Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Italy Quiz & Travel Journal

My wife and I just returned from a two week trip to Italy. We visited Rome, Tuscany, Florence and Venice. In our 14 days, I learned about 5 Italian words, one being prego, meaning at times "Hello," "May I help you?" and "You're Welcome." Another word I picked up is alora, which as far as I can tell has no meaning at all. Italians seem to use alora when they have nothing to say but want to say something. Alora.

Our trip was filled with amazing views. Tuscany was stunning. The small medieval towns we visited, Siena, Montalcino and San Gimignano were perched on hilltops, surrounded on all sides by vineyards and beautiful rolling hills.

Pictures: Tuscany

In Italy, our bellies were filled with amazing food: gnocchi, pasta, fresh mozzarella and bruschetta with the ripest red tomatoes and freshest olive oil I have ever tasted. And the table wine, which was the cheapest option on the menu, was often the best.

Picture: Yes, that is a soft-boiled egg in the middle of that Tuna, Onion and Mozzarella pizza.

Along with food, Italy provided me with another type of sustenance, a spiritual one. The art in Rome and Florence fed my soul. I am a Rabbi. But that does not mean that I cannot appreciate works of art from other religious traditions. I was awed by Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peters, where Mary holds the recently crucified Jesus. Her sadness and tender touch spoke deeply.

The Christian artists of Italy also depicted Jewish themes. I saw many Biblical figures and stories that I recognized. Next week, I will talk more about my Jewish experiences in Italy, but for now let me leave you with a quiz.

Quiz Question: Below is a picture of a great work of art in Italy containing a Jewish theme. If you can name the artist, location or theme of this work, please post a comment to this article. All answers will be published.

Quiz Picture:


The Fly Fishing Rabbi


Liz said...

Prego! Nice post. That has got to be one of the weirdest pizzas I have ever seen! You've nipped it in the bud - to experience a country is not just to see the sights, but one, the art, and more importantly, the food! Most of our memories are tied up with food experiences. I got an idea of the authentic Italian experience - not Domino's - with your post. Seems that you love food and traveling. You'd love to check out the sweepstakes that gourmet is offering. You can win a trip for 2 at a top resort and food sample all you want! Enter at: I am just giving you the inside scoop because I work with gourmet. Prego. :)

Anonymous said...

The Great Flood on the doors of the Baptistry in Florence!! They were amazing. I was very interested that there has been such a worldwide effort to care for the original doors and create the replicas so we will be able to continue to enjoy them. What hit me when we were gawking at the Cathedral across from the Baptistry was the way the faces up in the niches were all looking down at me! Amazing that the people without electricity, computers, telephones, etc. had such a comprehension of scale and perspective that they created (at ground level) statues that would look so perfect all the way up there.

There is so much history to absorb, one can't separate the religion from the commerce, from the history, from the government. I was lucky enough to have a guide in Florence who made us aware of all the parts making the whole.

She was explaining that Giotto's iconograph of St. Francis had to be created so carefully because this time he was representing someone who the people knew, and would point out if it didn't really look like him. And isn't that what we use every day - We all know what the red circle with the slash means, and the signs for the men's room and the women's room. Look at the computer screen - we look for the common icon, not that it really looks like our own. So we were looking at the beginning of a style that has carried over and become an integral aspect of our everyday life.

Wasn't the food incredible - such fresh ingredients. Can't wait to read more of your posts.

DrMom said...

The artist is Lorenzo Ghiberti and the doors stood at the east entry of the ancient Baptistry of the Duomo (Cathedral) in Florence, Italy.

Mother of the Fly Fishing Bar Mitzvah Boy said...

The famous door contest in Florence - Ghiberti won the commission

Terry Will aka darkknight said...

Maybe from the "Gate's of Paradise"

Not to sure. Great pictures and it sound like a great time was had by you and your wife. I can't wait to get there one day.

Ide Bouldin said...

Duomo means "Baptistery," but yes, it is by Ghiberti, on the "Gates of Paradise" c. 1452. It looks more like Moses receiving the law than the crossing of the Red Sea.