戏剧演出 The play's the thing
Theatre of Taormina in Sicily
What better place to celebrate World Theatre Day than the Ancient theatre of Taormina, an amphitheater built in the Hellenistic style of the Greeks in the third century BCE. The venue was later expanded by the Romans and is one of the signature sights in the Sicilian town of Taormina. And if you look in the upper-right corner of the photo, that's Mount Etna giving a performance of its own, spewing a little ash and smoke.
The theater is still in use, hosting operas, theatrical productions, and concerts. The beauty of this town, built into a steep hill overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, is said to have inspired writers and thinkers both ancient and modern, from Plato to D.H. Lawrence and Truman Capote.
Since 1962 World Theatre Day has been celebrated every March 27th by theatre professionals, organizations, universities and theatre lovers across the continents. Each year a speaker is selected to deliver a message about the importance of theatre and its value to humanity.
前往罗马广场的路上发生了一件趣事…… A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum…
Beware the ides of March
We're at the Roman Forum, or Forum Romanum, for the ides of March, a day made famous as the site of the assassination of Julius Caesar. While Shakespeare's Caesar was warned to 'beware the ides of March,' historians have never attributed the phrase to those who tipped off the actual Caesar about a plot against him. We do know that before March 15, 44 BCE was over, Caesar was assassinated. Afterward, Rome descended into war, ending the Roman Republic, and leading to the rise of the Roman Empire.
The Forum was a city square in which Rome's commercial, political, and religious activity took place, along with the occasional assassination. It was a site of ceremonies and celebrations. It was where Mark Antony's famed funeral oration for Caesar was given, and where Caesar's body was burned before the public. Today the area is a popular tourist attraction, drawing more than 4.5 million visitors in an average year.
特雷比亚河的左岸便是 On the left bank of the river Trebbia, lies...
Between the metropolis of Milan—the fashion and design capital of Italy—and the fabled seaport city of Genoa, you'll find this small river town in northern Italy. People have resided here since ancient times, including the Romans, but the town really began to flourish when the abbey was constructed in the 7th century. For much of the Middle Ages, the Bobbio Abbey and its vast library made the town a center of religion, culture, and learning.
These days, Bobbio is a regular tourist stop perhaps best known for its old bridge, or Ponte Vecchio (not to be confused with THE Ponte Vecchio in Florence). Bobbio's old bridge spans the river Trebbia with 11 arches of unequal size and is commonly called Ponte Gobbo (Hunchback Bridge), because of its irregular shape.
Bobbio remains a jewel box of a town frozen in time. With its many small churches, modest houses, and cobblestone streets, Bobbio maintains the character of a medieval village nestled the Trebbia valley. Ernest Hemingway described the Val Trebbia as 'the most beautiful in the world,' and with views like this, who could argue with him?
Autumn in the Prosecco Hills
It's fall here in the Prosecco Hills of northeastern Italy. We're just outside Farra di Soligo, a village about 30 miles northwest of Venice. This region is known for growing the glera grape used to make the white wine called prosecco. Once a humble sparkling wine, and considered a poor cousin to Champagne, prosecco now eclipses Champagne in global popularity. More than 600 million bottles of prosecco were produced in Italy in 2018, about twice the amount of Champagne.
Of those 600 million bottles produced a year, about 90 million bottles of prosecco come from the Prosecco Hills region. Like most Italian grape-growing areas, the Prosecco Hills boast a spectacular landscape. Small plots of grapes have grown on narrow grassy terraces known as 'ciglioni' since the 17th century. From above, the ciglioni produce a checkerboard effect with vines growing both horizontally along and vertical to the hillsides. Some plots even use the 19th-century 'bellussera' technique of training the grapevines to grow up along trees. This region is so distinctive, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
A cliffside harbor in Sardinia
The mining industry in Sardinia, Italy was booming in the early 20th century, as European nations looked to reconstruct from the damages of World War I. But Sardinian faced myriad logistical issues trying to export the zinc, lead and other minerals that were in high demand. Miners on the Italian island were using modern techniques to extract more and more ore, but it wasn't until 1924, when engineer Cesare Vecelli designed and built the mining hub along the cliffs in Porto Flavia, that getting product off the island matched their ability to extract it.
Before Vecelli's architectural marvel at Porto Flavia began operating, ore was often hand carried in wicker baskets and loaded by workers onto awaiting boats, a process that was slow, expensive, and often dangerous. But Vecelli's innovation allowed miners to lower ore directly onto ships waiting in the harbor below, saving time and cutting costs by up to 70%. Porto Flavia, which Vecelli named after his daughter, wasn't purely an exercise in productivity. The engineer added design flourishes including a concrete tower, as well as an arched doorway and windows, giving the port a certain elegance not normally associated with a mining hub. These days, Porto Flavia lives on as a UNESCO-protected tourist attraction.
意大利撒丁岛的采矿业在20世纪初蓬勃发展，因为欧洲国家希望从第一次世界大战的破坏中重建。但撒丁岛在出口锌、铅和其他需求量大的矿物时面临着无数的物流问题。意大利岛上的矿工们正在使用现代技术开采越来越多的矿石，但直到1924年工程师塞萨尔·维切利（Cesare Vecelli）沿着弗拉维亚港（Porto Flavia）的悬崖设计并建造了采矿枢纽，从岛上获取的产品才与他们的开采能力相匹配。
An octagonal architectural treasure
Built in the 1240s by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in southeast Italy, Castel del Monte (Castle of the Mount) features an unusual octagonal design. Eight stone walls stretch between eight octagonal towers and enclose an octagonal courtyard. Each of the two floors also has eight trapezoidal rooms. Acclaimed and protected as a World Heritage Site in 1966, the castle symbolically reflects a harmonious integration of classical Roman, Arabic, and medieval architecture and design—and to some, its octagonal symmetry suggests a connection between heaven and earth.
Its original purpose is unclear. Without a drawbridge, moat, or curtain wall to protect it, it was clearly not a defensive fortress, and its lack of stables call into question its function as a hunting lodge. Over the centuries it has served as a prison and as a refuge from the plague. But whatever the emperor's intention, he left a captivating monument that still enchants today.
A center of antiquity on the Mediterranean
This bird's-eye view lets us take in the charms of Ortygia, a small island just offshore from Syracuse, on Sicily's east coast. Ortygia is considered Syracuse's 'old town' and the historical heart of the city. A narrow channel separates the island from Syracuse and two bridges connect Ortygia to mainland Sicily. Ancient Greeks first colonized this island in the 8th century BCE, and the town is brimming with 2,700 years of history. Walk Ortygia's web of narrow streets and you'll see Greek and Roman ruins, medieval Norman buildings, and examples of Baroque architecture as well.
A Homeric texts Hymn tells of claim the goddess Leto, who stopped at Ortygia to give birth to her twins, Artemis and Apollo. Visitors today can pay homage to the mythology with a visit to the Temple of Apollo, which dates from the 6th century BCE, making it the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. But for some, the most magnificent attraction to Ortygia is the cerulean Mediterranean Sea, which surrounds the island in a shimmery blue.
Pretty poetic for a pit
Taking a bird's-eye view along the coast of Italy's bootheel, you'll spot many coves and caves like this one, the Grotta della Poesia. In English that's Poetry's Cave, a sea-flooded sinkhole so named for the ancient poets who—legend has it—were bemused by a beautiful princess who often came here for a dip.
Nowadays it's a popular spot for all water lovers, regardless of royal standing. Inside the sinkhole, an underground cavern carries the clear waters out to sea, beckoning the most intrepid swimmers and scuba divers toward the open Adriatic.
In Sicily, history is everywhere
Today we're in Montalbano Elicona on the island of Sicily. It's known for the very old castle at the crest of the hill, as well as the quaint medieval village below. It's no wonder that Montalbano Elicona has been called one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy. The castle itself is believed to have been built in the 13th century by medieval power broker Frederick II of Swabia. He wore many hats, including King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, and—as far-fetched as it sounds—the King of Jerusalem, a title he claimed after conquering that city during the Sixth Crusade. The castle was originally designed as a fortress, but it also served as a summer residence for Frederick and other rulers who followed him.
Surrounding the castle are several other interesting historical sites, including the Church of St. Catherine, known for its Romanesque portal built in the 14th century, its mix of Catalan and renaissance architecture, marble statues of St. Catherine and St. Nicholas Bishop, and a representation of the Last Supper by artist Guido Reni. Also of note is the nearby Argimusco plateau, where an array of large oblong stones, including one which is said to resemble an eagle, have long prompted speculation that they were placed there by members of a prehistoric island culture. However, scientists now believe that these so-called megaliths of Argimusco, sometimes referred to as the Stonehenge of Sicily, are actually of natural origin, and the unique boulder shapes are simply the result of centuries of wind erosion.
城堡周围还有其他一些有趣的历史遗迹，包括圣凯瑟琳教堂（Church of St.Catherine），因其建于14世纪的罗马式大门而闻名，它融合了加泰罗尼亚和文艺复兴时期的建筑，圣凯瑟琳和圣尼古拉斯主教的大理石雕像，以及艺术家吉多·雷尼（Guido Reni）对《最后的晚餐》的描绘。同样值得注意的是附近的阿尔吉穆斯科高原，那里有一排长方形的大石头，其中一块据说像鹰，长期以来一直有人猜测它们是史前岛屿文化的成员放在那里的。然而，科学家们现在认为，这些所谓的阿吉姆斯科巨石，有时被称为西西里巨石阵，实际上是自然起源的，这些独特的巨石形状只是几个世纪风蚀的结果。
A sizzling summit hides in the clouds
Seen here with its explosive summit socked away in the clouds, Mount Etna towers over the Italian isle of Sicily as the tallest volcano in Europe—and maybe the crankiest, given its near-constant eruptions. The island peak has been highly active for perhaps half a million years and can still be counted on for a spectacular eruption every few years. This photograph shows Etna erupting in 2013.