Areopagus

For most of its existence, the Athenian law court that met on top of this outcropping, known as the Areopagus, was dedicated to trying cases of justifiable homicide. But around 400BCE, a famous prostitute named Phryne spent several hours here defending herself against the capital crime of impiety—the […]

Greek Gods

If chaos is the natural order of things, at least the Greeks—and their Gods—have embraced it. No wonder the dour, desert-bred Christians were so determined to destroy every religious Greek statue they could get their hands on. No wonder the straight-laced modern Germans have despaired of regularizing Greek politics and finance. These people are having far too much unlicensed and uninhibited fun for their own good.

Cats

The islands of Rhodes and Malta have two things in common—their history with the medieval Knights Hospitallers and their huge feral and domestic cat populations. You’ll find hundreds of cats wandering all over the towns, religious monuments, and ancient fortresses of both communities. Naturally, we wondered if there […]

Bastille Day

The mother of all Bastille Day parades stretches on the morning of July 14 from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées and up Rue Royale to the Place de la Madeleine on the Right Bank of Paris. For one day each year, the ultra-civilized French put down […]

Indian Summer

Most people wouldn’t associate the term “Indian Summer” with southern California, but that’s what we came back to this time. None of the natural splendor of a New England Autumn, but an unusual elevation of temperatures along with a lazy breeze that reminded us of Tanglewood in the […]

Stambul

For someone brought up on Christian churches, East or West, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant, the simplicity of the great Islamic mosques of Istanbul can be both over- and underwhelming. We’re reminded of a church Across Market in San Francisco, where the saints’ statues crowd the aisles as […]

Ghetto Novo

The word “ghetto” might have been the name of a pair of foul-smelling foundries located in the outer reaches of Cannaregio, a key Sestiere, or district, of Venice. When the Doge Leonardo Loredan and the Serenissima exiled their 700 Jews there on 29 March, 1516, the moniker stuck. From […]