Monday, November 30, 2015


Among other things Lucca has the most intact (and most lovely) wall.  It is very wide and is a glorious place to stroll.  It is also the birthplace of Puccini, and we were lucky enough to be able to attend a concert of arias by Puccini the evening we were in the town.

As we entered the town, I took this picture which reminds me of a street scene in Beijing (odd, right?).

From our hotel window, I was able to take these two photos of San Michele in Foro (foro means "forum"; the church was built on a Roman forum). I didn't even have to lean so far as to cause D palpitations.

Wonderful designs.  I still don't know how these are created; I'll ask Sharon tomorrow and see if she has an answer (should have thought about that many photos ago).

This is St.Michael whose wings move.

Two more pictures of the outside of the church:

Looking up from the street:

A small gargoyle and friends:

An unexpected design element in an out-of-the-way place on the church.  /Check out the brick work full of different angles.

  A delightful clock:

A really outstanding bit of bas relief on, if I remember correctly, a bank.

Just an interesting building with great windows:

A clock/bell tower and other assorted pictures of the town:

It's only right to end with Puccini:

Tomorrow - Florence!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Last Photos from Pisa

This will be the day for "insides" - the inside of the Baptistery, the Duomo, and the Cemetery. The first five photos are from the Baptistery.

Just in case one gets too full of one's self, here's this not so subtle reminder - but beautifully rendered!

A small building full of beautifully rendered sculptures.

And the reminder that we are humans who leave things lying around and that we have a sense of humor . . .These lovely precise patterns and a knotted coil of rope.  

Into the Duomo and another spectacular ceiling.  By this time, we know to expect every surface to be heavily decorated.  But it still makes us catch our breath at the splendor.  This series starts with the ceiling from the nave,  Then there are two photos of the ceiling seen through an archway. 

Light from the stained glass window paints a column.

Even the back of the wooden seats in the choir are decorated - each different.  Here are three.  Unfortunately, I snapped the picture of the third just as I was moving away so it isn't crisp, but I wanted you to see how the patterns change.

The entry to the Camposanto Monumentale or what we just called a cemetery.

When we walked out of there (and I am sparing you a lot of photos), we saw this flock of pigeons launch themselves off the roof of the Baptistery.

Out in the street, we saw this:

And these lovely flowers in the parking lot.

From Pisa we went on to Lucca to turn in our car, spend the night, and catch the train to Firenze (Florence) the following day.  You know what to expect!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Little More Pisa

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  May your family and friends be legion, and may you be thankful for and aware of all your talents (of which keeping family happy and friends glad to be with you are definitely two!).

Here is a picture of the Baptistery and the side of the Duomo.  It's worth saying now that it isn't easy getting every building to "line up" since some have sunk a bit (like the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and since most builders weren't able to use earth movers to "level their playing field" as builders do today.

Until going to Italy I had not realized why Baptisteries existed or why they were so architecturally elaborate.  "So people were baptized in these buildings," I thought.  "What's the big deal?" My early protestant training reminded me of seeing baptismal fonts relegated to odd corners inside churches themselves.  What I did not know was that in earlier centuries, if you weren't baptized, you couldn't enter a church meaning that baptism had to take place elsewhere.  Becoming a baptized, card carrying Catholic was a huge event full of pomp and panoply (always wanted to use that word and here is the opportunity!).  The ceremony took place in a Baptistery and the newly baptized Catholics were escorted into a nearby church/Duomo.  At least that is my understanding and my memory of what I was told.  It made the architecture make sense to me.

The front facade of the Duomo.

A chance to see how the Tower "measures up" with the cathedral (did you really think I could resist that?). 

The columns and how they differ from each other in several different ways - fun to figure that out.

Back to Patterns, back to the frequently overlooked or under appreciated nooks and crannies.

Walkway with shadows: texture, color, light, and shadow.

The row of bas relief figures below the major element above:

Then the purely abstract designs:

The next two are among my favorites in this category:

Look carefully at all the elements here.

More possibilities for a quilter, painter, or any artist.

And just look at the rhythm and movement - the dance in stone.

With this I wish you the very happiest Thanksgiving yet and hope you find beauty wherever you look!