Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy

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Exploring the small town of Orvieto, Italy ranked as one of the top highlights of my trip to Italy in 2017. On the last day of our 12 day tour, my daughter, grandson and I soaked up the gorgeous views and fascinating culture of this gem in the Umbria region.

Read the highlights of that day HERE. Then read on for fun facts about Orvieto Italy.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy title meme

Getting to Orvieto Italy

Orvieto rests on a rock cliff formed from a volcanic butte, 1000 feet above the valley below. Considered one of the most striking towns in Italy, Orvieto sits in the middle of the country, less than 90 minutes from Rome.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy

This ancient city of about 21,000 people features an old and new town. Visitors arrive in the new town where they leave their cars or exit their tour buses. To gain entrance into old town they must ride an escalator up or take a funicular (trolley type car) to the edge of town. There buses transport guests up into the city.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy cliff top
Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy – the city perches on a cliff 1000 feet above the valley.

Etruscan Roots

The Etruscan civilization predates the Romans. Orvieto, known as Velzna then, was the most important town in the Etruscan territory. The Etruscans inhabited Orvieto until the 3rd century BC, when the Romans invaded.

The Duomo

This magnificent cathedral, one of the finest in Italy, took 300 years to complete. Think about it. The United States, founded in 1776, has yet to reach its 300th birthday. Generations of builders worked on this masterpiece.

Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the Duomo on November 15, 1290. Completion occurred in 1591.

Inside, visitors appreciate the tall ceilings and black and white striped columns. Within the Duomo is the Chapel of San Brizio, featuring Luca Signorelli’s paintings, Day of Judgment and Life After Death. Some find the works of art creepy, with their depictions of hell and flying demons, while others declare them stunning.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy chapel
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the Duomo took 300 years to complete. Interior view.

Papal Residence

Outside of Rome, only Orvieto and two other cities contained papal palaces. During the sack of Rome in 1527, Pope Clement VII sought refuge in Orvieto.

Fearing the water supply might not last, if the city went under siege, the pope commissioned a 62 meter deep well. The Pozzo di S Patrizio, or Well of St Patrick, contains a central well shaft surrounded by stairways in a double helix design. The staircases allowed one way traffic, with empty water jars going down one set of stairs and full ones coming up the other.

Visitors may climb down into the well and toss coins into the water.

Underground Labyrinth

Beneath Orvieto lies a labyrinth of Etruscan caves and tunnels. The underground city boasts 1200 passageways, galleries, wells, stairs, cellars, cisterns and rooms.

Noble families living above were equipped with escape tunnels that wound from their homes through the labyrinth below, emerging at safe exit points outside the city walls.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy street
One of the gorgeous streets in Orvieto.

Oldest Church in Orvieto

San Giovenale claims the title as the oldest church in the city. Built in 1004, on the site of an Etruscan temple, the building contains many 13th century frescoes.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy oldest church
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the oldest church was built in 1004.

Etruscan Necropolis

Orvieto contains one of two Etruscan cemeteries in Italy. This one is 2,500 years old and located on the northern side of the cliff face. The tombs resemble houses, neatly arranged in rows.

Middle Ages Fortress

Built in the 1300s, Albornoz Fortress stood at the edge of the city on the site of an Etruscan temple. It’s purpose was to keep the city secure. Today it’s mostly in ruins and used as a public garden with an amphitheater for performances.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy fortress ruins
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the fortress was built on the site of an Etruscan temple.

Torre del Moro

The 47 meter tall clock tower in central Orvieto contains 236 steps that visitors may climb for spectacular views of the city and valley below. Originally built in the 13th century, the tower belonged to the pope. Today its clock and bells tell time.

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy clock tower
Fun facts about Orvieto Italy – the clock tower is the tallest structure in the city.

White Wine

The soil around Orvieto contains rich minerals, producing grapes that give wines a clean, crisp finish. Orvieto is known for its white wines and Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.

Fall in Love with Orvieto

We loved this beautiful old city at the top of the world. We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering the narrow streets and taking in the sights. Cafes, shops, historical buildings and attractions offer much to visitors.

I’d love to return and spend a long weekend there, experiencing more of the people, the history and the culture.

Have you visited Orvieto, Italy?

Fun Facts about Orvieto Italy Dayan and Yaya

 

More Tales from Italy:

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy

Lions of Venice

Things You May Not Know about Michelangelo’s David

Bridge of Sighs

 


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Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

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This month, my Friday Road Trip became a Weekend Getaway, at a unique destination 1.4 miles from my home in Joplin.

My sisters joined me for an overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

And here’s how this interesting weekend came about. Wanting to include local sites of interest on my blog, I checked online to find the owner of this historical building in my city. Intending to gain permission to take photos in the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout, I instead discovered the apartment over the garage is an Airbnb available to rent.

Perfect!

My intention to take photos for a story turned into a fun overnight experience.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout title meme

The Barrow Gang Comes to Joplin

The Joplin connection is a vital one, in the saga of Bonnie and Clyde.

This infamous couple, Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, traveled the lower Midwest between 1931 and 1934. The pair’s life of crime began with robberies of small stores and gas stations and escalated to bank heists and murder.

Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife Blanche and the youth WD Jones completed the Barrow Gang. During their years of crime, they killed nine police officers and four civilians.

On April 1, 1933, the gang rented an over the garage apartment in Joplin, Missouri. Located in a quiet, affluent neighborhood, the upstairs apartment’s many windows provided vantage points to watch for the approach of law enforcement.

For 13 days the group hid in the apartment while committing a series of robberies in Missouri and neighboring states. They slept late into the day, partied heartily at night and cleaned weapons in the garage.  A variety of stolen cars appeared and disappeared from the property. Their unusual activities drew suspicion from the neighbors.

On April 13, 1933, police arrived, expecting to find bootleggers. Instead, a furious shootout occurred. Joplin police detective Harry McGinnis and Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman lost their lives. McGinnis died from his wounds in a nearby hospital while Harryman died instantly, his body falling into the garage.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout 1933
Bonnie and Clyde apartment 1933. Photo taken by Blanche Barrow.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout 2020
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout in 2020.

The Importance of the Joplin Hideout

Bonnie and Clyde, Buck and Blanche and WD escaped, however they left all of their belongings behind. Police discovered a camera and undeveloped rolls of film. The circulated photos from those canisters allowed law enforcement across the lower US to see what the outlaws looked like. The brutality of the shooting in Joplin helped to change the public’s opinion about the gang.

Buck Barrow died as a result of gunshot wounds from a raid at Platte City, Missouri on July 29, 1933.

Blanche Barrow eventually served six years in prison for assault. After her release she remarried and lived quietly for the rest of her life. She died December 24, 1989.

WD Jones, who was only 16 when he joined with Bonnie and Clyde, received a 15 year sentence. He was paroled after six years. WD died August 20, 1974 from gunshot wounds, after an altercation.

And Bonnie and Clyde’s crime spree came to an end on May 23, 1934 on a rural road in Louisiana. A posse of Texas rangers and Louisiana officers set up an ambush, firing more than 100 rounds into the car carrying the duo.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout duo
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – photo of the pair found in the camera left behind in Joplin.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bonnie
One of the most famous photos of Bonnie Parker, found in the camera left in Joplin.

Spending the Night at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

I reserved the apartment through Airbnb. My sisters and I, along with our mother, arrived at 3:00 pm sharp. We checked ourselves in through the access keypad on the door.

The apartment, which is registered as a historic site, contains a living room, full kitchen with a dining area, two bedrooms and a bathroom. One of the bedrooms is set up as a parlor without a bed.

Saundra, the owner and host, offers charming and meticulously clean accommodations with an authentic 1930s feel. The rooms contain photos, newspaper articles and books detailing the lives of the Barrow Gang. And guests can watch the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, on the television hidden in a cabinet in the living room.

Join me on a photo tour of this unique apartment.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout stairs
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – stairs leading up to the apartment. The door to the garage, lower right, is locked.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Ferni
Ferni’s first photo op. Check out our last adventure.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Kitchen

I love Airbnbs with kitchens. We toted in groceries for our evening meal, snacks and breakfast the next morning. The kitchen in the Bonnie and Clyde apartment offers a full sized electric range, a small refrigerator with freezer and an assortment of cooking pots, dinnerware and utensils.

A small dining table and two chairs provide a spot for meals.

With its windows and cozy decor, the kitchen became my favorite space in the dwelling. I enjoyed preparing aloo matar for dinner and fruit bowls for breakfast. A black tea kettle inspired me to prepare cups of peppermint tea.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout kitchen
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – love this cheerful, bright kitchen.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout making tea
Making tea. The full sized stove made cooking easy during our stay.
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout dining area
My favorite spot in the apartment.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Living Room

The living room, with its original wood floors and wall of windows, provides the perfect place to gather. The four chairs offer ample seating. We enjoyed thumbing through the books about Bonnie and Clyde.

Because Mom and my daughter Elissa joined us for dinner, we used this space for eating as well as lively discussions and watching the Bonnie and Clyde film together later.

Tucked into a corner is a large cupboard where the gang stashed their guns. There’s a bullet hole within it, from the spray of bullets that came through a window.

I also enjoyed looking through the guests books in this room, where visitors record their appreciation for this apartment.

 

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout living room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – comfy living room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout book
Copy of Blanche’s book, My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, available to read. We all read the Joplin chapter while there.

The Bathroom

The bathroom off of the short hallway still contains its original bathtub. However the rest of the bathroom is updated for convenience.

I love the black and white theme and the clean, bright space.

Saundra provides soaps and towels for her guests.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout bathroom
Cute and classy black and white bathroom.

Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bedrooms

The original floor plan of the apartment shows two bedrooms, one at either end of a short hallway.

Although Saundra set up one room as a parlor, it’s easy to determine which bedrooms members of the Barrow Gang utilized.

The front bedroom, overlooking the street, is currently the parlor. Blanche and Buck Barrow slept in this room.

Bonnie and Clyde used the back bedroom. I read that WD Jones actually slept with the couple most of the time although in this apartment it’s possible he also claimed the living room as his space.

For our overnight, my sisters slept in Bonnie and Clyde’s room while I slept on an air mattress that I brought along, in the front bedroom.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Blanche and Buck's room
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout – Blanche and Buck’s room, now a parlor
Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout Bonnie and Clyde's bedroom
Bonnie and Clyde’s bedroom.

Our Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

We loved our overnight in this lovely apartment.

The neighborhood is indeed quiet and the windows in the upstairs apartment let in plenty of sunlight. After settling in, we savored our evening meal and snacks and chatted until early in the morning.

I enjoyed preparing tea for me and one of my sisters. And imagine the surreal experience of watching a movie about these notorious outlaws while actually sitting in the space they lived in for a short time.

With my sensitivity to energy, it was not hard to sense Bonnie, Clyde, Blanche, Buck and WD moving silently about the hideout. And while many romanticized this couple during the height of their crime spree, Bonnie and Clyde lived a life outside of the law. The consequences of their actions and lifestyle resulted in pain and death for innocent people. And yet, I recognize their humanity too and I’m willing to learn from their stories.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout tea time
Tea time during our overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

Sleeping Well

When I first arrived at the apartment, I felt some of that residual pain empathically. After all, two men died during the shoot out. Because of that lingering energy, I honestly didn’t know if I could sleep in Blanche and Buck’s room. However, by bedtime I’d made peace with the energy there, which mellowed out during the evening.

We slept well in the Bonnie and Clyde hideout, my sisters and I.

Awaking early, with sunlight streaming in through the windows, I curled up on the chaise lounge in the parlor and read in Blanche’s book. Taken from her diary, the book provides an intimate glimpse into life with the famous outlaws. Gratefully, I’m picking up the book at the Joplin Public Library tomorrow, to finish reading it.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout reading
A lovely spot to start the day.

Visit the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout

I highly recommend this Airbnb! Saundra is a super host, providing a unique experience for her guests. My sisters and I would definitely stay here again.

The apartment is located at 3347 1/2 Oak Ridge Drive, in Joplin, although the building actually faces 34th Street. There is a historic landmark sign in the yard.

If you appreciate unusual buildings, enjoy history or want to experience a space where famous outlaws once resided, book this outstanding Airbnb using this link. New to Airbnb? Save up to $65 off of your first stay with this link!

When you visit, soak in the history and the stories within those walls…and tell the Barrow Gang I said hello.

Overnight at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout sign
Historic landmark sign at the Bonnie and Clyde Hideout.

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The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny

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I first toured Edinburgh Castle in 2014, with my cousins Mindy and William. On that dreich day in August, we stood huddled around our tour guide Jonathan as he spoke passionately about Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, housed nearby in a room of the castle.

With his long red hair blowing in the wind and fire in his fierce blue eyes, Jonathan epitomized the proud Scots warrior, ready to defend his beloved country. I shivered as he spoke in his heavy Scottish brogue and it had nothing to do with the cold. He shared how the stone left Scotland for a time…a very long time…and eventually returned home where, he declared vehemently, it will remain.

And he intrigued me with a tale of the infamous theft of the Stone of Destiny.

When my cousins opted to leave the castle complex to attend a whiskey tasting, I chose to stay behind and see this Stone of Destiny that stirred such passion in our guide.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny title meme

The Stone of Destiny Backstory

The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone and in England, the Coronation Stone, is an oblong block of red sandstone. This rather ordinary looking block of stone served for centuries as the coronation stone for the monarchs of Scotland.

The Scone Abbey near Perth, Scotland originally housed the artifact. Historian Walter Hemingford described the stone as “hollowed out as a chair on which future kings were placed for their coronation, according to custom.”

The stone measures 26 inches by 16.7 inches by 10.5 inches. A roughly etched cross decorates one surface while embedded iron rings aid with transport. It weighs 335 pounds.

In 1296 the English king Edward I took the stone as spoils of war and moved it to Westminster Abbey. A special wooden coronation chair became the stone’s resting place. Edward sought to claim status as the “Lord Paramount” of Scotland with the right to oversee its king.

All subsequent English monarchs sat in the chair, above the stone, when crowned. Queen Elizabeth II last used the coronation chair in 1953.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny coronation chair
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – illustration of the Coronation Chair with the Stone

A Daring Rescue Plan

In 1950, more than 650 years after the stone left Scotland, a group of Scottish college students concocted a bold plan…steal the Stone of Destiny and bring it home.

A law student at the University of Glasgow, Ian Hamilton joined with Alan Stuart, Kay Matheson and Gavin Vernon to break into Westminster Abbey and recover the stone.

Ian read everything he could find about the Abbey and scouted out the building several times. On one visit, he deliberately stayed past closing time, hiding near the Coronation Chair. A janitor discovered him and thinking the young man drunk, offered him a coin and let him out a side door.

During these surveillance trips, Ian found the side doors made of pine, making them easy to break into after hours.

On Christmas Eve, 1950, Ian and his companions drove to London in two separate cars. Arriving early on Christmas Day, the group parked near the Abbey. Kay remained in a running car, ready for a quick get away, while the boys stealthily entered the Abbey. That’s when the plan began to fall apart.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny top view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – top view

Stealing the Stone of Destiny

The heavy stone rested in a chair made specifically for it. The young men found it difficult to remove the stone and ultimately broke part of the chair. Tugging the stone free at last, it fell to the floor, breaking toes on one of the men’s foot. More alarming to them, the stone broke in two.

Ian quickly grabbed the smaller piece and carried it to the car where Kay waited. He stashed the stone segment in the back seat. As he re-entered the Abbey, he heard a police officer approaching. Dashing back to Kay, Ian took her into his arms and kissed her. Questioned by the policeman, the pair claimed to be a couple searching for accommodations for the night.

Once the officer left, Kay drove off with the smaller stone segment hidden beneath a blanket. When Ian returned to the Abbey, he discovered the other men had fled. With great determination and ingenuity, the lad used his coat to laboriously drag the heavier stone segment out of the building.

As he heaved the stone into the trunk of the second car, his comrades returned. They all left together.

The theft discovered, roadblocks sprang up on all streets out of London. Kay did not draw suspicion, as a single girl driving a car. She made it through and crossed the border, taking her part of the stone to her family’s farm in Scotland.

The young men chose to hide the larger segment in England, fearing they could not make it across the closed border. They buried the stone in an empty field in Kent. Eventually they returned for the stone and successfully transported it to Scotland.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny side view
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – side view

Back to England

With the help of the Scottish National Party leader, the courageous college students had the stone repaired by a stone master. The theft made international headlines and brought a united sense of joy to the Scottish people.

As the investigation into the theft of the Destiny Stone came closer and closer to the perpetrators, the four decided that they had accomplished their purpose. By stealing the Stone of Destiny and bringing it home they raised awareness of Scotland’s subordination to England.

The four contacted two Arbroath town councilors and turned over the stone.

On April 11, 1951, the councilors helped the college students set up the stone on an altar in the abandoned Arbroath Abbey and called the authorities. The English got the stone back and returned it to the Coronation Chair. The students disbanded and never met again. Ian completed his studies and became a criminal lawyer.

The way was paved, however, for the stone to return to its rightful place in Scotland. In 1996 the English handed over the Stone of Destiny, on the condition that they may “borrow” it for any future coronations.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny Robert the Bruce
The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny – statue of Robert the Bruce

Viewing the Stone of Destiny

Twice I’ve viewed the Stone of Destiny in Edinburgh Castle. Both times I felt deeply moved.

The stone rests within a plexiglass case along with the Crown Jewels of Scotland. I can’t touch it yet I feel the hum of sacred energy that flows from it. My Scottish DNA responds, causing my eyes to fill with tears and my heart to beat faster. Photographs are not allowed so I spent several long minutes studying the stone, searing its image into my mind and soul.

What an amazing history this stone possesses. I love the courage and resourcefulness of the four young adults who accomplished what no one else dared. They took back what was rightfully theirs. That feat ultimately resulted in a permanent return of the stone and the Scottish are extremely protective of it now.

As an older adult, Ian said:

“When I lifted the stone in Westminster Abbey, I felt Scotland’s soul was in my hands.”

What a marvelous representation of Scotland’s hardy, warrior soul is the Stone of Destiny. Long may it remain in Edinburgh.

The Infamous Theft of the Stone of Destiny group photo
Group photo at Edinburgh Castle, September 2017

Want to watch a fun depiction of this true story? Check out the Stone of Destiny film, available through Amazon Prime. Click on photo to rent.

Not a Prime member? Click HERE

 

Or purchase the book by clicking on the photo below.

 

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10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy

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Every country has their own culture. Delving into that culture is one of the reasons I enjoy travel. And every country has their own superstitions.

On my trip to Italy in 2017, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan, I experienced one of Italy’s good luck traditions first hand. That funny and somewhat startling event inspired me to discover more.

Here are 10 good luck traditions from Italy.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy title meme

The Importance of Learning Culture

After doing my research, I wish I’d known more about these Italian superstitions before my trip. Why? Because knowing them prevents inadvertently offending with my actions or inaction. Or at the least, keeps me from appearing insensitive or ignorant.

Superstitious traditions are woven throughout culture, even if they are no longer perceived in the same way that ancestors believed. The United States observes many superstitions that have become part of our culture. Knocking on wood, beginner’s luck, and find a penny, pick it up all come to mind. Some superstitions are almost universal. Black cats can’t catch a break anywhere because of their supposed association with witches long ago.

The following good luck traditions from Italy are fun to know and carry importance because they teach us more about the Italian people.

Pooped on by a Bird

This is the superstition I had the honor of experiencing!

While our wonderful tour guide Fabiola completed purchases to surprise us with later, the group settled on benches outside the gate of the medieval village of San Gimignano. A large leafy tree provided ample shade as we chatted about our exploration of the village.

As Fabiola strolled toward us with her bags, we gathered our belongings and prepared to board the bus. Suddenly I felt something hit me, on the shoulder and arm. Looking up, I spied a bird directly above me in the tree. Glancing back at my arm, I realized that bird pooped on me.

I made a sound of disgust. However, Fabi and some of the others cheered and clapped their hands.

When a bird poops on you in Italy, it is a symbol of good luck. It means you’ve been singled out for good fortune. Visiting a casino is considered the next best move after such a blessing from above.

People came up to me and rubbed my shoulder, to transfer my good fortune to themselves. One dear woman handed me a package of wipes. Bless her.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bird poop
10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy – bird poop

Tocco Ferro – Touch Iron

In the US we knock on wood for good luck. In Italy, they touch iron. Some even carry a nail with them so that iron always remains within reach. A rusty nail is especially lucky. And like Americans, a metal horseshoe hung on or above a door, with the open ends pointing up, brings good luck to the household.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions form Italy - cornicello
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello charm

Carry a Cornicello Charm

A cornicello resembles a small horn or chili pepper. It represents the horns of the Old European Moon Goddess. Cornicellos are sold predominately in the Naples area, although they are available throughout Italy.

Carrying or wearing a cornicello protects from the curse of the Evil Eye, which is the look a jealous or envious person gives, and from bad luck in general. The charms also hang from the rearview mirrors of vehicles, based on the older custom of using them to protect draft horses, and in houses.

Cornicello also refers to a hand gesture in Italy, used similarly to ward off evil. Gold and silver hand charms are sold as well.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello hand charm

Lucky Number 13

The Italians consider 13 a very lucky number. It is associated with the Goddess of Fertility and represents prosperity and abundance.

However, the Italians have their unlucky number too. For them, the number 17 is extremely unlucky. The Roman numerals XVII rearrange to create the word VIXI, an Italian word for “I have lived”. That phrase is commonly used on tombstones and therefore, connected with death.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy - 13
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lucky number 13

Bocca al Lupo – In the Mouth of the Wolf

The Italians don’t like to say the words “good luck” to each other. Similar to the American expression “break a leg” which is another way of saying good luck, the Italians say “bocca al lupo”. This expression means “in the mouth of the wolf”. The correct response is “crepi”, which means “let it die” or “wolf, die”.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bocca al lupo
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bocca al lupo

Spilling Salt or Olive Oil

Many cultures believe the superstition that spilling salt brings bad luck. One origin story suggests that at one time, salt was a valuable commodity. Spilling it created waste and perhaps bad luck followed such misfortune.

And consider da Vinci’s The Last Supper. In that painting Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, is portrayed as knocking over the salt container. And no one wants an association with Judas.

In Italy it’s considered unfortunate if you spill salt OR olive oil. To counter the effects, one must toss the spilled salt over the left shoulder and dab olive oil behind each ear.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy salt
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – tossing spilled salt over the shoulder

House Blessings

Speaking of salt, Italians may bless their homes by putting salt in the corners. Salt cleanses the house by absorbing any negative energy or toxins.

Leave the salt for a few hours and then vacuum  or sweep it up.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy San Gimignano
Good Luck Traditions from Italy – salt in the corner of houses, like these in San Gimignano

New Brooms

This tradition connects to houses as well. Sweep away old bad luck when moving into a new home, using a brand new broom. Just don’t sweep over the feet of a single person. If you do, he or she may never be swept off their feet by love.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy broom
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – new broom

Good Luck Herbs

In Italy herbs assist with creating good luck.

Bay laurel leaves protect wearers from bad luck while helping them fulfill their dreams. Graduates often still wear laurel leaf crowns to represent good fortune. The bay laurel leaf symbolizes acquired wisdom as well.

And basil wards off poverty, which many consider an evil.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy laurel leaves
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bay laurel leaves

New Year’s Eve Traditions

These two Italian New Year’s Eve traditions sound intriguing!

After Christmas, red underwear, for men and women, goes on sale. These garments, worn on New Year’s Eve only, bring good luck for the upcoming year. Red is the color of fertility as well and important to couples hoping for a baby in the new year.

And the Italians eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. The coin like shape of the lentils represents money and prosperity for the upcoming year.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy lentils
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lentils on New Year’s Eve

Favorite Good Luck Traditions

Did you know about these superstitions, popular in Italy? I enjoyed learning more about them. The warm, friendly people of Italy sprinkle many expressions throughout their language, that beautifully capture life. I love their perspectives and their traditions.

I know I have readers from around the world. What good luck traditions do you practice? I’d love to know!

Researching Italian good luck traditions for this blog post brought fortune my way. Inspiration compels me to write another post, perfect for the end of the year. Perhaps the bird poop blessing continues…

The gate into San Gimignano
The gate into San Gimignano, Italy.

Check out these other Tales from Italy posts:

Lions of Venice

The Bridge of Sighs

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo’s David

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

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A change I’ve observed this year, for many people, is the desire to simplify their lives. The months spent at home, the extra time with family, growing gardens and cooking at home more created…or perhaps satisfied…a longing for simplicity.

The first week in August brings with it National Simplify Your Life Week. This holiday encourages us to refocus our lives by decluttering and eliminating anything that causes stress or anxiety. The decluttering isn’t just physical. Clearing space happens on an emotional and spiritual level as well.

Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It can feel challenging to follow through with making changes in our lives, even changes that ultimately bring greater joy and deeper peace.

Here are 20 ways to simplify your life, to get you started. Most of these changes require little effort beyond putting practices into place. Some you probably already do.

 

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life title meme

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Perhaps you find yourself longing for a more simple way of life. Or perhaps you are enjoying the new simplicity that you’ve adopted this year and feel ready for more changes. Try a few or all of these suggestions.

Set Monthly or Weekly or Daily Goals

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions or crafting a long list of goals for the year, break them down into more manageable goals. Try setting one to three goals for the month. Then add actions steps for the week. And finally, prioritize what’s most important, daily, to accomplish.

These shorter range goals help you accomplish more, creating satisfaction while developing new habits and practices that bring you greater joy.

Create a Daily List of your Most Important Things To Do

If you are a list maker, like me, you might enjoy adding everything for the day to your list, just for the joy of crossing it off.

If list making isn’t your thing, try jotting down your top three priorities for each day and focus on those. Nothing else gets done, until those three priorities are crossed off. Once those big items are completed, you have time and energy to focus on other things, if you want to.

Create Systems

You can create a streamlined system for just about anything and put it into place. This might include a cleaning schedule that’s simple yet effective. Or a food prep system. Whatever you find yourself doing repeatedly, streamline it with a system to free up time for other things.

As a blogger, the best system I’ve created thus far is to plan out and schedule all my blog posts and social media posts a month in advance. I’ve been doing this since last October and I’m amazed at how much time it saves me. As each month draws to a close, I create the next month, filling in a notebook page for both blogs and their corresponding social media pages.

What tasks could you streamline by creating a system?

Use Your Phone’s Calendar to Set Reminders

That smart phone is a handy way to keep track of appointments or tasks. I use mine to schedule everything from meeting with people to turning in assignments to listening to a podcast. You can set an alarm too, five minutes to an hour before the event, so that you don’t miss it.

I also use the notes section on my phone for all kinds of things such as capturing ideas, saving info or dictating a blog post. Sometimes I wonder about something, as I’m driving. I’ll ask a question and save it in my notes until I can check on it later. Often the answer arrives to my question without any further effort on my part. I love it when that happens!

Anything that you can move from your brain to paper or a electronic device frees up the mind to then focus on other things.

Unsubscribe from Emails and Create a Follow Up Folder

This is something I am currently working on. An overwhelming number of emails flood my inboxes every day. I’m talking about hundreds of emails daily. I can’t keep up with them and sadly, most of them are not important to me anyway.

I’m currently unsubscribing from anything that I’m no longer interested in or never signed up for anyway. It’s a slow process however Google is now assisting me by showing me emails from companies that I’ve not opened in the last 30 days and asking me if I want to unsubscribe. Yes. Yes I do.

For emails that I want to come back to and respond to I have a Follow Up Folder that I move them to. It’s easy then to find them rather than having to scroll through lots and lots of emails.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life list
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – make lists and systems and follow them

Declutter Your House One Room at a Time

Clutter clogs energy. As clutter accumulates in a room, it changes the flow of energy. Soon you’ll find yourself avoiding that room or tossing more stuff in there and then closing the door on it.

Free up the flow of energy and feel better in your own home by systematically decluttering a room at a time. Start with one room and don’t move on to the next room until that room is finished. Use the three piles method as you clear the room: throw away pile, give away pile, keep pile. Then throw away, give away and find a place for everything in the keep pile.

Organize Your Closets and Drawers

After you declutter a room, tackle the closets and drawers in that room too. Use the same three pile method of dealing with all that’s in those closets and drawers. I love Marie Kondo’s method of holding items to see if they spark joy. If they do, keep them. If they don’t, give them away or throw them away.

Marie offers wonderful suggestions for organizing closets, drawers and spaces. Pick up her book HERE.

You will LOVE the way your rooms and ultimately your home feel after a good decluttering and re-organization.

Have a Place for Everything

And put everything in its place. A recent study suggests that we spend the equivalent of 12 days a year, looking for things we can’t find. Bring simplicity into your life and stop wasting time searching for lost items. When everything has a place, it’s easy to locate it, use it and put it back.

Simplify Your Wardrobe

How many of your clothes do you actually wear? Simplify your wardrobe by eliminating all the clothes you no longer wear, for whatever reason. Donate clothing to shelter closets or organizations that resell them. Or sale them yourself through apps like Poshmark.

Using Marie’s “does it spark joy?”, sort through clothes and keep only those that bring you joy. If you haven’t worn it in a year, will you ever? Create a capsule wardrobe of pieces that work well together.

I love the sustainable clothing movement that encourages us to buy less throw away type clothing, focusing instead on quality pieces that last for years. Buy less. Buy sustainable. Purchase clothing from second hand shops. Repurpose clothing. It’s all better for the pocket book and it’s better for the planet as well.

Buy Less, Consume Less, Waste Less

Beyond clothing, in what other areas can you spend less, waste less, consume less? I’m working on eliminating single use plastics from my home and life by using more glass and metal items.

I’m also finding ways to reuse and repurpose items so that I’m buying less throw away materials. These practices not only simplify life they benefit the environment and the planet.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life plastics
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – eliminate plastics

Eat More Whole Foods

Eating more whole foods, such as fruits, veggies, simple grains and herbs simplifies life and improves health at the same time. Trust me, an unhealthy life is complicated and time consuming.

Eating healthier meals can be as simple as veggie bowls, fruit smoothies, stir fries and chopped veggie salads. I can make a meal on a bowl of watermelon!

Prep Food

Food prep once a week streamlines the cooking process, freeing up time for other things. Spend an hour on Sunday afternoon washing, chopping and preparing food, then store everything in the refrigerator. I love the ease and convenience of having foods ready to go in the fridge.

Invest in an instant pot and a slow cooker to make meal preparation easier.

Carry a Water Bottle Everywhere

We all know we need to drink more water. Make it simple to get enough water by having it with you, always. Invest in a metal water container to eliminate plastic use. Check out these colorful choices below! Click on the photo for more info or to purchase.

 

Stop Hanging Out with Toxic People

Make room in your life for people who are in alignment with who you are and who encourage you. None of us have time for people who are toxic, who berate or belittle or disrespect who we are.

In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle compares setting boundaries to living on an island. No one comes onto your island unless you allow them to. Don’t allow toxic people to bring negative energy into your space.

Slow Down

If you find yourself rushing through a day filled with back to back appointments and events, slow down. Create space in the day to catch your breath and take a break.

Simplicity means you become present in the moment and notice what’s going on around you. It’s pausing to bring yourself back to yourself. My favorite way of building breaks into the day is afternoon tea time. That 30 minute break restores me.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life breaks
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – take a break

Practice Self Care

One aspect of a simple lifestyle is self care. We cannot offer to others when we are running on empty. Do what you must to care for yourself, then you can offer to others.

Meditate, go for walks, do yoga, practice a healthy lifestyle, give yourself a manicure, read a book, do absolutely nothing for an hour. Whatever restores you…body, mind and spirit…do that. Build me time into your day.

Use More Ecologically Friendly Products

Try using more ecologically friendly products in your home. Laundry products, cleaning supplies, shampoos, shower soaps and toiletries are all available in plant based or chemical and dye free versions. These products are cleaner for the environment and better for us as well.

Check out stores like Natural Grocers or health food stores to discover the vast variety of ecological products available.

I love my alpaca wool dryer balls. Used in place of fabric softener sheets, they are an easy item to incorporate into your simple lifestyle.

Watch Less Television

I enjoy watching an occasional show or browsing through Netflix on the weekends. However, television qualifies as a huge time waster. Spending too much time playing electronic games or scrolling through social media do also.

There’s nothing wrong with watching tv or looking at Facebook. My blogging tasks include time on social media. It’s part of my job. However, hours and hours spent watching tv or scrolling through Instagram means less time to do other things you might enjoy.

Disconnect from electronics and rediscover the joys of outdoor play, reading a book or deep conversations with family or friends.

Create Morning and Evening Rituals

These simple routines start and end the day well. Spend 10 to 30 minutes gearing up for the day and preparing for a good night’s sleep at the end of it.

Write out your ideal morning and evening rituals and begin practicing them, modifying if necessary, until they become habits. Your morning routine might include reading, meditation, juicing or a run. Evening rituals might include music, a hot bath, writing and making tomorrow’s to do list. Customize your routines for you.

Say No to the Things You Don’t Want to Do

A major component of a simplified life is to not cram too much into the day. I love saying yes as often as I can, however I say yes to the things that I want to do. New opportunities and creativity and joy inducing activities receive a resounding yes from me. I say no to others’ expectations and events that are not in alignment with who I am.

This was a challenging area for me, for many years. I’m such a people pleaser. Now I focus on pleasing myself first.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life night routine
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – night routine

Living a Simple Lifestyle

Living a simple lifestyle means different things to different people. It begins with the process of identifying what’s most important to you and eliminating everything else.

When asked how he created the beautiful David statue, Michelangelo answered that he simply chipped away all the stone that was not David.

That’s how we create a simplified life. We chip away all that is not who we are and what we love to do.

Write down what is most important to you. List three to five things. Use those to create a Simplicity Statement. Then make room for the simple by eliminating the excess. Keep your Simplicity Statement where you can see it and refer to it often.

If you need ideas, return to the list above, of 20 ways to simplify your life. Then go, and enjoy that life.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life joys
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – simple joys

 

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Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

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The Tower of London, located in the center of the city, is a fascinating place full of history and intrigue. In 2017 I spent hours touring the complex and learning its stories with my sisters, mother and niece. And, I discovered the “tower” is a series of towers and buildings that form an impressive fortress.

William the Conqueror built the White Tower that now forms the core of the complex in 1078. That tower, considered a symbol of oppression against London by the Norman ruler, served as a prison from 1100 until 1952.

Although the complex housed a royal residence early in its history and  contains many other buildings, the Tower became synonymous with the prison. The thought of imprisonment in the Tower created fear, for many who went into the Tower never came out. However, a few ingenious prisoners managed to break out of this formidable place.

These are the tales of some of the most daring escapes from the Tower of London.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London title meme

Five of the Most Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

During its 900 plus year history, more than 8,000 people experienced imprisonment in the Tower. About 400 died there, with many of those losing their heads. A few captives refused to remain within those seemingly impenetrable walls, preferring to escape or die trying.

These are five of the best escapes.

Ranulf Flambard

The first official escapee from the Tower was a Bishop, the king’s tax collector and a builder. Ranulf oversaw the construction of the stone London Bridge, Westminster Hall and the curtain wall around the Tower of London.

When Henry I ascended to the throne, he removed Ranulf from official duties, charged him with embezzlement and imprisoned him.

For six months Ranulf patiently built up trust with his jailers, entertaining them frequently with banquets. On February 2, 1101 Ranulf hosted another elaborate banquet, offering an abundance of wine to his guests.

As the jailers lay drunk, Ranulf used a rope he smuggled into his cell and rappelled down the curtain wall he built. Although the rope was too short, he dropped the last 20 feet to where a horse awaited him, left there by friends, and disappeared into the night.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London white tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – the White Tower in the center of the complex

Alice Tankerville

Alice is the only woman who attempted to flee from the Tower. Imprisoned during the reign of Henry VIII, Alice faced a death sentence for stealing 366 gold crowns. Considered a charming woman, Alice befriended one of her jailers, John Bawde.

Bawde fell in love with Alice and agreed to help her escape. Planning their escape through the Traitor’s Gate, Bawde secured rope and cut a second key to one of the Tower’s outer doors.

On a dark night in 1524, Alice escaped with the help of Bawde. After tying the rope to an iron hook,  the pair of lovers lowered themselves down the parapets of St. Thomas’ Tower. Exiting through the gate, they rowed a small boat across the moat, then disembarked and crept down a road toward the spot where two horses waited.

Alas, their plan failed. Tower guards lived along the road they walked on. The night watch apprehended Alice and Bawde, returning them to the Tower. On March 31, 1534, Alice was left chained to the wall along the river during low tide, to meet her fate as the tide rose.  John Bawde experienced the rack and then suspended in chains over the outer walls of the Tower, he died of exposure and dehydration. Officials never found the gold pieces.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London gate
Daring Escapes from the Tower of London – the Traitor’s Gate where prisoners were brought in via the Thames River

Edmund Neville

Edmund holds the distinction of making three attempts to escape from the Tower. Accused of plotting against Elizabeth I, he first experienced the Tower in 1584. Using a small file, he worked loose the bars of his cell window until he could squeeze through and climb down the wall.

Edmond actually fled London, however the odor clinging to him from his swim across the Tower moat alerted a horseman, who turned him in. After his capture, he returned to his Tower cell.

Two years later, the man attempted the same escape, through the same window. This time, using a rope smuggled in to him by his wife, Edmund carefully lowered himself down. However, his rope too short, Edmund dropped into the moat with a splash, alerting the guards.

Six years later, he made his third attempt. This time, he created a mannequin out of straw and dressed it in his own clothes. He then dressed as a blacksmith, complete with fake tools, and waited for his jailer to enter his cell. Unable to overcome his guard, the plan failed. Happily for him, he gained his release from the Tower two years later and was exiled.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – one of the towers in the complex

John Gerard

A Jesuit priest, John experienced imprisonment in the Tower in 1597 due to his Catholic faith. During the reign of Elizabeth I, those associated with the Catholic Church faced persecution.

Torture did not force John to denounce his faith. In spite of the torture, his jailers showed kindness to the priest, allowing his friends to send him gifts such as clothing and oranges. John shared his oranges with the guards…while using the juice to write secret message. The juice dries invisible but appears when heated.

After enlisting help through those secret messages, he escaped on October 4,  1597 using a rope strung across the Tower moat. John even arranged for the escape of one of his jailers because he knew the man would be held responsible for the escape.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London bridge
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Thames River near the Tower. That’s the Tower Bridge in the background.

William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale

This escape story is my favorite, told to us last year while we toured Traquair House in the Borders of Scotland.

Taken to the Tower for his part in the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, William might have died there if not for his wife, Lady Winifred. After trying to secure her husband’s release through legal means, and failing, Lady Winifred concocted an ingenious plan.

On the day before his scheduled execution, she and her maids visited William in his cell. Beneath their dresses they smuggled in layers of clothes. William walked out of the tower with the maids, wearing a dress and the “nithsdale cloak”, which is still held dear by his descendants.

Lady Winifred remained in the cell and pretended to talk to her husband, before making her own escape. She joined William in Paris and they lived out their days together.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London Lady Winifred
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Lady Winifred used ingenuity to help her husband escape. I took this photo while in Traquair House.

No Longer a Prison

After centuries of use as a prison, the Tower no longer serves that purpose. The drained moat is now the Tower ditch and the torture dungeon is a tourist attraction.

The stories live on though, and walking around the complex, one can easily imagine the life and death dramas that played out here within these intimidating walls. Of the 8,000 plus prisoners held captive here, only 40 successfully escaped.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London, would you try to escape?

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London group photo
Group photo in the Tower. Fortunately, we could walk out of the complex!

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The Bridge of Sighs

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Ponte dei Sospiri…the Bridge of Sighs…just saying the name evokes emotions.

This bridge is one of many such structures that spans Venice’s canals. There are, in fact, 400 plus bridges crossing more than 150 canals in this unique city. Venice, Italy is a collection of tiny islands, connected by canals.

The oft photographed Bridge of Sighs draws a multitude of visitors each year. I enjoyed experiencing the beautiful and sorrowful covered bridge on a visit to Venice in 2017.

Discover the history of this iconic structure and learn how it received its name.

The Bridge of Sighs title meme

The History of the Bridge of Sighs

Built by Antonio Contin between 1600 and 1603, the Bridge of Sighs spans Rio di Palazzo. This baroque style, marble and Istrian stone bridge connects the inquisitor’s offices in the Doge’s Palace to the “New Prison”, a building designed specifically for detention.

Doge (Italian word for duke) Marino Grimani, whose family coat-of-arms occupies the center of the facade, commissioned the bridge.

While Ponte dei Sospiri attracts couples, who enjoy sharing a kiss near the covered bridge, it’s not romantic sighs that begat the name.

The name arose because prisoners stopped on the bridge and sighed at their last glimpse of beautiful Venice before entering the prison. The damp, cold, challenging conditions of the small cells often resulted in the deaths of the prisoners.

Peering out through the stone lattice windows, those escaping sighs surely carried regret, fear and grief.

The Bridge of Sighs closeup
The stone latticed windows in the Bridge of Sighs.

Stories About the Bridge of Sighs

Back to those romantic couples. The tale told is that if a couple kisses beneath the bridge, while riding in a gondola, their love will endure throughout eternity and they will know happiness. Some versions add that the couple must kiss at sunset, while drifting under the bridge, as the bells of St Mark’s Campanile ring out. As you can imagine, this is a busy route for gondolas.

The exterior of the bridge’s arch is adorned with faces on each side. A Venetian lion graces the middle, while ten other faces express anger or sadness. These grim faces supposedly scare evil spirits away. One happy face stands out. It is thought to represent the bridge’s guardian.

The bridge design is intentional, matching the style of the two buildings it connects. The Doge’s Palace, a huge, elegant palace overlooking St Mark’s Square, was the primary residence of the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, and the location of the city prison. The palace occupies the site of a former fortress that burned in the 10th century.

The Bridge of Sighs remains the only covered bridge in the entire city. Its passageway is topped by stone, with four windows looking out toward the San Giorgio Maggiore Island and the Lagoon. Very little light passes through the windows to brighten the dim, cool interior.

The Bridge of Sighs canal
The covered bridge spanning the canal.

Visiting the Bridge of Sighs

Views of the bridge are limited. See one of Venice’s most famous landmarks from these vantage points.

  • Admire the bridge from one of two nearby bridges. The Ponte della Paglia is located near the Doge’s Palace, as you stand with your back to the lagoon. The other bridge is the Ponte della Canonica at the other end of the canal.
  •  Enjoy a gondola ride that travels beneath the Bridge of Sighs.
  • Take a tour of the Doge’s Palace. The Bridge of Sighs is included in the tour and you get to walk across it and view the prison located on the other side.

Otherwise, the bridge is not open to the public. While it can be viewed from gondolas and the above mentioned bridges, the only opportunity to step inside the bridge is via the palace tour.

The Doge’s Palace is gorgeous and well worth a visit.

The Bridge of Sighs Doges Palace
A room in the Doge’s Palace.

My Experience Crossing the Bridge

My daughter, grandson and I were part of a travel group touring Italy. Our group enjoyed wandering through the Doge’s Palace with a guide. From an interior room, I got my first up close peek at the covered bridge and snapped a photo.

As we quietly entered the Bridge of Sighs, the energy within settled thickly around my head, shoulders and upper back, sending tingles down my spine.

It’s difficult to see much through the windows, however I paused there to reflect. Over the centuries, many, many prisoners walked this bridge and paused to sigh with despair. The bridge interior is actually divided by a wall down its middle, creating two corridors. That way, prisoners coming into the prison or going back to the courtroom for trial did not meet.

The atmosphere within the bridge felt very heavy to me, weighed down by those breathy final sighs. Sadness tinged with the fear of uncertainty surrounded me. The prison cells in the attached building were just as gloomy.

I’m grateful for the redemption of the bridge through its exterior beauty and the promise of romance beneath its splendid arch.

Have you visited the Bridge of Sighs in Venice? I intend to explore this unique city again one day!

The Bridge of Sighs faces

 

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Philbrook Museum Gardens

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One thing that I confirmed, while staying home more due to the pandemic, is that I REALLY want to travel. Feeling the itch to travel, during a time when travel as we know it isn’t possible, presented unique opportunities.

Since I can’t hop on a plane to somewhere, I channeled my desire to travel into other ventures.

I’m taking an online travel blogging course. And as a result, I’m writing weekly travel posts, based on past trips. Check out this example, The Tower of London Ravens. Today happened to be Take a Road Trip Day. Inspired, I set out on a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Philbrook Museum Gardens. Childhood memories of the museum drew me back to explore the gardens, which just reopened Wednesday. The museum is not yet open again to the public.

The Philbrook Museum Gardens were everything I remembered them to be…and more.

Philbrook Museum Gardens title meme

History of the Philbrook Museum of Art

The original museum is a former 1920s Italian Renaissance villa, owned by pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. Kansas City architect Edward Buehler Delk designed Villa Philbrook. Construction began in 1926 and the house was completed the following year.

A stucco and ground marble exterior covers a reinforced steel and concrete framework. Kasota limestone, quarried in Minnesota, forms the corners and decorates doors and windows. At the rear of the house a spacious loggia with Corinthian columns overlooks the spectacular gardens.

The original villa featured 72 interior rooms, decorated with travertine and marble fireplaces and fountains, teak, walnut and oak floors and ornate ceilings.

In 1938 Phillips donated Villa Philbrook to the City of Tulsa, for use as a cultural and art center. Although the rooms on the main floor remain as they were, the rest of the villa received extensive remodeling for use as a public museum. In 1990 another wing expanded the museum, adding 70,000 square feet of space.

Philbrook Museum
Looking through the informal and formal gardens, to the former Villa Philbrook.
Philbrook Museum Gardens grand fountain
Philbrook Museum gardens – grand fountain and the loggia

The Philbrook Museum Gardens

Although I enjoy wandering through the former villa, imagining it as it was back when the family lived there, it is the gardens that appeal most to me.

The museum sits on 25 acres of formal and informal gardens. Originally designed by Hare & Hare, Philbrook’s gardens drew inspiration from Villa Lante, an Italian estate north of Rome.

Behind the museum, the original gardens extend through an expanse of formal gardens, pools of water and informal gardens to a classical tempietto, a stone structure similar to a large gazebo.

The gardens that extend to the summerhouse feature native Oklahoma plants and a nearby creek. This project completed in 2004.

Philbrook Museum Loggia
Looking from the loggia to the tempietto. It was the perfect spot for Ferni’s first travel photo.
Philbrook Museum Gardens tempietto
Looking across the pools to the tempietto. The far pool once served as the family swimming pool. Koi swim there now.
Philbrook Museum side garden
Another pool in the informal gardens.

Take a Tour with Me

Come with me on a photo tour of the Philbrook Museum Gardens. My desire is just to stir your curiosity. These gardens must be experienced, to fully appreciate them.

Italian style gardens
The Italian influence is seen in the main gardens.

Sculptures

There are 16 sculptures scattered throughout the gardens. They range from classical styles to contemporary. Here are three of them.

Philbrook Museum sculpture 2
Philbrook Museum Gardens sculptures – Nymph Holding Pluto
Philbrook Museum Gardens sculpture
Native American
Philbrook Museum Gardens woods
Tree sculptures in a wooded area. The orange leaves are made of glass.

Garden Cats and Wildlife

The garden is home to two cats, Cleome, a black and white, and Perilla, a calico. We saw Cleome, wandering about near the upper pond. She seemed intent on stalking something near the water. She reminded me of Rilynn, my garden cat!

And Greg and I spotted a variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, rabbits, a heron and several species of birds. The gardens are home to turtles, water snakes, foxes and beavers as well.

Garden cat
Cleome the Philbrook Museum Garden cat.
Wildlife at Philbrook
Heron in Crow Brook

Summerhouse Formal Garden

This area south of the museum underwent changes throughout the years. Officially completed after the family donated the property to Tulsa, this formal garden leads to a summerhouse. There are swings and benches along the pretty avenue.

Restrooms are located near the summerhouse. Greg gave the restrooms a five star rating! They are very clean. I posed on a rope swing in the little wooded area, From there steps descend to the path below.

Philbrook Museum Gardens summerhouse
Summerhouse formal gardens
Greg carrying our picnic lunch
Greg carrying our picnic lunch in my Decocrated bag.
Philbrook Museum Gardens swing
Swinging in the Philbrook Museum Gardens

Picnic in the Park

Multiple picnic areas exist in the park. Tables, benches, grottos and expanses of grass offer pretty spots to pause for lunch or a snack. We chose to stop for a picnic near the cabin next to the vegetable garden. The cabin is created from repurposed materials, including colorful t-shirts stiffened with resin for the roof.

Picnic time
Picnic time in the gardens. Bag from Decocrated spring box. Rug from Decocrated summer box. Watch for a review post of the summer box Monday.
Picnic lunch
Simple, healthy picnic lunch. Gluten free crackers, hummus, an assortment of pickles and olives, grapes, cherries and KIND nut clusters with almonds and coconut.
Philbrook Museum Gardens cabin
Cabin made from repurposed materials. Note the t-shirt roof!

Tiny Doors

As we wandered the grounds, looking for tiny doors attached to some of the trees, became a fun game. Fortunately, small green flags indicate where the doors are. Local artists created the little works of art and each door is unique.

Kids would enjoy this tiny door scavenger hunt.

In search of tiny doors
Looking for tiny doors in the Philbrook Museum Gardens.
Philbrook Museum Gardens tiny doors
One of at least a dozen tiny doors in the Philbrook Museum Gardens.

First Road Trip…But Not the Last

What a wonderful morning spent at Philbrook Museum Gardens. It’s uncertain when the main museum will open again, although special exhibits are opening July 1. However the gardens are available and well worth a visit. Purchase tickets online, selecting a date and time of entry. Masks are recommended, especially when entering the garden, talking to a staff member or encountering other visitors.

We found the park easily accommodated the number of visitors today.  People and staff were courteous and respectful of social distancing.

This was my first Road Trip Friday…but not my last. I may not be able to travel far, however, I can enjoy day road trips. My intention is one road trip, within 150 miles of Joplin, a month. My little VW Van will accompany me. Her name is Ferni, pronounced fairn-ee, from the German word fernweh, which means “longing for far off places”.

Beauty speaks to the heart and soul, I believe. And the Philbrook gardens spoke clearly today, soothing my spirit and reminding me of joys I experienced there as a child. In fact, I see Philbrook’s strong influence on my own desire to create a backyard paradise.

I even found a park bench that perfectly captures who I am now, inscribed with these words from Thomas Arthur Manhart:

“Learning something new everyday is what life is really all about.”

I left the gardens with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Philbrook Museum Gardens path to the museum
I can’t get enough of this view…

Visit Philbrook Museum Gardens

Philbrook Museum is located at 2727 S Rockford Road, Tulsa, Oklahoms.

Hop on their website HERE to order tickets, which are $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors and free for children 17 and under.

Want your own little VW van to travel with? Get one by clicking photo below.

 

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Movie Review Emma

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Just before movie theaters shut down in March, across the US, I anticipated seeing the new theatrical release Emma. I love this story by Jane Austen  and I’ve enjoyed previous film adaptations. In fact, the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role is one of my favorite movies.

Imagine my disappointment when the theater closed the same week I intended to view this fresh version of Emma. Although I appreciate so much the big screen experience with new releases, I’m grateful for streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video. This weekend I settled in for an afternoon of entertainment, watching this film at last.

How did it compare with the 1996 version?

Here it is, my Movie Review Emma.

Movie Review Emma title meme

Cast and Characters of Emma

Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Bill Nighy, Gemma Whelan, Rupert Graves, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Amber Anderson, Callum Turner and Tanya Reynolds.

Autumn de Wilde directed this period piece romantic comedy. And Eleanor Catton wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Jane Austen. Emma carries a PG rating for brief nudity and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Movie Review Emma friends
Movie review Emma – friends

Emma the Matchmaker

Set in the early 19th century, in the little town of Highbury, England, the story focuses on Emma Woodhouse (Taylor-Joy), the precocious younger daughter of Mr. Woodhouse (Nighy).

Emma is handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition. And she had lived nearly 21 years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

She is also spoiled, stubborn and meddlesome, although she’s motivated by kindness and people are willing to indulge her whims. Content to never marry, Emma nonetheless believes herself an excellent matchmaker. After all, she successfully brought together her former governess, Miss Taylor (Whelan) and the widower Mr. Weston (Graves).

Encouraged by that happy union, Emma decides to make another match, this time with her new friend Harriet (Goth) and the town’s vicar, Mr. Elton (O’Connor).

Emma’s closest friend and confidante, the moody Mr. Knightley (Flynn) warns the headstrong girl to beware meddling in affairs of the heart. She pays him no heed.

Movie Review Emma Mr. Woodhouse
Movie Review Emma – Mr. Woodhouse

Emma’s Mismatches

What pursues are hilarious misadventures as Emma’s carefully thought out plans falter.

Harriet, a sweet girl of unknown parentage, is wooed by a young man who farms in the area. Although he is kind and intelligent, Emma persuades Harriet that he is beneath her. She convinces Harriet to refuse the farmer’s attentions and set her sights higher. While she pushes Harriet toward Mr. Elton, the vicar is actually hoping to impress Emma.

Meanwhile, Emma looks forward to meeting Mr. Weston’s handsome and mysterious son, Frank (Turner). When he finally appears, he leads Emma on, but it turns out he is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax (Anderson) the beautifully sad niece of the tiresome spinster, Miss Bates (Hart).

After an astounded Emma refuses a marriage proposal from Mr. Elton, the vicar snubs Harriet by marrying a snobbish woman he barely knows. She becomes the new Mrs. Elton (Reynolds). Harriet then turns her romantic attention to Mr. Knightley, much to Emma’s consternation.

Emma’s matchmaking creates a tangled mess of emotions until she does what Mr. Knightley urged her to do all along. When she steps back, and allows people to follow their own hearts, true love draws people together naturally.

And Emma discovers that love is waiting there for her too, if she will only open her own heart.

Movie Review Emma dance
Movie Review Emma – the ball

My Thoughts on Emma

It’s interesting watching a new adaptation of this classic story. I’m so familiar with the dialogue, which is lifted from the novel, that I can quote portions of it as the actors say their lines.

However, I enjoyed the freshness of this version. The scenes are slightly different to very different from the 1996 film. And the actors brings their unique perspectives to the roles.

I loved Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse. He is an amazing actor and his performances make me smile, or in this film, laugh outright. His delivery style is perfect for the role of the solemn, fretful Mr. Woodhouse. Hands down, he is my favorite as this character.

Anya Taylor-Joy shines as Emma. It’s hard for me to see anyone but Gwyneth in the role, however Anya conveys the good-hearted if spoiled Emma perfectly. She’s excellent at allowing her expressions to speak volumes while she remains silent.

And I never thought I’d appreciate anyone as much as I appreciate Jeremy Northam in the role of Mr. Knightley. However, Johnny Flynn, whom I enjoyed as Albert Einstein in the Genius Series, won my approval. He’s mastered that stern, brooding look. When he turns it on Emma, she listens. And so do I.

Movie Review Emma Mr. Knightley
Movie Review Emma – Mr. Knightley

Emma Delights

If you enjoy period piece films or romantic comedies, catch this one on Prime Video. I love that the roles of novel author, screenplay writer and director are all filled by talented women. It’s incredibly fitting for a film about a woman with strong qualities and values.

And, I appreciate the opportunity to actually see this movie. I’m currently very concerned about the future of movie theaters. The impact of COVID19 is keenly felt in the film industry as it is in so many other areas.

I’m grateful for services such as Prime Video and Netflix, that offer an amazing assortment of films worth watching. However, I’m not ready to give up seeing movies as they are intended to be viewed…on a big screen in a darkened theater. Movies have greatly shaped my life. I’m holding hope in my heart that the industry will continue on for many years.

Have you seen the newest Emma? Rent it HERE and let me know if you enjoyed it!

Movie Review Emma Miss Woodhouse
Movie Review Emma – Miss Woodhouse

Amazon Prime Video

Not a Prime member? Get a 30 day free trial, and access to thousands of movies and series by clicking HERE.

Already a Prime member? Watch the rental or purchase the Emma DVD HERE.

And if you’ve never read this classic, pick it up below by clicking on the photo:

 

 

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Greyfriars Bobby World’s Most Loyal Dog

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I visited Edinburgh, Scotland in 2017, along with my mother, sisters and niece, one site we all wanted to visit was Greyfriars Kirkyard and a nearby monument.

The monument honors a small Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. This little dog displayed an incredible level of faithfulness to his owner, earning him the title “World’s Most Loyal Dog”.

Learn his story, in this Tales from Scotland post, and discover visit-worthy sites in the area.

Greyfriars Bobby Words Most Loyal Dog title meme

Greyfriars Kirk

Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town, Greyfriars Kirk is a parish kirk (church). It stands on the site of a pre-reformation establishment of the Franciscan Order, the Grey Friars.

Built in 1612, the kirk is located south of Grassmarket and east of George Heriot’s School.

Greyfriars Bobby Worlds Most Loyal Dog kirk
Greyfriars Bobby, world’s most loyal dog – Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirkyard

The kirkyard is the cemetery surrounding the church. A number of notable Edinburgh residents rest there.

The kirkyard is moody, in a gothic sort of way, and fascinating to wander through. Elaborate mural monuments along the east and west walls of the oldest burial section feature intriguing symbols of mortality and immortality.

Many graves are protected with stone walls, iron railings or ironwork cages called mortsafes, to protect against grave robbing. In the early 19th century, resurrection men supplied Edinburgh Medical College with corpses for dissection, in exchange for fees. The common practice of plundering graveyards provided those bodies.

And, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, drew inspiration from the kirkyard for character names in her stories. You can find burial sites for people with the names McGonagall, Moodie, Scrymgeour and Potter. Check out the grave of Thomas Riddell, whose name inspired one of the most terrifying villains in literature. In the Harry Potter series, Tom Riddle becomes Lord Voldemort.

Near the entrance to the kirkyard is a gravestone for John Gray, an Edinburgh City nightwatchman. And not far from that grave is another, marked with a similar headstone, for the dog known as Greyfriars Bobby.

Greyfriars Bobby World's Most Loyal Dog John Gray grave
Greyfriars Bobby World’s Most Loyal Dog – John Gray’s grave

Greyfriars Bobby

Although slightly different versions of Greyfriars Bobby exists, the most commonly told tale is the following.

Bobby belonged to John Gray, the nightwatchman. For two years they went everywhere together. When John died of tuberculosis 15 February 1858, burial took place in Greyfriars Kirkyard. The dog earned the nickname Greyfriars Bobby because from that time forward, until his own death in 1872, the faithful companion stayed near John’s grave. In spite of various weather conditions and frequent shooing away by the kirkyard caretaker, Bobby refused to leave.

Residents of Edinburgh felt compassion for the dog. They adopted Bobby, feeding him and caring for him. Each afternoon, at the firing of the 1:00 gun at Edinburgh Castle, Bobby trotted to a nearby cafe for a meal and then returned to the kirkyard. Although not officially allowed, kind people even built a small shelter for him near John’s grave.

Sir William Chambers, Lord Provost of Edinburgh and director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, paid for Bobby’s license and provided a collar for him. That collar is on display in the Museum of Edinburgh.

Bobby remained vigilant near John’s grave for 14 years. After his death, the city buried him in the kirkyard, near his owner. The stone is red marble, like John’s. Inscribed are the words: “Greyfriars Bobby – Died 14 January 1872 – Aged 16 Years. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”

Visitors leave sticks, for Bobby to fetch, on his grave and John’s. Occasionally dog toys and flowers adorn the graves as well.

Greyfriars Bobby World Most Loyal Dog grave
The grave of Greyfriars Bobby World’s Most Loyal Dog

The Greyfriars Bobby Monument

A year after Bobby’s death, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, moved by the story, paid for a memorial monument. William Brodie created it as a drinking fountain with an upper basin for humans and a lower one for dogs. A statue of Bobby adorned the top.

The city filled in the basins with concrete in 1957, due to a city-wide health scare. After damage by a car in 1985, the base is newly created, however it copies the original exactly. An attached plaque reads:

“A tribute to the affectionate fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. In 1858, this faithful dog followed the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872. With permission erected by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.”

Greyfriars Bobby monument
Greyfriars Bobby Monument

Inscribed on the statue is “Greyfriars Bobby, from the life just before his death.” W.H. Brodie Sc RSA 1872

Greyfriars Bobby is a popular destination spot in Edinburgh. People gather around the monument, taking photos. And as attested by the shiny spot on the statue, they reach up to rub Bobby’s nose for good luck. Such superstitions necessitated two nose restorations for Bobby!

The Greyfriars Bobby monument stands near the entrance to the kirkyard. The pub behind it, affectionately known as Bobby’s Bar, is a popular tourist spot. You can find postcards, toys and works of art commemorating Bobby throughout Edinburgh. Additionally, Walt Disney created a film about him in 1961.

 

Greyfriars Pub
Greyfriars Pub – also known as Bobby’s Bar

Other Sites to Visit Near Greyfriars Bobby

These nearby sites are all within walking distance from the monument:

  • Greyfriars Kirkyard
  • George Heriot’s School, the inspiration for Hogwarts in Harry Potter
  • Grassmarket, pubs and shops, and a rich history. This STORY took place near here.
  • Victoria Street, full of shops and cafes
  • The Elephant House, cafe/pub where J.K. Rowling wrote the first chapters of Harry Potter
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • The Royal Mile, containing many shops, attractions, cafes and museums
  • Edinburgh Castle, at the top of the Royal Mile

I hope you’ve enjoyed Bobby’s story. His loyalty and devotion tugs at the heart. If you see Bobby, the entrance to the kirkyard with his grave and John’s is right there to the left. It’s free to wander about the cemetery and well worth a visit.

Have you seen Greyfriars Bobby World’s Most Loyal Dog or the kirk and kirkyard? Share your experiences in the comments!

Greyfriars Bobby girls trip
Standing in the Greyfriars kirkyard

Greyfriars Bobby Inspired Treasures:

 


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