Thursday, February 4, 2010

art and travel

I guess you could say I'm into religious art.

In college, I spent a summer studying in Italy with a friend. We visited Cinque Terre one weekend without booking a place to stay. Cinque Terre is not one town but a series of 5 villages strung throughout a several mile stretch of cliffs and beaches dotting Northeastern Italy. We took a train to the first village and got off to hike to the next. We managed to get dramatically lost in the hillside grape vineyards and finally reached the town of Manarola, famished and dirty, at dusk. All we could think about was dinner, even though we still had no place to slumber and bathe. At around 10pm we finally realized the reality of our predicament. The handful of inns and hostels in the tiny village were all booked.

We were lounging on a city bench, trying to devise a radical plan and come to terms with the distinct possibility that we would be street-dwellers for the night, when a young man came by and told us he'd stayed with a kind elderly couple, natives of Cinque Terre who spoke no English, the night before.

He led us through the open-roofed stone corridors, so typical of a mountainous seaside neighborhood, until we reached her doorstep, knocked, and asked in my very rusty Italian for a place to lodge.

She understood, let us in, showed us the tiny bathroom and the upstairs room where we would stay. It was the most Catholic room my Methodist-turned-Episcopalian eyes have ever seen. It was adorned in Rosaries, beautiful portraits of the Virgin Mary, a tapestry of Pope John Paul II, ornate crosses, and gilded icons. It was a cozy room. It felt oddly safe and so, so quiet.

Before that experience, I don't remember being very fond of religious art for the home.

This particular artist paints enchanting landscapes, too. But these angels are what strike me. They exude such peace, such a feeling of safety in an often chaotic and desolate world, such silence in an often noisy mind.


  1. WOW! thank you for the sound out!!! It is SO appreciated! Have a blessed day!

  2. this art is so unique. thanks for sharing the links too.

    hope you are having an enjoyable day.

  3. Wow, what a wonderful story. Makes me want to return to Italy.

  4. I think of that trip often. Those photos, that food, the way I told the cute cafe owner the only thing I knew in Italian "This sucks", getting lost in the vinyards, following the blue painted tracks, buying jewelery, sleeping in the spare room surrounded by John Paul, sitting by the bay in the same spot Byron did so many years ago and sleeping on the beach using out jackets as towels. A wildly beautiful trip. Few things have come close to those 6 weeks, very very few and Italy/Tuscany still holds my heart.

  5. p.s. that art is really good. Hauntingly ethereal.

  6. Isn't Italy wonderful.

    Love each of these.

    Such a sweet posting today. Charming. Off to catch up on your last few. I've been away for a few days and have so much to catch up on

    Kate - The Garden Bell

    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

  7. Glad y'all are enjoying! This was such a fun post. It took me awhile to think back on that trip and remember the details... but so worth it.

    I'm hoping I can convince Husband I NEED one of these paintings because they SPEAK to me!

  8. I haven't looked at the art yet, but I sure like your story. What a memorable expierence.

  9. The name of your blog attrated me and then I realise that we both like the same book about the lupines. Your blog is lovely. Happy blogging. Regards

  10. Great story. I hope to think that I would be like that woman if a similar situation presented itself...but I get a little nervous just thinking about it... but nonetheless I know what I hope I would do.

  11. Wow, I have never thought so much about religion or its meaning in our lives then after reading your post... Ever since I was a little kid, I have been afraid of some churches and regligious ornaments, I guess the 6th sence in me doesn't accept these. Well now I have grown up and since I visited the Vatikan in Vatikan, Italy.. I have been thinking about it a lot.. So I want to thank you for raising up this theme to me and wish you a lovely weekend!


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