Monday, November 9, 2009

Sirmione - Ancient Lake Fun, Part II

While driving from Venice to Lake Como, I had to make a long lunchtime stop at a unique spot in all the world. Sirmione is a geological oddity, a very narrow strip of land jutting about two miles out into the ancient Lake Garda.

It's kind of strange to walk for so far in one direction and see water on both sides. Last time that happened, I was on a cruise ship treadmill.

It was rumored to be the location of a villa of Catullus, a close friend of the family of Gaius Julius Caesar, but it was probably a different Roman dignitary who lived here in those days.

It makes military sense that the original villa builders would pick this spot because it is supremely defensible. Well, except from attacks of a flying or swimming enemy. The ancient Romans wouldn't have stood a chance against a nuclear submarine, right?

Here I am standing in the main 'foyer' of the villa. Behind me, as you might guess, is the lake. Apologies for my shoddy state in the photo, but I'd just been driving in Italian traffic half the day when this was taken.

Below, you can see the 'marble beach' view out the 'front door' of 'the' villa... I'll bet they had some great parties out there, even though it would be tough to use a jet ski loaded down with a case of beer because it's so shallow.

The size and scale of the Roman villas makes my house seem so small...

They also had a neat little museum with a diverse collection of implements, mosaics, frescos and such.

I promised some glass and smalti images a few posts back. Here is some off my 'stash' of mixed colors and an Orsoni sample board showing the standard pallette with a pretty large range of value and hue.

And here is the actual result (from my class) of that mosaic from the 6th century. I accidently put up a photo last time of just my empty easel with just the image I was copying in mosaic. Strangely, no one called me on it.


  1. spent half a day driving IN ITALY and you then stood in front of a wall instead of imbibing the first giant cocktail you could get your mitts on? You are my HERO! I have to say, I just LOVE your mosaic. I noticed last time you didn't post it. It's really gorgeous. It makes me want to try some mosaic work myself.

  2. Also, I remember the last time I was in a car in Italy thinking "Considering it costs a typical mortgage payment to fill up your tank in Italy, they sure do drive like blind people on speed!" So well done.

  3. lake guarda is on my list :)

    i love driving in italy - where a red light is just a hint to slow down...

  4. Beautiful pictures, of course. Do you always cross your arms in photos? How manly.

    As for the lake you mentioned know it's not the same thing!

    Great mosaic too, btw.

  5. Wow, amazing photos. I'm still soooo jealous. And I still looooove that mosaic.

  6. Vegetable Assassin,
    Yes I did, but there were 2000 year old ruins in the mix which can be somewhat motivational.
    Thanks about the mosaic, you should try! What other art form can you walk all over?
    ps - yes, the gasoline was incredibly high with taxes. I spent 60 euro to 'top off' on the autostrada down to Firenze from Milan.

    Garda is nice *and* it has a decent night-life, unlike other four letter lakes in the area.
    Absolutely right about the lax traffic rules. There was a police officer at one point, but he was going faster than all the speeders!

    Thanks! Yes, yes I do always cross my arms for added manliness in photos.
    I have to do something to offset the odd art hobbies like mosaic.
    Not the same thing? Do you mean I can't get on a jet ski out there next to ancient ruins and haul around a twelve pack of Coors
    while listening to country western music?

    You've got to go to Venice sometime if you think these photos are good!
    Thanks, I was a little unsure of using glass in a mosaic. But from what I could see of the
    original from down on the floor of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, it turned out kind of like the original.

  7. What an amazing place. It's fantastic seeing others go to places you know you'll never get to. It's like travelling along.

  8. Jealous! What a great trip. Good to hear of a new place to visit.

  9. I don't drink Coors light and I don't listen to "country and western" music. Har har.

  10. HEY Eric! WOW I love your photos, and the mosaic is fabulous! I forgot you had returned from Italy, so I shall get all caught up on your adventures.

    PS - you are still fucking adorable.

  11. Love your adventures..and all the things you are seeing and sharing. The mosaic is outstanding. Quite impressive what you are able to visualize into something tangible.

  12. Tennyson,
    I just like walking in places where people did several thousand years ago and wondering what it was like then. You'll never go? Never say never.

    Garda is a lot of fun, definitely more activity than Como. Of course, Como is closer to shopping in Milan...

    Sure, I just had to paint a redneck stereotype for everyone to laugh at. The proper way to say it in Texas is 'I sometimes listen to 'Country' music (no 'Western') and drink Miller Light'.

    Thanks! That is a true compliment coming from a photographer of your caliber (calibre, for the UK readers, just thought I could clear that up for you).
    ps - thank you, I think you are quite beautiful yourself... I mean, from what I've seen of your green eye in the shadows. mmmm. ;)

    Thanks! And you have to go to Italy if you haven't already. At least Venice and Rome...
    ps - I love your blog writting abilities.

  13. Beautiful mosaic! Did you find that the materials are cheaper there than in the U.S.?

    We have a 5 mile strip like that in Washington called Dungeness Spit that juts out into the ocean. Pretty nifty.

  14. Sure. Well, since you aren't making fun of me I guess I can still show some leg.

  15. Sirmione stands in my memory as a real high point of a visit to italy quite a few years back. Lake Garda in general is lovely.

    I just thought you'd used extra small tiles on the first easel.

  16. Ok, how did I miss this post? I blame it on your title 'ancient lake fun'. But I get it now: part II is not part I ;) Great pictures and mosaic!

  17. Nikki,
    Thanks! Yeah, they are a bit cheaper if you get them right from the factory (and no shipping costs).
    I'll have to check out Dungeness then, those kinds of geographic features are interesting.

    Ok, I'm counting on a merry Christmas now then.

    The Jules,
    I agree, there was quite a bit more going on there than Como.
    I need to get some of those extra small tiles, shipping costs are somewhat lower.

    Dutch Donut Girl,
    Thanks! Yes, I need to name my titles better. Something like 'This is NOTHING like the last post that had 'Lake' in the title. ?? :)

  18. you could actually build a beautiful hotel and then compete with Hotels in India.


  19. A. I really like your mosaic a lot.
    B. Jealousy is seeping from my pores regarding your experience to be in places with such history...
    C. I want a better picture of the jutted out island with water on both sides
    D. This might be the second picture I've actually seen of you (i think)...and in the other you are crossing your arms as well! What gives, Eric?
    E. I like the picture! Hope you have one of you and Eric's mom, too...i'm just now going down your posts!

  20. I'm disappointed by the lack of response to my comment on this one. Dis-A-PPointed

  21. Lopez,
    A) thank you
    B) you can go too...
    C) I have to go back to get a better picture
    D) I don't know, it's kind of a reflex or something
    E) I'll put one up of mom next week
    F) Don't be Dis'd A Pointed.