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Posts tagged ‘Sicily’

Flowers and Old Stones

The East Coast of the US has been blasted with some terribly cold weather the last two weeks.  To warm up, I’ve been digging through my summer photos!  I’ve noticed a nice handful of  picture in the genre of “Flowers & Old Stones.”  There is something really beautiful about juxtaposing the rich texture of archaeological remains and colorful flowers.

poppies of ephesus

Ephesus, Turkey

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Blended Architecture in Chiesa Matrice, Erice, Sicily

Sometimes on the quest for art, you end up learning a lot more about the history of a place.  I didn’t expect to find Norman castles and churches in Sicily but it is hard to deny the thick bulky structures when you find them.  I also didn’t expect to find detailed decorative elements reminiscent of the Middle East but there they were.  What became Sicilian Norman art is a blend of cultures and adds an exotic flavor to an already interesting mix of Greco-Roman and Baroque architecture on the island.  Once you factor in 19th century restorations with a mind of their own, you find can find some complex and beautiful churches.  I found one such example of blended art in the little town of Erice and the Chiesa Matrice Church.

Beautiful ceiling details

Beautiful ceiling details

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The God of Mozia, Sicily

coastline of Mozia, Sicily, Italy

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing great sculpture!  You can find links below for the group’s posts this month.  The summer heat has got me thinking about Sicily and so I’m going to introduce you to a phenomenal, ancient piece that I happened to stumbled across on a secluded island (really!).

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Postcard from Sicily

The last book review got me thinking about how much I liked Sicily.  Here are couple pictures from 2007 of the villages of Erice and Trapani.

Erice sits on top of a sharp plateau with stunning views.

I am someone who notices the details.  I was in love with the paving on this street.

Quiet street in Erice

Traveling by Book – The Leopard (Sicily)

After a trip to Sicily, Amazon kept recommending The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa to me.  No matter what else I bought or added to my wish-list, the Leopard did not budge from the number one spot so I figured I might as well give in.  What I found was a true gem of a novel with marvelous characters that inhibited a living Sicily.

The Leopard tells the story of the Prince, a noble in mid-19th century Italy, facing an uncertain future threatened by political revolution and economic flux.  He is clearly a proud man born and raised with aristocratic tastes and manners.  The novel is sympathetic to the out-dated great man but it is interesting to watch as he lets the changing world pass him without even trying to keep up. The book is not driven by plot per say as it only covers a few full days.  The beauty lies in the characters who muse about the mundane and fleeting pleasures of their lives – the Prince’s favorite dog, the childish crushes of the Prince’s daughters, the priest’s political and family troubles.  It’s both nostalgic and comfortable, like picnicking with friends telling stories.

I think what made these docile characters really work though was the setting.  There is a dry heat that permeates the novel and slows the characters making their speech quiet and steps deliberate so as not to kick up too much dust.  Their palaces are thick with detail and you can imagine the flies in their summer countryside manor.  Maybe it’s not fair because I read this after visiting Sicily, but I could perfectly pictured these people in its arid countryside and echoing stone streets.  The Prince has a brilliant monologue at one point about Sicilians claiming that they are a steady, consistent people who having been conquered over and over throughout the centuries and cannot be troubled by anything outside their world.  In traveling western Sicily, I found the pace of life slow (even by Italian standards!) and was surprised how rocky and harsh the landscape was.  A story of waning power and decline seems well-suited for this environment.  I appreciated the rich descriptions of places and people in The Leopard and would recommend it to anyone looking for a book vacation to an often-forgotten, quiet corner of the Mediterranean.

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