Playing with fire26.09.09

I was brought up being told every now and then that it was dangerous to play with fire. Well, maybe it is. At least if I play with fire. I can’t know for sure since I have not tested that concept yet. But one of my very first memories is standing in the window one afternoon or late night watching a nearby school burn down. So maybe someone else had tested the concept and found out that it was not such a smart move.

Anyway, I am still a bit amazed whenever I see someone skillfully playing with something I would not dare to do. And doing it in such a manner that they even dare to involve someone from the audience to take part in something which could turn out to be a bit harder than what it looks.

On walking the harbour of Marciana Marina after a nice dinner we saw a crowd standing there in one of the piazzas and we ended up checking it out. Turned out it was Istvan Goldman ‘Goldi’ doing one of his shows. Sadly we only caught the last few seconds of it. But chatting with Goldi he could tell me he would be moving down the seaside walk and do another show a bit later. So the flip below shows the last few seconds of the first of these two shows and the first minutes of the second show. Turns out the Flip-camera does not behave to bad under rather dark conditions even when there are some very bright spots (the flames).

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Climbing 700 meters in less than 15 minutes25.09.09

So we went to Elba (Isola d’Elba) on the Tuscan coast. And with only six days there we had to work hard on the priorities in order to get most of it all in addition to hours on the different beaches. Of course we simply had to visit Napoleon, even though he was away on one of his many excurisons. But that is a totally different story. Except that during the 300 days he was there he spent some nights in a tent halfway up Monte Capanne, the highest mountain on Elba.

Monte Capanne is 1019 meters, and there is a decent footpath going all the way. There is even a decent footpath for hikers going all the way from the east coast of Elba to the west coast bringing you to all the interesting mountain- and hilltops if you’re into that. It’s said that most people would make the hike in three days or less. I, for one, would probably spend the week. And also just climbing Monte Capanne would take too much of my few days of holidays. So we took the easy way out, i.e. we went with the Cabinovia lift.

You could say that lifts are lifts and nothing special about that. I disagree. Time and again since the early sixties I have used Fjellheisen in Tromsoe as an easy start in walking a mountain (ok, more than 10 years since the last time, but that doesn’t mean they need to have such a silly website). And smaller hills/mountains which may be enjoyed by rail like Drachenfels. What makes the Canovia on Elba interesting is the sheer size, or lack of that, of the cabins. Each cabin can carry 2 grown-ups, standing room only. If you add a third person to the cabin you may feel like you’re on the tube in Tokyo. And the cabins themselves are more like baskets with a railing lower than waist height which you easily can open if you like that.

But it is forbidden to open the cabin during the ride. That’s smart. (hah) It’s also forbidden to make the cabin swing. (another hah) That does not cover the swing which lasts for some minutes after you have entered the cabin, a swinging sensation brought to you just from the sheer movement caused by you entering.

That said, riding the Cabinovia is a pleasant experience. Even for those who may have some difficulties with heights. The ride starts softly among the trees, just a few meters above the ground. After a while you climb through to the tops of the trees – all the while the trees getting shorter. Until you get to the bare mountainside.

Halfway through the flip below there is a short scene looking back at where we came from. The base station for Cabinovia is close to the city Marciana at about 300 meters above sea-level. And the city you get a glimpse of all the way down at the beach is Marciana Marina where we stayed in hotel Gabbiano Azzurro Due. The feeling of climbing to the skies was strengthened when a fighter plane passed “just above my head”. They were not looking for me so I made it safely all the way to the top and was greeted by staff for “having made it”. The last few seconds of the flip just pretends to show parts of the scenery which may be enjoyed from the top of Monte Capanne.

There is a bar at the top. But, alas, as we spent every minute until closing-time enjoying the scenery they had closed the bar when we came to to the Cabinovia mountain-station (some 20-30 meters below the top). No birra per me a Monte Capanne. Ma, prosimma volta?! Certo!

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Castellare09.09.09

Whenever you are in Catellina in Chianti, why not take the short trip down to the Castellare wine producers just down the hill? We did. And as explained in this short flip we tasted three different wines.

I am sure you get all the italian in this flip. But on the names of the wines there should be no problems understanding them. Except maybe for “I Sodi di S. Niccolò”. Well, the reason for that name is that “sodi” refers to hard-worked ground. And the grapes used for that wine is from such hard-worked ground. Hence the extra good quality of this wine.

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The three stars (Le tre stelle)08.09.09

Close to San Gimignano in the southern part of Tuscany you find the Agiriturismo Le Tre Stelle (the three stars). These stars are three women who run an agriturismo with a little special twist. Every day they serve a joint dinner for all their guests at a long table in the patio. This dinner is homecooked and made from their own produce.

They also do nice wines. A white Vernaccia and good red ones. More on them later.

We learned about this agriturismo through a swedish TV-series on food and wine from under the Tuscan sun. This program gave them a bit of attention and some Scandinavian guests. If you are looking for that particular Tuscan experience, this may be the place to go.

Posted in Eating, Italia 2009, Italy, Observations, Winewith No Comments →

Perdono (pardon)08.09.09

Of all the things I have learned through the years there is this thing about parties:you do not need a specific reason for throwing them. And one thing I learned yesterday is that in the whole of Valdarno there is an “oval weekend” (starting friday and ending tuesday) in the fall with a “fiesta” called Perdono. For Figline in Valdarno this fiesta starts every year on the first friday of September. And it ends on the tuesday with a horserace (pallio) and fireworks (fuochi d’artificio).

These perdono-fiestas starts in the beginning of August. The week after perdono in Figline it all starts again in Regello, also just about 3 minute ride from Le Buche di Viesca. So we will even manage to take part in some of that before leaving on Saturday.

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Marina di Campo06.09.09

One of the most beautiful beaches on Elba is found right in the centre of the town Marina di Campo on the south side of Elba. It is a long (miles) beach of finegrained sand and from time to time you have nice waves there as well. Two or three rows of umbrellas and restaurants with tasty seafood. Hereby recommended.

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Biking and bathing in Marciana Marina06.09.09

Bathing is essential and one of the main activities in Elba. There are literally hundreds of beaches in all different qualities, from the fine-grainy sandy ones to the pebbly ones and clifftype spots. This is just a short flip showing of a combination of biking and bathing. The kids had great fun. And the main character in this flip goes by the name of Pietro.

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Il ristorante La Fenicia in Marciana Marina05.09.09

Just back to mainland Toscana after visiting Elba. Our first night in Elba, after checking in with the Gabbiano Azzurro Due Hotel, started out with a very nice seafood meal at the restaurant La Fenicia in Marciana Marina. Here is a short welcome from our friendly hosts for the evening, Patricia and Giacomo. If you like seafood, this is a very nice place to go.

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Pratesi blue26.08.09

From Pratesi, Toscana

From Pratesi, Toscana

Not suede, but blue (like me and you?). Nice companions from Pratesi in Ambra, Tuscany. A factory which only trades shoes in Tuscany. Three small shops and a small factory in a small village. In fact, if you hurry too much along you will never know you passed the factory. Family-owned business. And I have been lucky enough to meet the owner on one of my shopping trips. Have to go back again this year to look for more niceties, I think.

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Microsoft just made my day26.08.09

Engadget has just made me smiling. Well, actually grinning. And I guess I will be grinning for a while.

They have uncovered a sad photo manipulation. And the guys behind it? Microsoft.

So they have this photo used in an ad and they try to push that ad everywhere else in the world. But the photo contains a coloured man. So horror of horrors at Microsoft and they find out they would not like to use that coloured man for instance in Poland. So they manipulate the photo. And they replace the head of the man with a white guy.

To further prove their amateurism they do the following:

  • They replace only the head, not his hand which still shows he is coloured “somewhere”
  • They forget to fix the lighting so that the head of this new guy has light coming from a different angle than the rest of the photo shows. The shading on his jacket is now all wrong (inconsistent)
  • The text-area does not have room for the button, making the design a bit stranger than it was

Caught with their pants down they have since removed the ad on the Polish site. As politically uncorrect as it may be, they show us their true colours. No wonder their products suck.

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  • the tuscan cat
    I for one believe that Leonardo (da Vinci) was really smart. And I also believe cats are smart creatures. So when I spotted a nice cat sleeping on a scooter carrying "the signature" Leonardo somewhere in beautiful Italy I just had to "shoot".

    For all you non-norwegian readers: older entries are in Norwegian only. Sorry.