Sassi Di Matera

Sassi Di Matera

MATERA is a city and a province in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Matera and the capital of Basilicata from 1663 to 1806.  The town lies in a small canyon carved out by the Gravina (a river)

Known as LA CITTA SOTTERRANEA (the Subterranean City), Matera is well-known for its historical centre called SASSI, considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993, along with the Park of the Rupestrian Churches.  The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, with the name of MATHEOLA after the Consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus.

Matera panoramic view

Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the SASSI di MATERA (meaning ” stones of Matera” ).  The Sassi originated in a prehistoric troglodyte ( a human being who inhabits a cave or the area beneath the overhanging rocks of a cliff), and these dwellings are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy.

Sassi Di Matera streets

The Sassi are habitations dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia.  Many of them really little more than caverns, and in some parts of the Sassi, a street lies on top of another group of dwellings.  The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is known locally as la GRAVINA.  In the 1950s, the Government of Italy used force to relocate most of the population of the Sassi  to areas of the developing modern city.

Matera castle

Until the late 1980s, the Sassi was considered an area of poverty since its dwellings were and in most cases still are, uninhabitable.  The present local administration, however, has become more tourist-oriented, and it has promoted the regeneration of the Sassi with the aid of the Italian Government, UNESCO and Hollywood.  Today, there are many thriving businesses, pubs and hotels there.  Matera preserves a large  and diverse collection of buildings related to the Christian faith, including a large number of Rupestrian Churches carved from the soft volcanic rock of the region.  The Churches which are also found in the neighbouring region of Apulia, were listed in the 1998 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.

Matera cathedral

MATERA CATHEDRAL ( 1268 – 1270) has been dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna since 1389.  Built in a Romanesque architectural style, the Church has a 52metre tall bell tower, and next to the main gate is a statue of Maria della Bruna, backed by those of Saints Peter and Paul.  The main feature of the façade is the “rose window”, divided by 16 small columns.  The interior is on the Latin Cross Plan, with a nave and 2 aisles.  The decoration is mainly from the 18th century Baroque Restoration, but recently a Byzantine-style 14th century fresco portraying the LAST JUDGMENT  has been discovered.


Two other important Churches in Matera, both dedicated to the Apostle. Peter, are SAN PIETRO CAVEOSO & SAN PIETRO BARISANO.  San Pietro Barisano was recently restored in a project by the World Monuments Fund, funded by American Express.  The main altar and the interior frescoes were cleaned and missing pieces of moulding, reliefs and other adornments were reconstructed from photographic archives or surrounding fragments.

There are many Churches and Monasteries dating back throughout the history f the Christian Church.  Some are simple caves with a single altar and maybe a fresco, often located on the opposite side of the ravine.  Some are complex cave networks with large underground chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by the monks.

TRAMONTANO CASTLE,Matera was built above a deep ravine, that divides the territory into two areas.  Matera was built such that it is hidden, but made it difficult to provide water supply to its inhabitants.  Early dwellers invested tremendous energy in building cisterns and systems of water channels.

The largest cistern has been found under PIAZZA VITTORIO VENETO, with its solid pillars carved from the rock and a vault height of more than 15metres it is a veritable Water Cathedral, which is navigable by boat.  Like other cisterns in the town, many of these cisterns were turned into houses and other kinds of water-harvesting systems were realized.  Some of these more recent facilities have the shape of houses submerged in the earth.

The TRAMONTANO CASTLE, begun in the early 16th century, is probably the only other structure that is above ground and of any great significance outside the Sassi.  However, the construction remained unfinished after Count Gian Carlo Tramontano’s assassination in the riot of the 29th of December, 1514.  It has three large towers, while 12 were probably included in the original design.  During some restoration work in the main square of the town, workers cane across what was believed to be the main footings of another Castle tower.  However, on further excavation, large Roman cisterns were unearthed.  Whole house structures were discovered where one can see how the people of that era lived.  Found under the main square was a large underground reservoir, complete with columns and a vaulted ceiling.

Because of the ancient primeval-looking scenery in and around the Sassi, it has been used by filmmakers (as the setting for ancient Jerusalem).  Some of the following famous Biblical period motion pictures were filmed in Matera : (1964) The Gospel According To Saint Matthew.—- (1985) King David. —-  (2004) The Passion of the Christ. —— (2005)  Mary.  —– (2006) The Nativity Story.




MODICA (Sicilian : MUORICA ; Greek : MOTOUKA ; Latin : MUTYCA) is a city and commune in the Province of RAGUSA, Sicily, southern Italy.

According to THUCYDIDES, the city was founded in 1360 BC and was inhabited by SICELS in the 7th century BC.  It was probably a dependency of Syracuse.  MODICA was occupied by the Romans after the battle of the EGADI ISLANDS against the Carthaginians in the PUNIC WARS (241 BC), together with Syracuse and all of Sicily.  MODICA became one of the 35 DECUMAN (spontaneously submitted) cities of the island and was oppressed by the praetor VERRES.  It became an independent MUNICIPIUM, and apparently a place of some consequence.  The city is also mentioned among the island towns both by Pliny and Ptolemy, and though its name is not found in the itineraries, it is again mentioned by the Geographer of Ravenna.


In 845, MODICA was captured by the Arabs during the Muslim Conquest of Sicily.  They referred to the city as MUDIQAH.  The year after its capture, the Arabs fortified its citadels and it, subsequently, prospered under their rule.  In 1091, the conquest of MODICA and the entire VAL di NOTO, ended the long-lasting war of the Normans, led by Roger of Hauteville, against the Arabs.

On Assumption Day (August 15, 1474), Christians wrecked brutal havoc on the Jewish dwellers of the CARTELLONE area of MODICA, the so-called STRAGE dell ASSUNTA (Massacre of the Assumption).
Later, an earthquake of 1693 destroyed the entire VAL di NOTO, and to a slighter lesser extent, in MODICA.  Annexed to Italy in 1860, MODICA remained the District Capital until 1926, when it was included in the Province of Ragusa.
MODICA consists of two urban centres : MODICA ALTA (Upper Modica) and MODICA BASSA (Lower Modica).  The older upper part is perched on the rocky top of the southern IBELI Hill, the lower part is built on the lower slopes and valley below.  The walk down from MODICA ALTA to MODICA BASSA reveals vistas of the lower town and involves many steps, and not many attempt the reverse journey on foot.

Modica San Gieogio

During the last century, the city has extended and developed new suburbs which include SACRO CUORE (or SORDA), MONSERRATO, IDRIA, these are often referred to as Modern MODICA, and both old and modern quarters of the city are today joined by one of Europe’s high bridge, the GUERRIERI Bridge that is 980ft long.

Despite being ravaged by earthquakes in 1613 & 1693, and floods in 1833, MODICA has retained some of the most beautiful architecture in Sicily.  Much of the city was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake with imposing and conspicuous urban monuments in the Sicilian Baroque Style.
The large Baroque Cathedral of SAN GIORGIO, is dedicated to Saint George.  While the Cathedral was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1693, like many other parts of the city, its roots are in the Middle Ages.  From the front of the Cathedral, a staircase of 300 steps leads down towards MODICA BASSA.

Palazzo Mercedari

Another notable Church is SAN PIETRO, dedicated to Saint Peter, featuring a principal façade, crowned by a typical Sicilian Baroque bell-tower, 161ft high.
MERCEDARI PALACE or PALAZZO MERCEDARI is a Palace and civic ethnographical museum, built in the 18th century, as a place for the Fathers of MERCEDARI, attached to the S. Maria del Grazie Sanctuary.  Today, the Palace contains the Library and Museum.  It often hosts Classical Music Recitals.

San Pietro Modica

The economy  the area once principally agricultural produces olives, carobs, legumes, cereals.  An extraordinary product is the famous CHOCOLATE of MODICA, produced with an ancient and original Aztec recipe.  The city now has factories producing textiles, furniture and cars.  Tourism is also an important industry, since MODICA entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

Modica chocolate

This incredible town melts the heart of any visitor, and is a dream destination for anyone who loves art, food and having fun.  It is a spot of the world in everyone’s heart.  MODICA is a place to go to in all seasons ——– charming in winter and amazing under summer’s light and whoever has the chance to pass through MODICA, will never forget the sunsets over the sea and the bars on the beach.  During the mild winters, the quaint village streets are full of young people and great music.  All year round, MODICA never disappoints its visitors., who will hardly resist a second bite.

Costiera Amalfitana

Costiera Amalfitana

COSTIERA AMALFITANA or AMALFI COAST is a stretch of coastline on the southern coast of the SORRENTINE Peninsula in the Province of SALERNO in Southern Italy.

The AMALFI Coast is a popular tourist destination for the region and Italy as a whole, attracting thousands of tourists annually.  In 1997, the AMALFI COAST was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape.

Amalfi coast Italy

During the 10th – 11th centuries, the DUCHY of AMALFI existed on the territory of the Amalfi Coast, centred in the town of Amalfi.  It was later controlled by the Principality of Salerno, until Amalfi was sacked by the Republic of Pisa in 1137.

Costiera Amalfitana_

Like the rest of the region, the Amalfi Coast lies in the Mediterranean climate belt, featuring warm summers and mild winters.  It is located on the relatively step southern shore of the SORRENTINE Peninsula, leaving little room for rural and agricultural territories.  The only land route to the Amalfi Coast is the 40km long STRADA STATALE 163, which runs along then coastline from the town of VIETRI sul MARE in the east to POSITANO in the west.  Thirteen Municipalities are located on the Amalfi Coast, many of them centred around tourism.


The Amalfi Coast is known for its production of LIMONCELLO Liqueur, as the area is a known cultivator of lemons, known as SFUSATO AMALFITANO in Italian.  These lemons are grown in terraced gardens along the entire coast between February and October.  Amalfi is also a known maker of hand-made thick paper which is called BAMBAGINA.  Other renowned local products are a particular kind of anchovies (local Italian : ALICI) from CETERA, and the colourful hand-made ceramics from VIETRI.


The rulers of Amalfi are the central figures in Webster’s Jacobean tragedy —– DUCHESS of MALFI.  In the last episode of the poplar TV series ENTOURAGE, Ari Gold & Mrs. Gold are seen relaxing at the Amalfi Coast, when Ari receives a phone call to become the Chairman of Time Warner.  
The Amalfi Coast was featured in POSITANO, a short story written by American author John Steinbeck in 1953.  It was also the setting in FINDING POSITANO, A LOVE STORY, written by author William James in 2010.

Amlfi coast colorful

The Amalfi Coast is also mentioned several times in “The Coast of Amalfi”, a song by Steve Harley, appearing on his 2005 album —– “The Quality of Mercy”.

Costiera Amalfitana night

The AMALFI COAST seems to be one grand balcony suspended between a sea of cobalt blue and the feet of the LATTARI Mountains in a long stretch of hollows and promontories, coves, cultivated terraces, vineyards and citrus and olive groves.

Due to its topographical characteristics, as well as its historical evolution, it is of enormous cultural and natural value and for this, it is protected by UNESCO.

Costiera Amalfitana Italy

An ancient marine Republic, AMALFI, held the monopoly for commerce in the TYRHENNIAN, exporting Italian goods (wood, iron, arms, fruit and wine) to Eastern markets in exchange for spices, perfumes, pearls, jewels, textiles and rugs to then trade in the West.

Cinque terre


Along a beautifully isolated six-mile-stretch of the most seductive corner of the Italian Riviera, lie the CINQUE TERRE small, traffic-free villages gently and steadily carving a good life out of a difficult terrain.  Each fills a ravine with a lazy hive of human activity ——– calloused locals and sunburned travellers enjoying the area’s unique mix of Italian culture and nature.

CINQUE TERRE which means FIVE LANDS, comprise of 5 small coastal villages of RIOMAGGIORE, MANAROLA, CORNIGLIA, VERNAZZA & MONTEROSSO, located in the Italian region of Liguria.  They are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


All the villages slope down to sea-level, except for CORNIGLIA, which is perched on top of a tall cliff.  All of them possess an old-world-charm (from north to south : Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore).  The northernmost one ——- Monterosso is completely different.  It is beach resort type, with not much to see beyond the boardwalk, apart from modern apartment blocks and hotels ———— nothing like the narrow, crooked streets of the other four villages, lined with colourful old houses stacked haphazardly on top of each other.


RIOMAGGIORE is the southernmost of the Cinque Terre.  During the , you can hear the bell towers chiming and at night the frogs are in frenetic chatter as small boats go night-fishing for anchovies and other fish using lights to attract the fish.  There is also an ancient stone CASTELLO about which little has been written.  An information sign, outside, explains that first mention of the CASTELLO appeared in a document from the mid 500s, which already described it as “ancient.”  Its quadrangular walls with two circular towers were built to protect the citizens, in case of an attack from the sea.  In 800, the CASTELLO became a cemetery and parts were destroyed to adapt it to its new function.  Now, there is an assortment of cafes, bars, restaurants and, of course, GELATERIE.  There are also shops selling the typical yummy Italian fair: fresh fruit (strawberries, cherries and nespole), an assortment of SALUMI (salami and mortadella), cheeses and olives.  These are good places to stock up for the hikes into the hills, although all of them are not very far away.

MANAROLA is a place filled with boats —- covered boats of all kinds line the main street.  There are many lovely places to eat and drink.  There is also a nice little swimming area —- a little cement pier next to some big rocks that you can wade out from into the blue, blue waters.


CORNIGLIA : At the station, the path gains height to reach the town.  The road passes lemon trees, vines, lilies and vegetation of all kinds and, in May, the air is full of the perfume of flowers.  Corniglia feels smaller and quieter, but it is just as “quaint” as the other four.  As Corniglia is atop a large hill, it is only reachable from the train station by either climbing 365 steps up the hill (one step for each day of the year), or there is a bus, run by the Cinque Terre National Park, that takes people up to Corniglia and back down again.

VERNAZZA :  The Blue Trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is a dirt path that starts off in an olive grove.  It keeps climbing and things get a bit sweaty and steep in some places with many stone steps and a few switchbacks.  The place, itself, has a maze of tiny streets that eventually lead down to the main street.  Vernazza is lively and boisterous and has a great scene ——- two clock towers, a beach, boats and a large public space with umbrellas and tables, where you can spend the evenings having wine and watching the mountainous coastline zigzag in and out, hiding Monterosso.


MONTEROSSO is built to accommodate many tourists in large modern apartments and hotels.  Walking is very popular.  In order to walk along the trails between the villages, one must purchase a pass from information offices near the train stations at any of the 5 villages.  It costs 5 euros for an adult or 10 euros to get unlimited travel on trains between the villages.  The pass also allows you to use buses within Cinque Terre.

The main attraction of Cinque Terre is the landscape.  Mediterranean herbs and trees grow spontaneously from the top of the hills down to the water level.  It has been estimated to have taken about 200yrs to build the entire “stone-wall-network”.
Depending on the time of the year, there are some specific things to see :  ** The Lighted Nativity in Manarola (Dec. 8 till late Jan).  It is the world’s biggest Lighted Nativity.  ** The Patron Festivity of the five villages : (all between late May & August), a mix of religious ceremony and popular parties.  ** The Pirates Attack in Vernazza (mid summer), a celebration of the successful defence from a Saracen attack which occurred during the middle ages.  ** The Harvest (early / mid September) and Wine Making, when men’s shoulders and women’s heads are still used as they were 100s of years ago.  ** The Sea Storms (frequent in winter), a great show of Nature’s power.


Cinque Terre is famous for the dry white wine ——– simply called CINQUE TERRE and the SCIACCHETRA ( a prized dessert wine, made from prime grapes dried to the point of holding only a few drops of sweet juice).  A colourful addition to the Cinque Terre products is LIMONCINO (a dessert wine made from steeping lemon peels in pure alcohol and then adding sugar and water to make a fragrant and fresh liquor.  The lemons, another famous product of Cinque Terre, are prominently on display in many LIMONETI (lemon groves) and at the annual Lemon Festival held each year in Monterosso during the season of Pentacost.  The “grape-routes” are still as they once were with fig trees planted in strategic positions to give shade during breaks from work, agaves planted to mark boundaries, to line the footpaths along steep, stony steps and to indicate the rail terminals of the recently installed memorials which are the only vertical structures emerging from this seemingly completely horizontal landscape.  The large wicker baskets of grapes (CORBE) are arranged along the POSE (little walls as wide as tables, built solely for this purpose).  The Cinque Terre grape tracks reach down to the sea.  In the past, small fishing boats, called GOZZI, stood immediately below the terraced vineyards.  Baskets, laden with grapes, were then lowered from above into these small boats which then sailed around to the otherwise inaccessible villages.  Nowadays, this method is nothing but a distant memory, but, by visiting Cinque Terre you are still able to sample some of the prized wines of the world that have been created by centuries of backbreaking experience.

Rick Steve says, “There’s not a Fiat in sight ——- just sun, sea, sand (well pebbles), wine and “pure, unadulterated Italy.”  Enjoy the villages, swimming and hiking and the evening romance of one of God’s great gifts to Tourism.  While the Cinque Terre is now discovered (and can be unpleasantly crowded at midday, when tourist boats and cruise ship excursions drop by), I’ve never seen happier, more relaxed tourists.”



SORAPISS, a mountain in the Dolomites, near Cortina d’Ampezzo, is situated within the Veneto region of northern Italy.  It is also referred as PUNTA SORAPISS.  With its huge perpendicular faces forms part of the mountainous backdrop to the resort town of Cortina, and sits roughly 9km to the southeast of the town.


The name SORAPISS, in the local dialect means “over the waterfall.”  It is a dialectal composite name :  SORA (sopra) = over and PISS (cascata) = waterfall.  It has an elevation of 10,515ft.  In its vicinity is a mountain pas of the same name, as well as LAGO di SORAPISS (SORAPISS LAKE) at the foot of the mountain.


There is a legend associated with the name of SORAPISS.  A “peace-loving” King named SORAPISS turned himself into a rocky mountain during a course of unexpected events.  A witch had bewitched the King’s impulsive daughter —- Misurina —- by promising her a magical mirror as a reward for providing shade to her house.  This was honoured by her doting father, who turned himself into a mountain.  At a later date, Misurina, demonstrating a sense of gratitude towards her father, shed tears which formed the LAGO di SORAPISS at the foot of the large mountain of SORAPISS, the immobilized form of her father.


The limestone dolomite formation, which is irregular, rugged and sharp-edged peaks, are part of the Eastern Alps.  The mountain has 3 ridges : central ridge, a southern ridge, which is part of the mountain that can be seen from Cortina, and, beyond a high pass and a little to the west, a northern ridge, that culminates in the skiing area of Mount Faloria.  There are 3 glaciers on the mountain slopes, although these have been melting considerably in recent years.  LAGO di SOPARISS, at the foot of the mountain, is a glacial lake at an elevation of 6,316ft.


There are 3 Refuges in the vicinity :  RIFUGIO TONDI di FALORIA at 7,635ft, REFUGIO ALFONSO VANDELLI at 6,319ft and REFUGIO SAN MARCO.  Paul Grohmann made the first ascent of the mountain in September 1864, taking  8hrs 30mins.  There are at least 2 routes to the summit : the GROHMANN, which crosses the mountain’s west flank, joining the S. Vito route near the summit and the MULLER-WEG which traverses the east glacier and ascends direct over the precipices on the northeast side.


Flora on SORAPISS includes : Festucetum Pulchellae (on the slopes), Euphrasio-Globularietum (at the base) and Drabetum Hoppeanae (on the range).  There are no real walk-up routes, with the exception of the paths n the Faloria Range.  Even getting to the RIFUGIO VANDELLI (the most frequented, in a fairy-tale environment with its green lake) requires a walk along a very fine path that somewhere hosts short pieces of ferrate.

Vandelli Sorapiss

Some fine hiking routes, none really easy and all requiring good training.  The complete “ring” of SORAPISS requires at least a 2-day trip, and takes place on a complex, high and somewhere very exposed system of ledges, along the 3 main ferrate of the group : BERTI, MINAZIO and VANDELLI.  The dolomite mountain is at the same time a “summit”, a “ridge”, a “range”, a “group” standing up along a ridge that stretches over many miles with a big difference in elevation from the surrounding valleys.  The best time to climb is in summer —- June to September.

Interesting libraries

One would think there are only so many ways to interest people in checking out a book  or just plopping down and opening a book.  Have a look at these “improbable libraries”.



It is composed of 4 towers that are shaped like “open books”.  They are built around a sunken and thickly forested courtyard.  It was constructed in 1996 to replace a former library structure that could no longer accommodate expansion.  It is one of the largest in the world boasting a 22-story structure.
(2) READING CLUB 2000 ——– Manila, Philippines



It was started when Hernando “NANIE” Guanlao thought of a way to honour and preserve the memory of his parents who inculcated in him the “love for reading”.  He gathered his old text books and set them outside his Manila residence to test if the community would be interested to borrow and read them.  They were.  Twelve years later, NANIE’S Library grew to contain 2,500 books.  As an additional service, he also runs a “BOOK BIKE” service, where he delivers books to poor areas in Manila.
(3) STOCKHOLM PUBLIC LIBRARY ———– Stockholm, Sweden



This is Stockholm’s first library to apply an “OPEN-SHELF DESIGN”.  It opened in 1928.  When architect Gunnar Asplund and librarian Fredrik Hjelmqvist decided that the people who would patronise the library could fetch their own books, librarians, all over the globe, rejoiced.  Recently, its “self-service” model was revitalised b more drive to infuse a “check-outs and returns” automation system.
(4) TRINITY COLLEGE LONG ROOM ——– Dublin, Ireland


The Long  Room Trinity College

Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest University also houses the largest library in Ireland.  The “oldest” and “rarest” of its collection is kept in the “LONG ROOM”.  With its more than 200,000 volumes, it is the largest “single-chamber” library in the world.  The “LONG ROOM” grabbed the “limelight” once again, recently, for being the “unofficial” inspiration for the Jedi Archives in the movie Star Wars —- Episode — 2 : Attack of the Clones.
(5) THE KENYAN CAMEL LIBRARY —– Serving Nomadic Population in Kenya


Meet the LIBRARY CAMELS of Kenya, who carry books and some camping gear.  Travelling librarians need a place to rest after a long journey across the desert.  The caravan caters to nomadic communities which are mostly illiterate due to lack of access to books.
(6) TAIPEI PUBLIC LIBRARY —- Beitou, Taiwan

Taipei Public Library

Taipei Public library1

The most “eco-conscious” building, in the country, is also a famous library in Taiwan.  It received the highest EEWH rating lately : the DIAMOND RATING for being the most “eco-friendly structure” in the country.  All wood used for its construction, came from sustainably-managed forests.  It also uses “PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS” for generating power.  To insulate itself from the heat of the sun during daytime, its roof is equipped with 20cms “layer of soil”.  This building is also designed to collect rainwater to be used for toilet-flushing.  Not to forget, they have an interesting line-up of books.


Perugia sandro penna_007_tavoli

It’s not an “alien ship” you are staring at.  It’s not a “pink bubble-gum candy” designed by Hello Kitty, either.  It’s a POWER HOUSE of books, providing library services for the people of Perugia, Italy.  This is a public library named after the poet —- Sandro Penna.  It features “rose-coloured” glass walls designed to let sunlight in during daytime and at night it creates a “rare glow”.  The architect who designed it, Italo Rota, made a “3-storey disc” to exude an appearance of an “alien flying saucer”.
(8) MECHANICAL LIBRARIES —— Serving readers 24 hours a day in Beijing


In a district in Beijing, machines account for 31.6% of books loaned.  Even if you are fighting a good fight against the machine overlords, you’ll have to agree that anything that increases the number of books the public consumes —- can’t be all that bad.
(9) STUTTGART CITY LIBRARY —— Stuttgart, Germany



This amazing weird-looking structure is designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi.  When it opened in 2011, it got mixed reviews from library connoisseurs, architects and even the locals.  It’s been ridiculed   and described as a “2-tone Rubik’s Cube” and a “box-shaped jail” for books.  But, it’s a HAVEN FOR NERDS.
(10) BILLY BOOKCASE ——- Sydney

IKEA Create World's Longest Outdoor Bookcase On Bondi Beach

In 2010, IKEA built the world’s “longest” outdoor bookshelf on Bondi Beach near Sydney.  The feat was in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the company’s BILLY BOOKCASE.  The shelves were filled with roughly 6,000 books and beach-goers were asked to trade in one of their own books for a copy on the shelves.



This library isn’t one for “subtlety” ————- Its exterior ensures you know that this is a library.  The building, which is clad in 22 of the favourite titles by local readers, might be one of the more memorable in the US.



A military-surplus 1979 Ford Falcon has been turned into a library by the artistt Raul Lamesoff, who drives it around  Buenos Aires handing out books.  He calls it, of course, “ARMA DE INSTRUCCION MASIVA ( Weapon of Mass Instruction).


AIOLI is a Provencal sauce made of garlic, olive oil, usually egg yolks and seasonings.  The proper recipe did not include lemon juice, though many people add it.  There are many variations, such as the addition of mustard.  It is usually served at room temperature.  The name AIOLI comes from Provencal ‘alh’ (garlic) (Latin — allium) + ‘oli’ (oil) (Latin — oleum)


AIOLI is like mayonnaise, an emulsion or suspension of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds.  Egg-yolk can be used as an emulsifier, and is generally used in making AIOLI today.  However, mustard and garlic both emulsify oil and some variants, such as Valencia allioli omit the eggs.
Egg yolks, garlic and seasonings are whisked together, then the oil and the lemon juice are added, initially very slowly, whisking to emulsify, once the emulsion has started to form, the oil can be added faster.
 In Occitan cuisine, AIOLI is typically served with seafood, fish soup and croutons, in a dish called MERLUCA AMB ALHOLI.  In the Occitan Valleys of Italy, it is served with potatoes boiled with salt and bay laurel.
In Provence, AIOLI or, more formally, LE GRAND AIOLI, also designates a complete dish consisting of various boiled vegetables (uniformly cut carrots, potatoes and green beans), boiled fish (normally soaked salt cod), and boiled eggs usually served with snails, with the AIOLI sauce.  Other commonly used vegetables are cauliflower, courgettes (zucchini) and raw tomato.


There are other forms of AIOLI :
(a) ALLIOLI —– from “all I oli”, Catalan for “garlic & oil”, is a typically paste-like cold sauce of Catalonia, Balearic islands and Valencia.  It is made by pounding garlic with olive oil and salt in a mortar until smooth.  It is often served with “arros a banda”, from Alicante, with grilled lamb, grilled vegetables and arros negre, and comes in other varieties such as ALLIOLI de codony (allioli with boiled quince, not the preserve) or allioli with boiled pear.
(b) AILLADE —– is the name used in Southern France for 2 different garlic-based condiments.  In Provence, it is a garlic-flavoured vinaigrette, while in areas such as  Languedoc – Roussillon, it is the name given to AIOLI.
(c) TOUM —– is a garlic sauce common to the Lavant & Egypt.  Similar to the Provencal Aioli, it contains garlic and salt, olive oil or vegetable oil and lemon juice, traditionally crushed together using a wooden mortar and pestle.  There is also a variation, popular in many villages, such a s Zgharta, where mint is added  —— this variation is called ZEIT and TOUM (oil and garlic).  TOUM is used as a dip, especially with French fries and chicken, and in Levantine sandwiches, especially those containing chicken.
(d) MUJDEI —– is a spicy Romanian sauce.  It is made from garlic cloves crushed and ground into a paste, salted and mixed energetically with water and vegetable oil (sunflower oil is almost always used).  Depending on regional preferences and the dish it is served with, vinegar or other ingredients may be added.  The result is a white sauce with a very strong garlic flavour, varying in consistency from a thick paste to a very runny sauce.  In some parts of Romania, MUJDEI is made out of cream, ground garlic and some salt.  It is served with a variety of dishes including fried fish, fried or grilled chicken or pork, rasol, even fried potatoes.  The word is derived from “must de ai” that is “must of garlic”.
(e) SKORDALIA —– in Greek also called “aliatha” is a thick puree (or sauce, dip, spread) in Greek cuisine, made by combining crushed garlic with a bulky base ——- which may be a puree of potatoes, walnuts, almonds or liquid-soaked stale bread —— and then beating in olive oil to make a smooth emulsion.  Vinegar is often added.
OVERVIEW :  Variants may include eggs as an emulsifier, while omitting or reducing the bulk ingredient, which makes for a result similar to the Provencal aioli, Catalan allioli and so on.  In the Ionian Islands, cod stock and lemon, instead of vinegar, is usually added and SORDALIA is eaten as a main dish.
SKORDALIA is usually served with batter-fried fish (notably salt cod), fried vegetables (notably eggplant and zucchini) poached fish or boiled vegetables (notably beets).  It is, sometimes, used as a dip.  SKORDALIA is a modern equivalent of ancient SKOROTHALMI.  The name, on the other hand, may be pleonastic compound of Greek “skoroo” (garlic) and Italian “agliate” (garlicky).