Italy 129 - Anagni/what is the connection between Neil Oliver and the History of Scotland and the Popes Slap

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October 2nd 2019
Published: October 2nd 2019
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Last night we found ourselves on a very scruffy Italian campside near to Salerno. It was ACSI but one of those you wonder if the inspector inspected it with his eyes closed . We were pushed into a corner , the showers were grim and cost another 50 cents for 2 minutes and mum spent most of her time trying to get her lazy son to do some work.

Now Gabby is sitting in hot corner in a sosta without any shade in Anagni just a bit down the road from Rome. It is stifling outside with the thermometre hitting over 34 degrees . Gabby is the equivalent of a sauna . Even with her doors open she is registering 43 degrees. We are here with one French camper . He has his awning out and his chairs . We are stuck by the dustbins . There is no shelter anywhere from the baking sun. We head off into town to see what is there and to try to find some elusive shade .

So why are we here ? A few weeks ago whilst planning the trip we found ourselves watching one of those excellent Open University productions shoved out onto an obscure BBC channel. It was Neil Oliver fronting a programme on the History of Scotland . We watched him standing in front of some excellent mosaics in the little town of Anagni . He spoke of the Papal Slap. Glenn vaguely remembered something from his schooldays but the memory was vague . So Mr Google came to the rescue .

The medieval town of Anagni is connected to the events in the life of Pope Boniface VIII who was born there . He as a member of the powerful Caetani family and elected as Pope after Celestine V abdicated. He was however opposed by some french cardinals and another powerful family the Collona family. In the year 1300 he set up his first Jubileee and founded a Roman university and began a feud with the King of France Philip the Fair . In 1302 Boniface delivered a Bull which gave him complete and absolute supremacy over the earthly power of kings . As you can imagine that did not go down well . PHilip was so angry he organised an expedition to arrest the Pope and remove him from office . Things were not going well . By 1303 2000 mercenaries joined with the locals to attack the palace of the Pope at Anagni . The Popes attendants and his nephew fled leaving only a handful at the Popes side . His palace was plundered and he was nearly killed . He was held prisoner and starved for days. According to legend the Pope was slapped by Sciarra Colonna and is called the Outrage of Anagni - the Anagnis Slap. In the end the poeple of the town rose up against the invaders and set the pope free .

We were in search of evidence of the Slap . The town was as always built on a hill which left us with a punishing walk to the top We hoped that the tall five storey houses would afford us some shade. The town was dea . We passed not one living thing apart from lizards on the way up. Not one shop open or closed . No washing hanging from the windows Italian style . No workers nor children . We came out at an open square - there was a Palazzo and museum open and we chose to pay 5 euros each to visit . It gave us some respite from the sun.

The Palazzo was not as impressive as we expected it to be . The ground floor comprised of two rooms . One held the ticket office and the other just pictures on the walls . Upstairs was a loggia and two further rooms . Both painted with frescoes of ducks and other birds . The frescoes were interesting and around the room were display cases with Roman and medieval items found around the town. It held our attention for fifteen minutes .

We probably made a mistake paying the 5 euros . We should have kept our money and gone into the diocesan museum instead . This was next to the church . A plain affair and rather plain inside . I made the mistake of peeking inside dressed only in shorts which are not acceptable in the house of God . My bare shoulders were completely wrong . We should have paid the 10 euros each to go down into the crypt as that was where Neil Oliver had stood in front of them whilst making his film .

The rest of the town was busier , We sat for a while under the shade of an umbrella in a shady square complete with statues and fountains. The bar was full and I had the usual problem of trying to squeeze through a mass of Italians who stood drinking their coffee . Italians live life in the fast lane . They even drink coffee standing up. We sat for a while next to a guy who switched on his phone and started to play "Youre simply the best " Tina Turner over and over again . Every time it reached the end it was on a loop and started up again .

We left him to his Tina Turner and found the Casa Giglio - a amazing but slightly shabby ancient house built in the 13th century . With its exterior staircase it was probably the best building in the town . Sadly it was not open to see the inside . Walking back up town we were stopped by a young man who told us about his town , where to go and what to see .He was very happy to spend time explaining things to us .

Afterwards we headed back to Sauna Gabby . Seeking out shelter we headed for the graveyard . They are fascinating places . So different from ones back home. They are neat and tidy, no grass just white stone reflecting the sunlight . OUrs can be overgrown affairs , full of weeds and brambles , some full of sheep keeping the grass down . Overrun by ivy and holly and Rhodedendrum or set to wild flower meadow. Here they feel like towns of the dead . Row upon row of terrace full of utilitarian white flat like buildings . On each end of the block were private chapels with altars , pictures of Christ , the Virgin or a Cross . Do they rent these ? Are they on lease until you stop paying ? In between rows of what can only be described as boxes with pictures of the deceased on them and details names ages , date of death picked out in the same gold lettering . We were on our own with the exception of one lady tending to her flowers . She neither acknowledged us nor noticed us.

We sat in the shade near to the empty offices enjoying our time out of the sun . Then it happened . A car drew up. It drove around the lower car park . It was parked up and out came an official . Had she phoned him and complained about us sheltering in the graveyard from the sun? Was he just coming in to work? Whichever one he wished us a good day and wagged his finger at us . He pointed uphill and the only words he uttered were No No . Had we offended by doing something dreadful? We were not having a party nor being noisy . Just two old age pensioners trying not to fry in the sunshine . Have you ever been thrown out of a graveyard ? Me neither until today .

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