And it is truly a serendipitous encounter when in one of your aimless wandering through the streets at twilight you look up and see a dragon.
Christmas has come to the East London Cemetery.
Fountains, trees and the occasional tombstone were all adorned with red bells, faded but still glittery wreaths and flowers.
It was very spooky indeed.
A view from a place that will not be my house for much longer.
Yesterday I went grave hunting at the monumental cemetery in Rome.
I saw where family and what could have been family rested. This time walking among tombs, mosquitoes and the occasional cat wasn’t as thrilling as usual, just odd, very, very odd.
That was certainly unexpected.
In the jungle of memorials commemorating defeated or victorious revolutionaries and celebrated or forgotten artists, there was another thing that surprised me.
For the first time in years something is being done to let the Romans known of the existence of the cemetery. I appreciated the effort of ama (Roman waste collection company which is in charge of the cemetery) to show how fundamental Verano is to Italian identity. Guided tours preserve memory from forgetfulness caused by fear of something allegedly out of the ordinary and crass prejudice.
I will miss you ivy or, maybe, not.
Byzantine influence ruled over Rome in the VIII century A.D. In a privileged time between ancient glory and future decadence, Byzantium revived the illusion of eternity. It slowed the death of the city by shrouding both past and imminent decline in a golden veil.
Above all Byzantine art glorified desolation and ordinary life. This passion was so strong that it has survived for centuries inside the a-temporal atmosphere of more than one church.
The penchant for holy magnificence made resplendent even the Statio annonae where Romans used to receive their share of grain. There in a dramatic crescendo of improbable adornments taken from dreary buildings and sewers was built Saint Mary in Cosmedin. The supremacy of adorned mysticism over religious simplicity could be admired also in the name: Cosmedin from κοσμίδιον "beautifully ornate".
The survival of uniqueness created out of ordinariness still welcomes the modern “pilgrim” to Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
Near the celebrated manhole cover, the Bocca della Verità, two Medieval slabs of stone suggest the ambiguous, albeit sempiternal, union of ethereal art and earthly virtuosity characterizing both commerce and prayer.
In what looks like an arranged chaos of letters, this charta lapidaria speaks of two Roman dukes who, thanks to their donations, allowed the devoted crowd to feed its soul by feasting on Greek magnificence.