It is a shame, but the history of buildings are generally unwritten. This is my office in Sterling, Massachusetts which I have owned since 1988. It has a long history dating back to 1840 which is sketchy at best. In 1850, according to a map of that period, A. Sawyer lived here. Quite possibly a relative of Mary Sawyer who's lamb followed her to school when she was nine years old (1815) here in Sterling and prompted the poem Mary Had a Little Lamb. Near the turn of the last century, a barber shop would have been found here before it moved to Main Street in 1912 where Woody's Barber Shop still operates after five generations. The building has since been owned by Albert Farwell, Charles Wiles and Harvey Davdison, all of whom have stories which are forever lost in time.
Nikon D610, 1/250 second at f/4.8, ISO 100, 17mm (17-35mm) - 3723
I visited Elm Park today to look at the recycled art project but the Fisher Boy caught my eye. The simplicity is so contrast to Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) in Piazza Navona in Rome yet it is mezmerizing as well. This sculpture was commissioned by Louise Chamberlain and is part of a granite fountain originally a horse watering trough. It was created by Andrew O'Connor, Sr. in 1915 for Washington Square, Worcester, Massachusetts. It became a traffic hazard soon after horses were replaced by automobiles and was moved to the park in 1956. It turns out that the boy in the bathing suit was holding a fishing pole which has long ago gone missing. Thus the name the fisher boy.
Nikon D610, 1/90 second at f/6.7, ISO 100, 65mm, (28-300mm) - 3686
I didn't take my macro lens to Italy knowing full well that my images would be grand in scale. But I did miss it. I love seeing things from a perspective the eye alone can't perceive. This is a common dandelion, but it overwhelms you with its symmetry and beauty. A network of uniform antennae connected to the mother ship, each one listening for the right message before catapulting into space. Colonists in search of a new home.
Nikon D610, 1/125 second at f/13, ISO 3200, 105mm - 3678
After a short rest last night we awoke to the sound of our little brook that gives us so much pleasure and life to dozens of frogs, visiting birds, chipmunks and other creatures. We are thankful to be home in our little paradise, but there is an underlying sadness because we already miss the long walks to the Piazza's, the bar's where we ordered our latte macchiato's (with Bailey's), the drives into the mountains, the shops, the people, the late night revelry, and the wonderful fresh and vibrant food. Don't tell Customs, but we both brought back ten-pounds of the finest food Italy has to offer with no regrets. Well some... Back to the gym tomorrow.
Now to sift through the 4,000 photographs, slips of paper, cards, notes and prepare my book
Nikon D610, 1/45 second at F/3.5, ISO 100, 28mm (28-300mm) - 3641
We leave for the airport in a few minutes and I wanted to post one last image of Italy and it had to be a reminder of the people we have met. They have been wonderful. Cristiano, Alexandra, Antonio, Arianna, Fabio, Peter, Becky, Samuele, Roberto, and so many more people we never will remember all their names and those we appreciated but never really met. The shop keepers, waiters, waitresses, bar keepers, espresso aficionado's, hoteliers, maids, tourists and strangers in the rain. Thank you! You are all wonderful and helped us enjoy these past weeks more than you can imagine. It was an honor to be in Italy and we are so grateful. There is so much more we have not seen, we have vowed to return for yet another adventure. Grazie mille!
These two rather impish and endearing gentlemen from Amalfi promised to send us a rather sizable supply of limoncello to us in Massachusetts. We will see. I told them that if we did not receive it, we would be back and find them! LOL!
Apple iPhone 6Plus, 1/15 second, f2.2, ISO 40, 4mm
It was our last full day in Siena and what a treat we had. While walking to the Piazza del Campo, it started to rain. Lightly at first, but by the time we arrived, it had developed into a torrential thunderstorm and downpour breaking umbrellas and flooding outdoor cafe's. It was outstanding. Only a few spirited young children would celebrate the moment and dance in the rain. This little girl was my favorite. Not only did she dance in the ran, but I believe she was singing in the rain as well. She epitomizes what is special about this city and this piazza. It's the spirit! The spirit that fills the food, the wine and the people is all around you. You see it, you hear it, you taste it and if you spend enough time here, you feel it deep within you. Bellissimo!
Nikon D610, 1/350 second at f/6.7, ISO 5000, 300mm (28-300mm) - 3300
If you look up Calleta, Province of Arezzo, Italy on a map, you will see the furthest reaches of our drive into the Pratomagna - the mountainous district separating Florence from Arezzo. At 1,100 meters with roads barely wide enough for a couple of Smart cars. We climbed up to this sleepy little town only to discover there was no legitimate exit and we had to turn around and head back the way we came. The picture barely captures the serenity and magnificence of the view from the road leading to Calleta. From this vista, you can see as many as six ranges of mountains in the distance. The drive was well worth the white-knuckles, but I must admit, I ordered a liter of wine when we landed for dinner in Castelnuovo Berardenga as a small reward for my driving skills. I must say, my co-pilot provided phenomenal assistance during our tour of the Fiume Arno and the Pratomagno.
Nikon D610,1/20 second at f/9.5, ISO 110, 17mm (17-35mm) - 3067
Today was extraordinary. We set out for Arezzo, just 84 kilometers away, via the most circuitous route possible and returned to Siena via a completely different route. We had latte macchiato's in Castelnuovo Berardenga and visited the open-air Mercato in this very quaint village. We had a wonderful lunch in Arezzo and walked the streets of the old city. We had a late afternoon walk around Castello di Gargonza where this picture was taken, Our day ended again in Piazza de Campo in Siena for a late dinner. I took hundreds of pictures today. Because we were often high in the hills, we saw the true artistry of Italian farmers. The land is their canvas and the crops are their colors. With swaths of olive trees, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, grain and so much more, the countryside becomes their work of art and each hill we crested we found the work of yet another artist. They are true masters.
Nikon D610, 1/1000 second at f/3.5, ISO 100, 28mm (28-300mm) - 2850
If I were a painter, this is what I would paint. The clouds came in today for the first time since we arrived in Siena. It was a treat to have some rain and thunderstorms. A perfect time to go out with the camera. At the entrance to the old city, a few steps to the left of Via Camollia is a small park with a view north and west of the hills of Siena. And if this picture wasn't enough, on the first horizon to the left is Basilica dell'Osservanza which was built in 1490. It was severely damaged in 1554 during the Siege of Siena. It was restored in the 1920's and early 30's only to have been nearly demolished by American Bombing in January 1944. In a tremendous after-war project, it was rebuilt from photographs provided by monks of the monastery. Such are the stories of so many grand structures here oozing with history.
Nikon D610, 1/20 second at f/13, ISO 560, 17mm (17-35mm) - 2637
My Garmin GPS has the Italian maps added. It really has worked great with one note, it prefers back roads vs. highways. So our trip to Pisa took quite a bit longer than expected but the views through Castel San Gimignano, Volterra and San Giovani were breathtaking. The hills of Tuscany are captivating. Pisa, on the other hand, was surprisingly more industrialized than I had expected and it was the largest tourist trap so far with thousands of photographers trying to get that magical shot of there fellow travelers holding up the leaning tower. We did not climb the 255 steps to the top having just climbed the 70 steps to the top of the baptistery. Instead, we went to a local establishment and enjoyed some great pasta and grilled vegetables. This is turning out to be one of our greatest pleasures of all, eating and drinking in Italy. Even though the Cathedral of Pisa was the prize of the day, I selected my picture of the Tower because it is a geometric beauty and a marvel it is still standing.
Nikon D610, 1/500 second at f/22, ISO 1600, 17mm (17-35mm) - 2485
Today, we would have very much enjoyed spending time with Cristiano Pellegrini, our amazing guide in Roma. We spent hours in Siena churches today, churches dating to the 12th century. It is so difficult to place things in the proper perspective when you have but a smattering of historical understanding. The churches we visited today were begun during the crusades in the 12th century and pictured here is one of the oldest churches in Siena, St. Christophers or better known as Chiesa di San Cristoforo began in the 13th century and was restored after an earthquake in 1798. The simplicity of the dome is striking, The crucifix hanging in the foreground dates to the 13th century.
Nikon D610, 1.90th second at f/4.8, ISO 3200, 28mm (28-300mm) - 2107
We spent hours in the Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena. We experimented with a few bar's and ristorante's and just sat and watched the people from mid afternoon till after dinner. We drank and we ate, then we walked and climbed steps, a zillion steps (Siena is a city on the top of a a steep hill), and then we returned to sit again. Piazza del Campo is where they run the horse race, the Palio di Siena, where a rider and horse represents each of the 17 neighborhoods riding bareback around the piazza. To create the track, they cover the outer perimeter of the piazza with sand - just for this very short but dangerous race. The sand was still in between the cobblestones from the race a few weeks ago (July 2nd). A mixture of locals and tourists drift into the piazza creating a hodge podge of styles, ages, languages and colors. Again, I am privileged to witness how a community of people should connect.
1/20 second at f/4.8, ISO 3200, 17mm (17-35mm) - 2100
It is funny to think that the most memorable moments, the ones that stay with you long after they have passed, are quiet meals you share with that one special person. In Italy, these moments and meals are enhanced by the remarkable views. Here, amazingly, we sit next to this open window, shaded from the sun, with a lovely breeze moving through the restaurant / bakery shop. With the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in full view and the valley below, they could have served us porridge and we would have been satisfied. Instead they bring us wonderful flavors of pasta, tomatoes, cheeses, wine, fruits, ham, breads and olive oil. Magnificent. If only they had lounge chairs to rest after such a treat.
Nikon D610, HD Composite 2-photos, 1/90 second at f/16, ISO 100, 17mm (17-35mm) - 1822HDR
The road to Siena was peaceful - a nice change from Perugia. Ahead of schedule, we did what we always like to do but rarely have the opportunity, we took an unscheduled and unplanned detour. The sign said Castel Rigone as we turned off the highway. Up the mountain we went. Along the way, I stopped and shot this photo of Lago Trasimeno, a beautiful lake west of Perugia and south of Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun). Breathtaking! We stopped at a bar (Italian coffee shop), La Posta Di Arrigo, and enjoyed an espresso with a little milk. It is our coffee of choice after our morning cappuccino. What a nice little town Castel Rigone turned out to be.
Nikon D610, 1/180 second at f/11, ISO 100, 17mm (17-35mm) 4 shots combined - 1919
I thought I was fitting right in with Italian drivers. Driving the coast roads south of Capaccio, although occasionally thrilling, were well within my capabilities (thank you Boston for that education). But today, I was thoroughly beaten, fair and square, by the streets and the impatient drivers of Perugia. With one simple objective, finding a parking area clearly marked on the map provided by the Castillo di Monterone, not 2 miles from where we are staying, with the aid of my trusted Garmin, I was never able to reach the destination, never. So as the people from Maine often say, "you can't get there from here" holds true in Perugia as well. Cocktail time!
Nikon D610, 1/60 second at f/5.6, ISO 100, 17mm (17-35mm) - 1892
Castillo di Monterone, Perugia, capital of the Umbria Region and the Province of Perugia. This is our home for a couple of nights. Follow the walk to the covered porch and that is the entrance to our very small room, La Giota. The castle has an incredible view of the valley below and the hills of the city of Perugia to the west. Built in the 13th century, Castillo di Monterone has links to the Templar Knights until they were abolished in 1312. It has been restored by the Piceller family who had moved to Perugia around 1600 and acquired the castle as their residence. They restored it over the years and it is also now know as Piceller Castle.
Nikon D610, 1/90 second at F/11, ISO 100, 28mm (28-300mm) - 1698
We loved driving around and over the mountain where we have called home these past few days. Around every corner in the hills of Capaccio and the surrounding villages are homes made of stone that have surely been around for centuries. Some have seen better days. This one was once home to a proud local farmer, as everyone seems to be here. But through the fate of ages has lost its caretakers and fell into disrepair. But even I can see the potential for a home I could call my castle. It has a view to the fields below and to the sea that is to die for. What a story this building must have to tell. I would like to think I will be back someday with enough time to learn its history. We are sad to leave Capaccio today but thrilled to be off to stay a few days at Castello di Monterone in Perugia.
Nikon D610, 1/60 second at f/13, ISO 100, 28mm (28-300mm) - 1656
The days are getting lost. It's wonderful. I have taken so many pictures and so many are great candidates for posting, not because I am a talented photographer but because this is a wondrous country. Alas, they will need to be saved for my book. This is a post card view of Amalfi. It is a lovely town at the center of the Amalfi Coast north of Salerno and south of Positano. The medieval Duomo di Amalfi stands out in the center and holds the crypt of Saint Angelus Rossini dating to 1208AD. The cathedral is breathtaking with 13th century fresco's. We avoided the road to Amalfi in favor of the ships that travel the coastline at scheduled intervals for only a few Euro's. So pleased with that decision!
Nikon D610, 1/125 second at f/9.5, ISO 100, 32mm, (28-300mm) - 1256
We had some lunch in the small coastal village of Acciaroli, Province of Salerno. Getting here was quite a driving thrill. Massachusetts drivers, despite our reputation, have nothing on Italians! Seated in the open air under a canopy, I saw a wall across the street that had been around certainly for centuries and had been repaired many times. But in Italy wherever we travel, we see that they repair what exists, rarely if ever replacing with new. It is one of the things that makes this country so appealing. These repairs become a part of the beauty and charisma of a structure. Layers of time you can see with your eyes and like a hug, it has a warmth and charm that is indescribable.
Nikon D610, 1/30 second at f/11, ISO 100, 180 mm (28-300) - 1068
As the sun rises higher in the sky over the mountain, it wakes up the valley below and the Tyrrhenian Sea beyond. We are at the instep of the boot of Italy high in the hills at the foot of an ancient mountain. If our vision was clear and the Earth was flat, we could see Tunisia and possibly Algeria on the northern coast of Africa. Our vision is impaired by the mist in the distance and we can barely make out the sea but the boats tell us it is there. It is a beautiful view and to think we need only walk out onto our porch and open our eyes.
Nikon D610 Panorama, 1/45 second at f/22, ISO 100, 35mm (17-35mm) - 5 Shots - 0968
What words can you use to describe Heaven? This is the patio at Borgo La Pietraia in Capaccio, Province of Salerno. Everyone asked why did I select Capaccio. It is merely a rural farming community south of Salerno, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. As I drove through Capaccio, I wondered if I had made the right choice. But then we started to climb the steep twisted road that lead us to this jewel. Our jaws dropped at the vistas. If that wasn't enough, Antonio, owner and Master Chef prepared and served what we pondered might be the best meal we had ever had in our lifetime. Yes, it was that good. This was my view while enjoying my wine and meal. Seriously, heaven has reached down and touched my soul. It gives me chills to think how lucky I am.
Nikon D610, 1/15 second at f/2.8, ISO 3200, 17mm (17-35mm) - 0933
It boggles the mind. Since 311 BC, Rome has had water delivered via aqueduct from distant sources to supply its inhabitants. It was shared with Ostia Antica, a port city west of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber river. Ostia Antica was a thriving community as early as the second century BC but especially from the 3rd through the 5th century AD losing its importance with the fall of the Roman Empire. It was flooded by the Tiber river in the 16th century and what you see in this photo was completely buried under sediment. The walls of this bath would have been at least two stories higher with hot baths, warm and cold baths. Pictured here is one of the many tiled baths of Neptune that Ostia Antica enjoyed dating back to 138 BC.
Nikon D610, 1/1500 at f/19, ISO 3200, 17mm (17-35mm) - 0795
The day began at Campo De' Fiori near Piazza Navona with Rome Chef Fabio Bongianni where we shopped along side locals for the best fruit and vegetables. Nothing I have ever seen compares to the variety, freshness and quality. We learned to make pasta from scratch, Spinach ravioli, tortellini, linguine with bacon, onion and garlic, peaches in wine. We ate a five-course lunch when we were done. It was a special day which ended near the Pantheon. See my Flickr page for more photos. Rome, what a remarkable place.
1/270 second at f/2.2, ISO 32, 4.15 mm
This mosaic must be 10 feet high and 5 feet wide. This is but one of many, many permanent works of art available for viewing in St. Peter's Basilica. When you stand before this amazing painting, you cannot see the individual tiles, only the magnificent color and vibrant beauty of this 16th century masterpiece. Only through magnification can you see the definition of each tiny tile (tessera) used to create these masterpieces. Ask why mosaic? The answer was because it lasts forever.
Nikon D610, 1/30 second at f/6.7, ISO 3200, 180mm (28-300mm) - 0585
This is why we came! Sure, we want to see the incredible history, the ruins, the Vatican, the basilica's and the endless art, but more than anything, we wanted to get a flavor of the people, the community, the life-style. We began to get a taste of that in Trastevere, a place where the tourists and the natives come to eat, shop, entertain and be entertained. With its history dating back to 750BC, this is a remarkable place, but it is the people with their vibrant sense of community that makes you want to take a seat and join in. We did!
Fuji X-100T, 1/30 second at f/2, ISO 1600, 23mm - 2026
I am Robert McKay Jones, a photographer from Sterling, Massachusetts. I take photographs almost every day. I will post my favorites here.