Friday, May 06, 2011

The richness of Italy

I first came to Italy in 1980 (not quite true: I had been to Naples briefly as a boy, sailing to England from Australia on the Orient Line ship Otranto). I bought a Guide Michelin dated 1974. I have just been looking at it because we made a car trip to Salento, the heel of Italy.

The guide contains nothing south of Lecce - it is a blank about the whole region. Amazing. There is no Otranto in the guide for example.  Where would the gothic novel be without Otranto (I read Bram Stoker on my new Kindle on the trip)?
The most remarkable thing about Otranto is the Tree of Life mosaic, created by Pantaleone (in four years from 1163) on the floor of the cathedral. You can find out more about it at this site. It is beautiful and astonishing.
On the way down to Salento we visited the other astonishing, much better known, mosaics in Ravenna. Have a look at the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia here.



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