Published: June 4th 2012June 3rd 2012
Close up in Cathedral
A little about Otranto: It was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the main port to the East (Adriatic) for 1000 years. Tales say that King Minos was here and that St. Peter celebrated the first Western mass on these shores. The Sack of Otranto occurred in 1480, when 18,000 Turks besieged the town. The town people held for 15 days before giving up. The Turks stabled their horses in the cathedral. 800 survivors were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam. There is a really cool Chapel of the Dead in the cathedral, with goulish display of the skulls and bones of those martyrs in tall glass cases!
I started the day with a trip to the internet cafe. On my way I found an antique market along the city wall… lots of furniture, pots, lamps, interesting junk. I spent 5 euros and bought a tiny picture of a nun in a hair wrapped frame, and an interesting brass cross that seemed to remind me of the medieval towns I’ve been in this month.
Then I went to the internet café and caught up… 1.5 hours. Very cheap here, only 5
About 10:00 in the morning on Sunday, busy!
euros for that time. I will try to go every morning. The BAU thinks Otranto has free wifi but it only works if one has an international cell phone!
I walked the length of the town and enjoyed looking at the beach. It was PACKED!!! The water here is the most gorgeous color of blue EVER! (I took a video
to show you!!! See it on this page.)
I went into the cathedral and listened to the last part of the service. A young woman was singing and her voice was so beautiful. ( I made a video
of it… check it out on this blog page.) I really loved the Byzantine frescoes in the interior of the church, and the 12th
century mosaic floor designed as the tree of life, balanced on the backs of two elephants. The cathedral was build in the 11th
century by the Normans.
Martha and I had a long lunch on the balcony… ham and cheese sandwich and a cold beer again. She is so interesting and fun to talk to. We made a reservation for tonight at the restaurant across the alley. They wanted
The Duomo of Otranto
a phone # which we don’t have, but when we pointed to the house, they were quite satisfied.
I spent the afternoon at my studio just experimenting with materials and chatting with the other artists. I would like to imitate frescoes in gum bichromate… worked with gesso as a base. Tomorrow I will go to the hardware store for necessities, and later in the afternoon, to Lecce to the art supply store for paper and more gum arabic.
We met some other group members for dinner. Martha and I shared a ½ kilo of fish soup… delicious. We took a walk afterward for a gelato along the waterfront. Evenings get very cool so sleeping is great!
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