Venice (and Hemingway) in Monochrome

We took the train across Northern Italy from Milan to Venice in the spring of 2009 and stayed in Venice for four days. We had just spent the previous four days getting acquainted with Milan and Stresa, two key places in Ernest Hemingway’s WWI tale A Farewell to Arms, and we were now visiting another place in Northern Italy where Hemingway decided to place his post World War Two story that he would publish 21 years after his famous World War One novel.

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Stresa (and Hemingway) in Monochrome

We started our three-week visit to Italy in 2009 with a four-day stay in Milan and after seeing just about everything we wanted to see in two days we then on day three took the train to Stresa, a resort town on the shores of Lake Maggiori about 50 miles north of Milan.  Readers of Ernest Hemingway’s World War I novel A Farewell to Arms may recall that some of the major events in the novel took place in Stresa. They say that Stresa is a beautiful place when it isn’t raining. Unfortunately for us, it rained most of the day.

Window shopping in Stresa.

Click any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

It took us an hour and a half to reach Stresa.

Typical architecture in central Stresa. The building on the left is the Hotel Moderno.

Our walk from the train station to the lake brought us to Piazza Cadorna, named after Generale Luigi Cadorna, chief of staff of the Italian army during most of World War I. Cadorna was relieved of his command after suffering a major defeat at the Battle of Caporetto. He spent the rest of the war representing Italy at the Allied Supreme War Council in Versailles. In 1924 Mussolini appointed him Marshall of Italy. Cadorna died in 1928.

Piazza Cadorna on a rainy day.

In May 1915 Cadorna launched an offensive against the Austro-Hungarian Empire along the Isonzo River in northeast Italy. Two years and five months and eleven battles later the two armies were still pretty much in the same place and the Italian army began to settle down and wait out the winter. But Karl I, the emperor of Austria had other ideas. He wrote to his German allies for help and they responded on October 26, 1917 with a poison gas attack and an infiltration of crack German stormtroopers. It was the 12th Battle of the Isonzo, also known as the Battle of Caporetto, and a disaster for Cadorna and Italy. 40,000 Italian soldiers died, 280,000 laid down their arms and surrendered, and 350,000 deserted. Cadorna issued orders for summary executions of officers. He is even accused of bringing back the old Roman tradition of decimation — executing every tenth soldier — whenever a legion was humiliated in battle.

Another view of Piazza Cadorna.

Hemingway begins A Farewell to Arms with his protagonist Frederic Henry, an American serving as an officer in the Italian Army in charge of a fleet of ambulances in Gorizia, a town on the border with present-day Slovenia about 50 km northwest of Trieste. Frederic is severely wounded in a mortar attack and is sent to the American Hospital in Milan for surgery and recuperation. Book Two in Hemingway’s tale is a love story between Frederic and his British nurse Catherine Barclay. In Book Three a recuperated Henry returns to the Front and is sent to Caporetto about 55 km north of Gorizia just in time for the German offensive. The Italian army is routed and soon in full retreat and the carabinieri are called upon to execute officers they find among the retreating soldiers. Frederic escapes execution and becomes a deserter. He stows away on a train to Milan and on his arrival discovers that Catherine has been transferred to a hospital in Stresa. At the end of Book Three he grabs another train to Stresa.

We walked on from the piazza and soon came across this little church about a block from Corso Italia along the lake.

Exterior of Chiesa di San Michele.
Interior of Chiesa di San Michele.
I think this bell tower is of another church.

A few more blocks took us to the shores of Lago Maggiori.

Corso Umberto I, Stresa’s main shoreline road. That’s the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees in the background on the far left. Hemingway stayed there. So did Frederic Henry, the main character in A Farewell to Arms.

In Book Four of A Farewell to Arms Frederic finds his way to the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees where he and Catherine reunite. He befriends Emilio, one of the hotel’s bartenders, who informs him one evening that the police plan to come in the morning to arrest him. Emilio lends him his boat and stocks the boat with food and drink from the hotel. Frederic and Catherine row all night the 35 miles up Lake Maggiori to the Swiss border. Hemingway concludes his story in Book Five with an account of Frederic and Catherine’s life together in Switzerland during the winter of 1917-18.

As close as we got to the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees.

In A Farewell to Arms nothing good happens when it rains. And the rain got to us that day in Stresa. We turned around here and walked back to the train station. I was soaked and spent most of the next day in bed.

Lake Maggiori and one of the Borromean islands.

After Milan we visited Venice for four days. In my next post we will look at some photos from that trip. And maybe we’ll discuss another Hemingway novel.

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I Voted Today

Every registered voter in California received a ballot in the mail for the November 3rd election. Ours were mailed out on October 5th and we received them in the mail a few days later. I spent a couple of days checking out the candidates and studying the pros and cons of all the propositions. Then I put the ballot in the special envelope that came with the ballot and signed the envelope and added my address and date.

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I made it to Ten Years!

A few announcements:

Ten years ago today I uploaded my first posting on my new WordPress blog.
And here we are 520 weeks and 638 posts later! Yes, I’m still here though I have to admit that I have not been too active lately.

This blog is full of photo stories about our travels during the last ten years but we have been locked down in Crow Canyon since mid-March and so we don’t travel anymore and I seldom pick up a camera these days.

I still plan to post once in a while — perhaps once or twice a month — but I would like to also announce that I have turned most of my attention lately to another of my favorite interests — genealogy — and have decided to build another blog focusing on my family history.

Long-time followers of my blog will recall that I have combined my genealogy interests with travel as we visited the places where my ancestors lived — my Thelers in Germany in 2012, my Bolducs in Paris in 2014, my Muckles in Northern Ireland in 2002, 2009 and 2019 and in Australia and New Zealand in 2011 and in New York and Canada in 2007.
Now I am concentrating on my Dwyers and McAuliffes who left Ireland and settled in San Francisco long ago.

My new blog is called The Dwyers of San Francisco and you can find it here.


My great grandfather James O Dwyer, born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1844; died in San Francisco in 1896.

One more announcement before I close this post: One of my long-time followers, Disperser, has recently posted two slideshow guidelines on how to get back to our precious WordPress Classic Editor and avoid the horrors of the new Block Editor.
Highly recommended. See here and here. I followed Disperser’s tips to produce this post.

You can find that first post I published way back on October 10, 2010 here.

Oh, and thanks to all who have followed my blog all these years!

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Milan in Monochrome

We spent a week in Ireland in the spring of 2009 and then flew to Milan to begin a three-week tour of Italy. We stayed in Milan for four days and in this post I will show you a dozen photos from our tours of the city. Some of these photos were recently converted to monochrome. Others you might recall from some Monochrome Madness posts of years ago.

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Nine Minutes of Morricone

I was 24 years old back in 1964 when I saw my first Spaghetti Western. The movie was called A Fistful of Dollars and it was directed by the Italian legend Sergio Leone and it starred a brash young actor named Clint Eastwood. And the soundtrack was produced by a friend of Leone’s named Ennio Morricone. And I was hooked.

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The 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach and Carmel

The 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach is a loop. We only drove from the gate in Pacific Grove to the gate at Carmel which was about 8 miles. From the Carmel Gate the drive heads east to the Highway 1 gate and then north paralleling highway 68 for awhile and then swings back west and finally north again until it meets up with the main road just south of the Pacific Grove Gate.

Most of the suggested stops along the drive are on the coast between the Pacific Grove and Carmel gates. Since we had spent so much time at Spanish Bay we decided to skip several stops before Cypress Point and a few more between the Lone Cypress and the Pebble Beach Golf Links. We then drove directly to the Carmel Gate and Carmel. So we missed the upper half of the drive that is away from the coast.

See the detailed map here for all of the suggested stops (listed as points of interest and numbered).

The history of Cypress Point.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

Info on the local animals and vegetation.

Cypress Point Lookout now has a chain link fence.

Harbor seals observing siesta time on the beach at Cypress Point.

My camera lens would not fit through the space between the links and so I got as close as possible and then cropped the result.

The coast on the other side of Cypress Point Lookout.

Our next stop was the Lone Cypress, one of the most famous trees in the world.

The Lone Cypress.

The Pebble Beach Company use the Lone Cypress as their logo and they have taken out a patent making it illegal for anyone to photograph the tree for commercial purposes without their permission. Isn’t that ridiculous?

A close-up of the Lone Cypress.

View from the road near the stairs that lead to the Lone Cypress viewpoint.

I experimented with both Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to get this effect.

Same photo but a different post-process.

Then I went back to the original color photo and converted it to black and white with the Topaz Lab Studio software.

The view from our parking spot.

I used the Nik Analog Effex Pro to obtain this effect.

No, this is another tree next to the viewpoint.

Another experiment with the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in.

There it is, behind my grandson and his parents!

The rocky coast near the Lone Cypress.

The Monterey Cypress.

Why we need fog.

OK, one more photo!

We were all getting pretty hungry by now and so we decided to drive straight to Pebble Beach. There is one restaurant there whose prices aren’t overly exorbitant.

Oops — the restaurant was closed!

So we found a market nearby that sold sandwiches, salads and drinks and we claimed a couple of tables and benches just outside the market for a nice picnic lunch. The Pebble Beach Company will refund your $10.50 17-mile drive toll if you purchase anything over $35 at just about any place in the Pebble Beach area. Any place except the market, however. Oh well, we enjoyed our lunch!

The fabled 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

After lunch we walked over to The Lodge and then downstairs to the back exit and — behold! — we were gazing at the fabled 18th hole at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. The 18th hole is a par 5 with the Pacific Ocean running all along the left side and that big cypress tree right in the middle of the fairway.

My two sons-in-law, both golfers, at the sacred 18th hole.

It will cost you around $600.00 to play this course, one of the most famous in the world. Pebble Beach is presently the host to the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has been the host for the US Open six times, including 2019. It was also the site for the PGA Championship in 1977.

One final shot of Pebble Beach.

I downloaded the Topaz Labs plug-in software the other day and used Studio 2 in conjunction with Lightroom to process this photo.

Doud’s Craft Studio Building on the corner of San Carlos Street and Ocean Avenue.

After Pebble Beach we drove down to the 17-Mile Drive’s Carmel Gate and then to the top of the hill where we parked our cars and then walked down Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main street, to watch the sunset at Carmel Beach.

Mary Miller Klepich painted this mural that she called California del Norte via Camino Real in 1955. Earl Bozlee restored it in 2002. The old craft building connects to the Doud Arcade, one of many mini-malls in central Carmel.

Carmel’s Ocean Avenue.

Carmel has long been one of our favorite places to visit in northern California. See here and here for a couple of stories about our visit in 2015. And in 2014 I uploaded a number of  monochrome images from our visit to Mission Carmel way back in 1976 (see here).

Body Frenzy perfume shop.

I thought they were selling pastries!

The Lamp Lighter Inn.

Another view of the Lamp Lighter Inn.

The last couple of blocks of Ocean Avenue contain mostly cottages for rent.

Almost there.

Catching the sun’s last rays.

One more block to go.

The girls in heaven again.

They played on the beach at Spanish Bay earlier in the day and now are getting ready to watch the sunset at Carmel Beach.

Sunset on Carmel Beach.

My last photo of the day. And of the month. And of the year.

We returned to our cars and drove back to our hotel via highways 1 and 68. We then had dinner at a restaurant in Steinbeck Plaza a block away. The next day was New Year’s Eve. We checked out of our hotel by 11am and got back to the Bay Area in a couple of hours. That night we welcomed in the new year without any thought in the world that the world would soon be topsy-turvy and we would be living in lockdown.

Music of the Day (but from 60 years ago) — Theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith

Yes, our four-day weekend occurred during the winter but somehow the 1959 movie A Summer Place fits with our adventures on our last day on the Monterey Peninsula. Does anyone remember A Summer Place? It starred Richard Egan, Dorothy Malone, Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue with Arthur Kennedy and Constance Ford playing key roles. The story was supposed to take place in Maine but the entire movie was filmed on the Monterey Peninsula. The Summer Place in the movie was really a mansion on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove. All those sea shore scenes were shot in Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach.  And Richard and Dorothy’s new home toward the end of the movie was supposed to be on Pine Island in Maine but actually is a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that sits at the southern edge of Carmel Bay!

The movie introduced Troy Donahue to the world.  The whole point of Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee in Grease has to do with Sandra’s role in this movie.  And the movie was probably the highlight of Richard Egan’s career. Richard was born and raised in San Francisco. He graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in 1939, the year I was born. He then attended the University of San Francisco for three years before joining the Army and serving in World War II for three years. After the war Richard returned to USF where he received his BA. He then went on to Stanford where he received his MA. I followed Richard to SI and then also attended USF where Richard’s brother Willis, a Jesuit priest, taught theology.

The movie was overall just so-so and would not have caused much sensation if it weren’t for the music that came out of it. Max Steiner wrote the music. Mack Discant wrote the lyrics.  The Lettermen and Andy Williams and the Chordettes recorded the song. And Percy Faith’s instrumental version topped the charts for nine straight weeks in 1960. Let’s end my account of our Monterey Weekend by listening to Percy’s orchestra.

Note: Most of Pebble Beach re-opened on June 1st after the Covid-19 lockdown. The rest of the hotels, restaurants and golf courses are scheduled to open on June 15th. See here for the latest Covid-19 information regarding Pebble Beach. See here for the latest Covid-19 information regarding Carmel.


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Spanish Bay on the Monterey Peninsula

Some people say it’s the most scenic drive in the country. Some say the world. So we thought that on the fourth and final day of our four-day Monterey Weekend that we would check out this 17-Mile Drive and see for ourselves. So we headed for the Pacific Grove gate, one of five gates that allow entrance to this scenic wonder. Our first stretch on this road didn’t last long, however. Less than a minute after leaving that gate we stopped to check out the Inn, Links and Beach at Spanish Bay. Two hours later we returned to our cars and wondered how far we would get on this road before having to head back to our hotel. Obviously, we had a great time at our first stop. Obviously, we couldn’t spend the same amount of time at the other recommended stops along the way.

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Monterey’s Top Attraction: The Monterey Bay Aquarium

We checked the weather forecast for our four-day weekend in Monterey last December and discovered that Sunday would be the gloomiest day with the most chance of rain. And so we planned our outdoor activities for other days and reserved Sunday for visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The only problem with this logic was that a zillion other tourists had this same idea and the place was packed!

A school of mackerel pass through a giant kelp forest.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the end of Cannery Row on the Pacific Grove border where the Hovden Cannery once stood. According to TripAdvisor it is the # 1 tourist attraction in Monterey, bringing in more than two million visitors a year. In 2014 it was awarded the # 1 aquarium in the world.

The otter exhibit attracted the largest crowds.

We came back a couple of times to see if we could get closer but it was always crowded.

Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, conservationist and social activist. She is the author of several books, including Finding Beauty in a Broken World.

There’s a Beatle in the aquarium!

California king crabs.

I believe this is a leopard shark.


There are many different types of flatfish — sole, halibut, flounder. I have no idea which one this is!

We saw several species of shore birds in the aquarium’s aviary.

Peeling bark in the aviary.

Scene framed by my grandson’s left shoulder and ear.

Kids like to touch things. So do parents.

The wave cave.

Who are the most curious?

Taking advantage of resting spots between exhibits.

A happy fish.

I think that’s a parrot fish.

Mia and her mommy.

Introduction to the African penguins.

Mommy was hiding baby in the cave right of center.

Pointing out the newborn penguin.


… and their cousins.

The Hovden Cannery closed its doors in 1973 and the Monterey Bay Aquarium opened its doors in 1984.

The kelp forest. I think that’s a sea bass.

A killer whale lurks above the aquarium store.

West Coast Sea Nettle Jellyfish.

The Jellies Experience features 16 species of jellyfish from around the world.

A special exhibit on cephalopods called Tentacles.

Cephalopods include octopuses, squid, cuttlefishes and nautiluses.

Mia learned a lot about cuttlefish.

One of many special exhibits.

Checking out the directory outside the aquarium’s store.

Huddling near the main entrance / exit.

After our Aquarium adventure it was just about time for Sunday Night Football and so we purchased hamburgers, clam chowder and pizzas at various take-outs and returned to our hotel rooms. The girls watched a movie in one of my daughter’s room while the guys rooted for our San Francisco 49ers as they beat the Seattle Seahawks to win their division championship. Yay Niners!

Note: The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been closed since mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. While you are waiting for it to re-open you might want to check out their excellent website here.

Today’s Music ThemeUnder the Sea

It’s my granddaughter Mia’s turn to recommend a song for my Monterey Weekend postings and she chose Under the Sea from the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.

We reserved the next day for exploring the 17-mile drive from Pacific Grove through Pebble Beach to Carmel and we spent quite some time at the Inn, Links and Beach at Spanish Bay and that will be the subject of my next post.

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Our Pacific Grove Walk

Pacific Grove is a quaint little town that sits on top of the Monterey Peninsula about 100 miles south of San Francisco. The town is noted for its scenic coast which is painted purple-pink when the ice plant is in bloom (April through August). According to TripAdvisor the # 1 thing to do in Pacific Grove is to walk along Ocean View Boulevard which starts on the north side of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and continues around all  three sides of the peninsula.

And so we did. We only walked part of the way, though, and our walk was in December.  So no magic carpet of pink.

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