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Where have they gone, little animals?

After Hungarary, Mother and I went to Venezia for a day, and then checked out some of the sights of Padova. These included the Orto Botanico, which dating from 1545 is the oldest university botanical garden in the world. It has a nice section of medicinal plants, one of poisonous plants and a still living palm tree of which Göethe (of Faust fame) made drawings. We also saw the Cappella degli Scrovegni, a chapel that some noble named Enrico Scrovegni built and dedicated to the Virgin as a way to buy his dad, mentioned in Dante's Inferno as a famous usurer, out of hell. He got the artist Giotto, also mentioned in the Divine Comedy, to paint it in 1303 and it is considered one of the bestest European masterpieces. Most interesting though are the preservation techniques employed: the building the sealed air-tight, temperature and humidity regulated and only 25 people are allowed in at a time for 15 minutes, after waiting 15 minutes for the atmosphere to stabilise. Much better than the crap in Pisa.

I then put Mama on a train to Austria and proceeded to work hard for a week (true!).

Saturday just been Linus from the office and I went to hang out with our mate San Franga in Assisi. After a 4am start we got to the station, 2km out of Assisi proper, at 11am. First stop was the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, a basilica built over 2 old churches. The first one, San Damiano, is where Francis named St. Clare the Bride of Christ (and thus set events in motion for Australians to be subjected to a crap TV miniseries) and where when he finally lost the plot reckoned a Byzantine crucifix came to life and spoke to him (more later). Due to this, the pope of the day decreed that anyone who prayed in this church would be absolved of ALL SINS. Thus, I did humbly pray to find a place where I could buy a can of Coke, and yea, I was free of sin and a pure soul. The other church under the basilica roof is where Francis died at age 35, after which some guy named Thomas said he had received the 5 wounds of Christ, thus being the first person with stigmata. However, no-one else knew anything about this. Hmmm...

Anyway, from here we set off for Assisi proper, and lo, not far on our journey I did find a place to buy a can of Coke! My prayer was answered! Yea, holy day! To get to Assisi we cut across many a field to get the best photos of the town, but I was still pure as that was trespass against farmers, not God. However, when we got to town I had perfectly natural I mean evil, evil, wrong, guilty thoughts about lady tourists in warm weather gear, and was damned to hell again. Eh, I was pure for a hour or so.

Assisi is the most picturesque, beautifully preserved, complete walled medieval city I have seen and thus well worth a visit. We headed through the stone building lined streets to the Basilica di Santa Chiara (St. Clare) where the San Damiano crucifix is stored. Now, the cross itself isn't any lifelike statue stuck to bits of wood, it's a 2D affair with a cartoon-like JC painted on it. When Francis reckoned this spoke to him, he should have gone back to his dealer and said "Hook me up with more of that fine, fine smoke, ai!" St. Clare's crypt in the basement is beautiful and the flying buttress set up of the basilica is quite unique.

From here, we hiked back through the city to the Piazza del Comune, the central square, for a thick, Umbria region style pizza. On one side of the square is the Tempio di Minerva, a Roman temple from the 1st century BC that was converted to a Christian church when this become trendy. Thus, it has been a place of worship continuously for about 2,100 years.

We then went to the Basilica di San Francisco, which had some nice frescoes. The tomb was skillfully designed and very atmospheric, but this I believe was artificially enhanced by a CD of subtle "subterranean" sounds. Nice one. Finally, we went to a monastery just south of town set amongst olive plantations. There was much more to see, but train times must be (somewhat) obeyed and that was a day.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
James shows his quality.
Of interest today, my good friend Jimmy P has just run with the bulls in Spain, thus forever proving he is no ponce. I have added his travel log to the links for those who want his minutely detailed description.
Jul. 11th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC)
Re: James shows his quality.
Thanks for the props dude. In the spirit of increased webification, I've returned the linky favour!
Jul. 11th, 2007 07:31 am (UTC)
your images are becoming very good my dear boy, have you been studying up on your photography, the use of the rule of thirds, framing, alignment are just wonderful, or was it just pure coincedence, like the image of Jesus at the traffic lights.
Jul. 11th, 2007 11:09 am (UTC)
I was unfamiliar with the Rule of Thirds, but I have been putting some thought into composition when taking picks. This rule seems to be along the lines of what I've tried to do.

I was thinking of that very incident you mention when I wrote this. If this was 1200 AD and I declared a slightly different version of events to the world, I too would be a saint.
Jul. 18th, 2007 09:48 am (UTC)
glad to hear great minds think alike. I read James' book (oops Blog)entry on spain. When will you be heading that way.
Rule of thirds is just that, 3 equal parts. used mainly with landscape images. you have done very well.
Jul. 18th, 2007 10:20 am (UTC)
Sadly, no Spain time this trip...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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