|Winter dawn from my terrace.|
Lots more eating and drinking interspersed with visits to splendid monuments and wonderful exhibitions and time alone with the manuscript of my next book are making this sojourn quite happy.
The highlights so far:
CELEBRATING OBAMA IN FIRENZE
On Monday, we invited our Italian friends to an American dinner to celebrate President Obama's second inauguration--mushroom soup, roasted turkey with all the trimmings (including cranberry sauce smuggled in in our luggage). The dessert in the picture is a double brownie sheetcake topped with whipped cream and berries. The Italians declared all delicious. Whew!
A VISIT TO ORVIETO
This wonderful town in Umbria is very easy to reach from Florence by train. The Duomo, its trophy church, was begun in 1290. It took over a hundred architects, sculptors, painters, and mosaicists more than three hundred years to complete the masterpiece. The weather was gloomy and photography of the interior not allowed, so the pictures here (most of them serruptitious) do not do the church justice.
The facade is remarkable for the color and richness of its design. Lorenzo Maitani made the astonishing low relief sculptures that adorn the pillars. They portray Genesis, the Jesse Tree, scenes from the New Testament, and the Last Judgment.
|Detail of the facade. The lion, symbol of the Mark the Evangelist|
Michelangelo admired these sculptures and wrote his father a letter about them while he was planning the Sistine Chapel. When one sees the finger of God bringing Adam to life here, it is easy to imagine him in the lovely piazza of this church pondering these images and conceiving his unforgettable painting of the creation.
The interior is overwhelmingly elegant and powerful. Take a look:
The town of Orvieto sits high above its surrounding plain.
It is replete with historic buildings, artisans's shops, and wonderful food and drink. In the dead of winter, the rain may pelt the visitor from time to time, but there are no throngs of tourists and the restaurants serve authentic Umbrian cuisine (wild boar---YUM!) and one of the best white wines in the world--Orvieto Classico. Here is photo of the wall I faced while I enjoyed my lunch.
We continue our travels, using Florence as our base. Stay tuned for more.