In the So-Called Valley of the So-Called Temples

Nowadays ‘so-called’ seems to be used mostly as a kind of passive-aggressive verbal side-swipe.  As in ‘so-called friends’ or ‘so-called experts’.  And ‘so-called valley’, which, as we saw in a previous post (In the (Not)Valley of the Temples, Aug. 9, 2015) is not a valley at all – it’s a ridge.  But if you are one of those individuals who still look up such things,  you’ll see that it also has another, quite different meaning:  the use of one commonly known term for another.  In one dictionary entry a phrase taken from a newspaper article helps clarify this less frequent use:   ‘At the scene of an airplane crash, investigators will search for the flight recorder, the so-called black box’.  Here there are no sardonic undertones.   The journalist is simply using a simple, concrete term to identify what we all know is a small container inside of which are complex, scientific data that will hopefully tell us how the plane crash occurred.

When I started walking around the ruins of Agrigento, dutifully noting – and hopefully remembering – the names of the various temples, I had no inkling of the role the black box meaning of ‘so-called’ had played in how the temples got their names.


From the (so-called) Temple of Castor and Pollux it was a short walk to the ‘Olympian Field’.

The Olympian Field was the site of the Temple of Zeus, which would have been the largest Doric temple ever built, had it not been for earthquakes and pillaging, which continued well into the 18th century.  As bad as the pillaging and pilfering were from a strictly moral point of view, if you saw the decidedly unattractive town of Porto Empedocle, where so much of the temple ended up (and where I got miserably lost for a while one day on my way to the Turks’ Staircase, another ‘so-called’ site), you’d think it was even worse.

The view from the top of the temple, had it ever been finished would have been magnificent. Even at ground level, there was a fabulous view to the sea.

The view from the top of the temple, had it ever been finished, would have been magnificent. Even at ground level, it’s not  bad.

Enormous hunks of rock littered the field.  Off to the side were a couple of supine male figures, their hands behind their necks as it they’d been resting.  They were Atlases or Telamons, support columns like the female sculptures – caryatids – I’d seen at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli (An Emperor’s Country Retreat, Feb. 22, 2015).


I was much less impressed with pile of rocks until I learned that the other... was a reconstruction.

I was much less impressed with this pile of rocks until I learned that the other one was a reconstruction.

In another corner of the field there were the ruins of another temple, but so little of it remained that they didn’t even bother with any ‘so-calling’ and simply referred to it as ‘Tempio L‘.  (Temple L)

Continuing along the ridge, the next temple you come to is named in honour of the ever-popular Greek god, Hercules.


Even the ancient Greeks may have called this one the Temple of Hercules.


Like the columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, these columns were also rebuilt, but in this case, they were actually part of the original temple.


All along the ridge were the most wonderful views.  Were the ancient Greeks as keen on views as we are today or was the site chosen solely for defensive purposes?


There was a lot of excitement about the return of the curly-horned Girgentana goat.


The mother had a bite to eat and then…


…like beleaguered mothers everywhere, tried to get a bit of peace and quiet.

Halfway along the ridge, was the temple I’d gazed at over breakfast.  According to the plaque, written in Italian, English and French, it was called il Tempio della Concordia. The Temple of Concord.  A wonderfully apt name, I thought, for such a serene-looking building.


Concord, a beautiful name for a beautiful temple.


It owes its marvellous state of preservation to the fact that after all the pagan gods were properly expelled and the rear of the building was redesigned as the entrance, it was used as a Christian Basilica.  Not even the most unscrupulous pillagers would have stooped to using a Christian church as a quarry.

Nowadays, the area in front of the temple is the site of la Sagra del mandorlo in fiore, an annual festival in celebration of the almond trees that are covered in white blossoms, creating a white wonderland.   It is held the first Sunday in February, the same time of year some Canadians also celebrate a white wonderland.  (While others of us curse it.)


The ancient olive tree nearby is a good place to rest weary legs.  A guide had wisely gathered his group under its shade while he told them about the temple.


Of much greater interest to this group of students was a certain part of the anatomy of the statue in front of the temple.

Near the statue was a plaque no-one seemed to be paying any attention to.  Curious, and lacking a guide to tell me about the temple, I went over to have a look.  I was surprised to see that unlike the others it was written solo in italiano. I was even more surprised when I read the first line – La denominazione errata deriva da…  The name was ‘errata‘?!


In the end, they had to call all these ruins something. Even if it was errata.

It turns out the name Concordia has nothing to do with the original temple.  It was plagiarized from the inscription on a chunk of marble – from a different temple – that had been found nearby.  In any event, to take liberties with Juliet’s declaration of love for Romeo, ‘a temple by any other name is still as beautiful’.

According to the map, somewhere around here there were more so-called ruins – the so-called Tomb of Theron, the 4th century AD so-called Grotte Fragapane, and the so-called ‘Oratory of Phalaris’, where the tyrant presumably ranted and raved when he wasn’t roasting his enemies in his iron bull.

I continued up the ridge.


In May the crowds are smaller, the temperatures are still in the 20’s and the Prickly Pear and Broom are both in bloom. Sometimes right next to each other.

At the top of ridge, are the remains of the Temple of Juno, wife (and sister) of Jupiter, King of the Roman Gods.  Since it has been dated to the middle of the 5th century B.C., long before the Romans arrived, I’m not sure why it wasn’t named for the equivalent Greek goddess, Hera.  Given the status of women in ancient Greece – remember Aristotle’s words on the subject of women? – having it named for the Roman goddess was perhaps a sign of progress.  In any event, it too is a lovely temple.


The Greeks had brought the olive tree to Sicily with them. Did they find the oleander and broom already there or did they bring them too?


From the Temple of Juno it was a long walk back to the Temple of Concordia, where the skies were still quite blue.

I would have spent more time at Juno’s temple, but I was uneasy.  Looking down the ridge to the south, things looked fine.  But one glance northward made it clear that it wasn’t just the Tinnitus playing tricks on my hearing.  The thunder really had been getting louder.


Agave americana, the so-called ‘Century Plant’.  (For a long time people thought it bloomed once in a century. Although we now know it blooms more frequently than that, it may still seem like a century.)

I took one last photo, put away my camera and with the clouds darkening by the second and thunder crashing all around, raced back to my car.  I almost made it.


A Tyrant’s Garden

I woke up with the peacocks the next morning.  A slightly less screechy wake-up call would have been nice, but I didn’t really mind.  Today I was going to visit Kolymbetra, the garden of the ancient Greeks, and the temples those Greeks built on the ridge overlooking the garden.


From my window the screeching peacock was nowhere to be seen, but in the distance there was one of the temples.

When I told the young woman who brought me breakfast about walking over to Kolymbetra the evening before, her eyes opened wide.  If one of the custode had caught me without a entrance ticket…


My idea of breakfast. Freshly-squeezed juice, croissant just out of the oven, cappuccino and a fabulous view.

Still, it was tempting.  The walk through the olive grove had been such a pleasant experience and it was so much closer by foot than by car and I really did not want to drive along that narrow lane any more times than absolutely necessary.  But I also didn’t want to run into an unfriendly custode before I reached the ticket office.

My plan was to tour the garden first and then the temples, so I parked in the lot at the south end of the ‘valley’, close to the temple that overlooked the garden.  With my ticket, proof that I had not entered illegally, and map in hand, I set out for the temple.  According to the map it was called the Temple of Castor and Pollux.


From almost any part of the garden, you can catch a glimpse of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

There is something about the number ‘3’.  Photography has the ‘rule of thirds’; in our gardens we’re urged to plant ‘in threes’.  E così via.  And on and on.  ‘Three’ is symmetry, beauty and harmony.  So maybe the Temple of Castor and Pollux would be even more compelling if it only had three columns.  But, you might object, it’s a ruin.  You can’t fault a ruin for not following the principles of design.  Fine – except that this ‘ruin’ is a made-up 19th century pasticcio.

In the early 1800’s Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta Duca di Serradifalco, who mercifully usually went by the name of Serradifalco, was put in charge of the excavation and restoration of Sicily’s major archeological sites, including Agrigento.  He suspected that a treasure trove of ruins lay under the rubble and earth that had accumulated over the centuries and set his workers to digging.  When they hit – probably literally – some columns, he had three of them mounted on bits and pieces from various temples and called the newly minted ruin the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

And the fourth column?  It was added much later, a few years before his death.  Was it his decision?  Or maybe a younger colleague, eager for his bit of glory.  And which of the columns now standing was the later addition?  No idea.  And why, after all the bother they’d gone to, hadn’t they done something about the unsightly, white splotches?  In any event, notwithstanding the supernumerary column, the new ruin was a great success, and before long was adopted as the official symbol of the Valley of the Temples.


‘Ruins’ of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, official symbol of the Valley of the Temples.

I found out later that the ‘unsightly splotches’ are what’s left of a stucco coating that protected the sandstone and that also just happened to create a marble-like effect similar to the real thing on temples back in Greece.

Concidentally, while I was putting this post together, TVO rebroadcast ‘Lone Twin’, a beautifully moving documentary in which writer/director Anna Van Der Wee, seeks the answer to a question that has haunted her since the death of her twin brother in a tragic accident when he – and she – were twenty:   When a twin dies, is the surviving twin still a twin?  In the intro she talks about twins throughout history, including Castor and Pollux, twin brothers from Greek mythology.

Like most Greek myths, especially ones involving Zeus, the story line is terribly complicated, but in a nutshell, after Zeus seduces the swan, Leda, she gives birth to the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, who are, according to some versions, both half-immortal (whatever that means).  In other versions, Pollux gets all the immortality gene and Castor is left mortal.  Inevitably, the one who ends up wounded in battle is Castor.  Overcome with grief after Castor’s death, Pollux begs Zeus to reunite him with his brother.  For a character who spent so much time getting up to no good, the king of the gods came up with a surprisingly brilliant solution –  he transformed them into Gemini, the constellation of the twins.  None of which explains why the temple was named for the twins.

I was making slow progress.  A good thing the entrance to the garden was nearby.


Plaque at the official entrance to Kolymbetra.

In ‘The End of Your Life Book Club’ Will Schwalbe describes how his mother, the other member of this very exclusive book club, would read the end of a book first.  While I have always felt some kind of moral obligation to start where the author intended (although I have, at times, guiltily raced through many pages to get to the end), I can relate to her strategy.  When confronted with plaques like the one at the entrance to Kolymbetra – no matter how interesting or how well written – I start losing focus after the first line or two.  I can’t wait to get to the end – the garden.  So I take a photo and read the material after I’ve visited the garden.  Preferably sitting somewhere with a nice view and a glass of wine.


From here it was easy to see the path (on the left) I had taken into the garden the day before. Doesn’t it seem rather wide for an illegal entrance?  In the distance, the modern city of Agrigento.

But the people in charge were on to visitors like me.  Throughout the garden were more plaques, each with a very palatable bocconcino of info.  The canny people who had put up these plaques work with FAI,  Fondo Ambiente Italiano (Foundation of the Italian Environment), a national non-profit organization with a mandate similar to that of the British National Trust – the promotion and protection of green spaces, historical buildings and all the other elements of Italy’s rich heritage that are ‘fundamental to our roots and our identity’.


In the top left corner of each plaque, the symbol of FAI, the Italian equivalent of the British National Trust.

Towards the end of the 20th century, the whole area had fallen into such a serious state of neglect – the peasants having abandoned the hardships and subsistence existence of farm work for an easier life in the city – the local authorities decided the only way to save it would be to hand it over to FAI.  FAI’s restoration efforts have been so rapid and so successful that Kolymbetra has already been among the top 10 finalists of the annual ‘Most Beautiful Parks in Italy’.


Even in full daylight it was hard to tell where the tree ended and the rock began.

For those of you who have left reading the plaque for later, the ground I was standing on was once the site of an enormous Kolymbetra –  ancient Greek for ‘swimming pool’.     The pool had been the idea of the Greek ‘tyrant’, as the leaders of the Greek settlements in Magna Grecia were called, Terone.   Some of the tyrants lived up to the name – Phalaris was a particularly unsavoury brute, who took delight in roasting his victims in a iron bull.  Although as ambitious as his predecessor, Terone seems to have been of a more humane temperament.  A less tyrannical tyrant.  Rather than roast his enemies, he preferred to use them as slave labour.

After defeating the Carthaginians in the 480 B.C. Battle of Himera (not to be confused with other Battles of Himera between the Greeks and the Carthaginians – 409 B.C., 405 B.C. and 310 B.C. – how do people keep these things straight?) in addition to the other spoils of battle, Terone found himself with an enormous supply of slave labour (all those captured Carthaginians).   Perfect for the urban renewal and beautification projects he had in mind.  He started with the temples.  But in addition, aware that absolute power can only get you so far if the citizens you rule don’t have the basic necessities, he took advantage of his new work force to build a system that would provide the city with a reliable and sufficient supply of water.


Some of the captives were set to work digging a series of ipogei, (tunnels) in the hillside.  Water droplets that transpired from the porous tufa, flowed along the channels to holding tanks.  The water in the tanks was used to replenish the water in the great vasca, an enormous pool ‘seven stadiums large and 20 braccia (arms) deep’ that had been dug out by others of their wretched compatriots, and to water the lush garden, full of marvellous fauna and flora, that surrounded the pool.  When finished, it was a luxurious holiday resort that even the most ambitious of tyrants would have been happy to call his own. But Terone was no ordinary tyrant.  His bit of paradise was open to all – the local women would come here to do their laundry and gossip and all were free to refresh themselves in the cool, limpid waters.


A few minutes later, a group of Grade 1 students from a local school arrived at the ipogeo. One of their teachers told me Kolymbetra was the perfect outing.  A bit of culture and then the students would be back in time for their parents to pick them up for lunch.

A century later Terone’s great vasca was filled in and the area planted with vegetables and fruit trees.  Enough water still flowed through the ipogei to irrigate the entire garden, even in the dry season. As it does to this day.

In 1100, around the beginning of the Dark Ages – an expression that seems oddly out of place in this sun-filled locale – the area was transformed again, this time into a cannetto and the vegetables and fruit trees were replaced with sugar cane.


These workers, who were struggling to remove the plants which were threatening to take over the garden, may have had an opinion or two about the idea of planting sugar cane in the hot, sheltered valley.


What if Disney had been Italian instead of American? Would some of the talking trees in his movies have been olives?

Five centuries later, the property was taken over by an abbey and planted with vegetables and herbs. And in the 17th century, when vast tracts of Sicily were being planted with fruit trees, a citrus grove was added.


Carved into the hillside, beyond the citrus grove, the cave church I had seen the day before.

As I meandered through the citrus trees, I thought about how these fruits, which we have grown so used to and see everyday in our grocery store, originally came to us courtesy of the Arabs, whose civilization was, for so many centuries, far advanced of any in Europe.  A thought which, if anything, made the current situation in the Middle East seem even more tragic.


The diminutive femminello (little female) seems a peculiar choice of name for a lemon – or anything for that matter – known for its ‘extraordinary’ fertility.


A serendipitous succession of yellows and greens.

I’d always been confused about the word ‘cedro‘ (chay-droe).  I knew it was a lemon, so why not limone (lee-moh-nay)?   And I had never heard of a Citron Tree before. I’d always thought of ‘citron’ as see-tro(n) – French for lemon.  Or maybe a paint colour.  Things would have been a lot less confusing if Pliny had just left the names of these things alone.


The pomegranate is not one of my favourite fruits – so much work for such a tiny bit of juice.  Persephone would certainly have fared a lot better if she hadn’t eaten any – but aesthetically, it has a lot going for it.  A few nice, big, red pomegranates look great in fall and winter planters and I even like its bright orange (not a colour you’ll find in my garden) flowers.


The Pomegranate.  Depending on when and where you lived, a symbol of friendship and democracy or fruit of the dead.

Given the disaster that followed Persephone’s eating just a few seeds, I was surprised to learn that in modern times the pomegranate has been given a new, more positive spin.  In Greece it’s now considered a symbol of abundance, fertility, and good luck, often given as a house-warming gift.


Even when you know the life cycle, it’s hard to imagine this will one day be a large, round, gorgeous-looking fruit.

At the far end of the garden was one of the ancient channels used to irrigate the garden.


Nearby, a few unnaturally square chunks of rock jutted precariously out of the hillside.  This was the site of a latomia – a type of cave from which the Greeks extracted the building blocks for their temples.


At this rate I was never going to get to the temples and this was my last day in the area.  I slowly made my way up the ridge and out of the ancient garden.


Next – The Temples.


Staying Put

Back in January when, already fed up with winter, I decided to take this blog south for a while, I assumed that by spring I’d be ready to go back up north and continue exploring the gardens of Tuscany.  But March 20 has come and gone and the weather people are still going on about snow flurries and freezing rain and wind chill factors.  So, until the spirit of spring makes a solid appearance – and by that I mean no more dustings of snow overnight, no more ugly gray piles of frozen mush and grit blocking the roads – you can add your own favourite winter uglies to the list – until then, I’m staying put.

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Piles of white stuff of a different sort.  Salt flats near Trapani off the north-west coast of Sicily.

In the meantime, since we’ve already visited all the gardens I had planned to look at during this winter getaway, this might be a good time to explore one of the most controversial issues in photography these days.  I was completely put off balance when it came up during the Q&A following one of my talks.  One of the members of the audience observed that there were no gardeners in any of the photos I had just shown them and he wondered how the gardens were maintained.  I stood there, not knowing what to say – or think.


Since then, I’ve stopped waiting until people like this gardener at Villa Lante
are ‘out of the way’ before I take my photos.

He was right, of course.  In fact I had worked very hard to get as few people as possible in those photos. I forget what I came up with by way of reply, but it got me rethinking the whole to shoot (we’re talking ‘photo-talk’ here!) or not to shoot people thing.  It’s caused a lot of unpleasant encounters locally.  One that really stuck in my mind was the father who was strolling around Dundas Square, a rare open area in downtown Toronto, with his young son.  He was taking a few photos when one of the people in the square rushed at him, gave him a good punch and smashed his camera.

You may recognize this photo from the post on the gardens of Villa Pietra in Florence.

It all seems to boil down to two diametrically opposed, and seemingly irreconcilable points of view.  On the one hand are those who take the position that if you’re in a public space, you can ‘shoot’ whatever and whomever you want.  On the other are those who say you cannot take any photos whatsoever of children under a certain age, or of older people without their consent, which of course eliminates most of the population since children and the elderly are usually in the company of the people you might be allowed to photograph.


This is a tricky one. Obviously taking photos of this artist’s paintings would be totally inappropriate.
But taking a photo of him at work…?

Fortunately, so far my experience has been without incident.  In fact – and this may have something to do with the fact that I take a lot more photos when travelling around Italy than when I’m home – not only do the people I’m photographing not mind, they seem to enjoy the interest.  I know this because I don’t have any fancy telephoto lenses – just the standard ‘kit’ lens that the camera came with – so when it comes to people, I have to get pretty close – so close they know what I’m up to.  And whenever I can, I ask for permission, as I did one day in Trani.


The sheltered harbour of Trani, along the northern coast of Puglia


As you continue along the quay, the pleasure boats give way to fishing boats.

I was lucky.  The fishing boats had just returned and the far side of the quay was lined with stalls.   There weren’t a lot of customers – just a few anziani (elderly people). I strolled around, watching, listening to the orders being placed.


Everything you need to make a fish stew.

I loved the colours of the fish against the turquoise bin, so got a bit closer to take a photo.  As I fiddled with my camera’s settings, one of the anziani sidled up to me – he was standing very close, even by Italian standards – and started talking to me.  I had a hard time making out what he was saying.  It wasn’t just the missing teeth or that he was using a lot of dialect.  He struck me as a bit ‘off’.  From the bits I could make out, it sounded like he was inviting me to his place.  Then one of the other customers told him to shush – “Lasciala tranquilla!” (Leave her alone. ) She smiled at me and shrugged, confirming what I had sensed.  I took a photo of the fish. But not of the old man.


At a stall close by things were different.  Here was a much bigger selection and while he waited for customers to arrive, the vendor passed the time visiting with a couple of pals.


Ghost Busters?


When I asked ‘Posso?’ (May I?), pointing at my camera, he struck this surprisingly serious pose, but I figured he got to choose how he was going to be portrayed.  His pals made a few comments that I didn’t catch (I speak ‘standard’ Italian – can barely understand anything whenever anyone switches over to dialect – even less when the comments involve certain parts of the body…) It was astonishing to see how quickly he changed gears – coming up with all sorts of more ‘interesting’ shots whose significance was totally lost on me.



All of which was leading up to a demonstration of how to slurp a long, wormy-looking thing he pulled out of one of the fish – don’t ask me – I spent my Italian formative years in Tuscany – I know nothing about the fish in Puglia.  This of course produced the desired effect and they all burst out laughing when I gasped in disgust, as they knew I would.


Probably the photo that has touched me the most is one I took many years ago in Umbria.  I had taken my travelling companions to Deruta, which is where most of the ceramica (pottery) made in Italy actually comes from, in spite of what is painted on the bottom of items you see in stores all over the country (more on that later…).  Since I’d been before, it didn’t take me long to find a few pieces I’d so far managed to resist.  While my companions looked around, the owner and I chatted – about life in Italy, the struggling economy, all the seemingly insurmountable problems facing the younger generation and then, probably eager for a break from the daily doom and gloom, he asked about my travel plans.  I told him about the local markets, vineyards, cooking classes, hilltop villages that we were going to visit.  When I mentioned that our next destination was Assisi, he suggested – actually he insisted – I go to Collepino, just a short drive east of Assisi.


When you wish you’d brought a bigger suitcase.


Collepino is the quintessential medieval hamlet.  In less than five minutes you can walk from one end to the other.  There is one piazza.  And whatever you think of those blue chairs and table, you have to admit, they do go well with the plumbago growing up the wall next to them.


On the other side of the piazza were four people.  How many afternoons, how many years had they spent together in the tiny piazza?  I had taken up photography only a short while before and was even more shy than I am now about taking photos of people – don’t want to intrude/offend etc. – but there was something about them that pushed me to ask,  “Dispiace se faccio la foto?”  (Would you mind if I took your photo?)  The fellow on the left jumped right up and said he would get out of view to make the photo “più bello” (more beautiful) and the one with the cane went to take his hat off.  “No,no, no” I said, “è bello così!”  (it’s beautiful just the way you are!)


I like the way the two men are looking straight into the camera and you can just make out the hint of a smile on the woman knitting in the back, her feet resting on her slippers.  After, I went over to to show them the photo, thinking they might like to see how bello it had turned out.  They all leaned over to have a look at the lens viewer – all except the woman wearing the dark glasses.  To my chagrin, I realized she was blind.

There is however, one situation where I rarely have any qualms about taking photos of people.  Weddings.  They are already such public affairs in Italy where couples are married first at City Hall and from there proceed, usually on foot, (and how the women manage on those stilettos is beyond me) to the church nearby, where they are married again.

Sicily 048

Who knew? – salt flats as the setting for your wedding photos.

I arrived just in time to tour the biggest of the windmills before it was closed to the public.  This was where the reception was being held.  As the sun started to set, it was easy to see why they had chosen this location.

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One time when I was staying along the Amalfi Coast I took a side trip to Paestum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest and best preserved collection of Greek temples outside Greece.


In 600 BC Greek settlers founded a colony they called Poseidonia after Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.  The settlement flourished for centuries until 273 BC when the Romans arrived and, in their customary fashion, proceeded to take over, starting with renaming  the colony Paestum.  Plagued by wars and then malaria, the settlement was eventually abandoned.


Temple of Ceres, circa 500 B.C.


Temple of Neptune, circa 450 BC

Temple of Hera, circa 530 BC

Temple of Hera, circa 530 BC


The temples were so mesmerizing I almost missed the wedding party.


For some reason this couple struck me as Sicilian. Maybe it was the black silk suits all the men were wearing?

Sometimes when I’m taking pictures, I get so involved with what is going on in my viewfinder I lose sight (terrible pun!) of the possibility that others might be watching me – as if I’m hidden under some magic cloak of invisibility.

I was on my way to the centro storico of Lecce, the capital of Puglia, aka ‘The  Florence of the South’, when I happened upon this scene.   The bridal party seemed to be wandering all over the intersection and miraculously no-one honked or tried to whiz past them.  This was definitely not Rome.


Look at the heels on the bridesmaid!


Since I was headed in the same direction, I slowed down a bit, thinking to take a few more photos – hidden as always under my cloak of invisibility.


But I was caught out.


For a moment the tables were turned and I was the object of attention – and a well-deserved laugh.

The forecast was bleak when I set out the next day for La Cutura, a fabulous botanical garden about an hour’s drive south of Lecce.  Dark clouds threatened all morning, but I managed to tour most of the gardens before it started to pour. The rain continued during lunch and the drive back.  Since I was only going to be in Lecce for a couple of days, I began to worry that I wasn’t going to get any more photos of the historic centre.   But after a couple of hours it finally let up.  I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping the rain would end.


Apparently the train has to be spread out in all its glory. Puddles or no puddles.

A few final adjustments.

A few last adjustments…

… and finally she entered the church, dragging that gorgeous, soggy train behind her.
If there is any truth to the old saying – Sposa bagnata, moglie fortunata. (Wet bride, lucky wife),
she was about to embark on a very long, happy marriage.

Of all the wedding scenes I’ve come across, this one, in the centre of Sorrento, is probably my favourite.


Such a sweet, tender moment.

I’m still torn on the whole business.  Many people have told me they like the photos with people in them, and sometimes even encourage me to put in a few more.  Is it because those photos make it easier for them to imagine being in the place?  Or provide a sense of scale they can relate to?  Or create a greater sense of connection?

I just hope the people in my photos see it this way too.