Monday, September 14, 2009


When I first came to Italy with my parents, at the time Katherine Hepburn was spending a holiday in Venice, our encounter with beggars, usually outside churches, shocked us. In our very English way we felt our superiority, for there were no beggars in England, That was the consequence of being a Catholic country! How times have changed. There are still beggars here, but fewer and mostly of the traditional kind - ancient women with toothless faces and haggard looks.

It was all part of the way we viewed unreformed Italy - probably Europe. But what this visit has reminded me is of the devastation of art and architecture wrought by the Reformation and Commonwealth. One can hardly recommend Italy for its political life, but what did we loose in England? Might we now be able to boast of our 14th and 15th century art? We may never have bred a Brunelleschi or Giotto, but what was destroyed by similar nameless and unknown artists whose works we admire in Tuscany? Works of which we have no record, just a few traces of the wonders that once enriched our churches and cathedrals by men whose names are not known. Florence gives an idea of what we lost.

However, I will be glad to leave this place! The BB Republica is fine, but the noise from the cafe on the other side of the Piazza has beaten me. So-called jazz blares out each night from 11pm to 1.15am. It is amplified to a point that it must be heard in Pisa and echoes down the side streets and into my window. Complaints have brought shrugs from the manager - "an artist from Verona - you know him?" I didnt and I would not recommend him to anyone who isnt deaf. So I have decided to move to Siena on Wednesday. I planned to visit there but realise I need more than a day to discover the city. And it will give me the chance to explore further afield. So it seems a sensible, if unplanned, move.

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