Thursday, October 24, 2013

Italy... from Splendor to Ruins

As I walk down cobble-stoned streets in Tuscany's hill top towns, ancient church bells clang in the clear mountain air. I feel the harmony of a simpler life in medieval times.

Long before the tourists arrived, donkeys and mules travelled these roads, carrying goods for the community.

The people may not have been wealthy but they worked closely together and enjoyed spectacular views like this one from their mountain homes.

There's an orderliness to the countryside that is very pleasing to the eye - whether it's the neat olive groves or rows of tall, cone-shaped Italian Cypress.

I am with a Canadian tour group. We are driving through the Appenines from Tuscany to Umbria, then up the Adriatic coast to Venice before heading west.

Beyond the old-world charm of Venice and Florence, I marvel at all the Renaissance art, including Michelangelo's magnificent marble statue of "David."

In Lucca, Florence and Pisa, I admire the baroque or byzantine architecture of the Middle Ages - only to realize that in bygone eras, these cities were vibrant, exciting places to live in, not historical sites. It was a special time on Earth when our greatest artists and inventors gifted us with their work.

We visit these places to see the unparalleled richness and beauty of the Renaissance.

Our tour ends with Rome, once the seat of the mighty Roman Empire. As we explore the ruins of the Roman Forum (less than 1/3 of the original building structures remain), I am filled with a sense of devastation and loss.

But when I see the Colosseum, where so many slaves or prisoners of war fought to the death as others watched and clapped, I'm glad the bloody past is over.

Present-day Italy is a land of contrasts - from the peacefulness of the hill tops and their medieval towns to the bustling cities - as well as a mecca of well-preserved art and history.

What may strike you the most, if you go, is the wonderful food (traditional & preservative-free) and the warmth of a people who greet you with an enthusiastic "buon giorno" every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These photos of Italy are lovely. They show an Italy you seldom see in guide books - off the beaten path. I also like very much the way you wrote about the past, letting me learn about a part of Italy I didn't know. Thanks for sharing your experience.