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History of Bathing from Rome to Japan

Roman people are known for their baths. They brought this practice to countries of Gaul and Britain. Roman mansions have their own small private versions of bath houses. Rome provided public baths which could be used for a cheaper cost. Because of the attractiveness of their baths, they add in hot and cold areas, average temperature sprawling areas with assortment of additional services like drinking, dining, and exercise. There was a period in the Roman history that baths were separated by gender, but eventually bathing was mixed.

The Jewish culture practiced a ritual of bathing that has been passed down to modern Jewish people. Ritual cleansing baths are called mikvot, which has its roots in the classical era and have been seen in some archaeological excavations at numerous areas, including Masada. In these rituals, the entire body of the individual must be completely submerged in water. The water to be used must come from a river, spring or rainwater.

During the 4th to 5th century, the priests of Christian churches denounced public baths. Bathhouses includes mixed facilities, and Christians believed women should not bathe in the presence of men. Virgins were especially discouraged from bathing in the nude.

Romans spread the bathing practice to the Islamic countries through the Medieval times and the Renaissance period. Roman bathing was promoted by Islamic writers. The “Turkish Bath” was the main characteristic of Islamic custom, they have retained the Roman culture of initially cleaning the body, after that is soaking and socializing. The Islamic religion requires frequent bathing; when water supply was low, other substances like dust and dirt were utilized for ritual ablution.

Japanese baths have great similarity with Roman baths. The western writers asserted that Japanese soaking baths began during the widespread employment of Japanese hot springs. Because of the location of Japan being positioned amid two volcanic restraints, the country tenders innumerable natural thermal baths. Public bathing custom rooted way back in 552 A.D. and until the daybreak of Buddhism. Bathing doesn’t only cleanse the body but also the skin, and also brings fortune.

Bathing is a communal ceremony in most religions. Some writers say that bathing was more about socializing than hygiene.

Bathrooms in monasteries frequently had isolated screened-off area for individual bathers. Bathers bathed in cold water, so they would wear an undershirt and it would be done only once a week. This practice is used to prevent the physical pleasures of bathing which the priests are anxious about.

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Abruzzi RegionI Love Italian Wine and Food – The Abruzzi Region

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Abruzzi region of central Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Abruzzi is located on the central eastern part of Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The area is 2/3 mountains and 1/3 hills. Over time Abruzzi has belonged to the Romans, the Lombards, and the kingdom of Naples. While this area was once very poor, its income is now growing. Abruzzi and Molise were a single region from 1948 to 1965. Its population is 1.275 million.

Agricultural products include grapes, olives, wheat, sugar beets, tobacco, saffron, pigs, and sheep. The Adriatic Sea and inland lakes and streams provide a wide variety of fish and shellfish. If I remember correctly, the first time that I heard of this region was decades ago, when I learned that according to Craig Claiborne, at the time Food Editor of the New York Times, Italy’s best food was found in Abruzzi.

Abruzzi has no large cities. Its administrative center l’Aquila has a population of about 70 thousand. But big cities are hardly a requirement for good wine. Few would ever claim that Italy’s best wines come from Rome, or the surrounding area.

Abruzzi devotes about eighty two thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 10th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 110 million gallons, giving it a 5th place. About 90% of the wine production is red or rosé (not very much rosé), leaving 10% for white. The region produces 3 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine and 1 DOCG red wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. About 17% of Abruzzi wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation. Abruzzi is home to about two dozen major and secondary grape varieties, a few more white and than red.

Widely grown international white grape varieties include Trebbiano and Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc. The best known strictly Italian white variety is Trebbiano d’Abbruzzi, felt by some to be Bombino Bianco.
The best known Italian red variety is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is the most widely exported Italian DOC wine.

Before we reviewing the Abruzzi wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with local wines when touring this beautiful region.
Start with a Pizza Rustica, Cinnamon-Scented Pie Stuffed with Proscuitto, Cheese, and Eggs.
Then move on to Polenta sulla Spianatora, Polenta (Cornbread) Topped with Sausage in Spicy Tomato Sauce.
For desert enjoy a Crostata di Ricotta, a Ricotta Tart.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY While we have communicated with well over a thousand Italian wine producers and merchants to help prepare these articles, our policy is clear. All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Abruzzo Illuminati Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Riparosso” 2004 DOC 13% alcohol about $11.50

The marketing materials state that this wine has hints of an Amarone (a much more expensive wine) or a Ripasso ( a more expensive wine). There are raisings, currants, and tar on the nose whilst the taste profile is ripe, mellow fruit flavors of raspberry jam and ocha. It doesn’t contain a lot of acidity so drink it within a year. Pair it with pizza, burgers, or any meat dish that you tend to eat during the week.

This wine is said to complement pasta, red meats, and savory cheeses.

I found the Riparosso to be somewhat robust, with cherry and plum flavors. I didn’t have the feeling that I was drinking a regular Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but instead almost a Ripasso, a wine that I prefer. This wine managed to feel full-bodied even with its light tannins. It balanced nicely the tanginess of barbecued eggplant loaded with garlic, and demonstrated notable spiciness when paired with a meat ball and vegetable stew. Its acidity was pleasant. I did not discern all the flavors listed above. For me the dominant flavor was black cherry. The final meat dish that accompanied this wine was a barbecued boneless rib steak with a spicy curry and cumin sauce. The wine seemed to pick up strength to accompany this meat, which by the way, we don’t eat on a regular basis during the week.

I tasted this wine with two related cheeses. Pecorino Toscano is a soft, nutty cheese. Interestingly enough, I found that the wine was no longer robust, it seemed to soften to accompany this mild cheese. In the presence of a Pecorino Fiore Sardo, a balsamic sheep’s milk cheese with a stronger flavor and coarser consistency than its Tuscan cousin, the wine almost magically picked up flavor to meet the challenge.

Final verdict, as you can tell this wine is a definite keeper.

Extra note. Several months ago on a whim I bought a $6 bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Given the realities of the marketplace, I really doubt that any producer can come up with a decent bottle at that price. At first the wine was terribly acidic. I held out, finished the bottle and the last glass was almost OK. Yes, there are bargains, such as this Riparosso, but few in the $6 range.

Contributions of Ancient Arabian and Egyptian Scientists on Astronomy

Md. Wasim Aktar

Deptt. of Agril. Chemicals, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Mohanpur, Nadia, West Bengal, India.

Astronomy (‘Ilm al-Hay’ah) or the science of formation (i.e. of the heavens) deals with such things as the structure of the heavens, the number and configuration of the stars, the signs of the zodiac, the distances of the stars, their size and their motions. It also deals with the compilation of planetary tables, the catalogue of stars for the making of calendars and similar tasks.

The Arabs took a keen interest in the study of heavens. They developed this interest firstly, because they had once worshipped heavenly bodies, (1) and secondly, because the dwellers of the desert who usually traveled at night in connection with trade, war and migration from one place to another, found the direction of their journey with the help of the stars. The clear sky of the desert gave them a chance of making precise observations. Thus there was some locally acquired knowledge of the fixed stars, the movements of the planets and the changes of the weather.

After the advent of Islam, the Muslims had to determine the time of the prayers and the direction of the Ka’bah to turn their faces towards it at the time of prayers. For this purpose it was necessary to know the altitude of the sun and the latitudes and longitudes of all the places where the Muslims lived. The same need arose for the orientation of the mosque. This gave a religious impetus to the study of astronomy and the allied subjects such as astronomical geography and mathematics. On the other hand, the Muslims, who once carried on flourishing trade all over the world and occasionally launched Jihad, had to travel on the land and the sea. As an aid to travel, navigation and meteorology, a by product of navigation, they needed star maps. The necessity of such maps was also a cause of their interest in astronomy.

There was a group of astronomers who believed in the influence of heavenly bodies on the terrestrial affairs, and the fate and future of human beings. According to them, the prognostication of sub-lunar events from the revolution of the heavens, the signs of the zodiac in the ascendant and the motion of the planets was possible. The science dealing with such influences was termed as Astrology (’Ilm-Ahkam al-Nujum). Astrology, as a part of astronomy, was studied and developed by ancient Babylonians. The study of this art or science was then made in Greece and Rome, a few centuries before the opening of the Christian era. It was also cultivated in India, China and Egypt. From the 7th to the 13th century it was further developed by the Muslims and later on by the Europeans. In the 14th and the 15th centuries, the astrologers had great influence on the kings of the European countries. (2) The orthodox Muslims did not believe in the influence of the heavenly bodies on fate or the future of human beings.

The regular study of astronomy and mathematics was begun at Baghdad in the second half of the 8th century during the reign of the second ‘Abbasi Caliph Al-Mansür. After that the patronage and generosity of other Muslim rulers, particularly of the seventh ‘Abbasi Caliph Al-Ma’mun, provided stimulation to the astronomical and mathematical researches of every kind. Indian, Persian and Greek astronomical works were translated into Arabic, and for making the astronomical observations the observatories were established by the caliphs and private persons at various places in the Muslim world. Astronomy was studied with great interest with the result that the number of Muslim astronomers raised surprisingly in a short period of time, and by the end of the 10th century, a large number of eminent Muslim astronomers gathered in Baghdad. In the 11th and the 12th centuries astronomy flourished in Muslim Spain where a good deal of creative and original work on this branch of science was done.

The Muslim scientists attached utmost importance to accuracy in observations and calculations, without caring for the length of time needed for it. Thus sometimes their astronomical researches extended for more than forty years. Due to this desire of accuracy the Muslims did not accept as such the astronomical tables or measurements of Ptolemy, a great Greek astronomer and mathematician. They only accepted his planetary theory just to provide a basis for astronomical research. They themselves conducted astronomical researches in Baghdad, Samarqand, Nishapur, Cordova, Damascus and Ray, and after making a careful study of the heavens they not only corrected and amplified Ptolemy’s astronomical tables, but also compiled a number of new ones and drew up new star catalogues. On the basis of fresh observations, the Ptolemaic system was repeatedly criticized by the Muslim astronomers, particularly those of Spain.

The investigations on astronomy were continued, and till the end of the 11th century, nearly all the original and creative work was done by Muslims, and even the works of non-Muslims were written in Arabic. Astronomy reached its highest in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 12th century, the Christians and Jews started the work of translation from Arabic into Latin and Hebrew, and began to conduct research in this field. But until the end of the 13th century, no mathematical and astronomical work comparable to that of the Muslims could be produced by the Christians or Jews. It is interesting to note that in the 12th century, while Ptolemy’s astronomical work, Almagest, after a thorough study and research, was subjected to severe criticism by Muslims particularly those of Spain, the study of this work was begun in the Latin world.

Besides compiling the astronomical tables, the Muslims prepared celestial globes on which the positions and magnitudes of the stars were represented. The globe is of Greek origin, but since Ptolemy’s time there has been a continuous improvement on it. The Muslim scientists also wrote comprehensive books on astronomy and mathematics, and also composed treatises on various branches of this science.

The Muslim astronomers also prepared the star maps to preserve the old astronomical knowledge, and to use them as an aid to travel, navigation and meteorology.

A great incentive for the study of astronomy came from an Indian astronomical work called Siddhanta which was brought to the court of Baghdad by a Hindu named Kanka. Kanka met Ya’qüb Ibn Tãriq in 767 who was one of the greatest astronomers of his time. Ya’qüb Ibn Tãriq introduced him to the Caliph Al-Mansür.(3) Kanka showed the book to the Caliph who ordered Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim Al-Fazãri to translate it into Arabic.(4) He also ordered that a work based on Siddhanta should be composed, which could serve as a reference book for the Arabs. Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim took this responsibility and prepared a book which was called by the astronomers as Sind Hind al-Kabir (the great Siddhanta). (5) It was used until the time of the Caliph Al-Ma’mun. Then Al-Khwãrizmi, who was one of the greatest scientists, prepared a summary of this book. He also compiled astronomical and trigonometrical tables according to the combined methods of Indians, Persians and Greeks. These tables were revised by Maslamah al-Majriti (c. the second half of the 10th century). They gained so much popularity that they were used even in China. In the 12th century, the translation of these tables was made into Latin. (5) Al-Khawarizmi glimpsed in his works on astral motion and the force of attraction the law of universal gravitation.

The astronomer Ibrahim Ibn Habib al-Fazãri was the first Muslim who constructed astrolabes. He composed a poem on astrology, and compiled a Zij (calendar) according to the Arab method. He also wrote on the use of astrolabes and on the armillary spheres. (6)

In 762-63 the Persian astronomer and engineer, Naubakht, together with Masha’ Allah (Latin Macellama, Macelarama, Messahala), made a survey before the building of Baghdad. Masha’ Allah (d. 815 or 820) was one of the earliest astronomers and astrologers, who flourished under the Caliph Al-Mansür. (7) Naubakht (d. 776-77) was the author of a book on astrological judgments entitled Kitäb al-Ahkam. (8)

During the reign of the Caliph al-Ma’mun, the important work of translation of Ptolemy’s Almagest from Greek into Arabic was completed. The Caliph was very anxious to get it translated correctly. It was translated several timed. Many commentaries on it were written. Its summaries were also made. The Minister Yahya Ibn Khalid Barmaki was the first to get it translated. A group of scholars wrote for him a commentary on this book, but he did not like it. He appointed Abu Hasan and Salman who were attached to the scientific academy called Bait al-Hikmah (The house of wisdom) to write a commentary on it.(9) The Almagest represents the best example of Greek classical works on astronomy. It served as a basis for the later astronomical works. Al-Hajjaj Ibn-Yusuf was one of the first translators of the Almagest. He made this translation on the basis of a Syriac version. (10)

The Caliph al-Ma’mun (169-218 / 786-833) was very fond of philosophy and science. The more he got acquainted with the interesting problems of science, the more his interest grew in the practical work. He built an observatory at Baghdad in his Bait al-Hikmah and another in the plain of Tadmor (Palmyra). In these observatories the fundamental elements of the Almagest like the inclination of the ecliptic, the length of the solar year, and the precession of the equinoxes were verified. Observations on the celestial motions were carried out and geodetic measurements were made. (11)

Al-Ma’mun ordered Ahmed, Muhammad and Hasan, who were eminent scientists and his courtiers, to measure in collaboration with other court scientists the length of the terrestrial degree and the circumference’ of the earth in some vast planes. The planes of Sinjar and Tadmor were selected for this purpose. The astronomers stayed at a place and noted with the help of instruments the altitude of the North. Pole, and pitched a nail there. Then tying a long rope with the nail, they carried the rope in the direction of the North. Where the rope ended they pitched another nail and tied another rope with it, and proceeded in the same direction. They continued this process as well as observations on the altitude of the North Pole, until on reaching a particular spot they noticed that the altitude of this Pole had increased by one degree. The distance they covered was also measured, which was found to be 56 2/3 miles. From, these observations it was inferred that for each terrestrial degree the distance covered on the earth amounts to 56 2/3 miles. The same operation was repeated in the direction of the South where at one spot they noticed that the altitude had decreased by, one degree. The distance covered was the same as in the first case. Now on multiplying this distance by 360 which is the total number of terrestrial degrees, the circumference of the earth was found to be equal to 20,400 miles, and the diameter equal to 6,500 miles. (12)

The chief of astronomers who carried observations under al-Ma’mun was Sanad Ibn ‘Ali. He was a Jewish convert to Islam. He constructed an observatory (Kanisah) at the back of the Shamãsiah Gate at the palace of Mu’izz al-Dawlah in Baghdad. An astronomical table and some writings on astronomy and mathematics, including a book on Arabic numerals, are ascribed to him. (13)

‘Ali Ibn ‘Isa al-Astur1ãbi who flourished in Baghdad and Damascus in the first half of the 9th century, took part in the measurement of the length of the terrestrial degree ordered by al-Ma’mun. He made astronomical observations at Baghdad and Damascus from 829 to 833. He was the famous constructor of astrolabes; hence the nickname al-Asturlãbi (maker of astrolabe). He wrote a treatise on astrolabes, which is one of the earliest works on this instrument. (14)

Yahya Ibn Abi Mansür also took part in the observations made at Baghdad in 829-30, and compiled the astronomical tables called Ma’munic tables. Like the tables of Habash these, too, are a collective work of ‘various astronomers. Al-Marwarudhi, who also flourished under al-Ma’mun, made solar observations. (15)

In the 9th century astronomy flourished in the East, Astronomical researches were conducted in the observatories of Baghdad, Damascus and other places. More original and improved work was done in the second half of the 10th century. The elaboration of trigonometry, which was considered to be a branch of astronomy at that time, was also continued. A great attention was paid to the construction of good astronomical instruments, especially to the spherical astrolabe which was newly introduced at that time. Hamid Ibn ‘Ali was a famous constructor of spherical astrolabes. Jãbir Ibn Sinan was also a maker of this as well as of other astronomical instruments. According to al-Biruni, he was the first to make a spherical astrolabe. Al-Nairizi wrote on this instrument an elaborate treatise which represents the best Arabic work on this topic. In this treatise the author, after giving the introduction, describes the instruments, and gives its applications. Beside this work, al-Nairizi compiled astronomical tables. A great scientist al-Mähani made for 33 years (833—886), a series of observations on lunar and solar eclipses and planetary conjunctions. Another astronomer of this time Ahmad al- Nahâwandi, who flourished at the time of Yahya Ibn Khalid Ibn Barmak, made astronomical observations at Jundishapur and compiled tables called Mushtamil. (16)

After carrying out astronomical observations for ten years (825 to 835) Habash al-Hãsib compiled three astronomical tables. The first were according to the Hindu method (based on Siddhanta). The second called Al-Zij al-Mumtahan (the “tested Tables”) were according to the Arab method. They were very important and were probably due to the co-operative efforts of al-Ma’mun’s astronomers. The third called Al-Zij Al-Saghir (the small tables) was commonly known as the Tables of Shah. Habash al-Hãsib determined the time of the solar eclipse of the year 829. He was the first to determine time by an altitude (in this case, of the sun). This method was generally accepted and adopted by Muslim astronomers. (17)

The most illustrious scholar of this age, and one of the greatest astronomers of Islam, was ‘Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Jãbir Ibn Sinan al-Battãni (Latin; Albategnius, Albatenius). His ancestors were Sabeans of Harran, but he himself was a Muslim. He carried out astronomical observations of a wide range and with remarkable accuracy for about 41 years (877—918). He determined many astronomical co-efficients, like the precession 54.5” a year, inclination of the ecliptic 23° 35’, with great accuracy. He noticed an increase of 16° 47’ in the longitude of the sun’s apogee since Ptolemy’s time. This led to the discovery of the motion of the solar apsides and of slow variation in the equation of time. Al-Battãni proved the possibility of the annular eclipses of the sun. He also wrote many astrological works. His main work is a large astronomical treatise including the astronomical tables. His tables contain a catalogue of fixed stars for the year 880—81. His work is an advance on that of al-Khwãrizmi, and shows more divergence from Indian methods. Observations regarding the first appearance of the new moon, the length of the tropic and sidereal year, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the lunar anomalies, the parallaxes, etc., are more complicated and more accurately made by al-Battãni than by al-Khwãrizmi

Al-Battãni’s astronomical treatise was translated into Latin and Spanish in the 12th and 13th centuries respectively. It exerted a great influence on the European scholars of the middle Ages and Renaissance. (l8)

Thãbit Ibn Qurrah (d. 901) who was a physician, mathematician, astronomer and translator from Greek and Syriac into Arabic published his solar observations made at Baghdad. He particularly determined the altitude of the sun and the length of the solar year. (19)

The astronomer and mathematician Wijan Ibn Rustam al-Kühi wrote many astronomical and mathematical works, including a treatise on the construction of the astrolabe. He was the head of the astronomers working in 988 at the Buwayhid Sharaf al-Dawlah’s observatory. (20) His co-worker Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Saghâni was the inventor and maker of astronomical instruments. Abu’l-Wafã is said to be the discoverer of the variation, the third inequality of the moon; a discovery which was later ascribed to Tycho Brahe. (21)

‘Ali Ibn al-Husain al-’Alawi (d. 985) showed a remarkable accuracy in observations. He compiled astronomical tables which remained very popular for at least two centuries. (22)

Now we come to a famous astronomer of the 10th century, named Abu’l-Husain ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi. He was born in Ray (Persia) in 903, and died in 966. He was a prominent astronomer of the medieval times. His knowledge of both the Islamic and Greek astronomy, particularly uranometry, was comprehensive. He was the first to observe the change of the colour of stars, the change in the magnitude of stars, the proper motion of stars, the long period variable stars and the Southern constellations which have been wrongly ascribed by modern astronomers to some later ones.

Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi was patronized by the Buwayhid ruler Adud al-Dawlah (949—982) who was a great patron of astronomy, and had built an observatory at Shiraz. Al-Sufi wrote for the ruler a book on uranometry, entitled Suwar al-Kawàkib (The book of the fixed stars). In this book he gives a complete description of the constellations of the heavens. He also gives the position of each star of the constellations, illustrating with pictures. The book contains 55 astronomical tables along with illustrations of 48 constellations in 96 diagrams as seen in the heavens. The artistic value of the pictorial illustrations in the Mss. of this work is very great, and represents one of the best examples of the Persian miniature paintings. Al-Sufi has not only corrected the errors of observations in the work of his predecessors like al-Battãni, but also, pointed out many faulty observations found in Ptolemy’s Almagest. He defined carefully the boundaries of each constellation, and recorded the magnitudes and positions of stars after making new observations.

The Suwar al-Kawàkib is one of the three masterpieces of observational astronomy of the medieval times; the other two being the catalogues of Ibn Yünus and Ulugh Beg prepared in the 12th and 15th centuries respectively. It is an addition to the Muslims’ knowledge on uranometry. The later astronomers, like al-Biruni, Alfonso, Prince of Castile, Khwãjah Näsir al-Din Tusi, Prince Ulugh Beg and Jai Singh II, based their catalogues of stars on this authentic catalogue. This work was translated into Latin, French and Persian, and a commentary on it was written in Spanish.

It served as a basis for later works in Western Europe. The modern astronomers like Hauber, Down, Argelander, Ideler, Schellerup and Knobel had made an extensive use of it.

Al-Sufi prepared a fine celestial globe. Several celestial globes which cover the period from the 11th to the 18th century show the star positions and magnitudes according to al-Sufi. He showed a remarkable accuracy in the design of the astrolabes. He wrote a treatise on this instrument. In this treatise he throws light on the astronomical techniques as practiced it that time. (23)

Another great astronomer and one of the greatest Muslim astronomers was Abu’l-Hasan Ali Ibn Abi Said ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Ahmad Ibn Yünus al-Sadafi, generally known as Ibn Yünus. He was well versed in Arabic literature, poetry and history, and had knowledge of many other subjects. He belonged to Egypt where he died in 1009. He was a courtier of the Fatimi Caliph al-‘Aziz Billah (975—996). He got a chance of working in a well-equipped observatory which was the part of a Muslim academy of science, named Dar al-Hikmah (the house of wisdom) founded in Cairo by the Fatimi rulers. He made astronomical observations, and by the order of the Caliph al-‘Aziz he compiled the astronomical tables. The work of compilation of these tables was begun in 990 during the lifetime of the Caliph, but it was completed after his death under his son al- Hakim (966—1020). Hence they were named after him Al-Zij al-Kabir al-Hakimi. In these tables he entered his observations about the eclipses and conjunctions, old and new, improved values of astronomical constants (inclination of the ecliptic, 23° 35’; longitude of the sun’s apogee, 86° 10’; solar parallax reduced from 3’ to 2’; precession, 51.2” a year). He gave an account of the geodetic measurements which were carried on by the order of the Caliph al-Ma’mun in the ninth century.

Ibn Yünus in his astronomical tables (written in 4 volumes) corrected the errors of observations in the astronomical tables of his predecessors. The people of Egypt relied on these tables. It is said that after their compilation the use of all the previous tables in the world was given up. Even the astronomers of China greatly utilized them. The translation of a large part of the tables, except the chronological section, has been made in French in 1804.

Beside these-tables, Ibn Yünus has composed many books. One of these is Jadawil al-Samt (the tables of direction), and the other is the Jadawil al-Shams wa’l-Qamar (the tables of the sun and the moon). (24)

A famous astronomer of the 11th century, who belonged to Cordova (Spain), was Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn Yahya al-Naqqàsh, commonly known as Ibn al-Zarqàli or al-Zarqàli (Latin: Arzachel). He was also an eminent astronomer of this century. He lived from 1029 to 1087. He was the best observer of his time, who made astronomical observations for about 19 years (1061—1080). He invented an improved astrolabe called Safihah (Saphaea Arzachelis) on which he also wrote a treatise. It was translated into Latin, Hebrew and many vernaculars. Al-Zarqàli was the first to prove explicitly the motion of the solar apogee with reference to the stars. According to his calculations it was equal to 12.04” per year (the real value being 11.8”). He edited the planetary tables called Toledan Tables. These tables were probably the result of the observations made in Toledo by him and by a great observer Ibn Said in collaboration with other Muslim and Jewish astronomers. They were translated into Latin and enjoyed much fame. (25)

A famous astronomer, mathematician and poet, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khayyãm, reformed the old Persian calendar which had been replaced by the Islamic calendar after the Muslim conquest of Persia. This reformed calendar was called Al-Tàrikh al-Jalãli after the name of the Saljuq Sultan Malik Shah Jalal al-Din who in 1074-75 called ‘Umar Ibn al-Khayyãm to his observatory for making this reform. Many interpretations have been given to it. Each interpretation is accurate to a certain degree, but at any rate ‘Umar’s calendar was probably more accurate than the Gregorian (Christian) calendar. Three interpretations, the second of which seems to be the most accurate, are being quoted here along with the authority giving the interpretation and the resulting error.

1. Al-Shirãzi’s interpretation: 17 intercalary days in 70 years;’ error. 1 day in about 1540 years.

2. Ulugh Beg’s interpretation: 15 intercalary days in 62 years; error, 1 day in about 3770 years.

3. Modern interpretation: 8 intercalary days in 33 years: error, 1 day in about 5,000

(in the Gregorian calendar there is an error of 1 day in 3330 years). (26)

The greatest astronomer of the 12th century, who also belonged to Spain, was Abu Muhammad Jãbir Ibn Aflah. He was born or lived in Seville. He vigorously criticized the Ptolemaic theory of planets, and wrote a book on astronomy entitled Islah al-Majisti (the correction of the Almagest). He was of the view that the lower planets Mercury and Venus), at least, must have visible parallaxes. Venus may happen to be exactly on the line joining the sun and the earth. The most important part of his book is the introduction on trigonometry. The book was soon translated into Latin and Hebrew. Jãbir Ibn Aflah is said to be the inventor of the astronomical instrument called turquet (torquetum) which contains two graduated circles in two perpendicular planes. The same invention has also been ascribed to two other persons, namely, Frances of Leige (11th century) and Näsir al-Din Tusi (13th century). The turquet was introduced into the Latin West by Regionomentus. It gained a great popularity in the 15th and 17th centuries. (27)

Another astronomer of the time was Abu’l Qãsim Hibat Allah Ibn Husain al-Badi’ al-Asturlãbi. He was also a physician, mathematician, poet and litterateur. He was the greatest expert of his time in the knowledge and construction of astrolabes; hence his nickname al-Asturlãbi. In 1120—30 astronomical observations were made under his direction, and astronomical tables were compiled. The observations were carried out in the palace of the Saljuq Sultan of Iran, Mughith al-Din Mahmud (1117—1131). The tables were dedicated to the Sultan, and were called after him the Mahmudic tables. Al-Asturlãbi was very much praised by Muslim biographers. He died in Baghdad in 1139-40. (28)

In the 13th century there flourished in the East a great scholar of Persian origin, named Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan, Näsir al-Din al-Tusi al-Muhaqqiq, (the researcher). He was born in Tus (Khurasan) in 1201, and died in Baghdad in 1274. He was a philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and physician. He was one of the greatest Muslim mathematicians and scientists. He wrote both in Arabic and Persian. It is said that he knew Greek as well. He joined the Mongol service, and was later made administrator of the Waqf revenues.

While he was administrator he resided at Maragha in Asia Minor (1259—1274). Here he made astronomical observations in an observatory established by the Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan II after he had defeated the last ‘Abbasi Caliph, al-Mu’tasim, in 1258. A library was attached to it. It is said to have contained 4, 00,000 volumes which the Mongol armies had collected in Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Näsir al-Din was the first director of this observatory. He was succeeded by two of his sons.

Näsir al-Din was well acquainted with the knowledge of the Greeks. He wrote about 64 works on many subjects. Here we shall, consider only some of his astronomical and astrological works. The most important astronomical work of Näsir al-Din is the Tadhkirah fi ‘Ilm al-Hay’ah (The description of astronomy) which is a condensed summary of astronomy. To explain it many commentaries and super commentaries have been written. The work enjoyed much popularity, it consists of four chapters. The second chapter, beside other things, contains interesting criticism of the Ptolemy’s Almagest in which he showed a great ingenuity. The criticism chiefly concerns the anomalies of the moon, and the motion in the latitude of the planets (particularly Mercury and Venus) ; also the proposition of a new system to replace the complicated Ptolemaic machinery of deferents and epicycles. His new and forceful criticism of astronomy as well as of other Muslim astronomers helped Copernicus in making his reform’. Näsir al-Din wrote one treatise on the five quadrants and two treatises on astrolabe. He also wrote two treatises on calendar.

Näsir al-Din made observations in the observatory at Maragha which was well equipped with good astronomical instruments. He prepared new astronomical tables called after the Mongol ruler, Al-Zij al-Ilkhäni. Nasir al-Din asked the ruler to give him a period of 30 years to compile the tables, because it was the shortest period during which the planetary cycles were completed. But the ruler refused, and gave him only 12 years to accomplish this task. Nasir al-Din tried a succeeded in completing the tables within this time. They were based upon new observations. But the use of the earlier ones had also been made.

The Zij-i- Ilkhäni was originally written in Persian. It consists of four books dealing respectively with (a) Chinese, Greek, Arabic and Persian Chronology; (b) motions of the planets; (c) ephemeredes and (d) astrological operations. The translation of the Zij was made into Arabic, and commentaries on it were written. Finally, a sort of supplement to it was compiled by Jamshed Ibn Mas’üd al-Käshi (d. 840/1436), the first director of Ulugh Beg’s observatory in Samarqand. These tables enjoyed a great popularity in the East including China, and were, continued to be used even after the compilation of new tables by Ulugh Beg in 1437. (29)

A contemporary of Nasir al-Din, Mu’ayyid al-Din al-Urdi al-Dimashqi also took part with him in compiling the tables. He was a Syrian astronomer, architect and engineer. He started his career as a technician in Syria. He did some hydraulic work in Damascus, and also constructed there an astronomical instrument for al-Mansür Ibrahim (King of Hims, 1239—1245). In about 1259 he went to Maragha, and helped Nasir al-Din in organizing the observatory and compiling the tables. It seems that the instruments, remarkably precise, were constructed under his supervision in the foundry attached to the observatory.

Al-Urdi was the author of a treatise in which he also described the instruments used in the observatory of Maragha, and explained their use and construction. The instruments are as follows:—

(1) mural quadrant (2) armillary sphere (3) solstitial armil (4) equinoctial armil (5) Hipparch’s diopter (alidade); (6) instrument with two quadrants (7) instrument with two limbs (8) instruments to determine sines and azimuths (9) instruments to determine sines and versed sines, (10) the perfect instrument (a universal instrument) (11) parallactic ruler (after Ptolemy).

Al-Urdi was also the author of two other treatises; one on the construction of a perfect sphere and another on the determination of the distance between the centre of the sun and the apogee. He compiled astronomical tables, and wrote on Ptolemaic astronomy.

In 1279 or 1289 al-Urdi’s son Muhammad made a celestial globe. It consisted of two brass hemispheres separated by the ecliptic. Its diameter was 140 mm. It had a horizon circle. Two movable half circles were attached to the zenith point by a pivot. These circles are graduated and are used to determine the declination and right ascension of any star. Forty-eight constellations, the equator and the ecliptic are inlaid with silver or gold. It is preserved in the mathematical salon of Dresden. (30)

The works of Muslim astronomers were later translated into Latin, Hebrew and vernaculars by the Christian and Jewish scholars, some of the technical terms including azimuth (al-Samt), Algol (Alfol), Achernar (Akhir al-Nahr), passed into the European languages. The names of many stars such as akrab (Aqrab), Algedi (al-Jadi, the kid), Altair (al-ta’ir ,the player), Denab (dhanb, tail), Pherkad (Farqad, calf), Adara (‘Adhrah) Aldebaran (al-dibràn), which are of Arabic origin, also passed into these languages. The stars being countless in number, their separate study is not possible. They were, therefore, divided into various groups, and the groups were named after the things and animals with which they resembled.


1. Briffault, Robert , The Making of’ Humanity, Lahore, 1980, p. 187.

2. Encyclopedia Britannica, London, Vol. II, p.575.

3. Abu’l Hasan Ali Ibn Yusuf , Al-Qifti , Tàrikh al-Hikmah,’ Leipzig, 1903, p. 265.

Sarton, George, Introduction to the History of Science, Washington 1927, vol. I. p. 530.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid, p. 563.

6. Al-Qifti, op. cit., 57.

7. Ibid., p. 327.

Sarton, op. cit. p. 531.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid. p. 557.

Haji Khalifah, Kashf al-Zunün, Istanbul, 1943, vol. II, p. 1594.

10. Sarton, op. cit., p. 562.

11. Ibid, p. 558.

12. Shibli Nu’mani, Al-Ma’mun, Agra, 1894, pp. 49— 50,

13. Ibn Nadeem, Al-Fehrist, Matba’ah al-Rahmaniyah, Cairo, n.d.. p. 383.

14. Shibli Nu’mani, op. cit. pp. 49—50

Sarton, op. cit. p. 566.

15. Ibid.

16. Sarton, op. cit.. p. 585.

17. Al-Qifti, op. cit. p. 170.

18. Ibid, p. 280.

Sarton, op. cit. p. 5858.

19. Ibid., p. 599.

20. Al-Qifti, op. cit. p. 351.

21. Sarton, op. cit. p. 666.

22. Ibid.

23. A1-Süfi, ‘Abd al-Rahman, Swar al-Kawàkib, Hyderabad, preface by M. Nizamuddin, and J.J. Winter, pp. 1-7.

24. Al-Qifti, op. cit., p. 226.

25. A1-Qifti, op. cit., p. 230.

26. Sarton, op. cit., p. 758,

27 Ibid., p.759

28. Ibid, vol. II, part I, p. 206.

29. Ibid., part I, p. 204.

30. Al-Baghdadi, Isma’il Bãshã, Hadiyyat al-‘Arifin, Istanbul, 1951, vol. II, p. 131.

31. Sarton, op. cit. vol. II, part II, p. 1005.

32. Ibid., pp. 1013-1014.

Cruise Ship Reviews – Part 1

Cruise Ship Reviews on the New 2006 Cruise Line OfferingsIf you think this is a kind cruise ship reviews, then think again! We are only giving you the benefit of advanced knowledge for your plans of cruise travel for the year.
Well, what are you waiting for? Here are the six largest cruise lines with their new cruise ships.However, it is the first to be designed for the said cruise lines Signature of Excellence program.The Noordam can accommodate 1,848 passengers. For this new cruise ship, there are design enhancements made for more pleasure and enjoyment of cruise passenger travelers. The design enhancements were focused mainly on the public areas and staterooms, the meeting point of many of the cruise travelers.There are also additions, like the very popular Explorations Caf. As cruise passengers are well aware of, it is a coffee bar/Internet caf, game room, and library. The New York Times powers all the Explorations Caf.2. Norwegian Cruise Lines Americas Pride of Hawaii
This new cruise ship for 2006 by NCL America is the sister vessel of the Norwegian Jewel.Its launching is to be on June. This passenger ship is expected to accommodate 2,224 passengers. It will be the next step in Norwegian Cruise Lines Americas Freestyle Cruising concept.NEWS UPDATES3. The Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas
This new 2006 cruise ship will be launched on May.The Freedom of the Seas both will have new and enhanced amenities for the passengers pleasure. There is already an ongoing hype among the cruise travelers about its surf park feature.Bonuses
* Extensive WiFi capabilities and connectivity for cell phones. Because when you’re on vacation it’s great fun to let the folks at home know what they’re missing.
* Staterooms and balconies that are among the largest in the industry. Plenty of room to relax and plan your adventures.
* A full-size, flat-screen TV in every stateroom. But then again, with all the incredible vacation activities to explore, try not to be too disappointed if you have trouble finding time to turn it on.4. The Crown Princess of New Princess Cruises
For the satisfaction of 2006 cruise travelers, the Crown Princess is expected to accommodate 3,110 cruise travel passengers.New pastries and snacks will adorn the International Caf. Crown Princess will then have the first ever wine and seafood bar of the cruise line.Crown Princess will sail roundtrip from the Red Hook terminal in New York. It will make stops at the Eastern Caribbean and the Bermuda and Turks and Caicos.5. MSC Musica
MSC will launch their new cruise ship for the year 2006 quite late in the year, on July 01. Musica is an Italian ship that will bring MSC into the ranks of big cruise ships. It is expected to accommodate 2,550 passengers.It will also feature a large spa area. The Musicas cruise travel passengers will also have several dining options. They will also enjoy a three deck high waterfall and many different entertainment venues.6. The Costa Cruises Costa Concordia
This new 2006 cruise ship is owned by Carnival Corporation, which is based in Italy.For the inspiration of its travel passengers, the Costa Concordia will have European architecture theme for its interior dcor. All the rooms names will be European inspired or oriented. They will have the Grand Bar Berlin, Cafeteria Helsinki, and the Milan and Rome dining rooms.Are you jumping with excitement as to when it will start sailing? This new cruise ship will sail year round in the Western Mediterranean. It will head for Romes Civitavecchia port.

Cant decide? Well, check out our other cruise ship reviews of these new cruise ships to find out where you will spend your 2006 cruise travel.

How tipping works

Tipping has several debatable origins. Evidence suggests it originated in ancient Rome. Another explanation from www.straightdope.com, says it is from the eighteenth century. A Dr. Johnson that had a box marked “to insure prompt service”, at his local coffee shop would put coins in there before leaving, if service was satisfactory. Even the acronym is argued as being correct. Tipping came to America from England, but after the Revolution was looked down on for a time because it was given to those of lower class.

I spoke to several wait staff and it seems that there are several things common to tipping. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between male or female tippers, even though the old rule of thumb used to be 15% paid by women and 20% paid by men. Women are showing they can be equal after all. All agreed that tipping indicates the level of service shown the customer and waiters work hard to get the most from each table. It seems to be in agreement among all the wait staff that I spoke to, that seniors and some ethnic groups are the cheapest when it comes to tipping too.

Restaurants have difference policies when it comes to tips. In many European restaurants a gratuity is automatically added to the bill, regardless of the number of diners. Here in America, many restaurants automatically add a gratuity of 10%-15% for groups of 6 or more. Claiming tips for tax purposes is handled in several ways too, but most restaurants require the server to claim tips charged on credit cards. It is usually left up to the server to decide how much they claim in tips paid in cash. I think most decide a lot less than what they make and rule in their own favorduh! Most service type jobs that accept tips rely on tipping for most of their income and work hard to earn them.

Tips are usually shared among all the staff, in a restaurant. If a restaurant has an open table policy, meaning that all wait-staff help all tables, the tips are distributed among all the wait staff, bussers and cooks, in varying percentages. If tables are assigned to designated waiters, the tips are only split up between that wait person and their bussers and sometimes the cook, if they are smart. My own experience showed that the more you share the money, the faster and warmer your customer’s food was when you served it and the more you get in tips!

What is a good rule as to how much to tip? I say use 20% as the rule and vary it more or less depending on quality of service. Sometimes a server will go the extra mile that deserves that extra recognition of a couple more dollars. Then there are the times where you wish you never walked in the door. I was once on a travel trip with a college swim team and we stopped at Denny’s for breakfast. There was a group of about 10 of us and we were jovial, but well behaved. We had a server that was the meanest and grouchiest old woman that had obviously gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that day! As a result, we left her two pennies under an upside down glass of water. That was a perfect expression of the quality of service she gave!

An Evening In Rome: How To Enjoy Rome As A Tourist After Dark!

You might envision Rome as ancient-historic city of marble walls and roman ruins, but the Italian Capital really turns Romantic, Outlandish, Marvelous, Enamoring, after dark. Rome may not offer you the craziest twilight funs, yet the city has enough to entertain you after dark. Rome certainly has bars, pubs, and clubs, but they come into action late night.

The best and traditional twilight recreations are evening strolls or sightseeing jaunts. Rome is awesome, and its beauty is tempting during dusky hours. The sites, just to name a few, such as Colosseum (Colosseo), Roman Forum (Foro Romano), Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), Castel Sant’ Angelo, and the Vittorio Emanuel II Monument in Piazza Venezia are awe-inspiring and worth seeing in the city lights. However, if you are looking to explore something new other than the prime attractions of Rome after dark, you may find lots of unexplored treasures. The city’s piazzas become extremely lively in the twilights.

You may start your twilight treasure hunt with a visit to Piazza Campo Dei Fiori, a rectangular piazza (square) near Piazza Navona; across the street from Piazza Navona, actually between Piazza Navona and Piazza Farnese. The Piazza Campo Dei Fiori, surrounded by great bars, restaurants, eateries, ice cream stands, boutiques and shops, is a popular destination at night for locals and foreigners, and gets overfilled during evenings. The piazza is a good place to watch new people, Romans, Roman culture, and to have a glass of wine, if you are lucky enough to get a seat in any of bars, or else do as Romans do; get your drink and enjoy it outside.

Piazza Navona, a city square in Rome becomes a magical place after dark. It’s really a nice place to hang out in the evenings. The piazza is pride of Rome with the sculptural and architectural master creations, such as Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center of the piazza by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi. Additionally, the fountains – the Fontana di Nettuno, located at the northern area of the Piazza, and the Fontana del Moro, located at the southern end of the piazza. The Piazza Navona is a wonderful place to spend an evening out. The bars and cafés between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona are the worth visiting points during nights.

Piazza Venezia is another worth visiting lovely piazza in central the Rome. Taking its name from the adjacent Palazzo Venezia, the large is by the imposing Victor Emmanuel II monument. It’s really awful awing! Next, you can visit Piazza Barberini featuring Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain. Of course, not to be missed Piazza San Pietro or Saint Peter’s Square that is located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican City.

Testaccio is little far-out tourist point, but developing popular with young "evening outers". The 20th rione of Rome, Testaccio is has been a center of activity for butchers and has many nightclubs. The rione is fast growing popular because of the area in & around Monte Testaccio with a great variety of night clubs and discos. Trastevere, the 13th rione of Rome, is another great place for evening hour fun. Famous for its pubs and restaurant, the region is extremely popular with both Italians and foreigners.

The Spanish Steps are the nice to end up your after dark jaunt. Climbing between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, the Spanish Steps serve as rendezvous point for late-nighters, particularly romanticists and lovers. You can often find the steps full of activity; people sitting, eating gelatos, drinking, chattering, and laughing, and passionate lovers snuggling.

How to save money while visiting Rome – Part 5

If you’re looking to save money when visiting Rome, there are a few tips to keep in mind. These include tips regarding transportation, lodgings, dining, and even water.

Number One: Lodgings. When first arriving at the airport in Rome, you will have to take some sort of transportation into the city. My bus ride took about forty-five minutes. We arrived at night, and we were exhausted having come from the U.S. and been on a connecting flight from London.

When we arrived at the airport, therefore, we immediately went to a booking station inside the airport. When you approach these kiosks, you are asked how much you would like to spend per night, and then the employees book a hotel for you through a computer. This is an excellent service, but there are ways to save money. Keep your wits about you and you could come out getting a great deal. Low-ball your estimate of what you’d like to spend. If a number comes to mind, cut in by one-third and see what comes up. Ask for something that’s on the subway line, but not within the main tourist area. These hotels are likely to have bigger rooms with bathrooms in them (a definite plus) for far less than Rome.

In addition, off-the-beaten-path hotels will likely have small local family-owned restaurants nearby who will be very appreciative of your business. A hotel we found featured a woman who spoke five languages and an up-all-night bakery/dessert shop right across the street. The restaurant around the corner took Euros, American dollars and American Express Traveler’s Checks we hadn’t had a chance to convert to Euros. We spent a couple of dollars on the subway fare for the day and rode about ten minutes into the city.

Another great way to save money on lodgings once you’ve settled into your first hotel (if you plan on staying in more than one), is to go to the Rome Termini station (the main train station which connects all of Italy in a vast rail network). Representatives from area hotels will be on hand trying to coax you out of line at the booking kiosks with deals at their own hotels, armed with brochures. Politely decline their offers several times and watch them keep lowering the price. Then offer to take the room, but only if you can have that low rate for two nights instead of one. My husband and I got a $150 a night room for $60 a night using the “no, thanks” method.

Number Two: Food

There are some absolutely wonderful restaurants in Italy, of course, where you can actually

Feeding the poor today and everyone on the planet tomorrow: What are the issues, and what can be done to avert a global food crisis? – Part 1

A hungry man is an angry man there goes the old adage.This saying was recently proved correct in Haiti when people took to the streets in protest of food price hikes.Food price hikes are caused by lack of adequate food supplies. As I write this article now the world’s food reserves are dwindling. When food banks dwindle the poor would be hardest hit.The poor can not afford the exorbitant prices charged on the scarce food.

The governments of various countries of this proud planet earth must crack their heads in finding solutions to feed the poor today.It doesn’t need spectacles to see that the poor are the majority than the rich in this world.The individual countries should map the strategies to feed the poor today and everyone else on the planet tomorrow.Teach him to fish rather than giving him the fish everyday should be the way forward. The governments of the world should teach the poor proper farming methods.

The means of production which is the land should be equitably distributed.Funds or loans should be available to small scale farmers without strings attached.Food for work schemes proved a success in Zimbabwe. This is a scheme whereby those who could not afford to buy food could work in community identified projects for a fee or in exchange for food . This really worked and the poor were assured of food on their tables by the end of the working week.Governments can also feed the poor by empowering them with farming skills and irrigation equipment.They can even put in place feeding schemes for the poor.

In order to feed everyone on the planet tomorrow and to avert a global food crisis, the world leaders should come up with viable solutions to have influx of food supply in the world.The enterprising solutions can be the one implemented in China of developing high yielding hybrid rice varieties.This method worked in feeding the Chinese in the hunger of the 1960.It can still work in this modern era.To date China is the hybrid world leader and India is following suit.Scientists should work round the clock to develop new fertilizers, chemicals and agricultural equipments which are environmental friendly so as to control climate change.

Scientists likewise should look to the deserts for more farming land. By this I beg to say they should try to pursue the Israel experience of farming in the desert.All the countries must be bound by the Rome declaration of 1996 which affirms the need for world food security and to promote a fair world trade

Travel destinations: Rome, Italy – Part 9

I visited Rome for the first time last November. As a Roman history buff, visiting Rome was the highlight of my Italian trip. On my first night in Rome I took a self-guided walking tour and became hopelessly lost. I discovered amazing architecture, a plethora of ancient fountains, and wonderful family owned restaurants and gelato shops. I was fascinated by the wonderful confluence of the ancient and modern as Romans rushed by me in designer clothing while talking on cell phones, surrounded by two thousand year old streets and sculpture. I did finally find my way back to my hotel, but my five hour trek took me all over the city and gave me a good working knowledge of its layout.

The next day I spent most of my time at the Palatine Hill. This was by far my favorite part of my stay in Rome, because it was truly like traveling back in time. I purchased a double ticket for the Palatine and the Coliseum. The line to get into the Coliseum stretched completely around the massive structure, so I decided to tackle the Palatine Hill first. There was no line to enter, and it was just like walking into a history book. I felt like I had entered the pages of Robert Graves’, I, Claudius. I was completely amazed by the palace ruins. The Palatine Hill is where the emperors of Rome resided for hundreds of years, and the palace and its ground is in remarkably good shape. I was breathless at the thought that I was walking on the very same mosaic tile that Emperor Augustus and Queen Livia walked, before the time of Christ.

The House of Livia and Augustus still stands a little way away from the palace. It is completely intact, standing white against the green hills just as it always has. This is the house that Augustus lived in before the construction of the palace. The house occasionally admits visitors, but it was undergoing renovations when I was there. The palace balconies offer spectacular views of the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, the Arch of Constantine, the dome of St. Peter’s, and the ancient chariot raceway. Even in November, the Palatine gardens were blooming and the olive trees gave off a lovely exotic scent.

I spent hours exploring the hill and then I descended to the Forum and marveled at the ruins of the ancient trade hub on my way to find some authentic Roma pizza for a late lunch. There are many options for pizza in Rome; I stopped at the first one I came to that had Italians eating al fresco and brick oven baking. Everyone should eat

Classical Italy

I’ve always dreamed to go to Italy. Luckily, dreams do come true. One day my boyfriend and I went to the travel agency and purchased 2 tourist vouchers. To. The. Wonderful. Italy. I was beside myself with joy. “Classical Italy”- Venice, Padua, Florence, Rome and San-Marino. We were told there were 17 people in our group, one guide and a witty driver. Quite a company.

From the airport we were delivered to the tiny Italian town in the surroundings of Venice. Many people in our group were dissatisfied with the fact that we were to spend 2 nights in “a countryside”. But I was really glad as I wanted to feel the spirit of real Italy. Besides, the hotel (better to say, a boarding house) was very nice and the hostess was hospitable and kind. We spent there 2 days – enough to fall in love with the local quiet way of life. Every day in the restaurant nearby gathered handsome (very handsome!) black-haired Italians. They dined, talked very loudly and emotionally and drank the local spirit – grappa. Some people oppose Italian expressiveness to their courtesy. They really speak loudly but it doesn’t prevent them from being polite!

But let’s come back to our journey. In the morning we went to Venice. The city fascinated me! After the city sightseeing tour we began to stroll along the streets leading to the city squares. Interesting to mention that there’s only one square, which is calle “piazza” – Piazza San Marco, thus emphasizing its particular status in the eyes of the Venetians. Other squares are called “campo” (“meadow”). They really resemble meadows rather than squares. Narrow streets (“calle”) go different ways from them.

We couldn’t resist a temptation to go out boating. Venetian gondolas are famous all over the world but Venetian gondoliers are even more famous! It seems that their look serves as a main criterion for the employment…they are tall, handsome and dressed in snow-white shirts. What a picture! I was told they are unsurpassed singers. And it turned out to be true. The only minus is the price. 45 minutes of pure pleasure cost us 100 EUR. But it is really worth that!

Then we moved to Florence. Frankly speaking it didn’t impress me as much as Venice, Rome or even Padua…I think that’s because it is too big and noisy. It doesn’t of course mean that I didn’t like it at all…the most interesting moment was the ascent of Santa Maria Del Fiore. It was no easy task but we were rewarded by the splendid view opening from the height!

The most impressive city was of course Rome, where we stayed for three days. We planned the routs beforehand and then tried to stick to them although we sometimes turned aside from the initial route when something interesting appeared in our field of view. We managed to visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forums, the Capitolium, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican. I was slightly disappointed by the Colosseum. I think that’s because one should better go there at night when there’s no crowds of tourists and the barricading gratings are not seen…I can’t tell you about everything we saw in the city…Rome simply made me fall in love with it. All the places we visited afterwards didn’t impress me as much as the Italian capital did!…

When we took a plane home I had to control myself not to give way to tears. I preferred to think that the two coins I threw in the Trevi Fountain would certainly help me to come back to Rome!