Milady goes to the Emerald Isle

For the month of May I’ll be away; mostly in Ireland but I’m driving to South Wales first and combining my trip with a visit to a dear friend in Powys.

My Itinerary :

1st – 5th May in Wales

5th May Ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare

6th to 11th May staying at Cappoquin, near Lismore, Co. Waterford

11th to 14th May staying with family in Co. Kildare

14th to 18th May volunteer helper at Ballymaloe Lit Fest, Co. Cork

18th to 26th May back in Co.Kildare

26th to 29th May at National Trust, Crom Estate, Co. Fermanagh

29th to 31st May at Glenarm on the Antrim coast

31st May Returning home from Belfast to Liverpool (actually, Birkenhead)

I had initially applied to ‘Workaway’ as I did in Switzerland two years ago but out of nine applications only four responded. Of those that did respond one has invited me to visit and another put me in touch with the Ballymaloe Festival.

I’m hoping to post daily again as I did in 2013 (although I may not have internet access each day) : so if you’re interested sign up to follow me here : My Irish Times : Round Ireland with a Book Box. The subtitle is from Tony Hawks’s book : Round Ireland with a Fridge. But I won’t be hitching – I’m taking my car – and I won’t have a fridge. I thought about saying ‘with a cool box’ but as I wrote this to a friend I thought, no, I’m more likely to have a box of books than a cool box of food.

Leeds Dublin

As Seen at Leeds City Station

A Beautiful Oasis of Peace and Tranquility in the Heart of Durham City : Crook Hall and Gardens

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral from Crook Hall Tea Room

Writing this on a warm sunny Easter Monday it’s hard to believe that last Tuesday in Durham I managed to avoid snow showers whilst meeting a friend from my online book group for a day out at Crook Hall and Gardens in Durham.

Crook Hall

This fascinating house and garden deserve another visit in the summer time when there will be more colour and a less forbidding sky. However, we did manage to visit each garden and delighted in what we saw.

The Hall

 

Beams

The Hall is 13th century and provides a spectacular backdrop to the stunning gardens. It’s a short walk from the bustling city centre to this oasis of peace. There’s a tea room in the Georgian wing served by the house kitchen and you can visit many of the rooms in the house including the medieval hall with exposed beams.

The Orchard

The Orchard

Shakespeare garden

The Shakespeare Garden inspired by a book on plants in Shakespeare’s plays

Shakespeare in his garden

Shakespeare in his garden

Moat

The Moat Pool

Cathedral garden

The Cathedral Garden : the beds echo stained glass windows

Monks in garden

Durham Cathedral from the Cathedral Garden: the Topiary Box represent the Monks

Be entertained by Clare Balding as she takes a walk with the owners of Crook Hall and finds out about the history of Crook Hall and Gardens :

Crook Hall on Ramblings

More Watery Landscapes in Tivoli : The Villa D’Este and The Villa Gregoriana

Perhaps the most famous location in the town of Tivoli itself is the Garden of the Villa D’Este. The sun was shining on my last day at Sant’ Antonio and I decided that I would visit the garden and that of the nearby Villa Gregoriana.

Vd'este 1

Thursday 19 March just happened to be St Joseph’s Day (Father’s Day) and a big celebration filled the town centre of Tivoli. Was this the reason why the Gardens of the Villas D’Este and Gregoriana were practically deserted that morning? Anyway, it was very pleasant to have the gardens virtually to myself.

v d'este2

Cardinal Hippolyte D’Este (1509-1572) became governor of Tivoli and set about establishing a garden. Today it’s approached from the house but originally the entrance was at the bottom of the garden and visitors slowly climbed the hill to take in the wonders of the garden. Upon reaching the top, where the Cardinal would be waiting, you’d be in a ‘sense of breathless awe’. (According to Monty Don in the 2011 series of BBC programmes visiting Italian Gardens).

d'este gardens view

The View from the Villa

D’Este had great wealth but the one thing he wanted above all was to be Pope. He failed in 1549. So he demolished streets and had water brought to the site by a sophisticated method from a nearby aqueduct. All the water still comes from this same source and using the same methods. No pumps are used and the whole is still powered by pressure. The speed and movement of the water are still controlled by different sized pipes and spouts.

V d'este 3

The whole estate took 20 years to construct during which time the Cardinal made 5 attempts to become Pope. Here “Rometta” is his model of Rome – he never did achieve his goal. Here is an expression of power built to impress. But he ran up huge debts: the whole project is said to have cost the equivalent of £100 million in today’s money.

fontana di rometta

Fontana di Rometta

100 fountains

The 100 Fountains – they have the same rhythm and sound as you walk along beside them

pegasus fountain

Pegasus Fountain

Organ fountain

The Organ Fountain Plays Every Two Hours on the Half Hour

It’s a wonderful theatrical performance full of drama and excitement; entertainment and playfulness with surprises and jokes. In addition to the gardens you can visit the mansion atop the hill the mansion is open too – room after room of breath-taking painted ceilings but little else. Like Hadrian’s Villa the Villa D’Este is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I spent over two hours wandering around the gardens and house but felt the call of the Villa Greogoriana and, ultimately, Sant’ Antonio.

VG Grand Cascade

The Grand Cascade

Cascade from window

The Grand Cascade from my window at Sant’ Antonio

The Park of the Villa Gregoriana, for the Villa itself is no more, fills both sides of a wooded gorge where the waters of the River Aniene spill over precipices and lie still in pools in the valley bottom, is perhaps my favourite of the three gardens of Tivoli. Much of it, including the huge waterfall, can be seen from Sant’ Antonio and it appears more natural and less planned than the other two. Sant’ Antonio can be seen from the park.

SA view info

SA view

Sant’ Antonio from the Villa Gregoriana

If you ever plan to visit be sure to wear strong, rubber-soled walking shoes as the paths and steps are uneven and slippery when wet and take your National Trust card with you, if you’re a member. Entry is free to NT members. The FAI in Italy aims to preserve Italy’s art, nature and landscape and has reciprocal arrangements with our National Trust.

Remains of VG

Remains of the Villa of Manlius Vopiscus

Inside the ruins

Roman Wall inside the Villa remains

The park was commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI to rebuild the bed of the Aniene River, which had been damaged by the terrible flood of 1826. It had fallen into rack and ruin by the end of the 20th century, but has been reopened to the public in 2005 thanks to a major landscape recovery project orchestrated by FAI, the Italian National Trust.

It was in 1835, after the Aniene River had burst its banks yet again, that Pope Gregory XVI decided to transform this enchanting but extremely dangerous location into a model of integration between art and nature. The project saw a tunnel being dug through Mount Catillo in order to deviate the river and thus preserve the town of Tivoli. This was then followed by the construction of an extraordinary natural garden dominated by the acropolis with Vesta and Tiburno’s Temples.

As you walk through the thick woodland of Parco Villa Gregoriana you will discover the delightful combination of the majestic landscape and the tranquillity of the paths that meander through it. En route, you will get to the caves of Neptune and of the Sirens, which form part of an incredible series of gorges and cascades, and to the Great Waterfall, with its whirling mass of water that seems to fall directly onto those who stand and gaze at it.”

cave of sirens

The Cave of the Sirens

Valley of Hell upper viewpt

valley of hell 2

valley of hell 3

valley of hell 4

Views of the Valley of Hell from Upper Viewpoints

According to the leaflet/map guide to the gardens “Goethe was among those who were amazed by the area. ‘I was recently in Tivoli, where I admired a breathtaking natural spectacle. The sight of the waterfall there, along with the ruins and the whole landscape, greatly enriches the soul’. Goethe visited during the heyday of the Grand Tour, when Italy was the destination of choice for upper-class travellers from all across Europe, affording them and unrivalled classical education.” And this was long before Pope Gregory XVI’s re-creation of the original garden.

 

 

 

 

Goethe’s Italian Journey

Probably my favourite of the museums and locations I’ve visited in Rome on previous trips is the Keats-Shelley Museum by the Spanish Steps. It’s a quiet oasis of 18th century England amidst the crowds of tourists milling around the Piazza di Spagna. It’s a few years since I was there and I didn’t repeat the visit on this recent trip.

K S House

Keats Shelley House, Rome, on Second Floor with Landmark Trust Apartment Above

Spanish Steps in March

Crowds on the Spanish Steps – in early March

Babbingtons

Babington’s English Tea Room by the Spanish Steps

But I did discover the existence of the Casa di Goethe in my LV Guide Bari, Milan, Naples, Rome 2012. So my final port of call in the City of Rome itself (after fortification at Canova) was a visit to the Casa di Goethe on the Via del Corso nearby. I wrote a little bit about Goethe earlier this year. Here is another place of peace and calm and amazingly right on the Via Del Corso.

via del corso

In September 1786, Goethe started out on the longest journey of his life. He was 37 when he achieved his dream of visiting Italy. He later wrote in his journal “Italienische Reise”, that he had spent the happiest period of his life there. On his arrival in Rome he stayed on the Via del Corso with his painter friend Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, scion of a dynasty of renowned artists. This huge apartment, which gives onto the Piazza Del Popolo, is still redolent of Goethe’s time here during his Grand Tour of 18th-century Italy. It has superbly painted coffered ceilings which are set off by the white of the walls. On display are writings, letters, annotations, and drawings, as well as the paintings of his friend Tischbein.

g in roman countryside

The most famous of them, Goethe in the Roman Campagna, was painted on this very spot in 1787, although the version seen here is only a copy, the original being in the Staedelsches Kunstmuseum in Frankfurt. It never fails to impress all the same. This sumptuous collection of artworks and documentary material gives us an idea of what the journey to Italy meant at the time for artists and cultivated travellers. The Casa di Goethe also offers temporary exhibitions that encourage German-Italian cultural relations. By appointment it’s possible to visit the Library which holds a number of first editions of Goethe’s work.” [LV Guide Rome 2012]

welcome

Welcome to the Casa!

This is the only German Museum on foreign soil and it was opened to the public in 1997 with support of the German Government and German cultural associations. Regular events are held here – readings, lectures, conferences, discussions and concerts – followed by gatherings and discussions in the library over a glass of wine. The Museum is also able to offer scholarships (sponsored by DaimlerChrysler) to literary figures, publishers, scientists, translators, and artists, allowing them to spend a few months in Rome collecting ideas and inspiration for their own work or finishing off projects. The work doesn’t have to be related to Goethe.

library

Goethe Library in Rome

The first few rooms are dedicated to the temporary exhibitions; currently Thomas Mann and his Italian novella Mario and the Magician. Displays relate to the historical and political background as it was written during the rise of Nazism and Fascism. The notes were all in German and as time was tight I didn’t spend much time in these rooms but moved on to the rooms occupied by Goethe at the front of the building.

ceiling 1

ceiling 2

ceiling 3

ceiling 4

Painted Coffered Ceilings

The restored painted wooden ceilings, which date back to Goethe’s time, contrast well with the pale walls which show off the displays and pictures. No furniture or furnishings dating back to Goethe’s time here. To me they are reminiscent of Swiss and German chalet decorations.

I was glad that I bought the excellent illustrated guide book. The first section, as in the rooms themselves, tells the story of Goethe’s time in Rome and Italy. There then follow pages of quotations by Goethe himself from his letters and his journal Italian Journey and by his friends and colleagues. Many of these quotations also accompany the room displays.

cast of jupiter

“I could not resist buying the cast of a colossal head of Jupiter . It now stands in a good light facing my bed, so that I can say prayers to him the first thing in the morning.” (Italian journey 25 December 1786

Piranesi print

Piranesi Print of the Caius Cestius Pyramid

“Water pipes, baths, theatres, amphitheatres, the stadium, temples! And then the palaces of the Ceasars , the graves of the great – with these images I have fed and strengthened my mind.” to Carl Ludwig von Knebel 17 November 1786

bust by trippel

1787 bust of J. W. v. Goethe by Alexander Trippel

In goethe's room

Goethe’s Room

G at window

Tischbein ‘s watercolour of Goethe at the window

1991 and 1992 were excellent years for the acquisition of many Goethe related papers, books and artefacts by the Casa including the Andy Warhol iconic contemporary adaptation of Tischbein ‘s portrait. Also some autographs of Goethe’s including a letter card written in his own hand and giving his rome address and the Goethe library of publisher Richard Dorn.

Warhol

Screen Print and Acrylic on Linen 1982

At the very end of the guide book is a list of museums and memorials to Goethe in both Italy and in Germany. Amongst those listed is the grave of his son, August, in the Protestant Cemetery. Interestingly, even though he was an adult at death his father arranged for the following to be inscribed on his gravestone.

GOETHE FILIVS / PATRI / ANTEVERTENS / Obiit / Annor [VM] XL / MDCCCXXX (Goethe’s son / father / above / died / 40 years / 1830)

August Goethe

 

 

A Roman Road : Walking The Appian Way

AA wall sign

A walk along the Appian Way was something I’d read about in my Quiet Rome book and in other guides so I’d added it to my ‘to-do’ list for when I was next in Rome. I studied various ways to approach the way and in the end booked the excursion ‘Catacombs and Roman Countryside Group’ with Enjoy Rome. I’ve written about the Catacombs and Aqueduct visits already. Now its the turn of The Appian Way. You’ll have noticed already that it was a rainy day but nevertheless we did manage a brief walk for a few hundred metres and now, maybe on a future visit, I feel confident to take public transport and do a further walk like the 90-Minute one described in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide.

cecilia metella

Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella

We were a small group of 15 and the half-day excursion included travel by minibus from the ER offices near Termini Station and back. From the Catacombs we bumped and jostled (I don’t recommend doing this by car!) along the Way and finally parked opposite the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella on the Third Mile Section.

wet way

A wet Appian Way

From here we took to the wet cobbles of the road which had been built to link Rome with Brindisi in southeast Italy. The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC. It is a Roman standard 4 metres wide surfaced with ancient basalt flagstones and flanked on either side by private villas (many built upon the original Roman foundations), cypress trees and pines. Needless to say the basalt cobbles were rather slippery when wet.

AA Villa

Villa along the Way

AA Cafe

The Bar Caffe del Appia Antica

Refreshment stops along the Way are few and far between but this cafe hires out bikes in summer and is (apparently) near the bus stop for the 660 which would take you to Metro Station San Giovanni – but don’t take my word for it!!

St Nicholas church

St Nicholas Church on The Appian Way

After the excursion I took the Metro to the Piazza del Popolo, crossed it in the rain and took shelter at Canova to eat a five cheese lunch and watch the dripping brollies go by!

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza Del Popolo

Canova lunch

Five Cheeses and What looks like Jelly but tastes like Hot Mustard!

Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli : a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wednesday last week dawned bright and sunny and I knew this was the day to visit the UNESCO listed Hadrian’s Villa another vast area of building remains. Although extensive today it’s thought to have been even more so originally.

villa model

My notes here are mostly taken from the little map guide I bought. On arrival you follow a wide path up to a few modern buildings; one of which houses a model of the site as it might have looked to Hadrian. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born in 76AD, probably in Italica (Seville). In 117AD on the death of Trajan he succeeded him at the head of the empire. He differed from previous emperors in that he tried to define the borders of the empire rather than fight to expand it. He was gifted with brilliant intelligence and a vast general knowledge but was not much liked by his contemporaries, as he was unpredictable and inconstant in character. He died in Baia in 138AD. And yes, he is the emperor in honour of whom the Wall was named.

Pecile

The Pecile Pool

the pecile

Beyond the initial modern buildings you pass through an arch in a high Roman wall into the park itself. In front is the Pecile formerly a courtyard with a pool at the centre. Then the choice of which direction to choose is yours. I headed first to the Palace and outbuildings which included the Golden Square, the Hospitalia, the Heliocaminus Baths, the Maritime Theatre (currently closed) and the Greek and Latin Libraries.

Heliocaminus

The Heliocaminus

The oldest bath complex on the site owing its name to the large circular room with a vaulted roof heated by the rays of the sun. In addition the floor was heated by the usual hot air system.

greek library

The Greek Library

hospitalia

The Hospitalia

hosp mosaics

osp mosaic

Mosaic Floors in Hospitalia Cells

golden square

The Golden Square (so called because of the richness of the archaeological finds made there)

Quadriportico

The Quadriportico

More or less in the middle of the site is the Triple Exedra Complex. According to the booklet this is nothing more than a grandiose entrance vestibule to the imperial residence.

triple exedra

The Triple Exedra

great baths

The Great Baths

small baths

The Formerly Luxurious Small Baths

Beyond this are the Great and Small Baths and finally at the far end of the site The Canopus. This was an attempt at a copy of the channel that led from Alexandria to Canopus, a town on the Nile delta. The long basin of water is Euripus and at the far end is The Serapeum where summer banquets were held.

canopus

The Canopus

neptune

goddesses

serapeum

The Serapeum

canopus from belvedere

The Canopus from the Belvedere

Finally I made my way to Rocca Bruna a belvedere with marvellous views over the surrounding countryside. Apparently, Hadrian had a great interest in astronomy and it is also thought that the tower could have been used as an astronomic observatory.

rocca bruna

Rocca Bruna Tower

tivoli from rb

View towards Tivoli from the Tower

mtns view rb

Mountain View From the Tower

Water, water everywhere: The Caracalla Baths and The Claudio Aqueduct

The trip to The Protestant Cemetery took less time than I had envisaged and I’d booked the Appian Way walk so, as a friend had recommended seeing the Baths of Caracalla and they were just one Metro stop away, I decided to spend a couple of hours there, even though it started to drizzle with rain.

aerial view

Aerial View of the Baths

impression

Artist’s Impression of Caracalla

Now, Colchester may be full of Roman superlatives but, as you probably know, Rome knocks every other place that was part of the Roman Empire, into a cocked hat when it comes to remains. The Caracalla Baths are HUGE. The walls tower over you and the scale of everything was (and still is) vast.

Caracalla 1

caracalla 2

These, the largest and best preserved thermal baths, were entirely built by Emperor Caracalla since AD212. Apparently 9,000 workers were employed daily for approximately five years to create a huge platform 337m x 328m. Water was brought to the bath house by aqueduct and the whole place was abandoned after the siege of Rome when the Goths destroyed the aqueduct and cut of the supply of water to the city.

mosaic

Many of the decorations and works of art were removed from the site over the centuries. There is a particularly fine collection in the Vatican Museum since several popes were involved with excavations. Some mosaics remain roughly in situ but otherwise there are few artefacts remaining. There had been bronze statues in niches, fountains, marble floors and columns and painted frescoes.

mosaic pavement

mosaic close up

Romans enjoyed board games and a tabula lusoria has been preserved here. Many such gaming boards were carved into floors and, as here, round the edges of pools. The game involved getting a walnut (or marble or knucklebone) into the holes.

natatio

The Natatio was a huge Olympic size swimming pool – the board game is alongside – is 50m x 22m and the walls are 20m high. It was not very deep and certainly not suitable for diving.

the natatio

The Pool Today

original baths

Artist’s Impression of the Pool in its Heyday

cypress trees in gardens

The Gardens – Cypress Trees – at Caracalla

Following our visit to the Catacombs and walking along the Appian Way our Enjoy Rome Tour included a visit to the extensive remains of the Claudio Aqueduct. The aqueduct was one of several that supplied Roman Rome with its water.

Claudio Aqueduct

The Claudio Aqueduct

The Parco degli Acquedotti is a public park about 8 kilometres from the city. It is part of the Appian Way Regional Park and is of approximately 15 ha. The park is named after the aqueducts that go through it. My guess is that it’s not easy to reach by public transport but I was glad to have seen it as I had no idea of its existence before.

approaching aqueduct

Approaching the Aqueduct

Next up is a report of my visit to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli where there is even more Roman water!