From Venice to Florence Via Pisa

March 15, 2012

Today was a travel day, moving from southwest from Venice to Pisa. Yesterday afternoon I took several photos in Venice from the clock tower. Quite a view from there.

View of Venice from Clock Tower. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View is northeast. You can see St. Mark’s Basilica at lower left.

Our destination today was Florence. En route there we stopped for lunch at Pisa.

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Of course if you mention Pisa the first thing that comes to mind is the Leaning Tower. It is described as a “freakishly beautiful building” [how’s that for an oxymoron?] “a sight whose impact no amount of prior knowledge can blunt” (Rough Guide, 544). In fact it is but one of many components of Pisa’s architectural ensemble.

A treat for us was briefly meeting with Arrigo and Patrizia Corazza. Arrigo preaches for the church of Christ meeting about three miles distant from the tower.

Arrigo and Patrizia Corazza.

Among our group there were several that know and appreciate this couple.

Thanks for following our blog. Remember to click on images for larger view.

A Day in Venice

March 14, 2012

We started off the day at perhaps the most famous square in the world, St. Mark’s Square, which features the Basilica di San Marco.The Rough Guide describes it as “the most exotic of Europe’s cathedrals” and observes that it was

modeled on Constantinople’s Church of the Twelve Apostles, the shrine of St. Mark was consecrated in 832, but in 976 both the church and the Palazzo Ducale were ruined by fire during an uprising against the doge. The present basilica was originally finished in 1094 and embellished over the succeeding centuries (p.327)

This shot shows some of our group at St. Mark’s Square as the morning began.

Group shot at St. Mark's Square. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Among other sights we saw the Bridge of Sighs. From Wikipedia:

The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge), and built in 1602.

One legend is that this bridge received it name from the prisoners sighing as they were walked across the bridge, seeing the outdoors, as well as breathing fresh air, for the last time.

Bridge of Sighs in background, with Linda and Leon Mauldin.

Tomorrow morning we are to travel to Florence, stopping at Pisa along the way.

Click on images for larger view.

Nancy Picogna has downloaded some of her photos from the past two days. You may see there here and here.

Greetings From Italy

March 13, 2012

I’m happy to report that we arrived safely this morning at the Marco Polo Airport and are now in Venice. We had a nice view of the Alps this morning. The Alps form a natural border of northern Italy.

View of the Alps prior to descent at Marco Polo, Venice. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Today begins our tour of Italy in which my group will see significant sites starting from the northwest, our current location, and working our way to the south of Rome.

This morning we arrived ahead of schedule, and some hours before the rooms at our hotel would be ready. Our guide, Gloria Marchena, from London, suggested we might want to make use of that time by doing an excursion to the nearby island of Burano, one of the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. We opted to go there; about a 45 minute ride by a Venetian motorboat.

The island has a population of about 3,000, and is known for its brightly colored buildings and its lace.

Burano, colorful island near Venice. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Wikipedia has this info re: Burano

The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the 6th century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, c. 8 km to the south.

Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, being introduced to such a trade via Venetian-ruled Cyprus. When Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1481, he visited the small town of Lefkara and purchased a cloth for the main altar of the Duomo di Milano. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but trade began to decline in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Everyone is tired, but well. I hope to make posts each evening, so check back as we progress.

Click on images for larger view.

Arch of Titus

March 3, 2012

The Arch dedicated to Titus is in the Forum at Rome, located at the highest point of the Via Sacra. It was on this street that most of the religious processions took place.

Arch of Titus, located in Forum of Ancient Rome. Photo by Nancy Picogna.

The arch was built to commemorate the Roman defeat of Judea, including the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. Inside the arch, one side depicts the Roman soldiers removing the menorah, table of showbread and silver trumpets from the temple as it was destroyed in AD 70. Vespasian was Emperor and Titus was the commander of the Roman army at that time.  Titus was Emperor AD 79-81. After Titus’ death, the arch was constructed ca.AD 81 by Titus’ brother, the new Emperor Domitian.

Emperor Titus, AD 79-81. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This head of Titus (exhibit #348, Athens Museum), is made of Pentelic marble and was “probably found at Smyrna, Asia Minor. It is an earlier portrait head (possibly of the emperor Caligula) with parts reworked to render the features of Titus.”

%d bloggers like this: