Day 10: Arrivederci Italy

IMG_1068We returned home from Italy with an array gifts and a mountain of memories. Here are a few pictures that include some of of the more unexpected sightings in Italy and Sicily.

The construction of these ancient structures remain a wonder. I was able to take a few pictures showing the lego-like shape of marble sections of the temples in Agrigento. Similar techniques were used at the coliseum and other sites. You can also see original lead added to joints in the picture below:

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Another unexpected find also reaffirmed the genius of Roman architecture. Many of the temples were ravaged by people stealing the marble or even the metal elements in walls. Sometimes however Roman design won out. If you look closely at the columns below from the Roman Forum you will see circular cuts in the marbles from ropes or chains used by scavengers to try to pull down the columns to take away the marble. The columns would not budge even with the force needed to make these cuts in hard marble. If you wonder at how these columns remain standing, look at this picture:

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I was also surprised to find a street that was largely dedicated to shopping priests and nuns — a type of Rodeo drive for the religious orders. The street leads to the Pantheon and it actually pretty swank with everything from lovely alter gowns to briefcases to scarves. Even Clergy bling bling! It may be the smallest niche market in the world but, as the home of the Vatican, it is clearly filling that niche:

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I was also struck in Cianciana Sicily and Rome, Italy that the street sweepers used the same stick brooms that seemed little changed from the medieval times:

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Speaking of cleanliness, I will never be satisfied with my shower again after seeing Nero’s bathtub in the Vatican (carved from a single piece of marble):

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As a military history nut, I was delighted to find in the Sant Angelo armory a double flintlock weapon that I never knew existed:

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A few of the unexpected finds were more . . . well . . . revealing like the suit of armor for a knight who either found battle quite arousing or was one of the earliest examples of bravado in male endowment (sorry for the quality but this was behind a glass case):

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Then there was the goddess who seemed to maximize the particular fixation of certain Italian artists:

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I love the chestnut roasting in both Sicily and Rome like this one in Syracuse (though I could not see how the man in Cianciana made enough to even break even):

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I was particularly surprised to find not only that the angel on top Sant Angelo was the sixth or seventh in a series but the others had the poor tendency to attract lightning (including one that ignited the ammunition store at the castle). One of the earlier angels was down by Raphael, who later died after a night of excessive love making with his mistress Margherita Luti. His well-known insatiable appetite for sex proved his undoing and he may have died from syphilis. I went to see his final resting place in the Pantheon with the inscription by Pietro Bembo: “Ille hic est Raffael, timuit quo sospite vinci, rerum magna parens et moriente mori,” meaning: “Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.”

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His angel from Sant Angelo however did not escape nature. Its bronze wings were hit for lightning but it still survives in a courtyard:

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We are back now and already missing Italy and Sicily. I loved being able to share from of the many pictures that we took. As shown on the travel blog, I have a particular love for cherubs. However, there are other “faces” of Italy that I thought I would post as a final farewell to all of the new friends that we made in Italy — both animate and inanimate:

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16 thoughts on “Day 10: Arrivederci Italy

  1. The photos and narrative from your trip have been wonderful. My bride has gotten into scrapbooking in her retirement years. She and friends go on scrapbooking weekends in Galena, IL. Keeps her off the crack pipe.You take great shots and would make for an interesting scrapbook. I would need a much bigger suit of armor.

  2. Those knights certainly wanted to make sure their family jewels were protected! The photos were interesting, educational, and gave us a glimpse of a most memorable trip. Thanks for taking us along and giving us a day by day account of your trip, along with visuals. Happy Birthday to your lovely wife.

  3. As a pilot who has to make long range flights with no toilet available, there is a more prosaic, and less sexual reason for that suit of armor having that particular feature. It is a relief tube so that the warrior does not have to piss in his pants. There is nothing more demoralizing for a warrior than to go into battle with wet pants that he peed in. It gives the other guy the wrong idea about your courage or lack of same.

  4. Those are putti and are in a special category of art. I want to know the meaning of that sign you teased us with many days back. The one you could not figure and several of us spend much time trying to track down the correct answer. You owe us!!!

    randyjet – the projection on the armor is not long enough for anyone to use it for the purpose you are suggesting. I has to be able to contain at least a cup, maybe more depending on how hydrated the knight is. It is probably a codpiece.

  5. Great photos that bring back memories…… We traveled with the kids, preteens, to Rome. It certainly was one of the more memorable trips they had, but they would tire of going through “old churches” as they called them by late afternoon and want to go to the hotel and swim. My husband, non -catholic, was shocked that we left the papal audience before we got the indulgences.

  6. Either that knight wanted super, extra, protection for his twig and berries, or he came up with a fantastic ploy to distract his enemies and gain the advantage during battle!

    One of the things I really loved about Italy, strangely, were the doors. So often the doors were ancient, solid, intricately carved works of art.

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