ITALY - A Country built of Marble

Italy is the birthplace of baroque marble sculpture. Figures were meant to elicit emotions with gestures and expressions. Bernini brought blocks of white stone to life by capturing a moment of speech in a subjects lips. Giorgetti's St. Sebastiani evokes such sympathy that I find it hard to walk away. In Italy I become very old. Steps get slower and often stop, simply so I can take long looks around, and wonder where I am. Being inside the Roman Coliseum and thinking about everything that happened there trumps being inside the Haleakela Volcano. Sorry Hawaii. On my first trip to Italy in 1995 I sat high on a wall inside the Coliseum and wrote post cards, baking in the roman sun. I still get goose bumps. For over an hour I had the place to myself; only a few other tourists entered and strolled around on the lower level. By contrast, when I returned in 2011, there were so many tourists that I had trouble taking a photo of the catecombs where they led the entertainment into the arena.

The highlight of my 2011 trip to Italy was visiting the Cemetero Staglieno in Genoa. John Fisher insisted that this cemetery has the greatest collection of sculpture in the world, and now I know he must be correct. Over 400 acres, 2 million interred souls, 200,000 family tombs, a shuttle bus to get around, acres and acres of graves laid side by side, hallways of tombs six high on both sides, and colonades filled with weeping families and angels, all carved in marble. Indeed, more sculpture than you can imagine. 

Staglieno Slideshow - double-click on the image below to watch the slideshow at larger size.

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