November 15, 2014 – Udine

The people at the Astoria Hotel have upgraded us to a suite for some unknown reason. It’s nice to have the extra room but the windows, which have to be open since it is too hot in the room otherwise (the A/C doesn’t work this time of year), is right on the market square. At least until past 2 AM there are drunken louts yelling in the street and cars with yelling occupants blowing their horns plus shortly before 6 AM the city recycling truck picks up the bin of empty bottles which sounds even louder than when our recyclables are dumped at home. Add to this the crying baby across the hall and you have a bad night’s sleep.

It’s raining today but we have places to go and things to see. We start at the Udine Duomo, the Cathedral of St. Mary. Construction of the building started in 1236 and if you look hard you can still see vestiges of the early church.

The church of St. Mary (Udine Duomo) stock photo
The church of St. Mary (Udine Duomo) stock photo

Above the door is a carving from the 1300's of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ
Above the door a is carving from the 1300’s of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ

The interior shows much of the fashionable update from the 18th century. Old frescoes have a been covered with romantic visions and even some of the things that still exist have been gussied up.
Perfectly good Madonna and Child now wear crowns and jewelry
Perfectly good Madonna and Child now wear crowns and jewelry

Next door at the Museo del Duomo there are still some of the early works including wonderful frescoes and paintings of St. Nicholas and a sarcophagus of Blessed Bertrand, a bishop who died at the age of 90 in 1350. The sarcophagus carvings do not leave out the grisly details.
The bodies of Sts. Ermagora and Fortunatus without their heads. A man holds the two heads in a drape.
The bodies of Sts. Ermagora and Fortunatus without their heads. A man holds the two heads in a drape.

There is a lady docent here who follows us around. She is very nice but she doesn’t speak any English and doesn’t really know much about any of the artworks. She does, however, keep me from taking pictures.

Next stop, the Patriarchal Palace which now functions as an art museum. We have only 45 minutes to see this as we are reminded that the blessed Italian lunch must be observed for three hours. We get the audio tour and start with woodcarvings from the Middle Ages. The lady from downstairs comes rushing up to us. “No,no, time is short! Tiepolo upstairs!” Seriously, I would much rather look at the woodcarvings but we follow her upstairs since trying to explain would be pointless. We look at the Tiepolos. Yes, very nice. Then we hurry downstairs again to see the woodcarvings.


Then there is a great altarpiece with 10 carvings. The upper tier are all lady saints. It seems like there was only one model.
Altarpiece
Altarpiece

Here are close-ups of the lady saints –

These are the Stepford wives of the New Testament.

Obviously we have seen a lot of stuff so far today. Our plan for the rest of the day is to have a late lunch, stop at the store to buy something to eat later in the room, and watch the ATP Tour World Finals.

One last picture to epitomize much of our vacation.

Old churches and rain
Old churches and rain

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