Ravenna

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Basilico of San Francesco – the point at which I crossed paths with my 20-year-old self. This was the first thing I remembered from my previous visit. (The holes in the brickwork once held the scaffolding.)

I came to Ravenna when I was 20 to look at the mosaics and get a tan. I saw the mosaics, but it rained and I never got that tan. I had no idea then who the Byzantines were or how the later Roman empire was divided between east and west. I couldn’t put names or dates to things. That holiday in Italy was something of a purgatory: wandering around churches and galleries, aware that these things were significant but not knowing how or why. Like Rita in “Educating Rita”, I wanted to know more. I spent much of that summer at my desk reading histories of the Roman empire during slack times. And, like Rita, I now know something about the stuff I see.

I spent a lot of time in the Uffizi that winter getting to know Simone Martini’s Annunciation – always the first painting I came to. I still don’t care for the Virgin’s sulky face, but eventually I found the rest beautiful

But I did like those Ravenna mosaics from the off.

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About aides mémoires

This is a chronological list of things I have seen, places I have visited, and thoughts that have wandered through the space between my ears. A reading group of one; an art appreciation society limited by my preferences and prejudices; opera criticism by one who knows nothing about the subject.
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