The Vatican Visit- Part Two

Once you are in the Vatican, you have to go to see St. Peter's, one of the largest churches in the world. We may talk about mega-churches, but we have no idea. This is the mother church for four billion Catholics. Yes, I said billion. No Protestant denomination or even Orthodox one is even close in size. Yuliya and I were given permission to have 30 minutes in St. Peter's by ourselves. The picture above is of course of Peter, who has a shiny left foot, from so many pilgrims rubbing it for … [Read more...]

Bella Italia Part Four (More from Orvieto)

The views from the city on the hill (which cannot be hid) are pretty spectacular. For instance, consider these shots....There is a pretty good archaeological museum with some Roman remains such as....And also....But old fashion domestic life, like hanging out the wash is in evidence everywhere...And you can always find another vine covered ristorante for dinner....Or another child who is far from bored staring at the boar outside the butcher's shop... … [Read more...]

Bella Italia Part Three (the inside of Orvieto Cathedral)

Once you get inside the zebra cathedral, things change in some ways. First of all there is still the zebra look with the marble and the basalt alternating in the walls and columns.But you also have beautiful stained glass windows, frescoes, and alcoves.By far the most impressive part of the interior is the chapel of the apocalypse and its amazing frescoes, which in fact inspired Michaelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.. Here is some of the Wiki explanation....Fra … [Read more...]

Bella Italia– Part Two (The Trip to Orvieto)

On any showing, Orvieto cathedral is one of the most interesting, and unique cathedrals in all the world. In 1290, Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the building of this cathedral, originally designed to be a Romanesque basilica, using white marble and black basalt (hence the zebra look on the sides and back of the cathedral), as was so often the case, the cathedral was developed and added to over many centuries. Its front face and interior took on more of a Italian ornate Gothic style. … [Read more...]

Bella Italia– Part One (The Trip to Orvieto)

Perhaps my very favorite medieval town in a walled city on top of a small mountain is Orvieto in Umbria. It's only about an hour and a bit from Rome on the train, and well worth the trip. It has, among other things, a spectacular cathedral, equally spectacular food and beverages (including the famous Orvieto Classico wine) and lots of great shops. No wonder my alma mater UNC- Chapel Hill has a study house there. And you are about to see why I love this town. To get to it, you ride a train to … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part One

It was a beautiful Saturday morning (Oct. 26th). The sky was a brilliant Carolina blue, it was in the 60sF with a light breeze, and everything was clear and clean and sharply in focus. You had to work at it to take a bad picture on this morning. Yuliya, our Russian daughter, and I had taken a taxi to the Vatican to arrive in time for: 1) the reception; 2) the final two papers at the conference on the Historical Jesus; 3) the lunch with the Pope; 4) the audience with Pope Francis in Salle … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna— Part One

What was the Rome of Paul's day like. My trip last week to Rome, Pompey, Herculaneum and other spots just confirmed to me once again that the Romans were the technological genius's of their age. Just an hour or two of studying the gigantic aqueducts which brought water into the city will leave you in awe of Roman engineering. Above you see a wonderful recreating of the city as it was in the late first century, with over a million people living on top of one another. It was the largest city in … [Read more...]

Inferno—- Brown’s not Dante’s

I have not been a part of 'Brown nation' in the past, nor a big fan of his novels. The Da Vinci Code alone had more than 150 historical and religious errors in it, and was certainly not grande litterature. Was he capable of a mot juste--- not really. Was it a fun page turner? Sure.But in the case of Brown's latest Robert Langdon thriller, some things have improved markedly, and some things haven't. Inferno is a bio-terrorism thriller about a brilliant but apparently bonkers scientist … [Read more...]

I Always Had My Sox On— We are the Champions!!

g">Back in March I went off to England for three months. But I took my Soxs with me courtesy of Jason Jackson. After the debacle of finishing last, last season, to come back and go worst to first and win the World Series, it doesn't get any better than this. I would get up in the morning in England, and watch my sox over breakfast. Day after day, week after week, I pulled for my boys. And then something horrible happened on Patriots Day--- two terrorists tried to kill the spirit of … [Read more...]