The Romanesque Cathedral we saw in Spoleto, Italy
Spoleto Cathedral is a Romanesque structure in Italy. We recently stayed with Eli and Mattia in their wonderful Villa, near Spoleto. They took us to see many great things, and most closely to their hometown of Spoleto was the Duomo of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The church is essentially an example of Romanesque architecture, with a nave and two side-aisles crossed by a transept, although subsequently modified. It was built from the second half of the twelfth century after the city had been devastated by Frederick Barbarossa’s troops, over an area where there had previously stood an earlier cathedral, and destroyed by the emperor. A notable external porch and the belfry were added in the fifteenth and sixteenth century respectively. Wikipedia
I took some pictures as I always do. They are of things that I notice are visually striking or beautiful. I am the kind of person who does not need to “know much” about the history or the academic context of what I am looking at. Getting a “guide” or the recorded commentary that leads you around a tourist attraction feels like an intrusion on my own intelligence. Encountering things in the raw is my way, on my own, without any preconceived notions about it.
As we walked around this Cathedral with Eli, I noticed the marble floors in mosaics of various patterns:
I could not ignore the fact that the different colored stones wore down at a different rate, as people over the centuries walked over their surface. The light colored stones wore down more, leaving the reddish stones slightly “pillowed” with rounded edges. I could feel the difference under my feet. It contributed to the rounded feeling of the stones of this ancient flooring. How many people had walked over it? Perhaps millions over the years.
The central theme was the icon of the Virgin Mary at the high Altar.
One cannot get away from the pomp and circumstance of fine marble work created by the Italians. The simple Icon of the Virgin is almost drowned out by the elaborate setting of the various colored marbles and semi-precious stones in the surroundings. Well, I don’t hold it against the Italians. They cannot help it. Marble is in their blood and in their veins. As well, The Virgin Mary is in their blood and veins. Thanks to some culture in the western world that honors the Divine Mother.
Moving on, the Spoleto Cathedral was built in the 1100’s before the advent of gothic architecture. It falls into the style of the Romanesque. This style used simple rounded arches and more massive wall structures to support itself. The facade of the Cathedral shows the rounded arches indicative of the Romanesque style:
The mosaic of Jesus above the arches is more in the Eastern Roman Empire motif, reminiscent of Constantinople. It is a kind of welcoming into the House of the Lord. Mind you, not many people of these eras were very literate, and the pictorial elements of the Church served as a way of educating illiterate folks in the life of Christ. Yes, the authority of the Church loomed large, but think of the impact these structures had on the populace. One can imagine, living in simple huts and houses in the countryside was a high contrast to entering this elaborate architectural wonder.
The evening was coming to a close, and we were about to join Mattia for dinner on our last night in Italy. In the USA we have less appreciation for history, and the continuity of things. We are a people of forward “progress,” functioning without getting too wrapped up in the traditions. USA is more in a flux of constant change. The values are geared toward change, and careful not to “hang on” to traditions that may be outmoded. This is why we come to Europe. The preservation of the old is all around. The modern lives hand-in-hand with the ancient. And the Art of Living is intertwined with the Art of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, and all the plastic expressions of a culture well versed in the ARTS. Thanks for reading ART LOOK. I appreciate you, my readers.