Travel: Anafiotika

After we completed our descent of the Acropolis, we rendezvoused with a new travel-friend and took a break for lunch. See some of the fantastic food we had below! I am not normally a big fan of eggplant, but I rather enjoyed the Moussaka (it was probably creamy enough that I did not notice the typical flavors that I dislike).

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Completely stuffed to the brim, and being of the female species, we took some time to browse the quaint little shops in the immediate vicinity. I was incredibly tempted to purchase some carved olive wood utensils or sculptures, but I was hard-pressed to add another purchase to my backpack burden (given my incapacity to avoid buying a Venetian Mask during my stay in Venice).

I also really wanted to buy a toga despite how stereotypically tourist that act and owning that article of clothing would have been. Thankfully, my friend talked me out of it by commenting on the quality of the stitching and cloth versus the price they were asking.

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We then wandered through the quaint neighborhood of Anafiotika. It is a small, picturesque area that resides in the historical region called Plaka. Original houses here were constructed during the era of Otto of Greece when workers migrated to Athens from the island of Anafi in order to construct and refurbish King Othon’s Palace. It is from these small origins that these colorful, idyllic Grecian houses came to inhabit the northeast side of the Acropolis Hill.

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The beautiful scenery and the narrow streets were utilized by us in a valiant attempt to capture some model-esque poses and pictures amongst the whitewashed walls in stark contrast to the surrounding vegetation.

My attempt was  less than satisfactory given my travel lag from the tedious multi-transfer and ferry trip I took in the previous days to traverse the Mediterranean Sea.

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I caught some interesting pictures of graffiti when we finally emerged from the winding and step-filled paths.

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The day was wrapped up with a quick traditional Gyro for dinner, and savoring some frozen Greek Yogurt. ^_^

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Travel: Streets of Napoli

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Right outside the San Lorenzo Maggiore is the Via San Gregorio Armeno a quaint street that has gained notoriety as the ‘Christmas Street.’ The shops lining this alley are overflowing with artistic takes of the traditional italian nativity. Even today, the setting of a presipio is more important in Napoli Culture than a christmas tree.

Much emphasis is based on providing a thorough and comprehensive Nativity Scene that not only presents Christ in his manger along with his doting parents and the wise men, but also illustrate the everyday life of the population.  Scenes include the preparation of a meal, a bartender at work, or even a craftsman honing their art.

It then took me a few wrong turns to locate the Capella San Severo a building dating from 1590 when a private chapel was built for John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore after recovering from a serious illness. It houses a large collection of sculptures that were crafted by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century.

Veiled Christ

Veiled Christ

Although there are three emblematic structures that express the  emphasis of decorating in the  late-Baroque style, two particularly caught my eye. They are composed of a marble-like substance developed, partially or solely, by Raimondo. In the words of the all-knowing Wikipedia:

VeiledMary

Veiled Truth

“The Veiled Truth (Pudizia, also called Modesty or Chastity) was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1750 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, mother of Raimondo. A Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ), shows the influence of the veiled Modesty, and was completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino (1720-1793).”

 

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At this point, my lunch was much overdue, and I stopped for some traditional Napoli Pizza. It is in this city after all, where this classic italian flat bread was invented.

 

The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana maintains strict guidelines concerning what can be characterized as “Genuine Neapolitan Pizza Dough.”Ingredients are as follows: wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water.”

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Castel Nuovo

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Palazzo Real

After a thoroughly satisfying eating experience, I took a leisurely stroll down Via Toledo, enjoying some spectacular views of some eye-catching architecture. I spent the last few hours of my day strolling along the port, pausing to explore the three castles that dominate the Napoli coast (Castel Nuovo, Palazzo Reale, & Castel Sant’Elmo), and hike up a hill.

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Castel Sant’Elmo

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Travel: Islands of the Venice Lagoon

Since my itinerary is pretty flexible, I latched onto my new friend and partook in a 4-hour demonstration and boat tour of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, just a few of the islands immediately off the coast of the Venice Peninsula. To my disappointment, the weather was not the best while I visited the city and ranged from sunny and windy, to gloomy and cloudy

The first boat stop was Murano; it is a series of islands connected by bridges and lies about 1.5 km north of the city. Its claim to fame lies in its history of glassmaking.

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In 1291, the Venetian Republic, fearing destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings through fire, ordered glassmakers to relocate their foundries to Murano. Murano’s glassmakers soon became some of the island’s most prominent citizens and enjoyed special privileges by the 14th century. They were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the state, and married their daughters into the city’s most affluent families. However, they were also forbidden to leave the republic, and often took risks migrating and establishing glass furnaces in the surrounding cities. Today, artisans still employ centuries-old techniques such as crystalline glass, enameled glass, glass with threads of gold, multicolored glass, milk glass, and imitation gemstones.

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Our second stop was Burano, an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges; it is situated 7 km away. There are two stories attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that the town was founded by the Buriana family, and the other is that the first settlers came from the small island of Burancello, which lies 8 km south. It soon became a thriving settlement as it arose from its 6th century origins, but was administered from Torcello and enjoyed none of the privileges. Burano only gained a foothold in the 16th century when women on the island began creating handmade lace with needles.

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The last stop was Torcello; one of the first lagoon islands to be successively populated by the Veneti after the downfall of the Roman Empire. They used the island as a shelter, hiding from the recurring barbarian invasions, and as refuse after Attila the Hun had destroyed the city of Altinum and it’s surrounding settlements in 452. It remained unsafe even after the end of the Gothic War due to frequent Germanic invasions and wars. In the following 200 years a permanent influx of urban refuges was fuelled by Lombards and the Franks. Throughout this, Torcello maintained close cultural and trading ties with Constantinople.

Fortunately, the wet drops of rain only started as we hopped on the ferry from our last stop. We both enjoyed a nap on the long 45 min journey back to the ferry port next to San Marco Square.

 

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