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.
Just a walk from the train station towards the center of the village and you will be surprised by an unexpected itinerary in the gardens of the Villa Gregoriana from where you can have a beautiful view of the Temple of Vesta and the village.
The walk in the Villa Gregoriana park is mainly in the refreshing shadow of a pine forest with several points of interest like the Neptune grotto or the waterfalls. It's an hour of easy hiking route.
The grand waterfall as seen from a close access within the hiking circuit will impress you by its height and consequent loud noise or sound if you prefer:
The Villa Gregoriana site of Tivoli includes two waterfalls, the largest being the most impressive (pictured here from a lower access point) while the smaller offers a quiet journey in mother nature.
Tivoli's hill offers nice views to the Roman plateau each time a gap between its colorful buildings and picturesque houses allows you to throw your eyes as far as it is physically possible. The walk in its tiny streets is of great interest with many architectural details to discover.
Suddenly, you reach the grand square where the market takes place.
The contrast with the almost desert streets is there: street meetings, gatherings, grocery bags in each and every hand...life!
And indeed, one cannot pass through Tivoli without noticing the unique South-Italian Christian ornaments, enough to feel blessed at almost each and every building's corner.
A touch of Italian leather to put some colors in this relaxing Tivoli environment.
Yet, we did not visit the magnificent Villa d'Este!
The Castel Gandolfo - Nemi - Frascati trip
If you plan to rent a car and visit Rome's surroundings in a day or less, this could be a good trip rich in sightseeing, history, relaxation and fun.
The three villages of Castel Gandolfo, Nemi and Frascati are near each other at about 30 minutes drive from Rome then some 15 to 20 minutes to go from one location to the other.
They let you pull away from the crowds and enjoy tourist attractions at a reasonable frequenting, with no queues or excessive numbers of people.
This picturesque village offers many sightseeing points to the lake Albano.
The superb blue lake formed in a ancient volcano crater.
Once you cross the main gate, you can visit both the castle and the village which large square invites you to savor an espresso or cappuccino during a break.
The Pope's summer residence includes the portraits of previous Popes and an audio guide system allows you to listen to the individual story of each of them. The old Pope's vehicles, limousines or papamobile are exposed at the castle's entrance.
The castle's windows all offer a superb view to the azure lake.
The Pope's residence rooms are each a piece of art on its own, walls and ceilings being completely covered with paintings and ornaments while the marble floor's luster completes the picture reminding you you're no doubt living the magnificent and surreal period of the Renaissance.
Nemi - Lake Nemi
That's a smaller lake than the lake Albano with the same azure blue color however and again another picturesque village at the ancient volcano crater, Nemi.
Nemi is at a 10-minutes drive from Castel Gandolfo, the ideal place to have lunch after having visited the latter. The view is breathtaking every time the lake appears in between Nemi's colorful houses.
Nemi's main street is so colorful, the roof tiles so old and the south Italian details like satellite dishes, antennas and hanging clothes bring the picture to a complete charm.
Don't forget to taste the delicious berries to which the area is famous and that will help you digest the overwhelmingly appetizing mixed grill served at one the local restaurants.
Frascati is reputed for its berries and wine but you can also enjoy its main church in a quite large and beautiful square from where you can walk the tiny streets all around and have a cappuccino in one of the numerous trattorias.
Frascati's visit should be extended to the Byzantine-Greek abbey at the edge of the village which hides a beautiful Eastern style church.
Lego and Meccano are amongst the most reknown model construction systems for children of ages 6 to 14 and up to 16 years old. They drastically differ however since Lego bricks require no tools to be assembled while Meccano relies on the use of a screwdriver and a wrench to fix together the various parts with bolts and nuts.
If you're hesitating between them for your kid's birthday especially they both sell at incredibly high prices, here's how they compare:
The below creature was made out of a 13 year old boy's imagination out of various Lego parts. many being from the model pictured to the right. The relative easiness of dismantling and re-assembling models encourages kids to create their own robots, superheroes, vehicles, etc.
The various Lego parts and bricks of several models can end-up being mixed all together in compartment boxes and sorted by type, size, color, etc. before being re-assembled into any shape and model. The educational level of Lego is obviously increased in this case compared to the construction of the exact given model and its step-by-step instruction manual.
This miniature Eiffel tower requires a higher dexterity to be assembled compared to bricks construction as it involves holding a tool with each hand, handling small nuts, working on both sides of a model, making adjustments to the metal parts prior to tightening the bolts, etc.
Dismantling it for building another model out of free imagination could not be as obvious as in the case of bricks, but requires higher skills and a lot of willingness which is of a higher educational value. The method of assembly is similar or identical to real life construction activities.
Image courtesy of Renault Dubai
EVs in any of their version, EV, BEV, PHEV, FCEV, PZEV, etc. are promoted like a solution to all our pollution problems or at least the ones resulting from cars.
Cities and countries are considering the ban of ICE vehicles (Internal Combustion Engine) starting from dates that are so close and ranging from 2025 to 2050; No doubt we're like living a green revolution and an early happening of the future but are EVs really environment friendly?
Battery powered vehicles
Fully battery powered EVs often called BEVs rely on the power used to recharge them for being or not environment friendly.
Let's make it easy and consider for a while that we're now all driving BEVs.
At the planet level and since since 64% of the energy on the planet is still produced by fossil fuels, weather liquid, gaseous or solid (2018 stats: 38% Coal, 23% Gas, 3% Oil, source iea.org), then one can easily tell that such vehicles are "64% emission vehicles" and not zero emission vehicles.
But is it as simple?
First, and at a local level, this simplistic perception can change to better or worse: take the Canadian example where the energy mix for generating electricity is as follows:
Electricity sources in Canada (2018):
If all Canadians were to drive BEVs, then cars in Canada would be 19% emission vehicles. That's already quite better knowing that there are indeed counter-examples which are worse, not better.
Second, and coming back to the planet level, one should not forget that gas is a particularly clean source of energy burning better than gasoline or diesel while the efficiency of a utility size power plant is also higher than the one of a small ICE engine; That makes it better to shift the combustion away from cars and rely on the grid. To complete the efficiency comparison, the electric power train takes it over by far on the ICE power train which adds to the overall gain.
One major issue remains however: how will utilities cope with the increased demand on electricity when a significant amount of electric vehicles will end up hitting the roads? How will the energy mix be impacted? Will it profit to the low carbon sources or to the fossil fuel plants?
Third, and regardless of the extents to which BEVs will end up being cleaner or not, a major advantage will remain and is that cars won't pollute locally anymore, rather add on the pollution generated by the power plants.
This is good news for cities in particular, houses and apartments on each side of a road, pedestrians, bikers, etc.
It could solve partially at least SMOG problems, but this also extends to other kinds of pollution since BEVs generate less noise than ICE vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles do combine an electric motor to a petrol one which result is as efficient as a diesel engine. Any investment to keep making cleaner diesels would have been probably better.
Hybrid vehicles where the electric motor is combined to a diesel engine do constitute a progress over ICE as they generate even less CO2.
The problem for both relies in the fact that the technology consists of coupling an electric motor to an ICE which is technically complicated, expensive and leads to a heavier vehicle.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles - PHEV
""These are hybrid vehicles with an oversized battery that cannot be recharged by the only electricity generated when decelerating or by any recharging device built-in the car itself.
You need then to plug them in for recharging the battery that is however not as large as the one of a BEV.
So you drive a few tens of miles as a 64% emission vehicle, then hundreds of miles as an ICE vehicle.
One wonders if such technology is really worth it. Why not having then a larger battery and getting the rid completely of the ICE even if he range will be lesser?
On the positive side, think about commuters who would cross the city on the electric motor then drive on the highway thanks to the ICE...or vice-versa.
Car owners living in suburbs could then benefit from such technology provided the total distance they cross daily is more than what a BEV can offer.
UPDATE: The above definitely falls in positive and optimistic grounds if car manufacturers start a technological revolution like the 2020 Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4 example.
Instead of combining the electric motor to an already over-powerful ICE engine, Peugeot took advantage of the electric motor to downsize the ICE to a 1.2 petrol engine. Together, they provide a respectable power while a second electric motor has been added to the rear train for even more pollution-free torque, power and at the same time, a "transmission free" AWD "transmission"! The result is 300 hp for 49g/Km of CO2 emissions in real driving and 29g/Km in the official WLTP test! This is what technology should be about, let's hope that other auto makers will propose such ultra-low emission designs.
Fuel cell electric vehicles - FCEV
FCEVs are electric vehicles. Their power train is pure electric.
The electricity is not provided by a battery that temporarily stores the grid power, rather a static electricity generator built in the vehicle.
The so called fuel cell, requires a renewable fuel, hydrogen.
When turned into electricity, hydrogen combines to oxygen and the vehicle emits H2O or water vapor if you prefer.
This seems to be the ideal mean of transportation...provided storing and distributing the highly explosive hydrogen are mastered and made available everywhere, also that such highly explosive gas does not lead to explosive crashes.
But things are not as ideal as they would, since water vapor is a greenhouse gas exactly like CO2. CO2 emission by cars had already been boosted by emission standards imposed on ICE engines which worsened the global warming; the new debate is then about measuring how H2O emissions emanating from FCEVs could impact the global warming.
The choice is still between more pollutants and less greenhouse gases or less pollutants against more greenhouse gases...
Since individual transports cannot be completely eradicated regardless if the vehicle is self-driving or not, the various power trains known to engineers and scientists can only generate pollutants or greenhouse gases which are both harmful to our closed system planet.
The solution would consist of rethinking vehicles as a transport mean and come back to the basics of physics and common sense:
Thanks for reading...
My website is a DIY website that exists since a couple of years and addresses DIY tips for home, garden and car. The car mechanics, garden and plumbing tips are particularly attracting users from all over the world and mainly France, UK, USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa, etc. It does appear on top of searches for some keywords. Here is my return of experience
SEO, how to increase traffic for appearing on top of searches:
Before applying to any affiliate marketing program or to Google Adsense, I did work on my SEO to start appearing on top of searches.
The technique I used is simple and consists of making sure to put enough text in my website where all of the main keywords are used as per these simple intuitive rules:
Using different synonyms of the same keyword all over my text:
Example: I alternate the use of coating, paint, finishing if I'm talking about the paint. I do not simply repeat paint everywhere.
Repeating the keywords:
Web language should be efficient rather than elegant, thus it is necessary to repeat a keyword (and its synonyms) to increase the chances of appearing in searches rather than skipping the repetitions like we do in a normal text.
Example: I'm talking about a fish fillet which is clearly mentioned in the title of my article. When developing the text, I don't say "cut it" or "cook it" rather "cut the fish fillet", "cook the fish fillet" and repeat each time the use of "fish fillet".
Using both US and UK spellings...
...by adding the UK spelling between brackets after the US spelled word.
Example: My articles about the maintenance of that mechanical device which mixes air and fuel in old or small gasoline engine use both forms of "Carburetor" (US) and "Carburettor" (UK).
Giving a preference to an acronym or abbreviation...
...of a word as used by internet users instead of the full length word.
Example: Using GDP instead of Gross Domestic Product since web surfers will use GDP in their searches rather than typing the developed form. Or using "Cat" o describe the catalytic converter found in cars.
Translating the most visited pages...
...to a second language and depending on the countries from where I have visits.
Example: French people will use French language first when "googleing" so I don't hesitate to translate the pages that might be of particular interest to French nationals.
Making sure I add H1 Tags to my pages:
I learned that the title element available in Weebly is not an H1 tag and that the latter is a major contributor to SEO results.
I found an H1 tag App available in the Weebly store but was not convinced and preferred to edit my own H1 tag code directly in my HTML. See my specific page on howto add an H1 tag in Weebly .
No one talks about the impact of the European personal data protection program known as "GDPR" and introduced in Europe since May 25, 2018.
Having a website with visitors from France and UK being No 1 and 2 respectively in terms of number of users and number of visited pages, I can share with you the following statistics:
I do have a good experience with Google Adsense.
My income is continuously increasing and little by little in a manner that I already broke even with my hosting costs and started to do some extra revenue.
What I can tell about Google Adsense is the following:
-Very simple to use in my case since it is already integrated to the Weebly editor, i.e. I simply drag a Google Adsense element to a specific location of my page and decide on its dimensiions, type, colors, etc.
-Seems to help with my SEO and increases the chances of my pages appearing in top results
-Was not impacted by the GDPR implementation as much as Google Analytics and continued to generate income from countries in Europe.
-Google Adsense statistics for page visits are more accurate than the ones of Google Analytics and are closer to the statistics I obtain from my Weebly editor
-Google Adsense was not impacted by my Amazon affiliate marketing participation which I combine to Google Adsense.
-Very efficient automation tool based on AI that scans my website pages then decides how and where to add Ads or promote my own contents with the "Matched Content" feature.
-Optimization advice available from time to time and which proved to be efficient, see below
-Notifications I received from Google Adsense advised me to shift to Auto Ads claiming I could increase my income by 16% but I was able to achieve a 50% increase from the first month of implementation.
-Very helpful insights report providing some specific statistics about returning users, pages that spiked, etc.
-It took me months for Google Adsense to start generating a noticeable income and a couple of years to break even with my website and domain hosting and maintenance costs.
Amazon Associates program
Like for Google Adsense, I did not hesitate joining the Amazon associates program despite having read many comparisons between Amazon and others.
My lessons learnt from this affiliate marketing program are as follows:
-Amazon associates program does not compete with Google Adsense as both are being successful on my website
-I do generate most of my Amazon sales from specific product marketing rather than general banners and promotions
-It took me 3 weeks only to achieve my first Amazon sale
-It took me one year to reach my first payment threshold and obtain the first Amazon cheque
-It is not true as some claim that if you sell a laptop for 1500$, you get a 10% commission at 150$ ....
-At least, I did not benefit from such over-optimistic assumption and calculation rather cumulative income made of several sales and small commissions that add-up with time
-I was surprised by the products users end up buying and that sometime do not relate at all to my contents
-I had to participate in three programs simultaneously, Amazon US, Amazon France and Amazon UK to hit more sales since users from the UK won't buy in US dollars for example and the one from France would prefer the euro.
-Being outside the countries where Amazon pays by wire transfer, I am paid by cheques issued by Deutshe bank and which are difficult to cash outside EU for the lack of branches.
-Depositing the Amazon cheque in my bank account leads to loosing half of its value as bank commissions.
-The solution I adopted is to increase the payment threshold i.e. that Amazon sends me cheques of higher value so the bank commission constitutes a lesser percentage
-I keep adapting my promoted Amazon products to the gender and nationality of my visitors in order to increase my chances of clicks and sales
-I do promote direct products that do relate straight forward to the contents of my page
-I do use the picture provided within the Amazon Ad to illustrate my text whenever I do not have my own picture for a particular item or topic.
That was my return of experience with Google AdSense and Amazon.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your project!