Today is our last day at the cottage and will return home tomorrow. It has been a great 2 weeks and the weather has been generally warm and sunny.
Here are some nice photos the first one is the old Roman road known as the Via Flaminia which was in antiquity an highway into Rome proper and entering the City at Piazza del Popolo. The modern Via Flaminia is on top of the ancient road, and turns into a city streets once it crosses the Milvian Bridge.
Nice to see the old pavement and the quality of roman construction.
The next 3 days are forecasted to be sunny, we are now in September. New Season on the social calendar. The tourists have left and now its cruise ship season in Charlottetown, many tourists places will start to close for the Season and by Thanksgiving in early October most of it will be closed until May 2023.
Here at the Cottage I have returned to reading Tacitus who wrote some 2000 years ago about Rome and its Empire and the various people who populated it and its rulers. Tacitus did a lot of Ethnographic writing to explain to Romans what other people living outside the borders of the Empire or within it were like in terms of their culture, society, beliefs and food. How they dressed or not, Germans would go to war naked and paint their bodies as a talisman against injury of death. Feasting and hospitality was an important cultural value. Entertainment was dancing naked young men with swords drawn which required a lot of skill. Hunting and just lying about most of the time was common. Agriculture was not valued. People lived in forests and their gods in groves attended by Priests who also dispensed justice. Overall generosity and hospitality were the chief values. Tacitus wrote for the educated and powerful roman society, he himself came from a very well to do family and received the best of education. His father-in-Law was Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a commander of the roman Legions in Britain and then Governor of Roman Britain. Tacitus also occupied important functions in Rome and sat on the Imperial Council and knew Emperors like Vespasian, Trajan, Titus. His understanding of context and events have come to us and it is a great source of knowledge to understand how Rome was at the time, no Hollywood version here with Christian martyrs, Rome was a very cosmopolitan and complex society.
Life at the cottage is very quiet and pleasant, we enjoy it, with good food and good friends who are visiting us.
It has been a hot week again and lots of sunshine, I was at the farmer’s market past Saturday and it was extremely busy, I have not seen it this busy since 2019. Parking was chaotic, lots of tourists from other provinces who park here and there like they have never seen a parking lot. Being Mid-August now there is lots of vegetables and flowers on offer. It is very nice to see all the variety and the lower prices given the abundance. Lots of nice garden tomatoes that actually taste sweet and full of flavour. One farmer had fresh sage, it looked like velvet, she uses bunches of it in her kitchen as a fragrance and for cooking of course. I really love going to the market, it is staffed by real farmers who have working farms, they are known and have a reputation to uphold. Same for the butchers, like Larkin or the coffee bar who buys and roasts all his coffee. Bakers also offer a range of European breads, pastries, cakes and then the mustard lady Sabine who is German, she makes an incredible number of mustards at her home in Murray Harbour. There is also a group of caterers who prepare home made dishes for foodies and they are very popular, all of them have a chef who is well known like Gallant’s seafood or Makena with her Kenyan dishes. All are very small operations and you may have to wait about 10 min for your food but it is a pleasant chatty atmosphere.
What is also nice about the Farmer’s Market is bumping into all kinds of people you know. People are relaxed and there is a good vibe about the place. Of course it is always better to go very early around 8am it gets super busy by noon time and then closes at 2pm.
I have been to other markets, Montreal has a very well known one, Jean Talon Market, it has a solid reputation with Chefs from great restaurants for the freshness of what is on offer. Toronto also has a great market. Ottawa used to have a good market unfortunately some 20 years ago it all went south and now you have maybe 4 farmers and the rest are people who buy from grocers and sell on the street. It is a problem and the atmosphere is very tourist trap like.
However the best markets with the freshest produce was in Rome in our neighbourhood. Opened early and closed by 2pm. Incredible quality in all products.
Must start thinking about what to take to the cottage in 8 days. It will be very relaxed, we are at the beach after all. Nice neighbours in French River waiting for us. We are also booked for next year. We like the place.
I also followed the Trump search of his home and how very sad this is for the USA. To think that a former head of State would take with him sensitive secret documents, some of them with nuclear secrets, to do what exactly? To sell them off to the Chinese or the Russians? Trump must not be allowed to escape justice, he is not above the law, being an ex-president does not give you special rights. I am also dismayed by the GOP for being partisan and forgetting about the good of the country and siding with Trump on this matter.
As a Canadian looking at this from afar, I worry for what might happen, listening to PBS NewsHour on Friday and the comments by Capehart and Brooks, this is really scary. Will politicians wake-up and realize the danger or continue to play games thinking that it is not that serious. There is also the fringe fanatics or lunatics who support Trump and there has to be a crackdown on such people. Sometimes extreme measures are required to protect the greater good of the Nation, half measures and wishful thinking simply will not do.
Not that we do not have our own problems in Canada with partisan politics and protests from the extreme-right, we do. We are at risk, in a divisive way. Reading on the French Civil War of 1789, many politicians at the time thought that you could turn on the violence and turn it off when suitable. Is this what we are seeing now in the USA and elsewhere? Once the flood of violence is turned on it is nearly impossible to stop it and turn it off. In France the revolution ate its children, same in Russia, same in China, it is always the same. The fear now seems to be that if Trump is arrested riots may erupt, this is where leaders must crack down hard on rioters. Napoleon said has much and he put an end to the riots of the revolution by using cannons on the crowds in Paris. He mused that if Louis XVI had done the same he would still be king.
Today is the 15 August, Ferragosto which was created by Emperor Augustus, the month is named after him. He designated 1 August as a holiday to celebrate the end of the harvest, so everyone could rejoice and enjoy a holiday, feast and games. Then it was called the The Catholic Church changed the date to 15 August for the feast of the Assumption of Mary to Heaven. It remains the date of the start of vacation all over Italy and in other catholic countries in Europe. Life comes to a standstill as everyone goes to the mountains or the beach for several weeks. I loved that time in Rome and we too went on vacation to Pesaro on the Adriatic to the Rossini Festival, it is his home town.
Central square on the Adriatic in Pesaro, lovely place at any time of day.
I promised myself this year that we would go out of town on any sunny day. This is not happening after 7 years on the Island. Stuck in town with the tourists and their garbage.
Hopefully come 21 August for 2 weeks we will escape to the beach where we have rented a cottage. I am looking forward to that vacation. Tomorrow Thursday is our 15th Wedding Anniversary. We got married just before leaving for Rome to live for a few years.
Apparently the heat in Rome is around 40C and very difficult for people, AC is not common and the streets are paved with volcanic cobble stones that retain a lot of heat.
Same story all over Europe this Summer. Here it will be around 30C tomorrow but the wind is up around 40Km so with such a breeze, you still have to be careful but it is bearable. I read today that the UV index is a Canadian invention.
Reading stories about Rome vandalism of ancient monuments is always big news. Just a few days ago someone spray painted a portion of an ancient marble wall of the Pantheon. The wall was under the eye of a surveillance camera but it was discovered that the camera had not been functioning for some time. Using a laser technique the cleaners/restorers were able to erase the damage. But you have to think who is so thoughtless to do such things.
This being Summer and mid-July we are having some lovely weather on PEI. So far we have avoided completely the scorching heat with an average temp of 24 C. always with a nice breeze. Here are some photos of places I have visited and seen.
In the news from Italy, it was reported that last week a silly American tourist who ignored all warnings decided that he would take a dangerous path up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius above Pompeii. He jumped over fences and gates and reached the summit at 1218 meters or 3996 feet. Vesuvius remains a very active volcano and is far from extinct.
Once on the edge of the crater our tourist wanted to take a selfie and in so doing fell into the crater several meters deep. He was unable to get out and but luckily only had a few bruises. Lucky for him another group of tourist and a guide where in another authorized area and heard his cry. He was rescued by the Italian mountain brigades.
Keyholes with a story
In this photo you see the keyhole of the Gate of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. The Gate keyhole of the Villa del Priorato di Malta stands on the Aventine Hill. It is the historic seat of the Grand Priory of Rome of the Knights of Malta. By looking through it you can enjoy one of the most evocative views of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, perfectly framed at the bottom of the villa’s garden. The door is rarely open outside of Official business, it houses the Embassy of the Order of Malta to the Italian Republic since 1869. It was in antiquity the site of a Temple and a Festival dedicated to the god Mars and to the Roman Army, called the Armilustrium held in October.
Speaking of Domes here is a rather beautiful photo of the Dome of the Berlin Palace at sunset. The Palace is now known as the Humboldt Forum, a museum dedicated to civilizations. The outside is in the original Baroque style while the inside is very stark and modern.
Finally Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque. Sultan Suleyman The Magnificent chose the architect Mimar Sinan to create a mosque in remembrance of his son Shehzade Mehmed. Suleyman was beyond impressed with Sinan’s completion that he decided to have him design a mosque after himself. This mosque would represent the eminence of the Ottoman Empire.
The foundation inscription above the north portal of the mosque is carved in Thuluth script on three marble panels. It gives a foundation date of 1550 and an inauguration date of 1557.
The other night we went to the Cork & Cast which is a floating restaurant with 10 tables in the marina by the cruise ship terminal. It’s a very quiet area, the food is very good and we have known the owners for some time. They have one cocktail I love called the Gin and Pink, it is basically a gin tonic with a fruity popsicle in a mason jar, I go there just to get that drink. The menu is simple, its fish, mussels, oysters and salads. I had the haddock on soft shell tacos. They also have a nice chowder. The food is good and well prepared, this is a place to relax on the water, no families or kids, just quiet.
Then yesterday I came upon images of the Summer in Rome, the city residential neighbourhoods have lots of treed streets, many are fruit trees, orange or flowering trees all along the sidewalks. In our area which was just outside the walls at Porta Pia, all the streets had shrubbery, trees and flowering bushes. It made for very pleasant walking.
I saw these two photos which brought back memories.
This one is just a coffee place and you can get a snack, simple no corp ownership.
This other photo is of a German artists who is working on his terrace while friends are having lunch. The ruins are the extension of the imperial palace built by Caligula and they are on the edge of the Roman Forum, in the background we see a church which is built into the Temple of the Divine Antonius Pius and Faustina. We also have a lateral view of the 3 columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. The terrace is very typical is a bit unkept, with large plants in terracotta pots, what a view.
Today is the 2775 Birthday of the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus.
The founding of Rome is an official birthday in Italy.
The legend of the founding of the Rome tells the story of Romulus and Remus, two brothers who founded a settlement on the banks of the Tiber river after being raised by a she-wolf in the nearby countryside.
They could not agree exactly where to build, and ended up fighting in what is now the Circus Maximus . Romulus won the fight, killed his brother and named the city after himself, as well as becoming Rome’s first king. Rome then was nothing more than a village with about 100 people.
As Rome grew and grew, eventually becoming a vast, sprawling empire, the story of Romulus and Remus, the she-wolf and the fight to establish the city continued to be told.
The second Birthday is that of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada in the 70th year of Her Reign. HM is 96 years old today. Only two other Sovereigns had long reigns King George III (60 years) and Queen Victoria (64 years).
The Ides of March was the 74th day in the Roman calendar, determined by the full moon, and corresponded to 15 March.
It was traditionally marked by several religious observances and festivals and was also used by Romans as a landmark deadline for settling debts.
The Ides of March 1939 was the day Nazi Germany Marched into Prague. Today Russian troops are at the doors of Kyiv.
Immensely popular with the people in Rome, Caesar was a successful military leader who expanded the republic to include parts of what are now Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.
Caesar, who had seized power from the Roman Republic and declared himself a dictator for life, was killed by a group of 60 conspirators led by his senator friends, Brutus and Cassius
The assassination took place during a meeting of the senate in the Curia Pompeia, within the larger Pompey’s Theatre complex in Rome’s Torre Argentina archaeological area.
According to legend, a soothsayer had warned Caesar of his impending murder, immortalised by William Shakespeare with the ominous phrase “Beware the Ides of March” from his play Julius Caesar.
Caesar was said to have been stabbed 23 times, his body was cremated in the Roman Forum. The site is marked by the remains of the Temple of the Divine Julius, an altar located to the eastern side of the central Forum area, where people to this day leave flowers in his memory.
Caesar’s assassination would result in a long series of civil wars that ended in the demise of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Roman Empire.
Eventually it led to the rise of his nephew and adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus, who became the first emperor of Rome in 27 BC. It also saw the deification of Caesar 14 months after his murder.
The Death of Julius Caesar (1806) by Vincenzo Camuccini.
Living in Rome means that you will everyday see some type of work on very ancient buildings or monuments from the Republican period before 50 BC to Imperial Roman period up to 400 AD. Archeology is a huge business in Rome and employs scholars from around the world. Romans are very attentive to their past and guard it carefully. The reason why the construction of Line C of the metro of Rome is 20 years behind schedule is because of historical discovery and extensive archeological work. While living in Rome we were fortunate to visit sites that reopened after being closed for 50 years for extensive research and study work. The private house of Augustus on the Palatine and next door the house of his wife Livia is one example, I would call them austere and simple, not Hollywood palaces. The Domus Aurea of Nero reopened just last year, it was and had been closed for decades while we lived in Rome. Also we were able to visit exhibits of rare artifacts very rarely seen in public. One such exhibit was on the Secret Library and Archives of the Vatican. The secret is that there are no secrets, what we did see though was fascinating, the Vatican keeps every piece of paper, every document on any topic. All carefully catalogue and preserved, correspondence between the Holy See and Princes or Kings. Books of all kinds, official decrees, even pornography from ancient times. Why keep it all? Well because then you can use it to support your point of view and show what was said or done. There is or was an element of vanity in all this, to show how the Holy See communicated with the powerful of this world. Who could then deny that the Pope was not important or did not have authority to influence the course of history. What mere mortals think would be sinful or forbidden is kept, why? Well maybe to show that human nature does not change, there is a certain moral story about it all. Some of the Official documents when you read them shed a different perspective on history. Letters often have a personal and intimate tone, despite the fact that they are official documents.
Then comes the monuments and various buildings of Rome, starting with the huts of Romulus, the ruins of the Temple of the Sybil or that of the Furies in Trastevere which was a cursed site, how about the Gate of Hell with its staircase in the Forum next to the Arch of Septimus Severus.
One such ancient monument is the Mausoleum of Augustus, the first Emperor. He was know as Octavian and was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Cesar. He was proclaimed Imperator and August by the Senate of Rome. His legacy to the Western World is important on many different levels. His ruined Mausoleum in Rome survives to this day and has undergone studies and renovations since 1933. Since 2000 even more in depth study of the structure has been undertaken and the amount of information on this monument is impressive.
Tuesday 15 February is the 57th Anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of the Canadian Flag in Parliament in Ottawa by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Here is a painting of 1671 of a famous spot in Rome. On the left is the French Church of the Minimes, a religious Catholic order devoted to the study of science. Their church is Trinita Dei Monti which today stands at the top of the famous staircase known as the Spanish Steps. In the painting you have a group of trees, the Obelisk of Sallust is also missing, the staircase will come later around 1723. Next to the church is the monastery of the Minimes Fiars which is not open to visitors unless you can make some arrangement to visit privately. Galileo was on good terms with the Minimes Friars and during his trial they offered to keep safe his paperwork and observation notes on the planets and the theory which says that the Earth circles the Sun, if he was found guilty would be destroyed. There is the most fantastic gallery in this monastery where on the walls a Universal clock has been painted, to this day this gallery is kept in darkness except for a little square opening in one window which when it is open to allow the rays of the Sun to hit the wall will show you the exact time in the known Cities of the world in 1600. I saw this phenomenon at work during a private visit, it was fascinating. The rays marked the time and moved like the hands of a clock.
In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope, among them, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. With these observations and additional observations that followed, such as the phases of Venus, he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolas Copernicus published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543. Galileo’s discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church, and in 1616 the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be “formally heretical.” Galileo went on to propose a theory of tides in 1616, and of comets in 1619; he argued that the tides were evidence for the motion of the Earth.
The Inquisition Tribunal was composed of Spanish priests and Cardinals and they were a political force to contend with, even the Pope was afraid of them because they had the support of the Spanish King Philip IV. The Pope at the time was Urban VIII who was well educated and very interested in the work of Galileo, he encouraged him to write his book on celestial matter and observations. However though Galileo’s writing went against Official Church Doctrine saying that the Earth was the centre of the Universe, no one thought it would lead to such a controversy given how popular such new theories were. However they were written during major wars of religion in Europe between Protestants and Catholics, which did not help matters.
The garden next to the monastery was created in the first century AD and was a pleasure garden which belonged to a rich Roman who was told to commit suicide in order for Messalina the wife of Emperor Claudius to get it for herself so she could entertain her many young lovers. This garden today separates the monastery from the French Academy in Rome where Galileo was imprisoned during his trial. The large building with a tower in the background is the Quirinal Palace, which at the time was a summer palace for the Pope, it became a Royal Palace for the Italian Kings in 1870 and since 1946 is the residence of the Italian President. Everything else you see in this painting is as it was then, nothing really changes in Rome, everything is kept, repaired and re-purposed. We often walked in this area, the view of the city is impressive.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown