THe glory of a story
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life. Sharing experiences, memories and ideas so that they are out in the world for you to find when the time is right.
THe glory of a story
We'd set the clock for 6am the next morning, and headed down to catch the sunrise. That day we got a spectacular view, as the clouds gave way to the glory of the eastern rising. We enjoyed it thoroughly, wondering why we didn't make this a part of our day to day life, rather than a rare occasion in a distant land. It was breathtaking and much more enjoyable because we'd remembered to take our towels and sweaters.
The plan for the day was to explore Otranto. We'd been lost in the town a couple of times, but never really seen too much of it. Over morning coffee, I had read through the brochure that was given to us when we checked into the hotel, and decided to make sure that we saw both the remains of the castle as well as the Cathedral.
We parked a few blocks away and were there in good time, prior to 9am. The streets were relatively calm, with many shops not yet even open as we began to explore the seaboard and the streets leading up to it. We continued to make our way along the marina wall until we found the outer shell of the castle.
Once inside, it was like we'd walked into an entirely different town! The streets became even narrower, lined with shop upon shop selling all manner of souvenirs, jewelry, shoes, clothing, pastas and breads. There was little you couldn't find there, although many of the restaurants and shops were still closed.
We walked to the end of the castle walls, then made our way back, stopping to check a few of the many shops for souvenir ideas, and local crafts. Pottery is a huge thing in the area, and many of the shops had walls and walls of cute chubby little pottery people, dressed in every kind of apparel. They were adorable, and several caught my eye, but the worry about how to get them home with out having them shatter convinced me to leave them where they were.
After finishing most of the first street's sites, we took a walk upward, on another narrow winding street, not knowing where it lead, but curious to continue exploring.
Half way up or so, we realized that we had found the Cathedral that I'd read about. We entered in, and found ourselves in a beautiful ancient structure. There wasn't a clear indication as to when it was built, but the Pantaleone Mosaic on the cathedral floor was to have been done by a monk from the Abbey of San Nicola di Casole between 1163 and 1166. His artistry depicted life of all kinds from that period, both mythological and real, as the floor was covered completely with symbols, animals, humans and what is likely the 'Tree of Life'. How painstakingly patient he must have been to place the tens of thousands of tiny tiles in their position as he created the artwork that remains today.
When the Turks attacked Ontranto on August 14, 1480, many women and children took refuge in the Cathedral we stood in, but history tells that in the end the sanctuary was invaded, and most were killed. Over 800 people died trying to defend the town from the invasion, and in one small room on the right side of the church, glass cases house the bones and skulls of many of the murdered people, the men, women and the children. It's a chilling reminder to all of the brutality of war.
There is an eeriness to spending time in such a place, as you think about the horror of their deaths, the lives unlived, the centuries between then and now. This is but one reminder of atrocities that have been committed when men pit themselves against men. You can't help but think about how the spirits of those who died live on in the history and architecture of this town, and so many other ancient towns like it. It's a reminder of the shortness of life...both theirs and our own. It makes you want to grab onto life with both hands and hold on tight, as all to soon it will be over.
I was left wondering how many dreams were sealed behind the glass with the bones of the dead. Then I had to ask myself what dreams have I put behind glass, not allowing them to breath and come to life. How long will I leave them there stagnant and protected, before I realize that the days are long, but the years are short, and the clock continues to tick.
What dreams do you have tucked behind glass yourself? When will you take them out, dust them off and bring them to life?
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