Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lone flower, Rimini Beach, Italy

A lone flower poke up from the sand at the edge of a concrete walkway to the beach in Rimini.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Black bars, Rimini, Italy

I have no idea why this woman is wearing two dark black bars painted on either side of her spine. I can only imagine it will leave a quite unusual pattern in her tan.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Packed beach, Rimini, Italy

Another view of the Rimini beach, looking backwards from the edge of the water to where the condominiums begin to rise.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Packed beach, Rimini, Italy

And this is what everyone apparently comes to Rimini for: beaches that I suppose are nice, but that I would have a hard time enjoying since they are so utterly and completely packed with people. Somewhere down at the end of that apparently endless line of umbrellas is the ocean.

I grew up mostly in Maine, where even on beautiful hot summer days you could just walk down a little farther to find big swaths of open empty beach. To me, that has defined the experience of beaches, and my feeling about a place like the Rimini beach (or other similar that I have seen elsewhere) is one of profound claustrophobia.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mare That Way, Rimini, Italy

My last stop in Italy last year was an afternoon in Rimini, a seaside city known for intense beaches and Roman ruins. The city is quite clear on why you are more likely to be there though, and everywhere points you clearly to the ocean.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Train station roof, Italy

A curious ovoid skylight in the roof of a train station in Italy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Swifts at dusk, Bertinoro, Italy

Swifts at dusk in Bertinoro, darting all around the buildings of the town's main square.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bertinoro overlook at dusk

Looking out into the clear air beyond a overlook in the middle of Bertinoro, about halfway down the hill, a few swifts dancing in the air chasing insects.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reagan Presidente USA,1991, Bertinoro, Italy

Found on a wall of little plaques of names in a restaurant I ate at: I think this means that Ronald Reagan visited Bertinoro a few years after leaving the presidency. I wonder what might have brought him there.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Half-paved wall, Bertinoro, Italy

Cobblestones go halfway up this wall to form a stylishly jagged boundary.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Proud heads, Bertinoro, Italy

These two proud heads stood on the windowsill of somebody's house along the main road of Bertinoro. To me, they look vaguely Moorish in style, but their true story remains obscure.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Celebration, Bertinoro, Italy

Another, less formal piece of decoration: this little celebrating figure appears high on a wall in Bertinoro, one of the only bits of graffiti I saw in the entire village.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Small shrine under archway, Bertinoro, Italy

Tucked under an archway on a less-used path into the town, I found this small apparently-religious shrine.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monastary Parapet, Bertinoro, Italy

Guarding the entrance to the Bertinoro Monastary, projecting out from the side of the main building, was this intriguing sloping parapet. It has clearly been refurbished to include a modern walkway, but I never found an accessible entrance onto it, which saddened me because the views from that walkway would have been lovely---and I always enjoy exploring odd architectural corners.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Villa-style house, Bertinoro, Italy

On an edge of town in Bertinoro, I saw this building stylistically invoking a classic Roman villa, built around an open atrium in its middle.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Lower Bertinoro, Italy

The lower town of Bertinoro, seen from an overlook in the middle of the town: again, notice that it's all basically around just one tightly packed road. Driving down the middle of that road, the walls of houses are tight together and you might be in the depths of any large city in Italy (or much of Europe), but from above and outside that illusion is shattered.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Countryside near Bertinoro, Italy

Another view into the Bertinoro countryside, to the cluster of communications equipment on the next steep hill, this one quite unpopulated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Countryside near Bertinoro, Italy

Bertinoro stands at the Southern edge of the great fertile plain of Northern Italy, where it begins to climb into hills, then ultimately the Apennine Mountains. The land below the hill of Bertinoro is filled with farms and orchards going up and down their own steep slopes.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Steep Bertinoro alley, Italy

Another example of a wonderfully precipitous street in Bertinoro, stone on both the street and all the surrounding buildings.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bertinoro Streets, Italy

Being an ancient town wrapped around a steep hill, the streets of Bertinoro are even more narrow and winding than most other places in Italy, and one gets a good workout just walking up and down them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The View from Bertinoro, Italy

My trip to Italy last summer was centered on presenting at a scientific "summer school," a one week intensive course of lectures. This meeting was held in an old monastery turned conference center on the top of a steep hill, in the little town of Bertinoro --- the town being almost entirely confined to the sides of this steep hill. The town, however, is almost entirely invisible in the view from the window of my room in the monastery, hidden below the steepness of the hill, so that I just looked out across the rich plains of Northern Italy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

High speed sunflowers, Italy

I really loved watching the sunflowers bobbing past beside the train.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

High speed sunflowers, Italy

A vast field of sunflowers, seen distorted by perspective from the high-speed train dashing past them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Performing statues, Cesena, Italy

Two statues turn the entry stairway of a building in Cesena (probably part of the university) into an acrobatics act. I particularly like the integration of the tightrope into the handrail of the stairs. This seems to me to almost certainly have been designed as a single unit by an artist with some vision, rather than being added to the entrance later.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Church, Italy

A church with an intriguingly rounded steeple structure that reminds me somehow of the a visor on a knight's helmet.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Suspended apartments, Cesena, Italy

I don't know the history of this colorful set of apartments in Cesena, but they are near what I think might be part of the old city walls, and they lean out suspended over a little pocket park.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rail grade rock dropper, Cesena, Italy

This peculiar beast is a specialized maintenance train for maintaining the shape to the rail beds on railroad tracks with the traditional gravel foundation. When the foundations are eroded away, a train like this will drive along, opening slots at its base to let a shower of new little rocks out at a defined rate. How do you know when to dump how much rock in an even vaguely efficient manner? There's a whole little micro-speciality devoted to figuring that sort of thing out.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Foot-pedal sink, Cesena, Italy

I thought this was brilliant, and I would like to see it in more place: a bathroom sink with no handles, but instead a foot pedal to turn on the water. No touching anything with dirty hands --- just the sole of your foot that's not the goal of cleaning in any case. I see the issues for disability, of course, and the way that sensor sinks make it obsolete as well, but I was still startled in retrospect to have never encountered this solution in a bathroom before.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

American Street Food Hamburger, Cesena, Italy

Was there ever any real doubt about what American street food might be, in the eyes of other nations?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

E'Tornato L'Americano, Cesena, Italy

Nobody does cultural appropriate like carnivals, and so it was with glee that I discovered this mashup of all things American pop culture at a street festival in Cesena.  An American Tornado indeed!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cheese Vendor, Cesena, Italy

I love finding pieces of American culture appropriated and reinterpreted through foreign eyes (and yes, I am aware that it is a mark of my cultural privilege that this is a matter of joy for me rather than pain). At the farmer's market in Cesena, I found this cheese vendor's stall gleefully violating copyright on old Tom & Jerry cartoons, selling cheese with the implied threat of vengeful violence. Judging by the "1962" on the side, this may have been there for decades, back even to when the cartoon was much more culturally relevant in the United States---but I have no idea to what degree these characters were or are known in Italy, and that is part of the interest for me.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Giardini Pubblici, Cesena, Italy

Gazebo in the center of the Giardini Pubblici (Public Garden) in the middle of Cesena. I sat here in the late afternoon, enjoying a discussion of aggregate programming theory and possible papers to write with my colleague Giorgio. The park is a surprisingly quiet oasis for how small it is (just beyond those trees are a wall of houses), and by coincidence features in the simulation experiments of an upcoming paper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cesena Streets, Italy

Another shot of the Cesena streets, showing the "canyon" of apartments typical of these types of old, tight settlements.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cesena City Streets, Italy

I love the density and friendliness to human scale in many European cities. Cesena, where my colleagues Mirko and Danilo are based, is typical of this sort of mid-sized city: it is a thriving city of one hundred thousand people, yet we regularly walked from one side to another.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Car closets, Italy

Just as in America, many apartment buildings in Italy have associated parking. Unlike American apartments, the parking in Italy is often in the form of little closets for each person's car. For some reason, a car scooching into a closet just big enough for it to fit is just the cutest thing to me.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bioprocessing plant in vineyard, Italy

The gleaming mass of a biological processing plant rises out of a vineyard in Italy, likely producing wine from the crops surrounding it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tubes near Bologna, Italy

Seen by the side of the highway, somewhere between Bologna and Cesena, I have no idea what these big circular tube-like structures are, except that birds seem to like sitting on them.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Italian Water Tower

I don't know why, but every water tower that I noticed in Italy had this sort of sharp cone shape, rather than the familiar "big round bubble" that I know from the US, UK, France, Germany, etc.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lamborghini, Bologna Airport

Upon arriving in the Bologna airport, one immediately knows you are in Italy, greeted with a sleek, proudly banana-colored Lamborghini.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Italian farm

I don't know what the light brown crop here is, with its mysterious irregular flattened patches, but its texture intrigues me. I saw quite a lot of this, and I'm guessing it's wheat, or a similar cereal crop. The thick green stripes to its right, I believe are likely grapes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Train through Italian countryside

Passenger train rocketing its way through the Italian countryside. People in Northern Europe often like to make fun of the Italian train system as being inferior to their own, but it's still quite a fast, regular and effective way to get around, made more so by the fact that cities and towns are all so dense.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Small Italian city

An example of the sharp city/country divide often seen in Italy and other long-settled European areas. The important thing to notice is the complete absence of anything like low-density suburbia (and particularly cul-de-sacs). You can see this absence in some of the very smallest farm-towns in the US as well, but once you get at least a couple thousand people in a community, there will nearly always be patches of low-density fringe.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Italian countryside

The countryside of European nations tends to look quite different in its structure from the countryside of America. In particular, because it has been densely settled for so much longer, the fields are smaller and more irregular even than fields in the US East coast. There is also often a sharper city/country distinction, though not always, as evidenced by this bit of Italian countryside perfused with small pockets of settlement.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lego Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Airport

The famously cracked Liberty Bell has been reproduced in Lego in the international terminal of the Philadelphia airport. This side shows no evidence of a crack, however, so I'm guessing it must be hiding on the other side.