Saturday, August 30, 2014

Every Day a Little Death: San Ponziano, Spoleto, Italy

Entrance to San Ponziano 

Spoleto's cemetery is across the road 

San Ponziano has been stripped of many of its decorative elements 

Unusual combination of porphyry and green marble 

18th century painting 

Baroque organ loft 

St. Francis of Assisi 

"Every day a little death" 

The real thing: saint under an altar 

St. Sebastian 

A strangled boy 

Saint pointing to his wound

The Crypt 

Madonna & Child 

The Angel of San Ponziano 

San Ponziano with La Rocca in the distance 

You've seen the angel of San Ponziano a few posts back, but I didn't show you the whole shebang, did I? Well, this post will rectify matters considerably since I was picture happy on the morning these photos were taken. Speaking of which: Did you catch the one of the dead saint under the altar? I thought about including it in this post. "Wouldn't that be rather macabre?" I thought. Well, even if it is creepy as all get out, death is part of life, despite Western culture's issues with it. To get that shot, I had to hold my iPhone up against the glass. Yes, I held my breath. 

No one gets out alive. That much we know. Having survived the terrible decade of AIDS in New York City (it's not really gone I should note), I went to my share of funerals, dumbstruck by the onslaught that would not abate. Men were dropping like flies, sixty-five to be exact at the opera where I sang, one tenor even saying rather sardonically that he was having a career because everyone in his "fach" was dead.

San Ponziano is right across from an ancient burial ground, which is still in use, containing all manner of tombs and monuments which I will save for a latter post (the pyramid was a favorite). Built in the 12th century, the church was completely renovated in 1788, which covered up its ancient columns and stonework that are now hidden behind plaster and paintings, as well as a beautiful organ loft. However, the crypt has survived intact, and contains vibrant frescos and several sarcophagi. I stood in its depths with my Umbrian Serenades buddies Stephen and John—having caught up with an eloquent guide who's English was a hell of a lot better than my Italian—and heard some of San Ponziano's history which is quite fascinating. The story about the kid who was strangled? I think you should hear it in situ, then go have a fabulous lunch at Il Panciollewere strangozzi is on the menu and the grilled vegetables are utterly amazing.

Photo Credit: Daniel's Dinky iPhone. The title of this post references Sondheim's "A Little Night Music."  

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