Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 60: Don and Linda Go to Church

Yesterday we roamed the streets of Ravenna, on the eastern coast of Italy. Ravenna is a very lovely place and justifiably famous for its mosaics.

I was feeling lazy yesterday, and there were rain clouds forming overhead. Linda had the good sense to nag me into doing the full-on tourist bit, and the four hours we spent there were really quite nice. We even got back on the ship about 20 minutes before the downpour started.

Most of the tourist places are churches, and we saw some lovely ones. For some reason, LK keeps calling the cherub pictured at the top of this "Little Angel Baby Donny". I don't see any resemblance myself, but she insists the hairline matches.

When I am on a reasonable Internet connection, I will upload some of the pictures to Shutterfly, and I think you will like them. Not sure if it will be obvious, but almost everything that looks like a painting is in fact a mosaic.

They are quite remarkable when you see them in person - glistening and reflecting light, and I hope a little of that comes across in the pictures.

One spot we visited is the tomb of Dante. Apparently the poet's bones have had a very active history, as the pope tried to bring them back to Rome and the Ravennans (Ravens?) tried to hide them. Then they were misplaced for a couple of centuries, and finally located a century or two ago. Even in the middle of WWII, they got moved around from one place to another. I am not altogether sure, but with my limited translation skills I believe we were looking at where he USED to be buried not where his bones actually are.

Next to that tomb was a church run by the order of Friars Minor Conventual. Those were the Franciscans who were the first to decide I was not meant to be a man of God when they kicked me out of their seminary. Their church sucked compared to all the rest.

The most beautiful church we saw was the Basilica de St. Vitale. Its architecture is fantastic, and it has beautiful mosaics - even the floors are tiled in rich colors. It also houses the famous statue of Little Angel Baby Donny ("Angelo Bambino Donni").

Throughout the walkabout I couldn't help but think how times have changed. The craftsmanship and the time dedicated to building and decorating these churches is so seldom seen today. Hundreds of years ago, the artists and craftsmen did things few would do today.

I guess that was most evident at the final church we visited, the Basilica de S. Apollinaire Nuovo. (I believe that translates as the Basilica of Saint Apollo Creed.) If ever there were a picture the Church would not be likely to hang today, I think this one must be high on its list.

Anyhow - Venice tomorrow. Probably will miss a day's posting. Have fun. We will.

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