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IMAGE A Day among the Gods - The Trail of the Gods
Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Translated Jeff Matthews  The "Trail of the Gods" is among the best-known hiking trails in our territory. Countryside and nature are out in all their splendor and are simply stunning. The trail flows along the ridge of the Lattari mountains, about halfway up from the cobalt blue sea of the Amalfi coast. The trail is truly capable of offering up panoramas of rare beauty, ones that have captivated authors and poets such as Italo Calvino and D. H. Lawrence. Friday we took advantage of a splendid day that seemed like spring. It was a long weekend and we set out to see if this "Trail of the Gods" was everything that it was proclaimed to be, earning it a place at the top of the list as simply the most pleasant and enjoyable nature trail in the nation. We struggled out of bed very early, set off, and by 8 a.m. were actually there at the beginning of the trail, which leaves from Bomerano, part of the town of Agerola. There was no problem finding a parking space and we took one of the many available spots at the end of via Colle Serra right where the trail begins. We choose the stretch between Bomerano and Nocelle and moved from east to west for about 4.6 km. It is considered the loveliest part of the trail. You can actually extend the hike if you want and go as far as S. Maria del Castello, which will take you by Monte Pertuso. That will almost double the length of your hike. There are a number of variations, among which is a "ring route" that goes up to a higher elevation at via Paipo on the return leg along the boundaries of the National Park. You can also go down all the way to Positanto and come back to Bomerano by bus. If you move at a comfortable pace the walk should take about 2 hours and 30 minutes, one way. (The same on the way back, but note that the trail was slightly downhill on the way out, so it will obviously be slightly uphill on the way back. All that gives you about 480 meters of ups and downs in "differential elevation".) There are some water fountains along the way (we saw three) and five rest areas with tables and benches, each with room for four persons to sit, cradled between heaven and the sea, and eat whatever provisions they have brought along. Shortly, we'll publish details such as GPS indications and waypoints so you can do this hike on your own. Here are some photos we took along the way: The Trail of the Gods Read More...
IMAGE Along the Ridge above the Amalfi Coast
Wednesday, 14 March 2018
Translated Jeff Matthews Last weekend we hiked a stretch of the trail along the ridge of the Amalfi peninsula. The original idea was to hike to Mount Catiello leaving from Santa Maria del Castello, but, alas, a sudden change of weather caused us to turn back before we got even halfway, right about when we had reached the Capo Muro saddle. (The village of Santa Maria del Castello is part of -- and about 6 km/4 mi  from -- the town of Vico Equiense, overlooking the Amalfi side of the peninsula. Santa Maria del Castello is easilly accessible from both sides of the peninsula, both the Sorrento side and the Amalfi/Positano side.) Besides myself, the trekkers were Nando, Alessandra and Leá Lord A. We covered about 6 km (4 miles) with an altitude differential (that is, there and back) of about 600 meters. It took us 2 hours and 30 minutes. On only a few occasions did we enjoy a view totally free of clouds, but those moments were stunning, letting us see, laid out before us, the entire final stretch of the Amalfi coast and then, in order, Li Galli islands, Vetara rock, Isca rock, and the isle of Capri hidden way off in the distance. Here below you will find the GPX indications for your GPS to help you plan your own outing. Please remember that hiking on mountain trails is potentially dangerous; prepare adequately and be prudent. GPX indications are just a guide to help you along. Be alert, especially along exposed stretches above high cliffs. Good hiking. Read more... GPS: Santa Maria del Castello – Capo Muro Saddle Click on images to enlarge Panorama of the final stretch of the Amalfi Coast ridge. Marching along The steep cliffs The group minus your humble photographer behind the lens Read More...
IMAGE Valogno - Village of Art
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Translated Jeff Matthews I had been there a week earlier, but now getting an invitation to lunch while I was in my car driving back to this charming little village in the hills near Caserta made me step on it a bit. Valogno is cradled in the hills near Sessa Aurunca and was recommended to me by my friend Rosaria Pezzella who photos of the place had aroused my curiosity and imagination. Today I was returning with calm and absolutely determined to lay bare some secret treasures. Fortune had led me to meet Giovanni Casale, who, together with his wife Dora, is the real "Deus ex machina" behind the rebirth of Valogno, which he himself describes as "a town 90 persons above sea level." It's a phrase he coined in order to underscore the fact that everyone in the village is contributing to rejuvenating the village--this from a population that is largely elderly. My curiosity led me to ask him why someone from Rome would come down here to adopt and bring back to life these few walls, which perhaps were just following their natural decline, finishing the lifespan, so to speak. And so, over a steaming pot of coffee in his home, he told me of his project to transform with murals one of the places... "...of our old South...to liven up the drab gray that is so often typical of our small towns" and turn it into a colorful and fanciful album of design. I spent a few hours wandering among the small streets, courtyards, and the underground canteens, or looking up at the balconies and being surprised and delighted at the variety. It was rather like being a child again and paging through the old books of fairy tales that my father had conserved so carefully. I have nothing else to add except to urge you to visit this magical place and be carried away by your imagination and by the kindness of the townspeople, who will open their homes to you. Here are some photos I took of the artwork that adorns those old walls and buildings. And here is a link to the  gallery that contains further photos. Valogno: village of art. Enjoy the photos. Most of all, have a pleasant walk in Valogno. Click on images to enlarge (fig. 1) (fig. 2) (fig. 3) (fig. 4) (fig. 5) (fig. 6) (fig. 7) (fig. 8) Read More...
IMAGE Bulletin 59-1 June 2017 of the UIS, International Union of Speleology
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
by Jeff Matthews A free .pdf download of Bulletin 59-1 June 2017 of the UIS, International Union of Speleology is now available at this link: UIS BULLETIIN There are 60 color pages, and check out the spectacular cover photo! Good reading! NUg Read More...
IMAGE The Summer Solstice, the Book of Light, and the Original Hot Seat
Monday, 19 June 2017
by Jeff Matthews For some wonderful reason, the astronomical beginning of summer, the summer solstice, is called Mid-Summer in English. There are reasons for this, but I don't know what they are except perhaps that ritualizing the day on which there is the greatest amount of sunlight and building stone monuments for your rituals was all invented by people who thought the sun moved around the earth. You are free to believe in the more recent alternative fact that the movement of the sun is only apparent and that the earth moves around the sun, and that the extra daylight is... Read more... Read More...
IMAGE The Devil's Footprints on the slopes of the Roccamonfina Volcano
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Translated Jeff Matthews With the Roccamonfina Regional Park - near the mouth of the Garigliano river in the province of Caserta in the vicinity of the Roccamonfina volcano, itself, there is a paleontology site called "The Devil's Footprints". The site is made up of a rocky surface on an incline about 100 meters long with an elevation difference of about 30 meters. It formed from the cooling of a pyroclastic flow from an eruption that happened between 385,000 and 325,000 years ago. Foot impressions are visible of individuals of the Homo heidelbergensis species. These hominids were moving through the area shortly after a volcanic eruption, leaving their prints in sediment that was still relatively hot and doughy. The unique thing about this site is the certainty that these prints are the oldest traces of the genus Homo in the world. The site may be visited thanks to members of the Footprints Association that organizes guided tours. Contact info for the Association: Facebook page - Associazione-Ormeemail – norma_mazzoccoli@libero.ittel. - 3313020113 - 3929364536 GPS trace of the route There is additional information in English on Roccamonfina & The Devil's Footprints on the website of Nalpes: Life, Death & Miracleshttp://www.naplesldm.com/roccamon.php Ckick on images to enlarge Paleontological surface of the "Devil's Footprints" Archaeologist Norma Mazzoccoli following the homonid fossil tracks Crosses carved near the source in the Middle Ages Read More...
IMAGE Coal mine explosion in Iran
Saturday, 06 May 2017
Translated Jeff Matthews According to latest reports from various quarters, rescue efforts are underway in the wake of an explosion that killed at least 35 miners at the Zemestanyurt coal mine in northern Iran on Wednesday morning. This report is from Reuters: www.reuters.com Read More...
IMAGE The angevin fortress (Maschio Angioino) opens its basements: a new archeological tour, “TIME LINE”
Monday, 17 April 2017
Translated Jeff Matthews THE ANGEVIN FORTRESS (MASCHIO ANGIOINO) OPENS ITS BASEMENTS: A NEW ARCHEOLOGICAL TOUR, “TIME LINE” As of Saturday, 15 April a new guided archeological tour is open to the public, under the auspices of the Timeline Napoli Association as part of the project “The Grail at the Maschio Angioino.” Their press release: Naples, 10 April 2017. A new guided archeological tour is open to the public at the New Castle [trans. note: the structure has two names in Italian—Maschio Angioino and Castelnuovo; that is, Angevin Fortress and New Castle]. Beginning Saturday, 15 April, and every weekend thereafter, visitors will be taken down into the underground chambers of the Angevin Fortress for a journey that starts with the vestiges of ancient Rome. Visitors will pass along the area directly below the halls of the Aragonese armory and then into the Renaissance Naples of Alphonse I, so-called “The Magnanimous, and of his son and heir, Ferrante of Aragon. The new tour is part of “The Grail at the Angevin Fortress” and is presented by the Timeline Napoli Association, which hopes to let visitors come into contact with this important part of the archeological heritage of the city of Naples and to enjoy the thrill of a hands-on experience—to physically touch history. It is a museum within a museum, displaying the first plant of this structure built at the behest of Charles I of Anjou beginning in 1279. The leitmotiv of the tour is, indeed, a trip through time; thus, the name of the association and tour, Timeline, a chance to watch the unrolling of one century after another in the same area. The “Timeline” Tour Beneath the armory, you'll be able to admire not only archeological remains but one of the best preserved geological sites in the city, made up of pyroclastic deposits from the eruptions of Vesuvius as well as those from the Flegrean Fields. You'll be able to exit to the faussebraye, the defensive wall outside the main walls, of the Beverello tower. The outside wall was introduced by the Aragonese and was an attempt to confront newer offensive weapons such as more precise artillery. The newer defensive measures incorporated a succession of loop-holes for archers, effectively doubling the defenses as they were also supported by the garrison positioned in the higher tower, itself, as well as by flanking fire from light artillery at the base of the tower. Finally, you'll climb to the terrace to look down on the construction site of Piazza Municipio. It was here, during construction for Line #1 of the Metropolitana underground train line that they found—at 13 meters below the current pedestrian surface—an entire section of the Greco-Roman port basin together with five now celebrated naval vessels, the wooden planking of which was extraordinarily well preserved. You can participate in this guided tour as well as others of the program The Grail at Maschio Angioino every Saturday (departures on the hour from 0930 to 1700) and Sunday (on the hour from 0930 to 1230). Book via telephone: 3317451461 or on the Timeline Napoli Facebook page. The cost for the tour is 10 euros or two tickets for 15 euros with the second ticket covering one of the other Grail tours. Entrance for children is reduced or even free, depending on age. Other theme tours at the Maschio Angioino: The Grail between history and mystery” is a product of IVI Itinerari Video Interattivi which guides participants along esoteric path from the Triumphal Arch to the Hall of Barons. Book by phone at 3483976244. The veiled secret” is the latest IVI video visit, replete with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) lenses, ideal for bringing to life the story of Lubrezia d'Alagno, Alfonso of Aragon's favorite lady. Booking only by phone at 3273239843. The Flight of King Charles” is the adventure-filled tale, told here by HK Avventure, of the legendary retreat from Naples of King Charles VIII of France. Includes a safe descent (led by a trained speleologist) into the escape well cut into volcanic rock. Book by phone at 3317451461 or on the Facebook page of HK Avventura. The fortress of time” is a tour from Timeline Napoli from the slopes of the fortress up and into an ancient gunport, where the defensive strategies of the Aragonese epoch will be explained, and then onto the ancient prisons. Book by phone at 3317451461. The Dragon's Secret” and the hunt for historic treasure (aimed at children aged 6-9) at the court of Alphonse I of Aragon. Discover with maps and other accessories the true story of the king, the head of the Aragonese branch of Naples, and of the secrets connected to him. Book by phone at 3317451461. Read More...
IMAGE The underground passageways of Neapolis, beyond the ancient walls – the Ipogea of St. Vincent de' Paoli
Saturday, 15 April 2017
Translated Jeff Matthews The hypogea of St. Vincent are in the quarter of the Vergini, an ancient area just outside the walls of ancient Neapolis. You gain access to the Monument Complex of St. Vincent by way of a tufa quarry that goes back to when the church, itself, was under construction; that is, around the 1760s by Luigi Vanvitelli. During the excavations for that construction, they came across a cistern from a yet earlier period, before the arrival of the fathers of the order of St. Vincent and when another order was present on approximately the same site, the Fratres Cruciferi (Cross bearing Brethren), an order abolished in 1656. It is very likely that this ancient cistern goes back even further than that, given all the digging that has taken place in that area over the centuries. Current thought is that it was a Greco-Roman cistern. The Fathers of St. Vincent have just begun a series of investigations of the site. They have delegated the task of finding out exactly what is down there to the Getta Association. They are certainly in for some surprises and interesting discoveries. Together with the many other rediscovered sites in the area of the Vergini such as the Augustan Serino Aqueduct and the burial chambers selected by the ancient Parthenopeans and Neapolitans to continue on their way into the afterlife in their splendid burial hypogea, it all makes for a fascinating tour! The short video with this item has only a music background, so you can follow right along with no problems. For information and contacts:Associazione "Getta la rete"associazione@gettalarete.itFacebook page: facebook.com/associazionegettalarete3476065947 – 3383448981 (both cell phones) Read More...

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21 August 2019

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