Monday, September 07, 2009

The power of contagion

This is a room in a cave (Sasso) in a hotel in Matera. We stayed at this hotel though this is not my picture. The advice was, 'read a book, read 2 books'. It is from books that we get ideas, for life and living. Don't undereastimate the power of these ideas. I never underestimate the power of ideas or of contagion. I remember watching the movie' The passion of the Christ'. The movie moved me and most of all the set moved me even more. I thought the location of where they filmed the movie was as moving. I wanted to know where they shot the film. A check on the Internet revealed that it was Matera, a little village in Southern Italy. I had to go there and check it out myself. From the guidebooks, it looked like the easiest way was to go to Bari and from there take the train to Matera. It was the wildest idea, no Americans go to Southern Italy, we only go to Northern italy. I was ready to check out the South so I arranged this weird itinerary that would take us to Naples, Bari and Matera, then we would head back to Rome and go to the Cinque Terre. It was the same year that we visited the Cinque Terre. Wow, it was a great trip. Matera is so gorgeous, it was wellworth the effort to head down there. Now a lot more Americans have gone to Matera. We met a lot of Japanese tourists there, they have been going there for years.
A shot take from our room, this was years ago, the camera I used was the worst. I need to go back to retake my photos. I'm just waiting for another opportunity to go South again.

While in Bari, we had a few days to play with and we went to Alberobello (it's hard to even pronounce the name, let alone spell it). We saw these pretty 'trulli' structures. They looked unreal.

We had a free day and I was debating on whether to go to Lecce, it was 2 hours by train from Bari and I've not heard anything about it. I was wondering if it was worth the effort but we went anyway. Lecce is the prettiest and sweetest little town in Southern Italy. The small town was home to innumerable number of Baroque churches. It was here that I fell in love with Baroque architecture. I couldn't get enough and for some reason I found out that the best place to get Baroque overload is in Sicily. So the next year we went to Sicily. All of our families were asking 'why Sicily?' Nothing good was ever associated with Sicily. Were we wrong. Sicily was enchanting and fascinating. A trip in March that year led to a second trip in October the same year. I couldn't get enough of Sicilian Baroque and it was in Sicily that my appetite for the Baroque was truly satisfied. Frances Mayes said of Noto, 'it out Baroque all Baroque.' Indeed Noto was just one of many Baroque towns in Sicily. Books are dangerous, the written word coupled with photographic images are even more deadly. Beware it can lead to do things you would otherwise not do.

The very unusual back staircase of Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, 20 minutes by train from Palermo, Sicily. I love Villa Palagonia.
Right now I'm reading William Dalrmple's 'From the Holy Mountain.' It is about the Christian cities (or former Christian cities) of the Middle East, mostly Turkey. Guess where I'll be going?

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