Another book, this one dealing with the (often hidden) meaning of
architectural features and designs in mediæval cathedrals and other
buildings, heightened my interest in the Byzantine influence in Italy. In
2005 (see pictures on this Web site from that trip) I saw the magnificent
Basilica of San Marco in Venice, and was impressed with how much the
Byzantine culture -- in those days, a world away down in Constantinople
(Istanbul) -- had shaped the design and decoration of that church.
Little did I know that Byzantine mosaics and motifs were lying in wait
all over Italy and Sicily. So I noted some of the most prominent
examples, along with other (to me) interesting things to see, and the
rest is history. (Well, in a way, it's all History.)
As you slog through these examples of Byzantine architecture and art, you might want
to keep in mind the "mother" of them all, Hagia Sophia, built in 537 in Byzantium
(Constantinople/Istanbul), the centre of the Byzantine style in the first place.
My visit to that unforgettable building in 2011 is recorded in pictures on this
Web site in case you need a refresher.
(Travel Note: Padova to Wien on an overnight train in a sleeper compartment,
"room-service" breakfast included)
The Musée D'Orsay in Paris doesn't allow photographs (even though other museums
such as the Vatican and Louvre do), but I took this one anyway. (So sue me.)
To help in your enjoyment of this weirdness (my apologies to the Welsh, who are, indeed, my ancestors!), here are the names of the stations the longsuffering announcer is reading:
First, there is Nicolas Flamel, original proprietor of the restaurant in Paris pictured
earlier in this journey. He figures prominently in the plot of the first Harry Potter
movie, and is even partly responsible for the "Philosopher's Stone" (known
in America as the "Sorcerer's Stone") of the title.
Second, as the first two Harry Potter movies used Alnwick Castle for location shooting, I felt
particularly connected, as I had just been there (Alnwick) three days earlier. I mentioned
this to the guy selling me my admission ticket, and he even pretended to be interested!