Friday, May 9, 2008

pictures do it better

In front of St Peter's Basilica, which is the most lavish and incredible cathedral imaginable--with an entrance line stretching several hundred meters--are several impressive fountains. That is where we see Bell, Jess and Luke. Inside, the photos are dim, the atmosphere medieval, the saints in the chapel pictures are shadowy, sculpture is large and looming from the most unlikely places. Time and again Bell and I would stand before a statue trying to guess who the saint or angel was. It would be weeks before we felt familiar enough with their symbols to know Jerome had a lion and a red hat, Peter has keys, Mark a winged lion, Augustine a bishop's hat, Catherine a martyr's palm and the Magdalene was for the most part blonde.

By the time we arrived in Venice, we were feeling comfortable walking on ageless marble floors with stairs worn away by many pilgrim feet. Mosaics and frescoes had meanings and some of the simpler ones we actually knew. Venice appeals because its very infrastructure defies modern transport. (Except for jolly boats, of course.) Large paving stones all over the island are occasionally dug up by various plumbing/maintenance personnel who fix whatever has leaked underneath and then replace them as before. Most efficient and time-saving. My favorite item in Venice is the "bridge." A city of multiple islands and canals needs lots of bridges and each one in Venice is unique and artful.

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