Below the Acropolis where we stayed


The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located above Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis comes from the Greek words, akron (highest point, extremity) and polis (city).

It was Pericles in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important buildings including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded.

A view of Athens from the Acropolis:


A propylaea is any monumental gateway in Greek architecture. The best known Greek example is the propylaea that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis. Today the Propylaea has been partly restored, since 1984 and serves as the main entrance to the Acropolis for the many thousands of tourists who visit the area every year.

Attempting to be statues on the Acropolis, but it was very very windy.

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is a temple named after the Greek goddess, Athena Nike. Nike means victory in Greek and Athena was worshipped as the goddess of victory in war and wisdom. Built around 420BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis.


An ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis. Built between 421 and 406 BCE. It derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero, King Erichthonious.


The Parthenon is a former temple dedicated to the goddess, Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. It has been used primarily as a treasury, then a Christian church as well as mosque after the Ottoman conquest.

On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. From 1800 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures with the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum, where they are now displayed. The British Museum has steadfastly refused to return the sculptures, and successive British governments have been unwilling to force the Museum to do so (which would require legislation). Since 1983 the Greek government has been committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece.  

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a theatre on the southwest slope of the Acropolis built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped theatre with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. It lasted intact until it was destroyed and left in ruins by the Heruli in 267 AD. It was renovated in 1950 and since then has been the main venue of the annual Athens festival.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation popularly known as the “Mētrópolis”, is the cathedral church of the Archbisopric of Athens and all Greece. Construction of the Cathedral began on Christmas Day, 1842 with the laying of the cornerstone by King Otto and Queen Amalia. Three architects and 20 years later, it was complete. The Cathedral is a three-aisled, domed basilica that measures 40 m long, 20 m wide, and 24 m high. Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Ottoman period: saint Philotheir and Patriarch Gregory V. The Metropolitan Cathedral remains a major landmark in Athens and the site of important ceremonies with national political figures present, as well as weddings and funerals of the rich and famous.

The Metropolitan Cathedral remains a major landmark in Athens and the site of important ceremonies with national political figures present, as well as weddings and funerals of the rich and famous.

Tower of the Winds

It sounds like it should be in Game of Thrones. Only just finished being restored, it is a Pentelic marble clocktower that functioned as a timepiece. The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane.


Trevi Fountain – Rome

Everything in Rome is big, just BIG. I thought the Trevi Fountain was huge until I later saw the Altara della Patria. Standing at over 26 metres high and 49 metres wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city. I really wished I had a wide angle lens to capture the Trevi Fountain properly, and I wish I had taken some photos of the massive amount of tourists thronging around the fountain. We were there in April, which is not even peak tourist season, and it took us quite a while to get to the front of the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 and is mostly made from Travertine stone; a form of limestone.

Coins are meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. We got it wrong:


Go to my complete Rome Flickr album.


Pantheon and the Piazza della Rotonda – Rome

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a Catholic church (also called Santa Maria Rotonda), on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa’s original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not certain when the one now standing was built.

It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, mainly because it has been in continuous use. Masses are celebrated there on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. This was a small crowd compared to other places we went too:


The Fontana del Pantheon, constructed in 1575:

My Rome Flickr album. More to come.


Montechiaro Estate, Tuscany

Not far from Siena, we stayed on the Montechiaro Estate for the night and enjoyed some wine tasting and beautiful views. The family has a winery, a family church, and villas. In 1720, the family bought the local castle and village, Monteriggioni castle, where they have restaurants and a wine shop; unfortunately, we didn’t have time to venture to the castle.

The family house  – an 18th century villa2016april22_tuscany_hayley-1

Wine and Olive Oil tasting

The family church

Our villa

We stayed in the Villa Capanna. These photos are of the villa, the views, and some of the other buildings on the estate. Siena can be seen in the distance.

Complete album: Dianne’s Flickr album.

Hayley’s Flickr album.

Next stop = Rome.



To get into the historical centre of this stunning town, we parked our rental car outside the old city and then rode a series of indoor escalators to get up the hill. My full photo album is at

Piazza del Campo

The main public square, a shell-shaped piazza, of the historic centre of Siena; a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its beauty and architectural integrity. The twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, is held around the edges of the piazza, and has featured in the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) and Torre del Mangia (tower)

Built in 1338-1348, the 88 meter tall tower was built to be exactly the same height as the Siena Cathedral as a sign that the church and the state had equal amounts of power. Literally meaning ‘Tower of the Eater’.


The Fonte Gaia (“Fountain of the World”)

An endpoint of the system of conduits bringing water to the city’s centre. Built in 1419 it replaced an earlier fountain completed about 1342. The side reliefs depict episodes from Genesis: The Creation of Adam and The Flight from the Garden of Eden. The wolves spouting water, represent the mother-wolf of Remus and Romulus.


Medieval streets of old Siena

Duomo in Siena (Siena Cathedral)

Built between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure, the gothic cathedral is in the form of a Latin cross with a slight projecting dome and bell tower. The exterior and interiors are decorated in white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, black and white being the symbolic colors of Siena.



Burano Island (Isola di Burano)

Less than 3,000 people live on this small island. Burano Island is in the Venetian Lagoon, about 7 km away from Venice, about 40 minutes on a vaporetti (Venetian motorboat). The island is known for its lacework and brightly coloured homes. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, they must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. It was busy when we visited in April; I would imagine it is crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in peak tourist season.

The complete album with fullsize photos: albums/72157678240720016. Also, check out Hayley’s album and Olivia’s album.












Church of San Martino, founded in 959. The current church dates from 16th Century, It has no façade as its west end abuts onto houses. Its bell tower is at an incline of 1.83 meters: