Sunday, November 21, 2021

Artnotes: And a Clean Car


Castello Orsini-Odescalchi   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 18"  30 x 45cm  550.00
We picked up a Parisian friend in Rome on Wednesday.  We arranged a meeting place near Termini station and made a quick getaway from our dangerous stopping point.  We had initially planned to go out to the beach at Santa Severa, with its Maritime and Etruscan museums, but the weather was dicey.  “I’ve heard Lake Bracciano is good,” R suggested.  He writes the EyePreferParis blog, and knows not only about fun around Paris, but everywhere.
Inkwell   Laurie Fox Pessemier  lithograph 4 x 6"  10 x 15 cm  75.00
Blair has always wanted to visit the Orsini Castello in Bracciano, so we set our GPS on the Lake.  It took about an hour to arrive, with only one wrong turn, despite Google’s best efforts in directing us the the right lane.
Blair and Harika at Lake Bracciano (archives)   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 11"  40 x 27cm  450.00
We stopped on the way for pastry – Italian, always a little too sweet, but I love the pistachio filling – and coffee.  We agree Italy has the best coffee, France the best wine.  In Bracciano, we park in a lot, because it’s hard to tell what’s legal or not on the street.  At this lot, we can park for 2 euros an hour, or get our car washed for 15 and parking is free.  We take the wash.
Light  Laurie Fox Pessemier lithograph  6 x 4"  15 x 10cm  n/a
The Castle, at the pinnacle of the city, is open.  We appear to be the only visitors, but part way we bump into another couple also looking out over the enormous volcanic lake.  It’s 32 kilometers around (about 20 miles) and over 150 meters (500 feet) deep.  It has that blue tinge, reflecting the changing sky.  Most areas around the lake are lightly inhabited. 
The Castello Orsini-Odascalchi, built in the 15th century, was occupied until 1952, and it’s amazing well preserved, livable, even…   It is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture, fitted around 10th century towers to observe encroaching Saracens.  The ceilings, way up there, are unusually beautiful, and the frescoed walls, timeless.   If the walls could talk, they would tell you about the Orsinis and Borgias, popes and excommunication.   The castle now is mostly used for weddings of movie stars and at Christmas-time, it has the most elaborate living celebration I have ever seen, with horses and Renaissance costuming having little to do with Bethlehem.
We ate a delicious lunch at a nearby outdoor restaurant, the Cucina ai Monte.  I had black and white rice, a classic fish dish; Blair took the Baccala;  our friend had what was voted the world’s best couscous (it must have been, he ate it all).   When we got to our car, it was still undergoing a deep cleaning, the mats hanging from the rafters.  We went to a coffee shop and had a brew and “St. Agatha’s breast”, a sweet cookie with a decorative piece of fruit.  We talked about going to the St. Agatha festival in Catania in February.  For now we jumped in the cleanest car in Italy and drove to Stimigliano.
Stimigliano View   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  15 x 18"  37 x 45cm  550.00

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