Napoli, a charming city of South Italy
Walking from Napoli's main train station towards the historical center will let you notice for sure the architectural details of Napoli's buildings' facades, a first step towards falling in love with the Southern city.
Once you move inside the historical center, the streets get tinier without notice increasing the charm of the walk. Don't be surprised if you miss the blue sky in there since curtains, clothes racks and air conditioners could obstruct the upwards view.
The incredible via S. Gregorio Armeno
And then, there's this street...the San Gregorio Armeno, the santon and figurine street!
You can buy anything from a hand painted ceramic pasta calibrator, to dried mushrooms, Italian herbs, pepper talisman, ornaments, fridge magnets, etc., etc.
The creche santons are simply incredible. There are figurines for absolutely any character you might think about for your nativity scene!
Pizza bakers, miniature Citroëns and Minis made with hand-formed iron, music boxes, pepper talisman, handcrafted ceramics, the choice is indefinite.
The "Napoli Soterranea" underground caves
If the S. Gregorio Armeno street is not tiny enough for you and you're looking for a "cosyer" adventure in Napoli, why not buying tickets for the subterranean tunnels or caves if you prefer. These are en enigmatic underground system, used by almost whoever lived or passed by Napoli: by the Romans to extract stones, by the Neapolitans to bury their waste or hide during WWII, etc. Guided tours in several languages are available all along the opening time.
Some parts of the visit are at the limit of anyone's claustrophobic limits but you can skip this part if you want and stay in the wider spaces.
Recently, parts of a Roman theater have been uncovered and are included in the same Napoli Soterranea tour. The guide will accompany you through the street after the underground caves visit to another entrance door and let you discover the ancient theater. No doubt it is Roman as attested by the stone arrangement shown in the right picture and which was used by the Romans to counter the earthquakes effects.
That's it for a day in Napoli, it leaves enough time to catch back a train or flight to another destination.
A collection of front doors from Italy
Tivoli's visit near Rome in Italy is a mandatory passage for reaching the famous Villa d'Este. The picturesque tiny streets of Tivoli's city center offer to their visitors a collection of front doors that have aged just enough to be at the top of their charm...
Fortunately, no one fixed the paint scratches.
Electrical wires enter and leave the thick plaster at any place and for any reason while the almost vertical wall lights are fixed to different heights.
The brown doors with half-circle transom windows are an Italian classic widely found in Tivoli.
Simply over-charming planters hanged near this basement door at the street level.
No doubt they are a better indication of the entrance than any sign or arrow.
Note the wooden beams that hang out of the rough wall and that support nothing; an additional decoration that adds to the overall appeal of the house.
Flowers on all doors with no exception...
These elevated front doors accessible by stairs are simply perfect...unmatched charm.
Finally, this wall has it all: beautiful window shutters, the picture of Virgin Mary, an attractive mid-age front door, hanged flower pots, planters, a unique mailbox and indeed visible electrical wires!
How to reach and visit the cedars of Jaj
The cedars of Jaj in Lebanon are located at the highest hill of Jaj village which you can access from Amchit at the coastal highway.
Once there, a short pedestrian way at 1600 m of altitude takes you to the few but beautiful specimens of Cedrus Libani trees. This is not a hiking trip since you walk a matter of 15 minutes maximum from the vast parking square to the largest group of trees.
Yet, the visit is worth it for the beauty of the landscape, the healthy cedars, and Jaj's or Lehfed's affordable and delicious restaurants.
The walk offers a close encounter with the Lebanese mountains vegetation.
The cedars of Jaj have grown by groups of a few trees, each apart from the other.
It is not a forest of cedars, unlike the ones of Tannourine, Bcharré or the Shouf reserve and that's what makes it special about this visit.
The "Saydé" church (church of Mary) appears beneath the trees in this picture.
This cedar trunk near the Saydé church entrance is simply majestic...
...but the magnificence of the tree can only be appreciated while raising your eyes towards an invisible sky, hidden by the splendid silhouette of this Cedrus Libani.
From the church, one can see other groups of perfectly shaped and healthy Lebanese cedars.
The typical horizontal branches of the Lebanese cedars can be admired in this picture taken in the small wood near the church.
Other branches in this nature reserve of Jaj have decided to follow the slope of the hill like a gesture of reverence paying respect to the beautiful surroundings and the visitors.
And indeed, don't forget to drop by the stone church and its wooden cross. The landscape is as grandiose as almost every Lebanese mountain spot, that your appetite for a small prayer is simply irresistible.