason it is known as Il Duomo, the dome.

PISA

Then there’s this city with the defective tower. (The Tiltin’ Hilton, as it was nicknamed by American G.I.s who were tasked with taking the city from German occupiers and somehow managed to do so without destroying the tower.)

Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500.

In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman king Roger I, liberated Palermo from the Saracen pirates.

The gold he took from the Saracens allowed the Pisans to start building a cathedral.

The Tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo).

Construction began in 1173.  Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast.

The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil.

Construction halted for almost a century.

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction. Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the chamber with seven bells added in 1372.

On January 7, 1990, after several heart-stopping sudden shifts, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to take some weight off the top, and cables were fastened around the third level and anchored several hundred yards away.

The tower was straightened slightly by removing soil beneath the raised end.

In May 2008, engineers removed even more earth from the high side of the tower, and they declared it had been stabilized to the point where it had stopped moving for the first time in its history.

Prior to the restoration, the tower leaned 5.5 degrees.

Today the tower tilts a mere 3.99 degrees southwest.

As corrected, the top of the tower is 12 feet, 10 inches (3.9 meters) from where it would be if the tower were perfectly vertical.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

6 May 2018:
An Expanded Welcome from Civitavecchia, Italy:
A Renewed Spirit Returns

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Welcome aboard the Silver Spirit, fresh from one of the most spectacular renovations in luxury cruise ship history.

I think the hyperbole is warranted.

Silver Spirit entered a drydock in Palermo at the start of March as a handsome ship of 195.8 meters (642.4 feet), and emerged in early May stretching 210.7 meters (691 feet).

Photo courtesy Silversea Cruises.

How did they do that? It was not a stretch but rather a matter of cutting and pasting.

Shipyard workers cut the ship into two pieces in the drydock and then carefully maneuvered a 15-meter or 49-foot-long new section into place.

There followed weeks of welding, reattachment of cables and pipes, and a stem-to-stern refresh of the interior decor and amenities.

All this for a ship that before the operation was already one of the most luxurious and attractive vessels in service, first put into service in 2009.

Here’s a photo I took of the ship from across the Golden Horn in Istanbul a few years ago:

Silver Spirit now has 34 more suites, several more restaurants, a larger pool and spa.

And later today, we sail will from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, on her first cruise in her new configuration. We’ll cross over to Porto-Vecchio on the island of Corsica, then back to the mainland of Italy for Livorno and Portofino. From there to Cannes and Marseille, France and in a week’s time pull into a 49-foot-longer parking space in Barcelona.

Here’s our plan:

I hope you’ll join me here for details.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

7 Oct 2016
Messina, Italy:
There But For Fortune

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Early Friday morning, we sailed south from Amalfi through the Tyrrhenian Sea into the funnel-shaped Strait of Messina.

On our left was the big toe at the bottom of the mainland of Italy.

To our right was the large island of Sicily, the football being kicked by Italy’s boot.

Almost anywhere the sea funnels into a strait, mariners know to expect strong and sometime treacherous currents.

And then down below us, the Eurasian plate is moving south toward the African plate. One of the hotspots, where the plates grind against each other, is southern Italy.

Which gives us Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, nearly constantly bubbling over like a bowl of Arrabiata sauce left on the burner.

The day dawned as a mix of blue sky and scary black clouds. We went up to the Duomo, recently emerged from restoration scaffolding.

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THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE

And then storm clouds of a different kind arrived.  Out in the harbor, an Italian Red Cross ship arrived.  It docked a few hundred feet behind Silver Cloud, met by squadrons of health care workers, police, and government officials.

Aboard were several hundred people plucked from the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya.  In the past few days,  I learned,  more than 6,000 arrived in Messina. Their past was so awful they chose to risk their lives to escape; their future is uncertain.

There but for fortune go you or I.

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A MESSINA ALBUM

Cathedral of Messina

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A TAORMINA AND MOUNT ETNA ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Hudson Book Cover

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

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6 Oct 2016
Amalfi, Italy:
The City in the Ravine

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We pulled up our anchor early this morning in the Bay of Sorrento and sailed south down the coast a few hours, which is a much more relaxing way to get to our destination than it is to endure the white-knuckle road called the Amalfi Drive.

The town of Amalfi today has a population of about 5,400 people, squeezed into a narrow ravine with a total area of 2.4 square miles or a bit over 6 square kilometers.

It has always been a small place, but at its peak about the year 1131, it occupied a slightly larger piece of coastline and had a population of about 70,000.

That was when little Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean.

Amalfi developed extensive trade with Byzantium and Egypt. Amalfitan merchants wrested the Mediterranean trade monopoly from the Arabs and founded mercantile bases in Southern Italy and the Middle East in the 10th century.

And Amalfitans were the first to create a colony in Constantinople.

AN AMALFI ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

 

5 Oct 2016
Sorrento, Italy:
What Volcano?

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Campania is one of the most beautiful, dramatic, and dangerous regions in coastal Italy. It stretches from Naples south to Sorrento and down the coast to Amalfi and Positano.

And visible from almost everywhere, the hulking presence of Mount Vesuvius: one of the world’s most threatening volcanoes.

VESUVIUS TODAY

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In between Naples and Sorrento are Pompeii and Herculaneum, two of the Roman settlements covered by the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79.

I went for guests on a return visit to Pompeii,  a place I have visited more times than I can remember and from which I always learn. Here are some photos from today.

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A SORRENTO ALBUM

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A POMPEII ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

 

4 Oct 2016
Civitavecchia, Port of Rome, Italy:
Shipping Out Again

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We arrived at the ancient port of Rome early this morning. Civitavecchia, as in Ancient City.

To guests leaving us here, we wish you arrivederci. Until we meet again. And welcome aboard to guests signing on for a voyage scheduled to head down the length of Italy, through the Strait of Messina, and a very tight squeeze through the Corinth Canal at the top of Pelopennisia in Greece.

From there we are due to call at the picture-perfect Greek island of Santorini before entering into the Aegean Sea.

Our cruise continues on to a few more perfect pictures of Greek islands: Patmos and Mykonos, before concluding in Piraeus, the port of Athens.

Here’s our plan:

MAP v1631 RE

A ROMAN ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Hudson Book Cover

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

 

2-3 Oct 2016
Livorno, Italy:
The Gateway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa. It’s a city of some interest itself, although most visitors hardly notice as they pass through to the inland.

From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze). Or join the throngs on a pilgrimage to one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. And there’s always beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

All such choices should be so rich.

Livorno was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance; it is among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.

In the late 1580s, Livorno was declared a porto Franco, a duty-free port. The Leggi_Livornine laws governed commerce and also granted freedom of religion; all were welcome if they contributed to the community.

Trade and freedom brought many immigrants: Armenians, Jews, Dutch, English, Greeks, Moriscos (Spanish Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism).

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals. Some canals remain in Livorno’s Venice district.

On this visit,  we choose to go local.  We took a city bus about 15 miles south of Livorno and then rode a creaky funicular (one of the oldest still in use,  dating from 1908) to the Santuario di Montenero.

It offers a great view of Livorno, and a glitzy 18th century Church with roots going back hundreds of years earlier.  The side chambers include some very unusual art: drawings and paintings depicting the deaths–mostly in accidents of various sorts–of some of the parishioners.

SANTUARIO DI MONTENERO

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A LIVORNO ALBUM

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PISA

Less than an hour north of Livorno is the city of Pisa, which at its peak was one of the maritime republics of this part of the world. How can an inland city be a maritime power? Well, the Arno River used to be navigable from Pisa all the way to the sea; it silted up and was one of the reasons Pisa went into relative decline.

Oh, and their celebratory campanile became dangerously defective. That sort of thing can happen when you build on wet and unstable soil.

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FLORENCE

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

You can help support this site by making purchases from
AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

 

1 Oct 2016
Portofino, Italy:
La Bella Figura

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Portofino, of course, is famous as a beautiful place.

If it seems familiar even if you’ve not been here before, perhaps you’ve seen it somewhere else.

There are recreations of Portofino’s harbor in Orlando, Florida at the Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios and another one at Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disneyland in Japan.

There are also real estate developments with a Portofino theme in Reston, Virginia and at Gulf Harbour on the Hibiscus Coast in New Zealand.

None are quite as handsome…or as small…as the real thing.

Elizabeth von Arnim, born in New Zealand in 1866 as Mary Annette Beauchamp, wrote more than 20 books, including “Mister Skeffington,” which was made into a movie in 1940 starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains.

In 1922, she wrote her novel “Enchanted April” while staying at Castello Brown which still stands above the harbor. That book was filmed in 1935 and then remade in 1992.

The novel tells the story of four very different women in 1920s England who leave their damp and rainy environs to go on a holiday to a secluded coastal castle in Italy.

The 1992 remake of “Enchanted April” was filmed on location at Castello Brown.

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On this cost,  I went with guests to Rapallo and Santa Margherita di Ligure, two larger towns on the coast. These are places with things not found in Portofino, like buses, trucks, and stop lights.

One highlight in Santa Margherita is the church of Saint Margaret of Antioch.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

 

28 Sep 2016
Alghero, Sardinia, Italy:
A Time Capsule at Sea

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sardinia is part of Italy, while its neighbor Corsica is part of France.

But Italian Sardinia is closer to France at the narrow strait near Corsica than it is to Italy. (Although, French Corsica is closer to Italy than France.)

And much of the architecture and a bit of the culture is still heavily influenced by the Spanish and the Habsburgs who ruled here for many centuries.

The Ozieri culture was here in the 4th millennium BC; while the Nuraghe civilization was active about 1500 BC. Scattered around Sardinia are thousands of megalithic ruins known as nuraghes in Sardinian or nuraghi in Italian.

The name is believed to come from an old word meaning heap of stones, or confusingly, a cavity in the earth. In any case, they are usually located in panoramic or strategic locations; about 8,000 have been cataloged. Historians say perhaps 30,000 once existed.

They date from the middle of the Bronze Age (18th-15th centuries BC). Many were still in use when Rome arrived in the 2nd century BC.

Alghero at the island’s northwest corner is an intriguing place to explore, a time capsule of many civilizations.

This year’s seemingly endless summer continues,  with midday temperatures in the 80s. Today,  Wednesday,  is market day in Alghero and we walked along the beachfront Lido to Viale Sardegna. The aroma of dozens of types of local cheeses advertised the location of the market a few blocks away.

MARKET DAY IN ALGHERO

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Here are some views of Alghero from previous visits.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

5-6 May 2016
Venice, Italy: Dominant and Serene


By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

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Venice is one of the most extraordinary places on earth.

A city afloat.

The grand remnants of a once-great Republic.

La Dominante. The Dominant.

La Serenissima. The most serene.

The City of Water.

The City of Bridges.

The City of Canals.

The City of Masks.

Most of all, a magical place that never fails to charm and amaze. We have been here more times than I can count, and we still are thrilled to return.

We arrived early this morning,  tying up at San Basillio along the Giudecca canal,  walking distance away from Saint Mark’s Square and a world away from the monster cruise ships around the corner at the terminal.

To guests leaving us here today, I wish you safe travels and arrivederci.

We spent our three full days in Venice basking in the late spring sun, and looking for new corners to explore. Here are some photos from this visit, including a view of Saint Mark’s Square with snow on the distant Alps taken from the campanile of St. Giorgio Maggiore across the Guidecca.

VENICE FROM ABOVE AND AFLOAT

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Saint Mark’s Square, with snow on the Alps in the background, as seen from the campanile of San Giorggio Maggiore.

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BURANO ISLAND

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TORCELLO ISLAND

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Depending who is doing the counting and sometimes on how high the water rises, modern Venice consists of about 124 islands that sit in the shallow and marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy between the mouths of the Po River to the south and the Piave to the north.

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It was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that the Republic of Venice rose to become a major maritime power, along with Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi.

At its peak, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Venetian Republic eliminated the pirates along the Dalmatian Coast, acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete, seized and sacked Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, establishing the Latin Empire in the process and became a major power-broker, trading with Western Europe as well as continuing to deal with the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world.

By the late thirteenth century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe.

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At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce.

Today, it has been invaded by tourists. That may seem quite a comedown, but the fact is that without tourism Venice would have returned to the swamp long ago.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

2 May 2016
Brindisi, Italy: At the Back of the Heel

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Brindisi is on the back of the heel of the boot of Italy on the Adriatic Sea, in the less-visited region of Apulia.

Because of its location, Brindisi was a very important place in the story of the pushback by Western Europe against the Muslim occupation of the Holy Land: the Crusades.

By sea, or overland, this was and is the path taken by ancient peoples and then the Greeks coming from the east.

The Romans moved the other direction to establish colonies all the way over to Byzantium which became Constantinople and then Istanbul.

And also further east into Cappadocia, Mesopotamia, and Babylonia.

To the south, to Aegyptus and Judaea or Jerusalem and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity.

Brundisium was connected with Rome by the Via Appia and a secondary road along the coast called the Via Traiana.

The Appian Way was used by many of the Crusaders heading down to the ports of Bari or Brindisi to embark by sea.

Remnants of the road still exist throughout central and southern Italy.

On the other side of the Adriatics was the Via Egnatia, built in the 2nd century BC to connect Durres in today’s Albania across to Constantinople, now Istanbul.

Brindisi became a place where Crusaders congregated, made plans and gathered provisions, and envisioned the Holy Land before they departed.

A theme park, if you will.

In Brindisi they could visit the Temple of Saint John Sepulchre, a circular church that was a faithful replica of the Anastasis Rotunda in the complex of the Holy City Selpulchre in Jerusalem.

And they could examine the scenes of the Holy Land depicted in mosaic on the floor of the Cathedral.

On this visit,  I went with guests to the city of Lecce, at the very bottom of Italy’s boot. Lecce is a very handsome place,  made wealthy through trade including export of the local Lecce stone, a form of limestone easily worked into grand cathedrals and statues.

They kept some of the stone for themselves,  and we toured Lecce with an enthusiastic art school graduate.

A LECCE ALBUM

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THE ROMAN THEATRE OF LECCE

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

1 May 2016
Taormina, Italy: A View to a Thrill

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

On the island of Sicily, Taormina offers one of the most spectacular views of the massive active volcano, Mount Etna. That peak is almost always bubbling or letting loose clouds of ash.

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Even this far south, Etna is usually capped by snow until deep into the summer. In Taormina, snow is less common but many mornings the locals must brush away white ash dropped on their doorsteps by Etna.

The most remarkable structure at Taormina is the Greek Theatre, one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily.

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It was built mostly of brick, and so archeologists say it probably actually dates from Roman times. But its plans are definitely Greek. Best guess: built during the 3rd century BC and rebuilt by the Romans during the 2nd century AD.

It is the second largest theatre of its kind in Sicily, after one in Syracuse.

Its acoustics are exceptional: a stage whisper can be heard in the last rows.

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A view of our ship at anchor,  seen through one of the arches along the stage of the Greek Theatre of Taormina

It is still used for opera, theater, concerts, and a glamorous film festival each summer. And over the centuries, more than a few performances have been enhanced by a show of flame, lava, and smoke from Etna.

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We were most recently here on April 10 and you’ll find more photos and commentary in the blog entry for that day.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

30 April 2016
Sorrento, Italy:
No Bad Choices

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Do we stay in Sorrento?

Do we venture out of town to navigate the Amalfi Coast?

Do we explore some of the most intriguing places on earth, the ruins of Pompeii or the smaller and less-visited ruins of Herculaneum or Oplontis?

Do we head further north to the big city of Naples?

Or do we hop on a ferry and go west to the charming island of Capri?

There are no bad choices in Sorrento, which is why we come back time and time again. We were most recently here on April 9; you can read my blog entry for that day for more comments.

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Il Sedille Dominova, the Seat of Dominova, dates from the 14th century,  built as a gathering place for nobles for administration

ON THE STREETS OF SORRENTO

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ON THE STREETS OF POMPEII

Below, a section of the formal city of Pompeii with the cause of its destruction–Mount Vesuvius–looking over its shoulder.

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Below, a two-story apartment from Herculaneum, another settlement destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

29 April 2016
From Civitavecchia to Venice: A Journey Between Empires

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

To guests leaving us today,  we wish safe travels and arrivederci.  And welcome aboard to new fellow travelers.

We sail out of Civitavecchia–the ancient port of Rome built by the Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century and now one of the busiest modern ports of the Mediterranean for cruise ships, ferries, and cargo–and we are headed down and around the toe and heel of Italy.

Our goal is the seat of another great empire of Europe: Venice. As we pass east of the heel of Italy into the Adriatic Sea, we will sail through a large part of the thassalocracy of Venice: a dominion over water and ports.

Our itinerary takes us from Civitavecchia to Sorrento (gateway to Pompeii on the mainland and the enchanted isle of Capri) and then through the Strait of Messina to Taormina on Sicily.

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From there we head to Brindisi on the heel of Italy and then Dubrovnik and Rijeka in resurgent Croatia.

I hope you’ll join me here.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

28 April 2016
Livorno, Italy: The Gateway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re back in Livorno, gateway to the glories of Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany. I posted a blog a few weeks ago, on April 7, with more comments.

On this visit,  I returned to Pisa to see if they have managed to repair their off-kilter campanile.  To the great relief of the tourist industry, the Tower of Pisa continues to tilt.

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Above, the Tower of Pisa peeks out around the baptistery on the Piazza dei Miracoli, the “Square of Miracles”.

On this trip I focused my camera on some of the details of the Baptistery,  Cathedral, and the Tower. It always pleases me to find a new way to view the tower,  a place I have seen more times than I can remember but always enjoy.

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A PISA ALBUM: THE BAPTISTERY 

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A LIVORNO ALBUM

Livorno is mostly a place tourists pass through quickly on their way to other lures,  like Pisa, Florence,  Lucca, and Sienna. But it does have its particular charms.

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At the Market in Livorno

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Below, from previous visits, the Duomo in Florence.

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Livorno Florence Duomo

The Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori was begun in 1296 and completed in 1436.

Alongside is Giotto’s Tower. It is topped with Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest.

It is known, of course, as Il Duomo, the dome.

One of the best ways to see Florence is to climb 463 steps up the tower.

Behind the church is the Duomo Museum, showcasing art by Donatello, Ghiberti and Michelangelo.

For a mix of history and art, visit the Medici Chapels on Via Cavour, the private sanctuaries of Florence’s most influential family of the Renaissance period.

One chapel was designed by Michelangelo; there are also Medici family tombs dating back to the 16th century.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

26-27 April 2016
Genoa, Italy: La Superba

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re on a ship, you see. A particularly nice one, as a matter of fact.

We have great food, fine accommodations, and a polished and capable crew.

What we don’t have is the ability to still the winds and calm the seas. The Mediterranean has been rather stormy for the past few weeks; nothing epic and not that evident aboard ship. But the swells in some ports have been quite high and that has affected our ability to use our ship’s tenders to come ashore in ports that do not have a dock.

That was why we ended up at the dock in Porto Torres on the island of Sardinia a few days ago instead of our intended call around the corner in Alghero.

We visited Cannes, as per schedule. But our captain decided that the forecasted seas offshore of Monaco and offshore of Portofino–our two following ports–were too high.

And so we diverted to Genoa, Italy for two nights. From Genoa we were able to offer tours by land to Portofino. And some guests went overland to other treasures of Liguria including Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli.

But for many guests, it was Genoa that was a revelation. For many decades, Genoa was considered a dark and unappealing commercial port, off the regular tourist path.

Things are changing, nicely.

LA SUPERBA

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Genoa is a city more than one million, the capital of the region of Liguria. Its niuckname is La Superba,  the Proud One.

Genoa, one of the ancient Maritime Republics of Italy, had a glorious past and its old city is filled with impressive palaces and churches and other structures, many of them restored to their former glory.

The historic center of Genoa along Via Baldi includes more than a hundred grand palaces of the former wealthy elite.

Here are some photos from our visit.

The Basilica dell’Annunziatta is a spectacular church,  near the palaces.

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Down along the historic ancient port, the waterfront was redone,  in grand style,  in the 1990s under the plans of architect Renzo Piano, born in Genoa.

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All photos copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler.  If you would like to purchase a high-resolution copy of any image, please contact me. 

24 April 2016
Porto Torres, Sardinia: Safe Shelter

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

In the teeth of strong winds and high seas, we made a minor alteration to our itinerary to come into the harbor and dock in Porto Torres. Our original plan had been to anchor offshore of Alghero.

Porto Torres is about 24 miles east of Alghero by road and many guests crossed the peninsula to visit our original goal.

We chose to stay in Porto Torres and explore this less-visited town.

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Silver Cloud at the dock today in Porto Torres,  fronted by the 15th century Torre Aragonese, a reminder of the premodern Spanish world.

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Silver Cloud is the largest building in town

Today, Porto Torres is a busy commercial and ferry port, but it does have some places of historical note.

Just around the bend from our ship are the ruins of the Colonia Iulia Turris Libisonis, believed by some to have been founded by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

The site includes colonnades and ancient streets as well as a number of substantial homes decorated with mosaic floors.

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And just beyond stands a seven-arch Roman bridge from about the same time.  It was still in use until 1980, now replaced by a very ordinary modern crossing.

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At the top end of town is the Basilica di San Gavino, a Romanesque church built between 1030 and 1080, the largest and oldest of its kind on Sardinia.

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In the early 18th century, the European balance of power was shifting once again. After the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Habsburgs were given Sardinia as the consolation prize to cover the loss of some of their Spanish kingdoms.

The Habsburgs further developed the region, bringing in Spanish style.

But in 1720, Alghero and the rest of Sardinia were handed over to the House of Savoy, which ruled northwest Italy on the mainland of what is now Italy.

The House of Savoy established the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Sardinia became a key pawn in the giant chess game that led to the Risorgimento, Italian unification.

The Kingdom of Sardinia, with Turin on the distant mainland as its capital, helped lead the way.

And in 1861, in essence, the Kingdom of Sardinia annexed most of what we now know as Italy and became the Kingdom of Italy. Which is why Sardinia is Italian today.

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We were also here on April 3, and you can read the blog entry for that day for more commentary.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

13 April 2016
Olbia, Sardinia: Very Old and Very New

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sardinia is about 9,200 square miles, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean. Only Sicily is larger.

In Sardinia, a disconnected and somewhat loosely culturally attached piece of Italy, the traditionalists are partial to the Sardinian language.

Although in Olbia many old-timers speak a dialect of Catalan Spanish.

Italian? Only when they must.

In Olbia itself, much of the older architecture and a bit of the culture is still heavily influenced by the Spanish and the Habsburgs who ruled here for many centuries.

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The Municipale, or city hall, in Olbia

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Olbia has been settled since pre-historic times. The Ozieri culture was present in the 4th millennium BC; while the Nuraghe civilization was active around 1500 BC.

Scattered around Sardinia are thousands of megalithic ruins known as nuraghes in Sardinian or nuraghi in Italian.

The name is believed to come from an old word meaning heap of stones, or confusingly, a cavity in the earth.

In any case, they are usually located in panoramic or strategic locations; about eight thousand have been cataloged, but perhaps 30,000 once stood.

They date from the middle of the Bronze Age (18th-15th centuries BC).

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But these days the old-timers are much outnumbered by an influx of international persons of great wealth and portability.

The newer construction in Olbia and in nearby modern gathering places like Porto Cervo are a little bit Las Vegas, a little bit San Tropez.

The lingua franca is Euros, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa.

And they call the region the Costa Smeralda: The Emerald Coast.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

12 April 2016
Trapani, Italy: Look Up

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Trapani, on the west coast of Sicily, was the ancient port for the important city of Erice.

It’s an interesting old city, worth exploring.

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But for me, the excitement comes when you look UP . . . or around the bend.

Above Trapani is Erice, on the slopes of Monte San Giuliano.

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Much of Trapani’s economy still depends on the sea.

Fishing and canning are the main local industries, with fishermen using the mattanza technique to catch tuna, which is a rather brutal and non-selective harvest.

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Trapani has some of Europe’s oldest salt marshes, and is still home to some of the windmills once used to drain water from the basins.

Drawing salt from water is a slow process involving a lot of sun and dry summers.

The dehydration technique was known to the ancient Egyptians, and in Sicily dates at least from the time of the Greeks and Romans. The windmills were added in Medieval times.

Sea salt is highly prized in Sicilian cooking.

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Erice is at the western end of Sicily, about 75 miles or 90 minutes from Palermo.

The town is located on top of Mount Erice, at around 2,360 feet or 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani and out to the Aegadian Islands off Sicily’s north-western coast.

The original settlement was named after the Greek hero Eryx, the son of Aphrodite and King Butes of the Elymian people on Sicily.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS