Monthly Archives: August 2013

Typical # 12 – Church of St. Annunziata

You know, going to and back from work, either on foot or on my bycicle, there are many routes I can choose from, according to my mood….

Most of the time I choose the shortest one (usually I’m sort of late…) that makes me go past this beautiful church, St. Annunziata (St. Annunciation). This morning I decided to stop and enter the church even if there was the Mass going on (so inside I had to hide my phone taking photos…) The church and convent are of St. Francis Minors. It was dedicated to Saints Gervaso and Protaso up until the 18th century (giving the name to the road, currently known as Massimo D’Azeglio). The building was started in 1566 , founded by Duke Ottavio Farnese and by the bishop of Brugnato (favored by the one in Parma), upon the design of Giambattista Fornovo (who gives the name to the adjacent alley). In 1616 the construction was stalled however at the cornice at the first level and covered with a temporary roof. Only with the intervention of Margherita Farnese (sister Maura Lucenia) and public offers, the temple was completed as foreseen in the original design, with roofing by Girolamo Rainaldi deviating from the project of Fornovo (who had planned a dome with illuminating windows). The resulting plan is quite atypical and an obvious source of curiosity for many artists: Filippo Juvarra , creator of the Superga Basilica and the Stupinigi Palace, made precise sketches of its structure. It has an almost elliptical plan (about 31 m. X 20), with two semi-circles joined by two straight lines, which joins the apse and ten chapels decorated with plasters, as well as an interior atrium; the space is divided by fluted pillars. The exterior perspective, bare yet strengthened by the robust dorsal forms of the chapels and buttresses, express an image of elasticity and strength contemporarily.

In the left atrium there is a copy of the Annunciation by Correggio (1520), a fresco from the church of the Minors in via Farini, which was then taken out in 1546 and eventually placed in the National Gallery of Parma, where one can still find it today. To the right, in a niche, there is Ecce Homo in polychrome terracotta by Antonio Sbravati , and a canvas depicting The Martyrdom of Saints Gervaso and Protaso by Biagio Martini (beginning of the 19th century). The table of the grand altar (by Antonio Brianti, 1776), with the Virgin on throne, Child and Saints Bernard, John Baptist, John Evangelist and Francis of Assisi was done originally for the Minors of the “ Annunziata di fuori ” in 1518 by Francesco Zaganelli of Cotignola, and brought here after the suppression of the convent in 1546. The Choir was commissioned by Rolando Pallavicino (mid-15th century). In the fourth chapel to the left, St. Peter of Alcantara and his life story by Pier Ilario Spolverini (beginning of 18th century). In the ninth chapel, there is St. Bonaventure genuflecting before the Virgin , canvas by Sebastiano Galeotti . In the tenth chapel, there is the baptismal fountain by Camillo Uccelli . The plasters and other decorations in the main area are attributed to Luca Reti (beginning of 17th century).
I was sorry I had to leave because it was so peaceful there………maybe some other time….(for more “Typical” of my hometown click here)

Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Little things …..again

Early august. A sunday with nothing to do. Husband was away all day long, so me and daughter M decided for a “green” morning….and we weren’t alone

The origins of the Parma Botanical Garden can be traced back to the year 1600. Even before this time Parma had the “Giardino dei Semplici” (Garden of Simple) founded by Ranuccio I Farnese which formed part of Medical Department and used to grow healing herbs (hence the name simple indicating medicines from the plant kingdom). The present Botanical Garden was created in the 1768 by the abbot Giambattista Guatteri, professor of botany, under the auspices of Ferdinando I of Borbone and was located in the city centre, covering the same area of 11000 square metres when established as it does today. The central part, in front of the greenhouses, preserves the Italian garden style of the eighteenth century project, even if the shape has been partially modified with the march of time. The wooded part, created between the XVIII and the XIX century, remains in the east of the Garden, whilst the western part has been rebuilt according to the British garden style.

In the last years a reorganization and an enrichment of the collections has been started, and the flowerbeds and the border have been fixed. Precious herbarium kept at the Garden include that of Giambattista Guatteri, Giorgio Jan and Giovanni Passerini which also has some working tools; an ancient herbarium of healing herbs which was the property of the botanic doctor G. B. Casapini (1722); the herbarium of the countess Albertina Sanvitale with her autograph hints (1828 – 1830) and the herbarium of Luigi Gardoni (1836 – 1878) composed of 274 boxes containing a diverse mix of local and exotic species.

It was a refreshing and relaxing moment before having lunch ………..rice for both of us……….

For the fifth year in a row on august 6, at 9.00pm the Ilaria Alpi International Library in cooperation with the Japanese Community of Parma invited the entire city to the commemoration of the Feast of Toro Nagashi that was held at the Lake of the Parco Ducale (the park I go through almost every day going back from work). Me and my daughter, along with some of our friends, were there early to have a walk in the park and something to eat before the ceremony started.

Toro Nagashi is a Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns (chōchin) down a river; toro is traditionally another word for lantern, while nagashi means “cruise, flow”. This is primarily done on the last evening of the Bon Festival festival based on the belief that this guides the spirits of the departed back to the other world. The ceremony may be done on some other days of the year for other reasons such as to commemorate those lost in the bombing of Hiroshima and those who died on Japan Airlines Flight 123; or in other areas of the world, such as Hawaii, to commemorate the end of World War II. The Bon Festival takes place on the thirteenth to sixteenth of August or July, depending on the calendar you go by. The white lanterns are for those who have died in the past year. Traditional Japanese beliefs state that humans come from water, so the lanterns represent their bodies returning to water.

In recent years the city has been very sensitive to this event with which we commemorate the victims of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which so profoundly marked the history of modern era. So this day helps to create a bond between Parma and Japan and the city of Parma clings to the Japanese community to celebrate with them this charming tradition.

Everyone was invited to take a lantern and write a wish or a message on it, then entrust it to the water and the good spirits….

It was pure magic to be surrounded by darkness (at one point they turned off the lamps) and the only lights were the lanterns floating on the water, and the only sounds were the whispered prayers….

In Italy, as well as in other european countries, the 15th august is national holiday. We hadn’t planned how to spend the day, so it was a last minute decision for me and my daughter to go and visit an exhibition we long wanted to see, and we took my mom along as well (hubby is not really into this kind of things…)

The Ducal museum of antiquities was founded in Parma in 1760 by Don Philip of Bourbon in order to preserve the finds from excavations carried out at Veleia, a small Roman town on the Apennines near Piacenza. The Tabula Alimentaria of Emperor Trajan, containing directions for the maintenance of poor children, had been discovered there by chance and is still exhibited in the museum…

During the French rule, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was stripped of its most prestigious items, which were to be returned only after the Congress of Wien. Under Marie Louise, the collections were extended thanks to important purchases. Since the Unity of Italy, it has also housed a study and research center in the field of Paleontology.

The collections are currently displayed on two floors: the first floor houses the finds from Veleja as well as the non-local Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures, ceramics, glassware and coins

The ground floor houses the pre and protohistoric sections and the one concerning Parma and the surrounding area in the Roman period.The aim of this exhibition, that involves public and private institutions, locally and nationally, is to promote and spread the knowledge of archaeology in a local and international range, presenting new discoveries after the excavations of the latest years in the Parma territory, that contribute to redesigning the historical environment, known so far for the oldest periods of the city.

A room on the first floor is dedicated to the Egyptian collection, including a limestone fragments of the Tomb of Amenemone from Menphis (1405-1370 BC). The collection consist about 190 objects, mostly purchased on the antiquities market by Mr. Michele Lopez, director of the museum, with the support of Ms. maria Luigia, Duchess of Parma; in purchasing the director was often helped by the authoritative advice of the egyptologist Ippolito Rosellini.

It was such an experience for my mom, she took all the time in the world to read all the explanation panels …and I mean ALL of them…… it was a very long visit………but I’m really glad that at almost 81 (next sunday) she’s able to enjoy things like this and wanting to learn more…………

Then it was time for a day in the little town in the mountains where a couple of friends have their (just renovated, but not finished) country house…..In the morning we went to the Mass in the cathedral, a sanctuary actually. I have to admit we are not that much religious so to attend Mass, but that day it was our friends wedding anniversary and they really wanted their family and friends to celebrate it.

The sanctuary is dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation, but is commonly called the “Madonna di San Marco” by the pre-existing title of the oratory. Tradition has it that in 1600, some Venetian merchants (thus San Marco) attacked by robbers in these parts, were miraculously freed by the intercession of the Mother of Consolation. In gratitude they erected a chapel called Chapel of the Well. In 1685 was built the oratory of San Marco, which soon became a center of devotion to Our Lady. Around 1731 came from the area of ​​Pontremoli, (it seems, a work of a Capuchin friar) the current statue of Our Lady of Consolation, wood work of uncommon artistic value (1531).
In 1948, the Chapel of the Well was incorporated in the crypt, which was completed in 1952. In the Marian Year 1954, was erected the magnificent dome by the architects Sassi and Robuschi and in1955 the high walls.
The interior is a square with side chapels, above the altar is the great mosaic of Pentecost, at the bottom is a small temple with a wooden statue of the Madonna and a semicircular room with stained glass windows depicting the Visitation and the Wedding at Cana . In 1889 here was crowned  Bishop Scalabrini, founder of the Missionaries of St. Charles for Italians emigrated, better known as the Scalabrini Fathers (from the sanctuary brochure).
After the Mass we had a moment to greet the ones who were leaving and I had the chance to talk a little english with some family members living in UK (lots of people from this part of our mountains are living abroad, especially in UK or the States – actually my friend’s mom was born in NYC) and we, invited to lunch too, had a little walk to the restaurant….

the best? this……………….mmmmmmmmmmm………….

After the walk back, we spent the rest of the afternoon at our friends house (just the four of us) chatting in their garden……….

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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Little things, here and there….

While I was busy at work (working 10/11 hours a day – I’m so relieved it’s over!) and at home trying to fix things before our summer bike trip, and planning the trip itself with all the details, and then downloading and post photos about it……… well, while busy with all this, a lot of things happened around here. Now it’s time to show you.

Last weekend of june and first one of july. Reaching the 17th edition this year, a multi-cultural gathering was held in a little town about 10 kms from where I live. Basically it’s a series of cultural events – from ethnic dances to concerts, from workshops to photographic exhibitions, from poetry readings to habits and customs lectures – organized by the many associations of foreigners living on the territory. And don’t forget about the food……stands from all over the world providing the best food experience you can dream about, a feast of colors, flavors and smells…..from late afternoon to deep into the night, it was really a time to remember

We choose that particular day so to have the chance to listen to what our Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge Kashetu, had to say. She’s is an Italo-Congolese politician and ophthalmologist. This Ministry is a new thing for our country and her election caused a stir, some people not really accepted her being black. After moving to Italy in 1983, she became a qualified ophthalmologist in Modena, and she founded an intercultural Association (DAWA) to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the spokesperson of the association “March First”, which works to promote the rights of migrants in Italy. In February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna. Two months later she was appointed Minister for Integration becoming Italy’s first black cabinet minister. She supports the introduction of a Jus soli law to grant citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil. It was a very interesting speech, but that set more questions than answers on how to learn to live side by side in a global world….

The same week my husband had a very good news, along with all the local football team fans. Antonio Cassano (if you are football lovers you know who he is, if not look here) signed a five years agreement with Parma AC. He’s well known for his stormy nature (being a father now he toned down) but he’s also very talented and all the fans here are thrilled. So it was a very intense time following him during his time here, undergoing medical examinations, holding press conferences (at the team head office) and the official presentation to the fans (at the stadium) followed by a dinner open to all the championship subscribers. My husband is obviously one of them, and he took me along (photos from our local newspaper – better than mine, I was too far – but the last one, taken at the restaurant with the team manager)

He choose to live in the city center, in a penthouse overlooking the main square, as you can see in the pic below, taken last week during the official team presentation to the city, a very crowded, noisy and fun night! (the sign says “Hi dad”)

It was nice to see new and old faces…..and it was worth the swollen ankle I got trying to gain positions among the crowd to take pics of the players and staff members while going on the stage………..(damn, it still hurts!). This year will mark the centenary of the football team, being born the 27th july 1913……….

Mid-july was also the time for two big opening here, the Nespresso shop and another big bookshop for used books, just around the corner of the same building…..and no, Geroge Clooney wasn’t there! I had the chance to see the work in progress of both, because the coffee shop is run by a former collegue and a friend of my daugher is employed at the bookshop (and yes, I bought books every time I was there!)

see the spectacled guy? he’s A, my daughter’s friend….

More later………..















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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A nice trip through Germany (last part)

So this was at the end of our vacation, a place that became familiar and we’d like to call home away from home…………..Nurburg and Nurburgring Circuit……..approaced from another angle……..seeing the castle tower from afar ………….it felt so good………

and driving along the race track felt good as well………..

But actually entering the Nordschleife was better………..

The Nürburgring is made up of two racetracks: the Nordschleife which was opened in 1927 as the “First Hilly Racing and Test Track” and the Grand Prix Circuit inaugurated in 1984. The two circuits, which can be driven around in combination, are together about 26 kilometres, making the Nürburgring the longest permanent racetrack in the world. A total of 40 left-hand bends, 50 right-hand bends and a 300m height difference with extreme slopes and gradients ensure a significant adrenaline kick for both drivers and spectators. Since its construction (1925 – 1927), the Nordschleife has enjoyed a reputation as a terrifying and merciless route through the Eifel forests. An English journalist who visited the Nordschleife during the opening race on 18 June 1927 even concluded “that it seemed as if a reeling, drunken giant had been sent out to determine the route”. The Formula 1 pilot Sir John Young Jackie Stewart – after all a three-time world champion in 1969, 1971 and 1973 – was so impressed by the circuit that he gave it the name which it will probably never lose: Green Hell (Grüne Hölle).

It can be scary but they have a sense of humor too…………

It was rainy all day so not much people there (weird enough, because the other times it was crowded like hell no matter the weather) so husband made up his own speed pace and I had the chance to snap a few pics

yes………..and the “karussell” too (a little shaky, forgive me….)

Although being one of the slower corners on the Nordschleife, the Karussell is perhaps one of its most iconic, one of two berm-style, banked corners. The entrance to the corner is blind, although Juan Manuel Fangio is reputed to have advised a young driver to “aim for the tallest tree,” a feature that was also built into the rendering of the circuit in the Gran Turismo 4 and Grand Prix Legends video games. The combination of a recognisable corner, slow-moving cars, and the variation in viewing angle as cars rotate around the banking, means that this is one of the circuit’s most popular locations for photographers. It is named for Rudolf Caracciola, who reportedly made the corner his own by hooking the inside tires into a drainage ditch to help his car “hug” the curve. As more concrete was uncovered and more competitors copied him, the trend took hold. At a later reconstruction, the corner was remade with real concrete banking, as it remains to this day.

After testing our cold blood we drove to the newest part of the Circuit for some serious shopping……….

and then it was over. Time to come back home.

We stopped for a night at Bad Krozingen, a thermal town, at this nice hotel that allowed free access to the thermal pool and yes…………we enjoyed it!

A swim (no, you won’t see me in a bath suit – I love you that much) a walk in the park where we had dinner, a good sleep and we were ready for home…

Last photo? Sempachersee, Switzerland









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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A nice trip through Germany (part 6)

While in the area (even if the weather was so-and-so) we decided that just the racetrack was not enough. We knew we were in a very well known place for wine (this german region is what Alsace is for France – once upon a time just the Rhine river divided these two countries). So why not have a drive through it? We had two days of pure pleasure……..

The German Wine Route, running through the Palatinate countryside from Schweigen-Rechtenbach to Bockenheim, is a delight. We simply followed the signs showing a bunch of grapes and enjoyed all the 85 kilometres of pure fresh air, fine wines, good cuisine and beautiful villages. The Palatinate region is Germany’s second largest wine-growing region, the vines are so tightly clustered that the rolling landscape resembles a vast emerald lake and the surrounding countryside, peppered with castles, palaces and the remains of Roman settlements, is enchanting, and the route is lined by small towns – often more than 1,000 years old, wine-growing villages, romantic corners, museums and sites of historical interest.

We started our visit from the village of Altenhar in the district of Ahrweiler, situated on the river Ahr, in the Eifel mountains, with the ruins of the Are castle towering the valley. It was built around 1100. Troups from Cologne destroyed it in 1714 because freebooters used it as their base for trouble making. Once upon a time the castle was the administration headquarters and a prison of the Cologne Archbishops.

Here I had the best gulash soup of my life!

Between villages the road was so little crowded that we could really enjoy the view………….

We had another stop at Ahrweiler and I’m really glad we did because this is really a charming little place.

The region was conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar about 50 BC. Some hundred years later the Roman fort of Rigomagus was founded, later to become the city of Remagen. The Vinxtbach, a narrow brook and an affluent of the Rhine, was defined as the borderline between the Roman provinces of Germania superior and Germania inferior. There was originally a Roman villa located here, and the German suffix, “weiler”, is a linguistic corruption of the Latin term “villa”. Portions of an Roman aqueduct have also been found nearby. Many towns were first mentioned in the 9th century, among them Ahrweiler. The name of Ahrweiler was first noted in the Land Register of the Abbey of Prüm, which during the ninth century, owned almost all of the property in the town. From 1100 to 1246 the district was ruled by the Grafen (Counts) von Are (Ahr), and then by their relatives, the Grafen von Hochstaden. These families were mainly responsible for the development of Ahrweiler, which then was, together with Bonn, Andernach and Nürburg, one of the capitals of the Archbishopric of Cologne. Defensive walls, ramparts and towers were built around the town, and these constructions remain mostly unimpaired. In the early years of the Holy Roman Empire there was an earldom of Ahr, but it was annexed by the Bishop of Cologne in 1246. The parish church, St. Laurentius (St. Laurence), was originally built in 1269, and is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the Rhineland.

Since the Middle Ages, the town has been roughly divided by the four City Gates. In each division there was a commons, which originally belonged to the town’s citizens. These were later put in the care of the protective Social Communities, who protected the interests of the ihabitants. These Social Communities (Hutengemeinschaften) continue to exist. During a disaterous period in the Thirty Years War in the 17th century, the town was besieged, plundered and set on fire by the French. But the blackest day in Ahrweiler’s history was on May 1, 1689, when the town was razed to the ground, and only ten houses were left standing among the ruins.

Although much of the town resisted early National Socialism, and the town leaders had refused Adolf Hitler a chance to address the community in 1932, they were not able to escape the reach of the Nazis entirely. Ahrweiler had a small Jewish community before the Nazis came to power, but they were all taken away and relocated, some to concentration camps, after 1933. No member of this community ever returned to Ahrweiler, and today, the town’s old synagogue is used for art displays.The Ahrweiler City Gate and many other historical buildings were partially destroyed at the end of World War II during the contested advances of the Allies.

The next day we hit that road again but in the other direction……….towards the Rhine river and Remagen (and no, the sky turned up really bad, but luckily no rain)

The Ludendorff Bridge (known frequently by English speaking people during World War II as the Bridge at Remagen) was a railroad bridge across the Rhine River in Nazi Germany, connecting the villages of Remagen and Erpel between two ridges of hills flanking the river. At the end of Operation Lumberjack (1 through 7 March 1945), the troops of the American 1st Army approached Remagen and they were much surprised to find that the bridge was still standing. The Ludendorff Bridge was notable for its capture on 7–8 March 1945 by the U.S. Army during the Battle of Remagen. This enabled the U.S. Army to establish a bridgehead on the eastern side of the Rhine. The capture of this bridge was an important event of World War II in Western Europe because this was the only significant bridge still standing over the Rhine from the West into the heartland of Nazi Germany. Since it was a railroad bridge, this bridge was also strong enough that the U.S. Army could cross it immediately with heavy tanks and artillery pieces and trucks full of military supplies. Once the bridge was captured, the troops of the Wehrmacht began strenuous efforts to destroy or damage it, or to slow the U.S. Army’s use of it. Among other things the Wehrmacht used heavy artillery and V-2 rockets against the bridge and it also sent frogmen at night to sabotage it. However, these were discovered and shot by American sentries using strong floodlights. For those who like this kind of movies (hubby in the first place) this is considered a masterpiece.

But this village is not just that…..

We had lunch along the river at this italian restaurant and the waiter (half italian, half american with a hint of german blood) dwelled on the history of the battle and the bridge and enlightend us on his father involvement in the battle…………..

And then we were ready for the track…………

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A post in between

This is worth a post on its own, a break from my road trip updates, because it was such a nice, relaxing and unexpected surprise!

Our next destination was, once again, the Nurburgring Circuit, we fell in love with the place, the atmosphere and the race track itself the first time we were there, and this was our third time. We wrote to the family that put us up twice already, but they were full so we were re-directed to another B&B in the Nurburg village. They also were full, and I received a mail from another family in a nearby village. With the help of my on-line friend Sabi (whose kidness is unbelievable) I fixed the details of our stay and we blindly reached the village of Herschbroich hoping for the best (but their website gave us a hint). And this sort of paradise, enchanted place and amazing house is what we found………..

This is Rocco, the owner’s sweet dog………..

This was our bedroom…………

and look at this amazing garden………..

they even have a philosopher corner….

And that’s how Frau Agnes gave us the good morning…………each morning

Can you see why I almost cried when we left after three days there?

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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A nice trip through Germany (part 5)

Or……about Black Forest and cuckoo clocks……….

Baden-Baden was our base camp and we had a terrific time discovering its beauties, but while there we wandered around as well.  From Baden-Baden the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse (Black Forest High Road) begins and it’s a wonderful trip to undertake. At the start it seems like any other road, but don’t be fooled, the B500 (its official name) soon become a vey different thing….

The Schwarzwaldhochstrasse rises quickly to the main ridge of the northern Black Forest, reaching the top at the Bühlerhöhe. When the weather is clear, there is a wide view over the Rhine plain toward the Vosges Mountains. From the Bühlerhöhe the Hochstrassee stays between 800 and 1000 mt above sea level past several mountain passes. The name Schwarzwaldhochstrasse was first used in 1930 after the completion of the section of road between Hundseck and Untersmatt made access to the high Black Forest easier. In order to draw the emerging automobile tourists to the mountain hotels, the roads in the high valleys were together labeled as a scenic drive. Under the Third Reich, further construction was done for strategic reasons, including finishing the uncompleted stretch between Ruhestein and Alexanderschanze through a nature preserve between 1938 and 1941. The entire route was completed in 1952.

Along the road we crossed deserted buildings and beautiful houses………….

and some “strange” road companions………….this sort of bike it’s called “trike”……….

We stopped for lunch at the The Naturschutzzentrum, (Nature Protection Center) at Ruhestein that gives informations about the Middle/North Black Forest Nature Park, one of a series of parks throughout Germany that aim to protect natural and cultural features of an area. The information center is also responsible for the Lotharpfad, an interpretive trail showing the effects of the 1999 storm Lothar.

Under the highest mountain in the northern Black Forest, the 1164 meter high Hornisgrinde, the road reaches the almost circular Mummelsee, a cirque from the latest ice age. According to legends, the lake is inhabited by a Nix and the King of the Mummelsee. Obviously, we had to see it ourselves, hoping for a encounter, but……… no way………

The next day we were supposed to meet a “virtual” friend living nearby, but the meeting was canceled, so we decided it was time to drive along another famous road, the “Deutsche Uhrenstrasse” (German Clock Route). This recreation route, certainly among Germany’s most beautiful, has been outlined by an active group of staff members along a line-up of villages, museums and several clock manufacturers. This stretch of road includes museums of high interest and delightful sights centered around the Black Forest clocks, clock factories, workshops and studios of clock shield painters.

The actual date, when the first clocks were built in the Black Forest cannot be clearly determined and is still in the dark. The date of 1640 is often found on follow ups, although it is by no means historically guaranteed. The first production period was approximately between 1670 and 1720, which is without any great significance since around 1700 the high region of the Black Forest had to
endure war conflicts between Austria and France. The actual start was after 1720. Soon after that the clock trade was widely spread in the high region of the Black Forest. The region of the clock makers in the 18th century stretched from St. Georgen in the north to Neustadt in the south. Though the main region of the early clock production was the area around Furtwangen. It is gladly assumed that the inherent aptitudes of the ‘forest artists” in connection with a distinct specialized knowledge in woodwork, indispensable for life in the mountains, has automatically led to the growing clock production. However, the decisive and advising involvement of the early monastery clergy in the Black Forest and their physical and mathematical capabilities should also be considered.

Our first stop was in Schonwald, where we had lunch in a cozy (and for once, fresh) place and where we visited a clocks workshop………

then the road lead us to Schonach, to the world biggest cuckoo clock, actually a little house, you can enter it and see the mechanism that makes it work………

the owner and artisan who built it explained us how it works, and told us to go outside because it was about the time when the alarm was set to strike…..and it did! a big bird told us it was 2.30pm in a very noisy way!

It was so hot, husband liked it better from afar and in the shade of a sort of iron “bollenhut” the typical ladies’ hat topped with pom-poms that has been part of the traditional costume worn by women in the three neighbouring Black Forest villages since around 1750. Young unmarried girls wear hats with red “pompoms” and married women hats with black ones. What can I say? I married a man with “balls”…………….

On our way back we had a stop in the city where the B500 ends, Freudenstadt. The city lies on a high plateau at the east edge of the north Black Forest, and is well known for its fresh air but not when we were there!  Freudenstadt is a climatic health resort of international renown. In the 19th and 20th centuries, visitors of note included George V of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Sweden, John D. Rockefeller, and even the American writer Mark Twain. With its many hotels and guest houses, and its high-class cuisine, Freudenstadt remains a popular vacation spot for Germans from every part of the country.

The market square in Freudenstadt, the largest in the whole of Germany, is one of the town’s most famous features. Almost exactly square, it is framed by beautiful historical buildings, including some delightful arcaded houses accommodating dozens of little shops. The 50 fountains on the square provide quite a spectacle and offer a great way to cool off in summer.

Our stay in this region was at the end and the next day we moved on to north, hoping for a cooler weather………….

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


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