I’ve passed it a thousand times and didn’t know its name: Villa Leopardi Dittajuti, or, as most people call it, Villa Leopardi. Nothing to do with the poet Giacomo Leopardi, though Isabella tells me Count Leopardi Dittajuti, who had the mansion built in the late 19th century, was a distant relative of the poet.
The Amici di Villa Leopardi have kept themselves busy, erecting tombstone-like monuments to the hard work they have carried out making the garden hospitable, though Isabella’s report on the little-known catacombs beneath us had me wondering about their muse.
Like the catacombs, the mansion is unfrequented these day. Probably awaiting restoration. Any indoor activities around here take place in the local library and centro anziani, which are also housed within the grounds.
For most of the people here these days, Villa Leopardi is the park rather than the mansion, and there does seem to be plenty of variety: places to sit, to picnic, to walk prams and wheelchairs, a space for children to play, even a dedicated speaker’s platform… or a place where speakers are cornered, it’s not entirely clear.
So, something for everyone.
For me, it was the flowers, the leaves, the plants. After so much time spent indoors over the past year, and especially the quarantines of the past winter, just being immersed in the season’s lusciousness and heady scents was exhilarating, something I would have liked to be able to recreate in the photo edits.
Peering through my macro lens, I watched insects gather goodies from even the smallest daisies.
Then out of nowhere came three colourful, exotic birds.
The darkness of winter was definitely over.
Nothing is ever what it first seems.
Well not exactly a walk. First a drive, then a lengthy wait for parking space, followed by a couple of minutes’ walk up the hill to the bus, and finally a bus tour with recorded commentary complete with musical drama – the only way allowed to see the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, Lanzarote. Spectacular nonetheless. [Photos taken through the bus window with my phone].
A wet summer Sunday is as good a day as any for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, which this year celebrates its 200th birthday. Today I noticed something I hadn’t spotted before: the city’s motto Let Glasgow Flourish and its Coat of Arms sculpted into the wall of a building just inside the Gt Western Road/Byres Road entrance, complete with the tree that never grew, the fish that never swam, the bird that never flew and the bell that never rang.
For the story behind the City of Glasgow’s Coat of Arms, see here.
This part-flooded walkway required a bit of nimble footwork here and there – easy enough even in heavy, water-resistant boots. But it was difficult to pause to take in the exhilarating and almost overwhelming experience of the waterfalls gushing into the valley below, accompanied by the constant roar and wind-tossed spray. I noticed some people had taken off their shoes and socks – that for me was the scary bit: are feet on slimy wet wood slip-resistant?
It’s a stunning place without a doubt. After days of rain, the waterfalls were energised and energising. You might think it’s easier to photograph the lakes and falls once the constant downpour stops. Not so! The absence of rain and the appearance of the sun brought the tourists in at what seemed to be a rate of a dozen coachloads every 10 minutes. As a result, the wooden walkways shook constantly, and I couldn’t very well block the path by hanging around with my tripod and backpack. So the good news is that I’ll be going again, when the coachloads have gone, whenever that is.