Travel writing – visiting the tiny island of Giglio, a wrecked cruise ship in the harbor and old-time Tuscany in the villages

(Filippo Monteforte / AFP/Getty Images / June 8, 2012)

 

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — My ferry was full of school groups, delivery trucks and tourists when we left the Tuscan port of Santo Stefano and headed toward the island of Giglio, 12 miles away. I sat on deck with the other foreigners, enjoying the spring sunshine: It was too cold for the Italians, who huddled downstairs drinking espressos.

And then, Giglio’s white cliffs appeared in the distance and gradually grew closer.

Except that there are no white cliffs on this granite island. I was looking at the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which ran aground Jan. 13 just outside Giglio’s harbor.

As the ferry whipped past, my eyes were drawn to the great wreck, which lay on its side with a long, rusty gash in its hull. It name was inscribed on a white bow towering above the water. The ship was so close to the tiny harbor, massive and modern and incongruous.

Giglio is known around the world because of the Concordia, but I was hoping to see a Giglio that was not defined by the disaster in which 32 passengers and crew died. Thirty-five years ago, my husband, Mike, lived on Giglio for several months, shortly after its inhabitants gave up mining granite and pyrite and abandoned self-sufficient agriculture in favor of tourism. He remembers an unspoiled family vacation island, little known outside Italy, where affluent Romans (plus a handful of foreigners such as Los Angeles political power broker Stanley Sheinbaum) spent their summers in apartments or second homes.

 

Keep readingLife returning to normal on Giglio Island after Costa Concordia

 

Continue reading Travel writing – visiting the tiny island of Giglio, a wrecked cruise ship in the harbor and old-time Tuscany in the villages

Byblos, Lebanon – oldest inhabited city in the world (7,000+ years)

Carbon-dating tests have set the earliest age of settlement at Byblos around 7000 BC, however it was not officially established as a city until sometime around 5000 BC.

Byblos is in Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast about 26 miles north of Beirut. “Byblos” is the Greek name. The first city built by the Phoenicians, Byblos is Greek for “papyrus.” The Bible was named for Byblos as it was known as “the papyrus book.”

Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries, Byblos bounced between Christianity and Muslim rule during the various crusades. From early 1500’s until 1918, Byblos was part of the Ottoman Empire. From 1920 until 1943 Byblos was under French Mandate, and finally in 1943, Lebanon – and Byblos – achieved independence.

Today, Byblos is a progressive city that embraces its cultural history. Tourism is now one of the major industries for this ancient port, and Byblos is re-emerging as a premiere Mediterranean destination.

via Sometimes Interesting