Walking in the World

Tag Archives: Italy

January Chill

We have been waking up to icy weather conditions this week, and we can’t help but marvel at the icy artistry of Mother Nature. Jeff snapped this photo of the icy stream coming out of the cliffs at Barrow Brook on the Isle of Sheppey yesterday while I stayed home warming myself by the fire.

I am clearly not the only one choosing to keep my feet warm. This medieval depiction of January is found in the Castello dei Conti de Ceccano which we visited when we were in Italy last month. I feel such an affinity for the guy!

23 Jan 2017

Walking on History


It isn’t what people do for show that interests me most, but what they do day-to-day. Perhaps that is part of the fascination that Pompeii holds for me. Like Skara Brae in the Orkneys, it is a city preserved in time, where everyone departed in a mass exodus, leaving behind the clues to the workings of their everyday lives.


It has been more than four decades since I last walked these streets, and five since I first read about the cataclysmic eruption that ultimately buried the city nearly 2000 years ago. Walking into the ruined city brought me face to face with my young self as well as the ancients who once lived here. Older and hopefully wiser, my heart responded to the same strange tugs as I thought about the fear that must surely have permeated the city when Vesuvius roared to life and began to spew its ash.



I suspect today’s walk will play out in my heart for some time as I continue to come to grips with the history that unfolded here, and with the young girl I was when my own feet first walked on these ancient cobblestones. Back then, the idea of my getting old had not really crossed my mind; today I walked with appreciation for the opportunity to revisit a significant place where I could walk with the ghosts of my own childhood.


And…. It was a delight to be there with Jeff, visiting this place with its history of labyrinth symbolism. At one time, there were at least 6 labyrinths in Pompeii, and we can hold the hope that some of those will someday be back on public display.


Following yesterday’s snowy mountain roads and sub-freezing temperatures, today’s cerulean skies and balmy temperatures were a welcome surprise… After three hours of wandering through layers of history, it was nice to relax outside with an icy gelato as we readjusted to the twenty first century and prepared to head for home.


10 Feb 2015

Our Quest Continues

As one who has studied Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, I know that a true adventure is not always easy, nor is it necessarily safe. Our journey today took us way up into the hills above the Adriatic Sea, to a small hilltop village called Petrella Tifernina. On a normal day, it would have been a slightly haIr-raising drive up the many switchbacks to the top – but today the weather was below freezing, and snow was falling in great clouds and swirls. I prayed to every deity I could think of, and still texted a friend to tell her she could have my knitting needles if I died on the road.

Once in the village, we abandoned the car, and made our way to Chiesa di San Giorgio at the very top. It was well signposted, but very closed, and the only person out and about was an old woman carrying a big stick and a bag of carrots. Hands waved wildly in the air as her Italian mingled with our English, but it must have made sense because she returned to her house, opened the door, and shouted for her husband to bring her the key to the church. Our crone let us into the church and motioned for us to slam the door when we left, then she disappeared into the snow and left us to explore the (very cold) church on our own.

What we were looking for was a small classical labyrinth scratched into the stone somewhere in the darkened church. I had a sinking feeling that we might freeze to death before we found it, but Jeff did his labyrinth magic thing, and walked straight to it, surprising us both. I swear the man has some sort of internal labyrinth magnet; if there is a labyrinth in the area, he will find it….

With the labyrinth photographed and measured, it was clearly time to leave. I would have loved to explore the village, but we knew the roads would soon become impassable.The drive down was terrifying enough as it was.

So, all in all our walk in the snow was shorter than our very long drive across snowy Italy today, but we are safe and we found the labyrinth we were looking for….


09 Feb 2015

Following Ancient Footsteps

I have a passion for ancient villages, with their narrow streets and sense of timeless story. I get pulled into the twisting passageways, intrigued by the shuttered windows and crooked doorways, the beautiful fountains and interesting architecture, always imagining the lives of the people who have walked there before me.
We started our morning in Alatri, saying goodbye to our landlady and her lovely B&B, with its unknown Saint, or Pope, gracing the outer wall. Walking out of the walled city to retrieve our car, I was amazed at how familiar the streets seemed after only a couple of days.

We then drove up into the mountains toward the area that was so damaged by the L’Aquila earthquake nearly six years ago. In the village of Tossicia there is a small church with a carved lintel that we wanted to see because of the small labyrinth that is carved on it, next to Mary’s head. It is still visible, though it is now cordoned off as a construction zone, and clearly there is much work still to be done.

As is often the case in these hilltop villages, the church is situated on the highest ground, closest to God. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk up from the car park at the base of the hill, where this fountain stood waiting to welcome visitors and provide them with water before they set off up the hill.


From Tossicia, we drove on to the walled city of Termoli on the east coast of the country… our room for the night overlooks the Adriatic Sea and the protected harbour which made this 7th century city so strategic. Although it was starting to rain by the time we arrived, we couldn’t resist heading out into the elements to explore the streets and buildings.

The storm is raging now, and we’re tucked up early, with good books and warm blankets. Our day has been full as we’ve walked, climbed, and wandered.

08 Feb 2015

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