Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Icarus revisited

John's great tone-dropout of the fallen Icarus at the Temple Concordia, Agrigento,  Sicily
No people!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Fabulous Agrigento, Sicily

Temple Concordia from John's room, at Villa Athena, Agrigento, and....

... and, Villa Athena from the Temple Concordia

The Temple Concordia

Icarus lies where he landed after his ill-conceived attempt
at solar space travel

Temple of Giugnio
John, at temple in Agrigento

 Unlike Marsala, which was a bit of a damp squib, Agrigento surprised delightfully on the upside.  The largest UNESCO cultural heritage site in the world, with beautifully preserved temples.
And Villa Athena is the place to stay when here.  With fabulous views over the Valley of the Temples.  Here's a description from a book "New Luxury Hotels" by Nicola Lecca, which they provide in each room of the Villa:

Marsala, Sicily

Punch and Judy on the lawns of the Cantine, pretty much the only
thing worth seeing in Marsala.  

The "Cantine" in Marsala. 5 Euros gets you an endless tasting glass

Marsala Production and consumption process

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Towards the boot... Calabria and Sicily

On the west coast of the tip of Italy, a little town called Tropea.
Worth a visit if you happen to be in the region.  This is the
little church called, not surprisingly, "The Little Church of the Island"

Some major buildings in the middle of Palermo are still decrepit.
Note no floors to the balconies....

The house of Judge Falcone, the Mafia hutnter was bombed to rubble, killing him.
This is what remains. Palermo, 26 May.

Ruins of the Mafia wars, left, and the regeneration on the right

Many places in Palermo still ruined by the Mafia wars

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, 26 May

Friday, 25 May 2018

Pompeii is great!

I first went to Pompeii with sister Anne, mother and dad, must be in about 1955, shortly after they'd done the most recent excavations.  Then again, I guess sometime in the early seventies.
Now it's much bigger than I remember.  Much more excavated, and walking around is like walking around a Roman town.
We were thinking that it's so big now, they ought to take a small section of it, and rebuild it as it would have been just before the eruption. It wouldn't take much and would be fantastic.  But the Italians won't do it, I'm guessing, either because it's not allowed (likely) or because it's not la bella figura...
In any case, it's well worth a visit, a great day....
Some of Jing's photos:

Roman roads, just wide enough for two chariots 

The Large Theatre


The Forum

Apollo guards the city gates

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Florence, Pisa, Rome

From our apartment in Piazza San Spirito, Florence
20 May

Our Florentine Friend, Padg, on her local transport.  Elegant woman
in elegant town...

The classic, one has to take, but resisting
the pretend-holding-up, the leaning tower (torre pendent)

John and Jing, on the balcony of Relais Donna Lucrezia, Via Emilia, Rome
The place to stay in Rome, next to Villa Borghese.  21 May.

Two modern statues added to the Fontana di Trevi

The water's still clean and clear, despite the crowds.  

Wildflowers and Roman ruins, throughout Rome

Photo finish

Jing's photo of Gordie and me finishing the Mille Miglia
in Viale Venezia, Brescia
Getting our MM bottle of wine...

Siena to Brescia

Friday 18th May: Piazza Del Campo, Siena

Campo tower

An odd view of my face: sunburnt and soot encrusted.  Our little Ermini
had no protection, none for safety and none for the elements

Going down the straightway at Monza racing circuit. No
need for directions ...

At Monza people came out in thousands to welcome the classic cars

Our little Ermini, a racing car in the fifties, now on the classic circuit
with plenty of other company: 450+ in the MM this year

A lovely 1948 Bristol 400.  This is the sort of car I should be
in, not old racing cars...

In the Villa Mazzotti, Chiara, on way to Brescia, 19 May

We were early in Brescia*, waiting at a pub for other cars to catch up
folks - strangers - came up to chat.  These are German car buffs
Michael and Christine

At the end, Brescia: the "Dream Team" of Pietro Tenconi.
LtoR: Dico, Angelo, Claudio, Pietro, Fraser, Eduardo Tenconi
*Why were we early in Brescia? Because of the breakdown - a pretty major breakage of a part of the differential system, which would have taken days to fix normally - we had to miss the section from Rome to Milan.  When fixed, we went straight to the Monza Racetrack - a very famous F1 racetrack - to join the other cars, which turned out to be the front runners.  We did our time trial and headed off. Result: we were early in Brescia, waiting for Jing and John to text us that they were on the finish line, then we joined the cars that were coming through.  It took about 2.5 hours for all 450+ cars to go through the starts and finishes.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Well, we finished the Mille Miglia, but not for want of our little car - a 1951 Ermini - trying by various ways to stop us...
First the breaking of suspension: solution - fixed by welding, as posted previously, but with the result that we were timed out of the start.  You're given 15 minutes leeway, and then you can't officially start.  We were at the start line 17 minutes late. So day was spent following the other cars to Rome.
Second, on the last day the car wouldn't start: solution - throttling the air filter intake on the carburetor.
Third, soon after getting started on the last day, on way to start line: the half-shaft from the differential to the right wheel snapped.  Result no gears.  Solution - car pushed over the line, to get us a start, just two minutes before cut-off time (i.e. 13 minutes late), then trucked to Milan, where a new half-shaft was found and replaced in just over an hour, so we were able to continue to the finish, officially, passing by time trials at Monza on the way.
Photos follow in later posts

Friday, 18 May 2018

The Nut Lady

This lady is made completely of Nuts, as in nuts and bolts.
By Silvio, the metal fabricator from the recent post, who
saved our bacon by fixing the suspension with a
combination of metal bending and bashing and welding


Gordie by the car, Medici Garden, Arezzo.  Today

The Gardens of the Fort of the Medicis, Arezzo
So, because we had out suspension problem we weren't able to start the race today.  We had the car repaired, by the guys in the post just before this, and were off again at around 10.30, the rest of the fleet having left several hour earlier.  We decided to go to Rome by the direct route - not the one taken by the MM fleet - but to catch up with them for lunch in Arezzo.  It's (yet another) beautiful medieval town in Italy, this one beholden the (in?)famous Medicis.   Great welcome from all the towns folk and a buffet lunch under a grand marquee.

Cervia Finish....

Hmmm.  what seems to be the problem?.....answer:
Broken suspension strut 

The scene at a self-serve garage in the middle of the night last nightt.
The wonderful team of Pietro's who follow our cars for just this reason

E.... managia....

This is what Silvio does when he's not making suspension brackets for an Ermini

Silvio the metal fabricator, who saved our bacon. He welded brackets to
fit around the broken spring.  Works fine.