20 July 2011

It was a sunny day, the best of the 3 days in Lucca and Pisa.  The beauty of the buildings shown to its best.  We got off a station prior to the main railway station in Pisa, getting through a normal street in the town, the baptistery came in sight, became concrete and admirable.  The famous building group is situated on a lawn, white marble on the green, a soothing contrast - gorgeous!

Everywhere is full of people.  All came for the leaning tower. It is really stunning.  Our attention was always on the tower and shot it from all prespectives.  Most tourists were posting as resisting / supporting the 'falling' tower or gave it a kick to accelerate the fall.  We?  We did not take such post.  It costs 17 Euro to climb the tower.  We did not but bought a 10 Euro joint ticket to appreciate the Sinopia, Duomo, baptistery, Camposanto and the cathedral museum.

Frescoes can withstand time but must be painted on a fresh base.  It means they have to be completed quickly. Once they are dry, they cannot be touched up anymore.  To overcome this disadvantage, a sketch or underdrawing (sinopia, a town at the shores of the Black Sea providing the reddish-brown pigments) is drawn on the wall.  Pisa Sinopia shows the underdrawings of the Camposanto frescoes, which was mostly damaged in 1944.  The sinopia was removed and restored.  Now it is displayed in a high-ceiling chamber covering two floors. 

Having said about the Camposanto, here shows some frescoes.  The rich showed their dislike of the stinking corpse by using their hand to block the smell.  The other shows the dead suffering in the hell. This is part of the famous frescoes depicting the Triumph of Death, by Buffalmacco.  It is one of the most insteresting examples of 14C Italian painting.  It was probably painted shortly after the plague epidemic of 1348, illustrates the vanity of earthly pleasure and the shortness of life.

Not getting less attention than the leaning tower is the cathedral. The simple Pisan styled Romanesque is clean and classic. White and pastel green marble demonstrates elegance. See the external art decoration, motifs, bronze doors, sculpture.... It is so beautiful!  The interior has got impressive gaint nave.  Of special attention is a spendid pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, a master piece of strength and delicacy.

Pisa Baptistery is majestic, both in terms of the artistic value and the immense height.  The first two levels were designed in the Pisan Romanesque style.  The second floor is decidedly Gothic flavour. 

The exterior is beautified with exquisite sculpture and columns. The interior is impressive of the giant height and the amount of light penetrated in.  The pulpit is designed by Nicola Pisano.

The Duomo Museum houses a nice collections of art.  First and foremost, you've got a fabulous view of the learning tower. The tour in the museum starts with funeral monuments.  The Treasury displays two 12C Limoges reliquaries (11C ivory chest, a small 12C silver gilt Crucifix), sculptures, colourful and artistic antique books.

Pisa's beauty is not limited to the Leaning Tower but pretty squares, churches dotted around the city and its river.  Spacious and tranquil Piazza dei Cavalieri lies in the heart of this medival town.  It is frequented by university students. The square is dominated by the palazzo dei Cavalieri, commissioned by Cosimo I de'Medici, an authoritarian ruler of Tuscany. The statue in the middle of the square demonstrates his power and mightiness.

Head to the river and you will soon find the elegant facade of Santa Maria dells Spina built of white marble standing elegantly, proudly and admirably as another landmark of Pisa.  It is a little gem of the city, suggested by its name, for its proximity to the river, small size and wonder Gothic pinnacles.



16 July 2011

Lugano, largely a Swiss lake city, but under the joint influence of Swiss and Italian.  It was previously an Italian town  but took over by the Swiss since 1512.  It is now Switzerland's third most important financial centre.  Ha, HSBC erected a building in the little town centre. Apart from playing its economic role, Lugano is also a magnet attracting tourists with beautiful parks, flowers, churches and villas.

We headed from Milan to Lugano.  The journey lasted a bit more than half hour by car.  Getting away from Milan to the highway takes some time.  I forgot to take my passport.  Fortunately we were not stopped by the custom at the border.  A good start of the day.

My first visit to Switzerland is 1991.  Lugano is different from my impression of Switzerland, nice country houses, green mountain and picturesque surrounding.  I don't mean it's not beautiful, but different from my impression.

We parked the car at a multi-storey car park.  All full and finally we found a spot on the upper floor.  As long as you are heading to the direction of the lake, you won't lose your way.  We first passed through a park, a villa as the focal point, green, relaxed and surrounded by flowers and modern sculptures.   At the edge of the lake is a pleasant path, planted with many flowers.  It was dotted with locals, tourists, lovers and people with deep thoughts.

We visited Santa Mario del Sasso, a fourteenth century building with sixteenth-century frescoes.  They are well preserved and definitely worth a visit.

As a Swiss town, Lugano shares the luxury of this rich country.  Gorgeous buildings are full of luxurious shops.  Good is that this city is decorated with modern art.