Category Archives: Europe – Mediterranean

Spain, Italy, P:ortugal & France

Pull up A Seat Photo Challenge 21


At Beziers, not far from Narbonne in France, there is an olive press with the best olives in the world and when I visit friends in the area, I buy as many of these, the Rolls-Royce of olives, the Lucques, as I can carry home. Here, among hundreds of olive trees, is a bench made from an olive tree on the farm. I’d love to own this bench – a definite “pull up a seat” situation. It helps that almost next door is the Chateau Roquette sur Mer vineyard, where the delightfully named Vins de la Clape are produced – and an onsite shop. Who would have guessed?

Bench made from an Olive Tree at the farm where the Lucques olives are farmed.

XingfuMama posts every Friday morning.

Create a post with a photo of places one sits or might sit with a little background or story about the spot or a picture of the view.

Add a tag “Pull up a Seat”

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One Word Sunday – Bridge

A selection of lesser known bridges away from the crowds in London, where life is slow, barges are still transporting goods on the river, and the peace and calm is a far cry from the hub and bustle of the Thames we are more familiar with.

Then a hop over to Seville in Spain, where there are some spectacular bridges over the Guadalquivir River. These are just two, the first one being the modern Alamillo Bridge by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, and the second one, built in the mid-19th century, is the equally famous Triana Bridge.

Life in Colour 21

Link to Jude here. Jude has asked for White or Silver this month.

First up, a couple of Spain’s White Villages, whose whiteness demands sunglasses at all times to cut the glare.

Snow on the Italian Alps as I last flew over (1918)
Isle of Wight Garlic. The IoW farm also grows and sells the rarer black garlic.
View to the Jungfrau from Rigi in Switzerland with snow in between.

Italy’s Cable Car Tragedy

Cable-Car Map at Stresa on Lake Maggiore

The terrible accident yesterday in Italy sent me to my photographs of the time I spent there just over two years ago. The Italian lakes are beautiful at any time but my week there was exceptional, especially in the town of Stresa with its access to so many other towns along the lakes and to so many lovely walks in the mountains and hills around.

One of the Hiking Trails

The Cable car ride to Mottorone above Stresa was one such and I wanted to put just a few pictures up to show why people go up there in summer. Winter, of course, can be for skiing, but summer is for walking among the trees and looking at the amazing views down to the lakes.


I had often though of returning to do that trip again but when an accident like this happens, one’s faith in machinery takes a bit of a knock!

Just One Person – in Madrid

Linked to Just One person from around the World at Cady Luck Leedy

I was reminded of this man and his 100-year-old leather glove-making shop when I read a recent post of Cady’s so I dug out my photographs and scanned them in. I have no dates on them, no details, but I know it was a long time ago. I still have the gloves I bought from him and I remember the shop so well because it was a very extravagant purchase: they are in very unserviceable colours but I’m a glove nut and just had to have them.

I can’t remember the address but I could take you there if we were in Madrid. There are a few famous glove shops in this area but this one was just a few steps away from the Puerta del Sol and the 4th generation member of the family who attended to me, told me that it moved to its current location in the early 20th century from its first location in the famous Plaza itself  

The proprietor and some of his hand-made stock

See that shocking pink pair on the top shelf, and the blue ones on the right? Well, I bought those two pairs, plus a burnt orange pair and a navy and white pair – my entire spending money gone in one purchase! The orange, pink and blue gloves are still wrapped in tissue paper, still pristine, as they are not the sort of gloves you wear very often but the navy and white ones have seen a lot of service since that spend-up day in Madrid.

Why I bought them I’ll never know. I think it was just the excitement of seeing so much beautiful leather worked into gloves and, as I said, I love gloves – even if I never get to wear them. They are a bit like books to me, to have and to hold is reward enough. And can you imagine the smell of soft leather in that shop? It probably softened my brain a bit!

The working part of the shop, sewing-machine on table

My burnt-orange gloves are in the middle of the bottom shelf and they fit like a dream. Soft, pliable, luxurious leather lined with silk. I like buying gloves in Spain because they stock small sizes and as I take a size 6 I find it nearly impossible to buy them in the UK.

This shop, where time seems to have stood still, retains the mirrors, the counter, the old cash register and the sewing machine – everything is the same as it was in the mid-20th century. Above all, the attention to detail, the understanding of the customer’s needs and the very personal service is what makes this place special.

When this Covid thing is over and I can return to Madrid, I will seek out this shop again and get full particulars, then come back and insert the details in this Post.

Pull Up a Seat: Photo Challenge

We are in Seville for both of my seats, the first one a lovely tiled seat in the Plaza de España which I’ve mentioned in another post here, a gorgeous extravagance of tiles, walkways, streams, bridges, more tiles, all within the Parque de Doña Maria Luisa.

A very elegant tiled bench in Plaza de España, Seville.

And still in Seville we are on our way to the Alcazar when we came across this painter, oblivious to the passersby who photographed her and walked around her as she sat on a flimsy white stool. She worked quickly and the paintings looked good, good enough for her to sell quite a few while we stood admiring the finished pictures. By her feet she had different types of frames and she offered to change the frames of any on display if needed. I liked her bicycle behind the finished pictures, it made the whole thing seem so casual and a long way from high-art.

Near the Alcazar, Seville, Spain

Sculpture Saturday: Seville

In the lovely Maria Luisa Park in Seville is a monument to the Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and his poem Amor Eterno (Eternal Love). The statue depicts three women symbolizing the three states of love, excited love, possessed love and love lost. Behind them are two bronze pieces, ‘wounded love’ and ‘love hurts’ and a lifesize statue of the poet Becquer. The group of female figures is sculpted from a single piece of marble.

Glorieta de Becquer –  Monument was constructed in 1911 by Lorenzo Coullaut-Valera, in collaboration with the architect Juan Talavera Heredia and Catalan sculptor Federico Bechini.

The Cypress tree around which the monument is located was planted in 1850, according to some, and in 1870 according to others, and it is one of the individual trees of the Parque de Maria Luisa. The monument can be found along the Avenue de Becquer at the roundabout of the same name.

View from the other side with statue of the poet Becquer and the two bronze figures with the seated females.

Hundreds of trees line the avenues with exotic touches provided by colourful tiled benches and Moorish fountains and pools and there are numerous seats around the park and the famous monument from which to enjoy this beautiful green space close to the River Guadalquivir..

The park was the site of the Expo 29, which had the Plaza de Espana as its centrepiece. My favourite way to see the park is to take a carriage ride through it – and yes, I know it’s a bit touristy and kitschy but nevertheless, it is a magical way to view this park. Large enough never to feel crowded, it is also a delightful place for a quiet stroll, a kids’ runabout, or a boat ride.  A more energetic option is a bike for four with sunshade – the front seats have belts to strap wriggly young children in safely. They are for hire in the road opposite Plaza de España.

Federico Garcia Lorca: Poet and Playwright

Escultura de Federico García Lorca ubicada en el Paseo del Prado de Fuente Vaqueros, Granada.

If you are interested click here

I’ve received some excellent images from the Granada Tourist Board to illustrate the post uploaded earlier today and it has been edited to show these. I have also included a video I have found which I think is very interesting.

If you have read the first one but wish to see some more photographs, please click here.

Federico García Lorca, Poet & Playwright

The Poet and Playwright, Federico García Lorca

The name Ian Gibson, authority on Spain’s greatest poet, Federico García Lorca, came up in a discussion with Marie over at HopsSkipsandJumps, and reminded me of my trip to visit Lorca’s village in Fuente Vaqueros near Granada.  It is many years since I visited it but the memory lives on, and I still remember the heat, the stillness of the afternoon, and the sound of distant flamenco, all of which embody the spirit of the poet.  Unfortunately, the photographs I took then were among those that got corrupted when my hard drive crashed some time ago but the Granada Tourist Board has been extremely helpful in providing me with a selection of images for which I am eternally grateful.

One of the tutors on the language course in Granada that I was on at that time said to me “The Alhambra is our soul, but Lorca is our heart” and I think this is true.

Granada did indeed have a deep influence on the adolescent Spanish playwright and poet and it was the Granadinos who first recognised his genius and his gift for a  lyrical poetry that reflected the passion and pain of Andalucia.  The landscape and the people who form the backdrop to his rural tragedies and his earlier poems lie in the villages of the Vega – the vast plains that surround Granada – and in places such as Fuente Vaqueros where he was born and where he spent his first 11 years.

Lorca’s Childhood Home now a Museum – the only one of my photos that survived.

Fuente Vaqueros is a village of postcard-like simplicity and when I visited, the only sound at midday was the slap of dominoes coming from an inky bar hidden behind a beaded curtain.  Old man sat in the shade of the poplar trees on one side of the plaza, while the aged women of the town, las viejas, dressed in black as if they have strayed from the playwright’s House of Bernarda Alba, were busy with their looms on the opposite side.  Sitting at the Bar Lorca with a copita, is an ideal way to spend an afternoon.

From the workers in the olive groves that surround the village came faint snatches of the wailing, minor-keyed cante jondo, the song full of pain which Lorca captured in Gypsy Ballads and Poems of Cante Jondo.  This is España Verdad – the true Spain – where Lorca found the passionate, gitano soul of Andalucía and put it into the poetic form that revolutionised Spanish theatre in the thirties.

La Fuente, as it is known locally, is a gracious little town with a maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and alleyways.  At one time this area formed part of the Kingdom of Al-Andalus and eight centuries of Moorish influence are still obvious in the whiteness of the houses, the barred windows and the flower-filled courtyards glimpsed through open doors.

The street where Federico was born has been renamed Calle Poeta García Lorca and the house in which he spent his childhood has been transformed into a Museum.  It is small with few objects to demand your attention, but in the converted upstairs granary there is a fascinating collection of photographs, manuscripts and curiosities covering the poet’s life, in particular his time in New York.  If you feel you’ve seen too many castles and cathedrals in Spain, this unpretentious, sparsely furnished house with its idiosyncratic collection of papers is a delight.

Across the street from the museum and facing the plaza is the monument erected to the poet by Cayetano Anibal, and if you sit on the stone seat in front of the monument, with just a little suspension of disbelief, it is possible to see the square as Lorca saw it – a meadow full of wild flowers, grasses and lizards.  Here he watched the women wash clothes in the fountain; here it was he absorbed the speech and the rhythms that were to energise his plays in later years; and here it was he learned to identify with the victims of a stifling tradition.

Lorca was assassinated by Franco’s Nationalist troops shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, executed at a spot between Viznar and Alfacar.  The place where he and fellow victims were shot is now the Parque Federico García Lorca, especially created to preserve their memory.  If you are in Spain in August you may care to join the pilgrimage to this place with others who meet here at this time of year on the anniversary of his death.

The olive tree near the village of Alfacar, beside which Lorca was said to have been shot, now disputed although it remains a site of homage. Photo: Graham Beards, CC BY-SA 3.0 WikiCommons.

Attempts have been made to recover his body from sites associated with his murder in August 1936 but without success, something that perhaps reflects the buried and unsettled legacy of the civil war. Excavations in Alfacar in 2009 in the Parque Federico García Lorca failed to locate his body, but close to the olive tree indicated by some as marking the location of the grave, there is a stone memorial to the poet/playwright and all other victims of the Civil War, and at the Barranco de Viznar, between Viznar and Alfacar, there is a memorial stone bearing the words “Lorca eran todos, 18-8-2002” (“All were Lorca”). The Barranco de Viznar is the site of mass graves thought by some to be another possible location of the poet’s remains.

His work and his memory were stifled under the claustrophobic rule of the dictator Franco until approximately 1957 when his works were once again open to the Spanish public, but in his own land he is now, again, hailed as a genius.  His plays are as relevant today as they were in the thirties, their passion and pain as accessible now as they were then.

Meantime, the heartland of the ancient Kingdom of Granada, the cante jondo of the poems, remains the land of Lorca.

N.B.   On July 17, 1936, a forty-three-year-old general named Francisco Franco launched a military rebellion against Spain’s legitimately elected government.  Three days later Granada was seized by a cabal of military officers. In the three-year civil war that ensued, Franco and his ultranationalist Falangists received military assistance from Hitler and Mussolini.  More than half a million Spaniards died before the Republic succumbed and Franco formally initiated his dictatorship in April, 1939.   It lasted until his death, in 1975.


Lorca’s House and Museum – Tel 00 34 (9)58 516453

Fiesta of Flamenco & Poetry on Lorca’s Birthday:  June 5th – Tel 00 34 (9)58 446101

Essential Reading (apart from Lorca’s work of course) 

Ian Gibson: Federico García Lorca:  A Life (Faber & Faber)

Ian Gibson:  The Assassination of Federico García Lorca (Penguin)

Ian Gibson:  Lorca’s  Granada (Faber & Faber):  This is a great guide book to Granada as it takes you on ten routes, step by step from his birthplace to the site of his execution outside the city via the poets best-loved places in Granada.

For the politics of Spain during the Civil War and since, anything by Peter Preston is to be recommended.

Granada Tourist Board – Patronato Provincial de Turismo de Granada
Cárcel Baja, 3. 18001 Granada
Tel: +34 958 24 71 27<>

The Granada Tourist Board has an specific website devoted to Lorca and it is well worth a browse.

Meanwhile, this video will be enjoyed by those interested in seeing images of Lorca’s life in the 1920’s and early 1930’s with people like Dali, de Falla and other artistes of that time. The few seconds of adverts at the beginning and towards the end can be quickly deleted. Do watch to the end, it’s brilliant. The video is sound-tracked by a Leonard Cohen song.

Challenge your Camera: Steps and Stairs.

Steps and Stairs Challenge linked to Dr. B’s challenge at Dr. B’s Challenge your Camera.

What better place to start Steps and Stairs with than The Spanish Steps in Rome.

The Spanish Steps, Rome

Still in Italy, it’s a steep walk to the top of the amphitheatre in Verona during the Opera Festival there but that’s where the budget seats are, obviously. I’ve sat up there – when I was much younger – but I’ve also had the luxury of the lower seats too, and I know which I prefer!

The Amphitheatre, Verona

And now for something completely different, as they say. Ad hoc steps for swimmers in Syracuse in Sicily, used as sun-bathing platforms as well and looking pretty dangerous to me.

Steps for Swimmers in Syracuse in Sicily

Still in Sicily, below is the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, the 3rd largest Opera House in Europe. Film buffs will know these steps as the setting for the scene in The Godfather, Part III, where the godfather’s beloved daughter is shot dead, one of Al Pacino’s great moments among many in the series. The interior of the theatre was also the setting for the closing scenes and backstage tours are on offer.

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily

Across now to Japan, to Hiroshima, where we see school-children on the steps of the Motoyasu River that runs through the Peace Park. They are having a history lesson on the bombing of the city and the consequences for the world.

Schoolchildren in the Peace Park at Hiroshima, Japan

And lastly, there may be many more of Angkor Wat but I never tire of looking at the shrines here and remembering the 3 days I spent in and around the site, loving every minute I was there.

One of the many shrines at Angkor Wat, Cambodia