Thursday 6 October 2022

Turn your Blog into Beautiful Books

I was cruising the internet to see if it was possible to turn a blog into printed form.

After eight weeks of daily blogging on our post-COVID trip to Italy, I was keen to preserve all that work and all those wonderful memories. 

Over the past twelve years I have created a photo book with written small descriptions and comments  on our trips overseas, and had them professionally printed. I have been very pleased with the results but this year I felt like I wanted more.

The fact that a camera SD card had corrupted and I had lost photos from the first twelve days added to this wish. I knew that the photos of that time in the blog were probably all I was going to have from that wonderful time in Naples.

Then my eyes came upon PixxiBook. This is a young, small company based in England that can create beautiful books from your blogs ...  Blogspot, Blogger, Wordpress and others. 

The real magic is that you have already done all the work necessary, you just log into, add your blog address and press Preview my Book. Immediately you can see what your book will look like, how the photos will appear and the cost of the book. I was hooked! My blog was quite large so it took two A4 size books to do great things with my holiday stories and photos.

The owners of this company have created an automated creation process so there are some differences in the appearance between the two forms. Photos are grouped together rather than interspersed between the written word as it was in my blog, this is for economic reasons and is a small price to pay for such a great result. Talking costs, there was no additional cost when my blog was divided into two books, free postage anywhere in the world and although my first reaction was that I couldn't spend that much money, it only took me over-night to decide that it was worth it.

Additionally, the books are printed in a location close to your location so delivery time was really fast and the product arrived in excellent condition.

I am so excited by my books that I can't wait to get another opportunity to make a PixxiBook. I feel like a published writer and photographer and that is exciting!

Here are some views from my books.

To learn more about PixxiBook go to  

To read my Italy 2022 blog go to and read from 8 July to 2 September.

P.S. My clever 'computer guy' was able to retrieve my lost photos from the corrupted memory card so that was another reason to to be excited.

Friday 2 September 2022

Forse la fortuna aiuta i coraggiosi

It is our strong belief that the Italian weather changes dramatically on the 1st September, and that is why we no longer stay after that date. In the early hours of Thursday morning I could hear the rain beating down on our terrace, and knew we were leaving at the right time.

With all the hassles of COVID and associated matters, our airline asked us to be at Fiumicino four hours before flight departure. This meant we left our hotel in the dark.

We had a little scare when several ticket machines for the Leonardo Express train refused all four of our credit and cash cards. We tried a fifth machines and eventually got the necessary tickets. Phew! We didn't have enough cash left for this.

Of course four hours was way too long for our 9.20 am flight! Our cappuccini were well within the accepted time frame for having milky drinks. This was the view from our coffee spot.

Our flights via Doha were pretty much what all flights are these days. Packed planes, too many children, face masks and long passive hours.  But without them we would not get to the wonderful places we have visited.

I found this quote recently and I don't know the source but it seemed apt.
'Fairy tales exist, ...Maybe they last a picnic, a day in the woods, a week-end of history and health ... or a journey through the Appenines on foot ...'

With all we have been through since we had to cancel our trip in 2020, the past eight weeks seem like a fairy tale. One we are grateful that we have been able to make, and make without catching COVID.  Maybe fortune does favour the brave!

P. S.  I write my Blog for my own pleasure and future reference but I am thrilled that so many people have followed our travels and enjoyed them along with us. Thank you for your kind comments.

Wednesday 31 August 2022

Rome: Vicus Caprarius and Crypta Balbi

 It was our last day in Rome but we didn't let the dust settle under our feet. We were heading in the direction of the Trevi Fountain.

Oh no, he is not lost already! The real heroine of this trip has been Miss Google Maps GPS, closely followed by SIMCorner who kept us connected to the world without drama.

Another newish sight to see in Rome is Vicus Caprarius, an archaeological remains of a Roman house and aqueduct. It is nine metres below the road level. We missed the early entry so were booked in for 1 pm. We filled in that time sitting near the Trevi Fountain. You do see some amazing things when you just sit and watch. Oh, we had gelati too. That got my total for this trip to 51 different flavours, not as high as on other occasions but the visit to Naples meant granita took precedence for a week. And of course we threw another coin in the fountain.

The highlight of Vicus Caprarius is the immense water tanks. Originally it was a house with a water supply for the area, dating from the 1st century A.D, later it was changed to hold more water - 150,000 litres.

The display includes items found from the ruins of the house; items that show that it was a house of quality. These include statues, mosaics, plate wear, coins and glass.

Using the GPS we made our way towards the last of the four museums on our Museum Pass. We made a lunch stop in a vicolo (laneway) where they had a mist machine  cooling the air for the clients. 

I had fried zucchini flowers, so sweet.

We then completed our journey to  Crypta Balbi. By now I was ruined ... ancient ruined out, that is.

The complex at Balbus was constructed in the 1st century B.C. by Lucius Cornelius Balbus. It included a theatre and a place to relax and enjoy refreshments. Now it is the only museum that is situated entirely on an archeaological research site. Amazingly it exposed 2000 years of history for all to see. The interpretive boards and displays are very detailed and require lots of time and concentration.

In this mock up of the area at the time of Balbus you can see the theatre and the crypt at the back of the stage.

There are many display cabinets of items found in the digs. 

From an upper window you can see the various stages and ages of habitation in this area, at the rear is the work site which looks like it could provide archaeological finds for the next thousand years.

At the exit was this interesting piece of trivia: the birth of the Souvenir.

The Baths of Diocletian, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme National Museum and Rome's Best Street

 What a big day today! How will I ever do it justice in one blog post?

In the last twenty six years that we have been coming to Italy we must have seen thousands of marble statues, burial urns, mosaics, frescoes, household items and jewellery dating from way back B.C and through to the present day.

Our visit to the Baths of Diocletian this morning was expected to be more of that, and a look at the remains of the largest public baths in Roman history. What a thrill to walk into the first room and find an exhibition on ancient writing; what they wrote, why and how they wrote. Having been a calligrapher I was immediately engaged. It is obvious that death and burial were important to all past civilizations in this area so marking burial places with names, dates and details was an obvious need. But there were others.

This display showed tools used by the ancients to mark various materials; quills and ink, wax, metal tools and picks.

One of the earliest reasons to write was to mark ownership. This cup has a name engraved into it. A copy can be seen on the stand below the cup. This dates from the end of the 6th century B.C.

Memorials, announcements and advertisements were all uses for writing.

This stone marks the death of a Christian woman, both the wording and the symbols tell that story.

After a very lengthy time in the museum rooms we moved out to the cloisters. We were still wondering where the Baths were! It then became obvious that the Baths that were built in the 300s had been destroyed by a later power group (they cut off the water supply) and eventually in C16 a monastery had been built on and in the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian. That explained the huge size of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri right next door.

This cloister is called the Cloister of Michelangelo because it was designed by him when he was 86 years old. It has four 100 metre wings and 100 solid travertine columns.

We finally spotted the remains of the Baths peeping over the top of the cloistered building.

What a beautiful face!

Then I came upon some more interesting information regarding the use of writing on marble. There panels included information on upcoming events, reports and lists of names for various purposes. The first newspapers?

This panel tells of the vastness of the Baths and their story summed up better than I could do.

Then, when we thought we had seen all there was to see, we found a door leading outside to what still remains of the Baths. The size of the halls (as they are called) is incredible, and the height of what still remains makes you ask, Why?

This section has been re-roofed to give a better understanding of how this was, and also to house and preserve some valuable finds from the country.

Some marble floors and mosaics still remain.

I could go on and on, but this was all before lunch. Surprise! Lunch was sushi purchased at Termini station. The photo below gives a bit of an idea of the immensity of the Baths of Diocletian.

After lunch we went to Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, nearby the Baths, and another part of the National Museum of Rome.

We went to the 2nd floor to look at the frescoe and mosaic collection, for a little change of pace.

From the Villa of Livia is this complete room of frescoes dating from 30-20 B.C, the oldest example of continuous garden painting. The close ups show the beauty of the work and the last gives some more detail.

Mosaic work is another of my hobbies and I have always admired the detail and small pieces used by the mosaic workers of old, but these flooring panels take it to a whole new level. The pieces are so tiny. It is dated in the second half of the 2nd century A.D.

This flooring  is from the 3rd century and the centre motif of Dionisis is incredibly detailed and beautiful.

These artistic treasures have been found when building or road works have been carried out, and the best outcome for these buried treasures is to remove them to archaeological protection areas after collecting all the provenance.

The photo below shows the remains of a room found in the country, and the following photo, the mosaiced floor and frescoed walls  now located in the museum.

These colours were also very popular, providing a richness to reception rooms.

We then had a quick look on the next floor below as time was running out, we had another place to be!

Just a few interesting marbles that caught my attention.

Having spent many weeks in Rome, I am always looking for new places to visit. So a statement like 'Rome's Best Street' deserved attention. This street is via del Governo Vecchio, quite near Piazza Navona.

The suggestion was to arrive about 4 pm, look at the vintage clothes stores and Italian and English bookshops then at aperitivo time to grab a seat and people watch with your drink. It then suggested a pizza place worth queueing for and a gelati shop likewise worth the queue. Now that all sounds good ... and it was.

Seen in the Italian bookshop.

Yes, we had aperitivi and watched the young people going by.

It is always nice to get a little food offering with your drink but this raised the bar for others to beat. Three beautifil bruschette, three different cheeses, olives, caper berries, tomatoes and greens.

These people were queueing to buy cups of tiramis├╣.

There were several vintage clothing shops packed with a wide range of clothing styles.

When we got to the part about eating pizza at a place which required waiting in line, we discovered they had re-located. We decided to skip that step and go straight to the gelati. I am still building my list of different flavours and I added three new ones at this shop which is considered one of rhe best in Rome.

I had noticed this shoe shop with really interesting gym boots but it was only as we were leaving the street that I realised that they are all hand painted on site. The pair at the front have scenes from Alice in Wonderland. Oooh, I want some!

After a long day on our feet we took the bus back to Termini and later enjoyed pizza on our small terrace.