I interrupt my monologue on the trip to Italy with this little blurb on Charleston farmhouse, a house lived in by some members of the Bloomsbury group. After watching the British bake off on PBS last night I couldn't resist this. I know our BBC programs are all outdated even the ones of Downton Abbey but we still enjoy them. I know the British bake off was shown in England last Summer but still the romance for me burns deep and bright. The finals last night showed family members picnicking outside the tent in a Summer setting that is so quintessentially English. I couldn't resist but remember that I was here last May (2014). Looking at these images makes me want to jump on the next flight and be here again except its still too early, England is still in the throes of Winter. Maybe later.....
Early that day, the lawns at Charleston was empty but soon.....
People with their picnic baskets soon started to arrive and mark out their spot on the lawn....
Before long the grounds was filled. What a glorious day in May that was.
I sat here outside a sandwich tent, writing under an apple tree.
Here is the pond which Vanessa Bell described as a lake when she first visited the house with the intent of moving in with her family and friends.
The garden was rather wild when she first saw the house but as Virginia Woolf, her sister, wrote, 'you can make it lovely.' Make it lovely she did though these gardens have been fully restored to its original glory by professionals.
You can keep a spot in your home to honor the Bloomsbury group, have some meadow flowers in a milk jug in some corner.
Though no photography was allowed inside the house, I took these images from a book on Charleston farmhouse.
I hope you will visit Charleston farmhouse while on your next visit to England. It is very easy even without a car. Take the train from Victoria station to Lewes. At Lewes, either take a taxi to the house or walk (quite far) or wait for the bus. While the festival is on at Charleston, there is a shuttle (not very often) that leaves the train station at Lewes and goes to the front door of the house and back to the station. You won't be the only one. When the weather is good, hordes of English people flock there, to meet up with family and friends and make a day of it. Enjoy!
How magical, to have spent a whole Sunday in Rome, a few weeks ago. Well, not really a whole Sunday. We left Naples at 9am, reached Rome at 10 am, our room at the hostel wasn't ready, so we bought a metro ticket and headed over to San Giovanni in Laterano but ended the day at Santa Maria Maggiore where we attended an evening service at one of the side chapels. The singing was so beautiful, it was in Italian but we could join in the chorus by singing, 'alleluia'. I know if I'm ever in Rome on a Sunday again I'm going back to Santa Maria Maggiore. I feel so at home in Rome.
The climbing Jasmine are in full bloom. I have some in the house right now and it smells so wonderful. I went out to pick some yesterday and couldn't help but placed some in my hair. I'm practicing for Midsommar celebration in Denmark.
Most of the churches in Park Murgia are closed. There is not enough resources to keep all of them opened. But from the crack I was able to get a shot of the fresco inside.
A view of Matera from Park Murgia.
Park Murgia is an empty quarter where only shepherds graze their cows and sheep. We could hear the cow bells and knew the cows were close by. Indeed they were, heritage black cows which give milk for making the wonderful cheese typical of Matera.
Cappadocia, Turkey is not the only place in the world that lay claim to having frescoed rock churches. Matera, Italy has their own but not to the same extent as those found in Cappadocia. Our trip this time was to uncover some of these, we missed them on our first trip in 2007.
Our cook and owner of the restaurant, he wasn't speaking to us here but to the table next to us. From there conversation, they were big wigs from the movie studio in town for the shooting of the remake of Ben Hur.
This is the traditional bread made in Matera and it is the most delicious bread.
Lasagna, even his presentation is different and so exquisite.
And of course, orecchiete with rapini, so traditional of Southern Italy. It was a great lunch.
Inside a cave dwelling in Matera, this is clean and fresh but in reality it is not. It is usually smelly and dirty because they bring the animals inside and kids are sick with malaria and/or dysentery. The stuffing for the mattress is straw. Everyone lives in here, adults, children and babies.
The kitchen with niches for things, there are air vents and chimneys.
There is a water source near the kitchen where rain water is captured and stored.
They bring their animals in at night, it could include some pigs too.
Today these same hovels are being renovated for private homes with sewer systems and other modern amenities and some are now hotels and restaurants. At one time these hovels became so unhealthy that the Italian government moved all thee 15,000 residents out to be resettled in the new upper village. Today some 60% of the sassi have been renovated. Matera has UNESCO world heritage site designation and is European culture capital of 2019!
The hotel we stayed in, Agli Archi at the base of Sasso Caveoso, it is a rock carved hotel but thoroughly modernized.
The extras on 'Ben Hur' are all in costumes already and waiting for shooting to start for the day. I found some horses nearby that they were using for filming. This horse nuzzled up to me, he was the gentlest animal, his hair was so soft and he was so gentle.
We met our guide, Luigi, and off we went, exploring the sassi and the ruprestrian churches.