26 Feb 2015

Fossanova Abbey (2)

The Abbey of Fossanova is famous for its Gothic-Cistercian architecture and is situated near the town of Priverno at the foot of the Lepini Mountains. Originally a Benedictine monastery in the 12th century it was taken over by the Cistercian Order.  The monks first drained the marshy land by digging a ditch to run of the water (new ditch - fossa nuova) and a new church was built. It's less than an hour's drive from our village so Priverno and the abbey at Fossanova is one that we know well.  The woods in the area are a good place to have a picnic and gather wild asparagus when it's in season around about Easter time.

The frescoes on the otherwise unadorned walls in the abbey and others in the monastery date back to the 14th century.


The Cloister: Rectangular in shape, three of the sides are Romanesque in style whilst the Gothic-styled fourth side was constructed much later in the 13th century and was done with the help of Roman marble workers. The covered kiok with its pyramid-shaped cover supported by beautifully-carved columns was typical of Cistercian monasteries.  Here the monks would use the wash basin during different times of the day - first thing in the morning, after work and before meals.

On our last visit we also went into the buildings where travellers would have stayed. Here Thomas Aquinas, the theologian, died whilst he was on a journey to Lyon where there was to be an important church council meeting. His cell and a chapel can be visited on the upper floor accessed by a narrow, winding staircase. Thomas Aquinas was originally from the local area in South Lazio and a family castle is situated in a hill town near to where we live in Italy.

                                                                 the cell of Thomas Aquinas

                                                                             the chapel

                                                             the wooden canopy over the altar

                                                             a bee - a detail of the marble altar
                            Among other things, the bee in Christian art symbolises the resurrection.

a corner of the monastery garden

This will be my last post for a while as I'm taking a blogging break.

                                                 I hope you have a happy March!

25 Feb 2015

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year celebrations took place in London last weekend and I'm sharing some of my daughter's photos as well as some others of my own from last Sunday when I was in Sheffield city centre for a morning church service and happened on a Chinese group parading through the streets on our way back to the car park.

As well as the parades, street dancing, music and stalls selling food there were special stage performances around the Trafalgar Square area.

Below Sunday morning in Sheffield.

The group had passed before I could get out my camera to take photos so I only got some back views. 'The Lion' was extremely lively and nimbly climbed up and down steps and along the edge of one of the raised pools outside the City Hall in the piazza called Barker's Pool!

'The Lion' dancing on the edge of the pool

Other entertainment was going on in Barker's Pool!  It wasn't my 'cup of tea' .........

so I'll leave you with some of the plants and flowers in the Winter Garden when I was in the city yesterday doing some shopping.  I was glad to spend some time in there on a very cold day.

23 Feb 2015

The old village

The seasons come and go with different work to be done on the land and in the garden. At this time of the year the vines need pruning, the bushes need trimming and the leaves that have dropped and accumulated have to be cleared from the driveway.

The shepherd and sheep dogs come down the lane and the sheep graze on the grassy plots of land around the area.

Now is the lambing season and we see mothers and lambs on the land above the house.

We know when our neighbour's geese across the way are being fed because of the noise they make when he comes to feed them on his small holding! He has a hut with a covered eating-out area. He and his wife had a trattoria in the area, but now they've retired and potter around the small holding.

More geese further up the lane - most of the following photos were taken in October.

Although we live on the outskirts of the old village we go there to visit DH's oldest sister who lives with her daughter. Some of the old houses have been restored whilst others are now used as buildings to store produce and farming equipment.

an open-air washing area where the spring water constantly runs off the mountains into the stone tanks - no longer used (old photo)
a barn

We went to look for my husband's sister as she was not at home and her daughter told us she had gone for a walk which was good to hear as she had a fall just before Christmas 2013 and injured her back.  She spent several weeks in a clinic before returning home. Each time we visit her we've seen an improvement with the help of her family as carers. Although frail she was determined to become mobile once more and she reminds me of my MinL who also fell and broke her back whilst she was working on the land around her daughter's house (another one of DH's sisters who lives along our lane near to us). MinL also gained mobility for several years afterwards and it was a privilege to have lived near her in the 1990s. She's much missed.  She would walk up to our house to see us as did my sister-in-law before her fall even though it was quite a distance from the old village.

We went looking for her in the vineyards and found her gathering cicoria leaves that are similar to spinach when cooked.

We accompanied her back home passing some of the old houses and others that are being restored.

One of the village bread ovens
This house is being restored, but only gradually as time permits.
Below is what it looked like about twenty years ago.

Back at the house of the niece and her husband we stopped for a chat, met Pedro, a family pet bird, and then left my sister-in-law to sit in the garden in the sunshine and rest.