Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vicenza March 2011

loved this veronese piece of a painting

it's all about Palladio in Vicenza

12th century house - Casa Pigafetta. he was an explorer who traveled with magellan!

scene in center of town

Palladium building

and more Palladio

every now and then Venetian architecture pops up

took train from Venice (about an hour, if you take fast train).  the 3 star Palladio theatre was closed for the day, due to repairing of the fire alarm system rrrrrghhh. this did not make us happy, but there are some nice museums there including one which had an unbelievable collection of Russian icons. They were beautifully displayed in a baroque building. Quite impressive.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ferrara March 2011

medieval duomo with a glorious facade

inside courtyard of the palazzo municipio, if you look straight through the archway you are looking at the cathedral (duomo)

side of duomo with the loggia dei Merciai  with 15 century shops, above which is the portal of the months. The door contained the 12 months sculpted in gorgeous panels. Luckily the panels are still intact and are in the museo del duomo. they are all men portraying activities from respective months; harvesting vegetable, harvesting grapes, riding a horse etc. Museum also contained the painted doors of the church organ by cosme tura depicting st. george slaying the dragon and the annunciation. beautiful

Medieval street- via delle volte (archways)

Lunch -5 star pumpkin ravioli at the Osteria della Campana, so good and a cute place

Palazzo dei Diamanti, wonderful renaissance facade

Castle Estense belonging to the D'Este family the rulers of ferrara from 1200's-1598

Had a great day in Ferrara. Took train (hour or so) from Venice. Saw a lot including a tour of the medieval (redone) synagogues. 2 out of 4 are still surviving, although visitors can only visit 1. Ferrara welcomed the Jews when they were thrown out of Spain in 1492. It has always been a sophisticated city of learned men and the D'Este were great patrons of the Arts. We toured the centro storico and then walked all over the "renaissance" town well planned in the 15th century.  In 1995 Ferrara was declared a World Heritage Site. lots to see and absorb there, well worth a visit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

paestum, Italy March 4, 2011

Greek Ruins of Paestum

side of temple

One of the two large Greek Temples

Roman road

fabulous temple 

temple with view of the lovely campagna countryside

we had the place to ourselves

really, really pretty setting

famous "truffatore"  (diver) greek fresco (C 480 B.C.) Not supposed to symbolize a person diving but diving from one world to the next. in wonderfully restored museum

museum had great treasures and had a huge room filled with painted tomb slabs from the surrounding area. these were neither greek nor roman but from the  Lucanians (4th century b.c.) must have been 30 or more of them.

Paestum goes back to the  6th century b.c founded by the Greeks, then into the hands of the Lucanians followed by the Romans (273 b.c).  It was destroyed by the saracens (877a.d) and was buried. Was rediscovered in the 18th century. The ruins are in great shape and the temples of hera and neptune are so huge and beautiful. Columns are enormous in diameter and extremely high.  We took local train from salerno to paestum,  in the early afternoon, was an easy (but very crowded) train ride and you are left off about a half-mile from the entrance.  We toured the site and museum and the rains came (and never stopped!) only when we were walking back to the station

salerno, italy - Duomo San Matteo and ceramics March 2011

duomo salerno

beautiful arcaded courtyard of duomo

1173 cosmatesque ambo of which there were two 

very elaborately frescoed crypt which houses the body of St. Matthew bought here in 954

nice mosaic of saint Matthew

On a pouring  Saturday morning we forced ourselves out of the hotel. First stop was via taxi (very short ride) to Vietri to check out the pottery and pick up a few bowls with an animal theme. Got 10 of them, all different. Then we forged on  to see the medieval cathedral (founded in 845 rebuilt in 1076-85) of St Matthew. Lovely church and St Matthew is buried in the crypt under the high altar. The outside photos are washed out since the rain was pouring down. We then tried to visit the Diocesan Museum and the archeological museum and they were both closed when they were supposedly open. We got soaked looking for a restaurant but we found a small, good place where we warmed up with a bottle of red wine, good food (soup, fresh pasta, veggies, cantucci and passito) while having the heaters blasting at our feet and our wet clothes.

frog bowl
turtle bowl
my favorite - the hedgehog bowl

Friday, March 18, 2011

more of tuscany - monte oliveto and pienza Feb 2011

the benedictine abbey at monet oliveto maggiore is famous for its frescoed cycle of the life of St Benedict. frescoes are by signorelli and sodoma. wonderful. painted from 1497-1508

just 3 of the great 41 frescoes

loved the two wanderers in the desert on the right

the great balze cliffs

fran and bill freezing in pienza

the walls and view from pienza

the always gorgeous tuscan country side with monte amiata in the distance with snow

pienza - we have been fed and ready to go on to next adventure

tuscan countryside

went to abbey to see the famous frescoes by signorelli and sodoma. They seemed even more vibrant than I last remembered.  we  then had a gorgeous drive to pienza for lunch and a  cold walk. Headed home and were treated to more beautiful scenery.

san gimignano, volterra (tuscany) Feb 2011

just outside the wall of san gimignano

2 of the remaining 13 (there were 76) medieval towers in san gimignano

we took refuge in the museo civico as it was raining. museum is in the 13th century town hall. this fresco is by Lippo Memmi. on second floor in the Camera del Podesta is  a lovely fresco cycle around the  theme of love. 

back courtyard of museum, umbrellas up!

we moved on to volterra after lunch in san gimignano. it was freezing, raining, some snow and windy. great conditions to visit the medieval center. no crowds to deal with. stayed inside looking at alabaster which the city is famous for and has been producing for thousands of years

Volterra main square and site of the alabaster cooperativa which was enriched by our visit

while we had been to these 2 medieval tuscan cities before, they are as beautiful as ever. Weather could have been better but the four of us (scott,me, fran, bill ) are hardy travelers.

san galgano, tuscany

the always lovely san galgano

was once a cistercian church, lost its roof in the 17th century

the ruins are very evocative 

great Gothic arches

wonderful stone ceiling in the romanesque church on the hill next to San Galgano
on our way to Colle di Val D'elsa (just outside Siena) we stopped to see the always lovely roofless San Galgano Church which dates back to the early 1200's. Had been many years since our last visit