|10" x 7", ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook|
The sun was sinking low in the sky as we walked out into the cool evening air. When we rounded a corner and saw the tower before us, I was surprised at how beautiful the whole scene was. Long, slanting shadows fell across the spring green grass, and the white marble buildings glowed against a deep blue sky.
The tilting bell tower sits on a wide, grassy piazza next to an extraordinary cathedral with incredible mosaics and ornate sculpted bronze doors. Beyond the cathedral is the baptistery and off to one side sits the camposanto ("walled cemetery"), and cloister building. Medieval walls built in the twelfth century surround the grounds and set the piazza apart from the bustling city outside.
Oh, of course there were tourists - lots of people doing silly things, posing for pictures of themselves holding up (or pushing over) the tower. Everyone was happy, laughing, and having fun.
But amidst all that, there was a peacefulness and serenity to the place that I hadn't expected at all. I walked around for awhile, admiring the mosaics, the carvings, the architecture. It was absolutely beautiful. What a shame it would have been to miss all this!