Thursday, September 11, 2008
The city of Pontremoli is perhaps the most perfect of all cities ( ah yes post has nothing to do with gratuitous pictures for pleasing grandmothers. . . . ) as I was saying, I know that I am of course biased, but the city of Potremoli is truly the most perfect city I have ever encountered, being laid out on a line which Belloc reminds us in the Path to Rome is the function of a civilized town, all rotund designs being barbarian. Additionally it has both country and city in perfect harmony with one another and is happily situated on the narrow strip of land between two rivers. For its population of 6,000 it is amazingly cultured offering one of the most pretigious literary awards, in Italy. There are theatres, ballets, markets, cultural festivals, etc. and so on. In its heyday it boasted a seminary, a monastary, a convent, a fortress, and an episcopal seat, and off the top of my head I can count at least six catholic churches. Incredible. But all this is nothing compared, to my favorite aspect of Pontremoli-- that no matter how many times I visit it, there is always another suprise.
Last market I popped into the duomo to visit the little side chapel where the Tabernacle is. On my way in, to the right, where there used to be a fairly normal Italian altar was instead said altar, with the marble front removed and behind glass, a dressed corpse in full regalia, lying on his side ala Liz Taylor with his head rested on his palm. I asked the little turtley man who is always tidying the church what it was and it turns out Potremoli has its own Roman martyr which was brought from the catacombs in the 800s. Apparently they air the little fellow out every ninth of September and then close him up again the following day. Thank you dear pontremoli for reminding me that things are not always what they seem and that we really need to resurrect the burying of saintly folk in altars. What a cool Catholic tradition.