St. Peter's Basilica in the distance at 435 feet tall is the tallest building in Rome, In fact there are skyscrapers in Rome, but they are on the outskirts of the ancient city and none taller. The closest is the 30 story Torre Eurosky on the southern edge of Rome which is 394 feet tall. As with many Italian cities, the height of buildings is stringently regulated making for a realistic stroll back in time which is magical. This picture was taken from the Palentine Hills near Circus Maximus and the Coliseum. Friend me on Facebook, look at my blogs, or look me up on Flickr.

In This Issue

August 2015


Welcome to News from! First time readers, I am glad you're here! Returning readers, welcome back!

Greetings and welcome to our Newsletter! This month is all about Italy. Just a precursor to the book I hope to have completed by end-of-year. I want to share the many photos I have taken of places, people and things throughout the country and beyond. Each month our headline photo will be something new and different. We hope you enjoy. Keep in mind, we don't want to waste your time. Articles will contain generally less than 250 words. Please have a look and give us your feedback. By all means, forward to a friend using the link at the bottom of the Newsletter. Thanks. Questions? Send me an email!


Welcome to Italy

In Italy, the Church is central to life and the Piazza is central to community. In Rome, there are more churches and Basilica's than can be seen in a year let alone a week, roughly 900. One of the largest is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore or Basilica of St. Mary Major. 300 feet long, 260 feet wide and 246 feet high. Major, because it is the largest of the twenty-five churches dedicated to Mary. It is one of only four major Basilica's in Rome and is used by the Pope when he presides over the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Pope Francis visited here on his first full day as pontiff.

It was built in 431 AD. The 36 marble pillars supporting the central part of the church are even older as they were taken from another Roman building. The 5th century mosaics found in the interior are some of the oldest representations of Mary. The interior of the Basilica remains largely as it did in the 5th century even though it did suffer damage in the earthquake of 1348.

This is the stained glass window with the inscription Excelsia Filia Sion (Exalted Daughter of Zion). It is at the rear of the Basilica and lights the interior with an ambiance over shadowed by the clear high windows on the side of the Basilica.


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History of the Ages

In 1575, just emerging from the dark ages, art was something really fantastic to behold, especially in fountains. It still is. It had a fierce undercurrent of darkness. This fountain is in the Piazza della Rotonda just outside the Pantheon. It is called Fontana del Pantheon and it was designed by Giacomo Della Porta in 1575 and sculpted by Leonardo Sormani.

The pigeons love all the nooks and crannies around these fountains and certainly add their own patina but the characters depicted were out of this world to be sure. Interestingly, it was designed without knowing where it would be installed.

More interesting is the fact that there is an 18 foot obelisk at the top of the sculpture which was added in 1711 (relocated from a different location in Rome). It originated at the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, Egypt. Built by and for Ramesses II some 3,200 years ago and brought to Rome by Roman Emperor Domitian. Domitian was assassinated in 96 AD.

It is one of eight ancient obelisks in Rome which the Romans carried on cargo ships (called obelisk ships) down the Nile to Alexandria and then across the Mediterranean Sea. Some weighed as much as 330 tons (Vatican Obelisk).

Obelisks were adopted by the Christians and crosses were added to the tops of all obelisks in Rome along with new carvings and bases.

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Capaccio, officially known as Capaccio Paestum, is a town in south western Italy in the province of Salerno south of Naples (Napoli). It is a mountain surrounded by a valley leading to the sea. The hill rises to about 3,000 feet and provides near perfect conditions for hang gliding as the heat from the valley and the ocean breezes can keep those daring enough in the air for a long time. Have a look at the countryside of Capaccio in this short video of a hang glider.

Traveling the roads in and around Capaccio is as interesting and fun as it gets and immediately fills you with that endearing quality of the area. Whether you are twisting and turning up in the hills or down the coast roads, the sites are a feast for the eyes. Stop at most any small restaurant and prepare to eat some of the best locally prepared fresh food you will ever have the pleasure of enjoying and a feast for your palette.

If it is History you are looking for, you are also in one of the best places in the world. Capaccio Paestum has some of the oldest structures in the world with temples dating back to the 6th century BC. It is actually a Greek city taken over by the Romans in the 3rd Century BC. Unbelievably, the Greek temples which were lost for a millennium to forests and malarial swamps between the 9th and 18th centuries still stand.

If it is pure beauty you need. simply perch yourself on the hillside and watch the sun set over the Amalfi Coast. To see the color of the valley and sky change as the sun disappears behind the mountains of Amalfi and Sorrento is a site you will long to see again and again. Better yet, enjoy dinner on the country house patio of Borgo La Pietraia and your soul will be transformed. It is a memory that will be eternally written in your book of life.



Nuts and Bolts

Solid State Drives (SSD) are now a viable option for your desktops and laptops. Do not underestimate the time savings of having your primary C: drive a solid state rather than standard disk drives. Just imagine your computer will boot up in less than half the time. Programs will run almost three times faster. Files will be copied nearly eight times faster. All we are waiting for now is the prices of 1 TB and 2 TB solid state drives to drop a bit more. If you are buying a new computer, make sure the primary drive is solid state.


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Artists Sketch by Bruce Davidson

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