Ancient Stabiae and its villas, once so luxurious, and then ….

A look back (first published 8 September 2015): there was a sense of being slightly apart from the ‘real world’ at these two villas, of being caught between the ‘was’ and the ‘is’. They felt tranquil., dormant.

The Phraser

Looking over the top of the Villa Arianna in Stabiae towards Vesuvius Looking over the top of the Villa Arianna in Stabiae towards Vesuvius

We stand in a mid-day drowse, like the citizens of ancient Rome must have stood – the sun is warm; the sea glistens; and there is the distant rise and fall of bells.  Behind us roll green hills and to our front, the double-backed outline of Vesuvius steals the horizon.

So peaceful … yet it never has been, and still is not.  There remains a threat below the surface.

View original post 1,051 more words

A ‘sagra’ on an old Roman road north of Naples, Italy

A look back (first published 19 June 2015): many of the villages in the countryside around Naples, and up into the mountains behind, have ‘sagre’ in the summer – food festivals where fresh food is served close to the land it came from.

The Phraser

Bees swarming at the 'Sagra delle antiche taverne' Bees swarming at the ‘Sagra delle antiche taverne’

Sagre‘, and this was our first, are the right-in-the-thick-of-it festival celebrations that usually revolve around food.

Originally the meaning was linked to churches and the Latin word sacrum – holy.  Now they are still about expectation and celebration, but often with a local speciality centre stage rather than the church.

View original post 768 more words

Lago di Patria: a walk for the dog?

A look back (first published 24 May 2015): a year on there was little sign of change at the lake: the road around its far end was worse; the abandoned hotel still gaped; and the rowers powered on. Only the water buffalo had gone … and our innocence.

The Phraser

The faded happiness of Lago di Patria The faded happiness of Lago di Patria

The pink hotel stood block-upright and silent.  Bleak windows stared from behind the flaking wall – all happiness abandoned.

Nervously we peered upwards through the car’s windscreen, enticed by the almost empty roadside parking.  Behind us, in the back, the dog bounced with impatience.

We were unsure … the dog wasn’t … so what was wrong?

View original post 786 more words