Saturday, March 31, 2012

la bella sicilia (part six)

arab fountain--kind of a cloister within the cloister of monreale's cathedral

this is it: the final segment of my trip to the beautiful, but conflicted, sicily, of which i have beautiful memories and conflicted feelings. this is monreale, a town about 15 minutes outside of palermo that was built in the 12th century. monreale is frequently cited as one of the greatest medieval marvels in the world, but i'm not convinced (i personally prefer ravenna, the apse mosaic at san clemente, all of cappella palatina and a few other sites). it is outstanding, to be sure, but it is both not enough and too much--too much gold, too many stories, too dark, too difficult to read...

it didn't help that i paid a fortune to a taxi driver to get there, found everything closed for lunch, and ended up spending a few hours and more than a few euros bouncing from bar to bar to try and stay warm (it was 34 degrees and raining). still, i'm glad i went if only to see the cloister--that was undoubtedly the highlight for me.

the cloister of the cathedral of monreale

stag in cloister capital--every one of the capitals are heavily carved and decorated with animal motifs and classical elements, like these acanthus leaves

pheasants? i keep thinking love birds because of the hearts, but they're too long for that. maybe peacocks?

owls and owl people. i'm not sure what this represents.

ancient people with buchrania...and a PEGASUS! squee!

okay, the capital iconography here is confusing...dragons? chimaeras? griffins? i have no idea, but i know i love it!

every single one of these capitals are carved differently, and every other pair of them are mosaiced, also in differing patterns.

some of the plain (non-mosaic) columns are carved as well--i'm wondering if at one time they all were?--and this has to be a dodo bird.

stag, nicely done in a primitive form

owl grabbing dog + raven eating grapes

close up of the raven and the grapes


razorback! this looks recently conserved and cleaned--there was some scaffolding nearby, but i'm not sure what exactly they're working on.

i'd say this footing is a recent addition...

can you even imagine how outstanding this site would be if the mosaics on the columns were reconstructed? it would be tremendous--most of the layout for the design is still extant, it would be a matter of getting the colors right. and, of course, the funding.

exterior, cathedral of monreale

interior, cathedral of monreale, with christ pantokrator

side aisle, cathedral of monreale. i believe the lower section was covered in mosaics at one time but destroyed by the turks in the 15th century.

looking straight up from stage left of the altar

apse and altar mosaics, with christ pantokrator, some angels, the evangelists and lots o' saints (and mary)

beautiful cosmatesque floor

noah's ark story on a side aisle curtain

ciao sicilia!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

la bella sicilia (part five)

nighttime in palermo, politeama theatre

very close to finished with sicily pictures, and i have loved going through them. i shot almost 1000 pictures in the ten days that i was there, so getting it down to a manageable number has been something of an accomplishment. it was a challenging trip but i'm glad i took it.

today is all palermo and things palermitan--i was there for the last three days of my trip and could have used a few more to really get a feel for the city. my favorite was unquestionably the cappella palatina--i've never seen anything so intricately and elegantly mosaiced, even in ravenna.

this is italian high fashion--SERIOUSLY?! normally i'm a huge fan of the windowwares but i swear my grandfather had that exact same rain jacket from either sears or TG&Y

and what will this navy windbreaker/rain jacket/ultimate fashion statement set you back? a mere 950 euros, or about $1300 (impermeabile = raincoat).

il cane di prada

the arizona dream is equated to the american dream in the copy

even "climate-controlled" looks sexy when written in italian

if i really hated rich, i'd make him wear one of these sofa-fabric chapeaus

this cute little kiosk is where one buys cigarettes on his/her morning stroll--i'd smoke too if it meant visiting this dot of art nouveau goodness

yikes. i'd be more than a little concerned if i were the italian prime minister and sicilians were spray painting grafitti demanding my death.

horse and fountain

twin mopeds and carriage

papal fashions in palermo!

cathedral of palermo, in its gothic/spanish/arabic glory

beautiful portico of the cathedral

relic of...? i am halfway expecting to have to do this to rich's hands when he dies

close up of ossified ulna and radius

below the altar lies the crypt--this is pretty much the only norman thing, architecturally, remaining in this church but it is an extremely fine example of it

little miss chainmail

ghost dog? ghost donkey? i like this guy.

upstairs, under a super-fancy baldacchino, is the porphyry tomb of santa rosalia, the patron saint of palermo

palermitan green

although it is hard to tell, this is a full-sized carriage from the 17th century

interior, palazzo reale, leading to the cappella palatina

interior courtyard, palazzo reale

the following pictures are from the interior of the cappella palatina, and i'm not sure words would do much to make the images more interesting--the place is overwhelming with decoration and it is a confusing space because of it, but it is also incredibly beautiful. every surface is decorated with mosaic or cosmatesque marble.

and these are images from the living quarters at the palazzo reale, which were obviously decorated at the same time as the cappella palatina. these are secular mosaics vs. the religious scenes in the chapel.

(i believe this is a dog, but i'd rather think it is a cougar getting ready to pounce)

next time: monreale!