Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Schia. A hill with a view.


It looked like an interesting location on the map when deciding my Sunday afternoon walk, so I decided to climb up from the ski resort of Schia up to Monte Ciao in the mid Apennines above Parma.
Schia, PR

Schia, PR

Schia, PR

Schia, PR
After a stiff climb up the ski slope I reached the crest of the long ridge that leads to Monte Ciao. Wow what a view from this mountain set back from the main ridge of the Apennines.
Monte Ciao, Schia, PR

Monte Ciao, Schia, PR

Monte Ciao, Schia, PR

Monte Ciao, Schia, PR

Monte Ciao, Schia, PR

Monte Ciao, Schia, PR
The main ridge from Monte Orsaro to Cimone were in front of me, Brismantova was on my left, and turning around the Pianura Padana stretched out before me.

 Schia, PR

 Schia, PR

 Schia, PR

 Schia, PR
This is a place to come back to on a clearer colder day in winter and explore further.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ancient Paths. Strada dei Lombardi

Many times, places described in the books and on the sites, I use to plan my walks turn out to be a bit of a disappointment.  Sometimes however they exceed my expectations.



Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC


Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

The “Strada dei Lombardi” turned out to be far more than what I imagined that I might find.
 
This is a very ancient route that once connected Luni and La Spezia to Reggio Emilia and Modena and the Po valley. It was certainly used by the Romans and was in use until the modern road was built in nineteenth century.  The name of the path reminds us that much of Emilia once formed part of Lombardy.

 
Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC
The path starts out as a typical muddy mule path, but after a while the remains of the paved road flanked by imposing dry stone walls begin. The paved section continues flanked on each side by the walls for more than a kilometre until the road exits the chestnut woods into the pastures under the Pass of Cerreto where winter snows over the years have cancelled all traces of the road.

A traveller left his mark. Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC
 
Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC

 
 
 
Last traces of the road. Strada dei Lombardi, Sassalbo,MC
 
At a certain point, another path took me to Lago Padule hidden away in the woods. Remains of ice stores can be seen alongside the lake. There was once an important commerce in ice stored in the mountains and brought down into the towns below by cart.
 
Lago Padule, Sassalbo, MC
 
Lago Padule, Sassalbo, MC

Ice store. Lago Padule, Sassalbo, MC

Lago Padule, Sassalbo, MC

Valle dell' Inferno, MC
 
The extent and the state of preservation of this stretch of path were far more surprising than the descriptions I had read about this path.  Considering the height difference between the start and the finish of the road, I found the path surprisingly easy to climb.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Million Little Stones. Mosaics in Ravenna

I was in Ravenna to see the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny in concert, repeating a trip I made to see the same artist in 1991. So, I decided to make a day of it and see the famous early Christian mosaics that adorn several buildings in the city.

Mausoleum of Theodoric ,Ravenna

Mausoleum of Theodoric ,Ravenna
These mosaics amazingly date from the fifth and sixth century after Christ. The town at this time was the capital of the collapsing Western Roman empire before falling into the hands of the Goths who were then replaced by the Byzantines all in the space of a hundred years.  

Basilica di san Francesco, Ravenna 

Basilica di san Francesco, Ravenna 

On seeing the mosaics and the buildings that house them, it is difficult to believe that they are almost 1500 years old.

The first place I visited was the Mausoleum of Theodoric a barbarian Goth king. Unusually it is built in stone and not brick like the other historic buildings in Ravenna. The roof is a single piece of stone brought by boat from Istria. There is not much to see in this building.
Mausoleum of Theodoric, Ravenna
 
Mausoleum of Theodoric ,Ravenna
The first mosaics I saw were in the Battistero Neoniano built in the fifth century. The Roman influence on the decorations is very strong. These are some of the oldest mosaics in Ravenna.

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna

Battistero Neoniano ,Ravenna
The nearby Bishops palace has a small museum, but most of all contains the Cappella di S. Andrea with its ceiling decorated with birds and was the only orthodox monument built during Theodoric’s reign. Photography was forbidden but I managed to sneak a few shots.

Cappella di S. Andrea

Cappella di S. Andrea

Cappella di S. Andrea
The Galla Placidia is from the outside a rather unassuming little building. The beauty of the mosaics inside this tomb to a Roman woman takes one’s breath away on entering. The starry sky is just amazing. Unfortunately it was incredibly crowded inside.

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

 Galla Placidia,Ravenna
 Galla Placidia,Ravenna

Next to the Galla Placidia is San Vitale is a later Byzanite masterpiece which occupies just a corner of this church. I loved the expressive portraits of the Byzantine Emperor Giustiniano and his court. 

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna

San Vitale ,Ravenna
  Time for lunch. Being near the sea, it had to be fish or rather some little fish arranged on a skewer.

The fist afternoon stop was Sant’ Apollinare dates from when the Goth Theodoric ruled Ravenna. Two massive freezes line the two sides of the nave. Ravenna in these times lived a sort of Apartheid with the Roman Byzantines on one side of town and the Arian Goths on the other.  Each had their own religious buildings.
Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna

Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna

Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna

Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna

Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna

Sant’ Apollinare ,Ravenna
Nearby is the Battistero degli Ariani a smaller simpler version of the Roman Neoniano Baptistry. The central decorations of the two are very similar. The lack of crowds present in the other sites made the visit here more enjoyable.

Battistero degli Ariani ,Ravenna

Battistero degli Ariani ,Ravenna

Battistero degli Ariani ,Ravenna

Ravenna is not just mosaics. To avoid a spring shower, I dived into the city art gallery. I liked the curious seagulls made of of recycled materials.

 

 The Basilica di san Francesco has a curious crypt. It is filled with water and goldfish swim above Roman mosaics. One can peep inside through a small window below the alter. One of the most fun things I saw that day.
Basilica di san Francesco

Basilica di san Francesco

Basilica di san Francesco
 
Basilica di san Francesco
I had some time to waste so I queued up to peep inside the “Tomba di Dante” just to be able I have seen Dante’s tomb. Tombs and Cemetery’s are an important part of life for my Italian friends. So I can boast that I have paid my respects to Dante.

Tomba di dante, Ravenna
Tomba di dante, Ravenna
 
A nice surprise was a visit to the city museum. I saw some super Roman sculpture.

Museo Nazionale, Ravenna

Museo Nazionale, Ravenna

Museo Nazionale, Ravenna

Museo Nazionale, Ravenna

Museo Nazionale, Ravenna
After long relax over a drink at the bar it was time for the Concert. Metheny played fantastically just like the last time I saw him in 91. All that remained was the long drive back to Reggio.