Two weeks ago in the in the ancient Forum of Rome my attention was caught by the bright red of this Japonica (one of my very favourite Ikebana flowers). It seemed so strange to see this beautiful flower of winter, in a place where it would not have been known 2000 thousand years ago. 

While in Italy I was very conscious of the absence of open garden spaces in the old cities. I really missed seeing freely growing plants. Traditionally gardens were private and enclosed within courtyards. I also saw how western ideas of beauty, in architectural terms, are based on the symmetry of the temples of ancient Greece and Rome, and that these ideas became translated to the visual arts. Having visited Pompeii and Herculaneum I also realised from those ancient ruins that decoration was extended to all surfaces of buildings especially internal, but external surfaces also.

Below is a fresco decoration in a house in Herculaenum

This next image is the idea carried to its Baroque extreme in the 'Chinese Room' in the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte in Naples.

Here are the breathtaking mosaics on the ceiling of St Mark' Basilica in Venice.

When we visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples I was amazed at the beauty and quality of the glassware excavated from Herculaneum. This stunning piece must have been 30cms high and in perfect condition.

It reminded me of a vase I had noticed in the apartment of our friends Renata and Elio in Naples. So I couldn't resist reworking last week's flowers in it to make an ikebana to acknowledge the history of the place.

Greetings from Christopher
26th January (Australia Day) 2013

* The title of this week's blog is the title that was given to our tour in Italy.


Here we are in Naples, a busy crowded city by the sea with a beautiful coast line stretching away to the south past Mt Vesuvius and the dramatic islands across the bay.

I have had limited success with the technology and so I cannot show you any of my photos of the city. However I am able to share with you an ikebana I made here in a royal blue cut crystal bowl. Because the bowl is so strong visually I have made a simple arrangement within its embrace.

Greetings from Christopher
Naples19th January 2013.


I have been instructed by a person under 30 years old and can now load pictures from my ipad. The technology isn't as straight forward as my laptop. However, here are some Christmas decorations from Rome that I wanted to include last week.

The second image is of some persimmons I saw near the church of St Francis at Assisi.            

This weeks 'ikebana' is of a single rose on a stem that I saw in the court-yard of the convent where we are staying inVenice.

Greetings from Christopher 13th January 2013.


I am writing from Prato in Italy where today the temperature was 9 degrees C. This is a dramatic difference to my home in Torquay where the temperature has been 41 degrees. Laurie and I are on a 10 week holiday in Europe where we have begun with a two week tour led by Professor Bernard Hoffert of Monash University. We are busy, starting early every day to visit galleries, churches and other historical sites.

Unfortunately I have not mastered the new technology of an ipad to be able to show you some pictures from our travels. I hope in the next week or two to be able to do so.

My ikebana arrangement this week is of five 'disbud' chrysanthemums in a shallow bowl by Philip Elson.

Greetings from Christopher 
6th January 2013