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.
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.
The Fly Fishing Rabbi