I arrived at Arte Studio Ginestrelle yesterday. It is a 19th century farmhouse that originally
housed animals in the lower level. Today, the lower level is made up of three different kitchens and a large communal space for the artists in residence. The house is very charming and has a real sense of history that seems to invite discovery in and around it.
Last night I had dinner with Marina, the director, Jo, a visual artist from Alaska, and Tommie, a writer from Finland. We had a lot of fun chatting about cultural differences, from food to how to call a cat or other animals, to traditions that accompany different holidays. We laughed a lot at some of the random things we discovered.
Today was my first full day in the town of Assisi. Apart from the masses of the Italian version of girl scouts, wearing monks clothes and lady bug beenie hats, that swarmed around in the earlier part of the day, it was easy to maneuver. Though no photography is allowed in most churches, I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences within.
Some of the pigments in the frescos in the Basilica of Saint Francis have oxidized, actually giving it an inverted look that plays with your perspective. I sat in a side chapel in the lower church during mass and was deeply moved by it. (The lower church is the older part over which a grander basilica was built and frescoed by Giotto, Cimabue...it was awesome to see both levels of frescoes!!) When the priest sang, it was so beautiful, perhaps because I have not experienced mass before or perhaps because I did not focus on the words, since I don't understand Italian very well...regardless, this was a thin place for me filled with pure beauty, both audible and visual with the frescoes all around. I think Lent is a perfect time to explore art in Italy, there is a heightened sensitivity to the imagery.
In the Basilica of St. Clare, there was a misty haze from the incense that glowed in the late afternoon sun coming through the rose window. Again, a thin place for me.