Sunday, 1 November 2015

Travel Day: Tuscany to Amalfi

Our travel day to Amalfi started out with good byes to our Tuscan hosts Elena and Enrica. Notice Angus is all ready for the seaside with bathing cap and sunglasses. Looking fine Angus! 

Several of the following pictures were taken by me from our van as we drove through Tuscany. Pretty good pic for a moving van! Stunning views everywhere. Gotta love those cypress trees as a definite design feature! I wonder if us north americans drive Italians crazy with our love of cypresses, but they are just so different for us. 

Maybe for Europeans it's normal to see so many old ruins. I just thought this was kinda cool, hilltop wreck and ominous sky,.........

We drove through Umbria, and then onto Lazia, just south of Rome, in the province of Campagna, we took this breathtaking break. Montecassino. It's massive, extraordinary, stunning. First we saw it from the highway, and the criss cross hairpin drive up what looked like a flat and sheer side of a mountain. This particular view with students walking up is after you get to the main entrance and just turn around. Beautiful towns in the valley between mountains as well.

 This is the first spectacular courtyard to come to after you enter. All landscaping is very much an art form. Crazy. And the most stunning roses I have ever seen, encircle the statue in the middle of this courtyard. Everything that is building, is made out of marble and stone. But an impressive amount of marble. Really.

After the courtyard is a balcony with a stunning vista. I've bordered the photo with the balcony railing. The abbey of Montecassino is built on a site that has been strategic throughout history. It's one story after another of destruction and siege, rebuilding, then the cycle starts again. The earliest recordings would the destruction of the pagan temple of Apollo, which was destroyed in 529 ad. The most significant siege and destruction today would be the entire destruction of a medieval fortress during the second world war. Destroyed by the allies, as this pretty well constituted the german line, and the last stronghold before Rome. The medieval fortress that stood here held many amazing pieces of artwork from the very best painters and sculpters across Europe, representing many centuries. 

Getting back form the balcony and onto these huge, high steps up. I'm sure the monks who lived there felt they must be getting very close to God, what with the height and the sky and all. The building we see today was rebuilt after the war. It is still classic, and once there, it seems one is looking over the earth from the heavens. You can understand why this location was fought over, so many times. 

Just a little ostentatious. Just a little. Inlaid intricate marble walls, elaborate gold everywhere. The home, of 18 monks. Hmmmm. 

Massive, massive beautiful trees with a jungle of plants growing around the trunks surround the abbey, adding to the grandeur.

Also taken from the balcony of Montecassino. Many in our group took this light as a message. 
More Grandeur. These monks are truly living in the clouds. Hmmmm

After this, we were well on our way to Naples, and past that, the Amalfi Coast, next installment. 

Arrival.                    Ahhhh. The Meditarrannean.

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