This and That

I guess everyone knows who these two fellows are: Plato on the left and Aristotle on the right. Plato carries his Timaeus (written 360 BCE) under his arm, and Aristotle cradles his Ethics (written c 349 BCE). This famous image of the duo appears in a fresco painting by Raphael, which has come to have been called ‘The School of Athens’, but it should more properly simply be called ‘Philosophy’, as this is what the whole painting is meant to embody. The frescoes decorate a series of rooms called the stanze in the Vatican in Rome. This room, decorated during the pontificate of Julius II, was meant to serve as the pontiff’s library, and the library books on philosophy were meant to be arranged below this painting; hence its subject matter.

Modes of Mobility

Ah, this is the way to see Italy! I have to say I’m envious of the person who owns this classic little roadster. Can you imagine toodling along Umbrian country roads in this little beauty? I’ve never driven in Italy, amazingly enough (wise beyond my years), and have never gone on a bike tour either. Though lately I’ve had fantasies of kayaking the length of the Arno or Tiber Rivers.  Stay tuned!

Grand Exit

Here is proof, if any further proof be needed, that Italians know how to get married in style. This couple went for a big statement, getting hitched in the medieval Amalfi cathedral, one of Italy’s most striking. Most impressive of all is the giant staircase. They descended very slowly, letting both relatives, friends, and a thousand tourists take their pictures. Here, they’re exiting out the bottom of the picture to their all white Jaguar….I would have expected a Masterati.

Check Your Brick

Ensconced in the wall of the medieval ‘city hall’ of Assisi, Italy (a town more famous for being the home of Saint Francis), is an interesting thing: the standardized sizes of bricks, roof tiles, and other measurements. If you thought someone from whom you were buying bricks was shorting you, you could bring one of the bricks here and check it against the standard; so, too, your roof tiles or lengths of cloth. As always, it’s buyer beware; and, as it should be, good government helps keep things just.

Stairway to Heaven

When people visit Rome they focus on the ancient pagan-era monuments, but for me the Early Christian mosaics in churches such as San Clemente, Santa Pudenziana, and San Prasede, among others, are real treats. This is a detail of the vast mosaic program in the apse of San Prasede, showing the elect being greeted at the gates of heaven by an angel, all carrying the crowns of salvation.