November 30, 2017
For the second time this year, I have been able to receive a guest from the USA in my humble apartamento in Liguria. My friend, Mindy Shears, a friend from my old Real Estate Life, came here to spend a week with me and Italy.
Tuesday morning, I took the train to Milano Centrale boarding before dawn, to meet Mindy. Mindy has been doing some major world travel exploration in the last few years. She is a very fun person who always makes me laugh. And I was so glad to introduce her to Italy. I wasn’t sure that I could keep up with her healthy, high energy. This was going to be a fun challenge. We each had a slice of pizza before boarding the long, flat train ride to the sea and my home.
Over the few weeks prior to her arrival, I asked Mindy what she knew about Italy and the northern part especially. That would help us narrow down what we could manage. She wanted to see the Egypt Museum in Turin, Visit Florence and spend some time in Milan. Oh, she wanted to get to know my town of Chiavari too. We had seven days, limited budget and high hopes.
We spent the first night in Chiavari where I cooked her risotto, we shared wine and laughed until jet lag set in. The next morning, we set out for Torino, Turin, for a long one-day trip. Our first goal was a bit of wandering through part of the town on the way to the Egypt Museum. We both enjoyed the architecture, the lovely and organized city along the way. Holiday lights were also hung.
As a long term Egyptophile myself, I was anxious to arrive at the museum. I fell in love the Egyptian History in fifth grade and first visited the country in 1996. I have been there a total of 3 times and am always visiting museums holding Egyptian artifacts wherever I go. Mindy also had a fascination with art, history and archeology. We were like two kids in a candy store.
Along with the price of a ticket, we were given the audio tour guide system. From the first comments you could hear the immense pride of the Italians for their history in discovering and preserving artifacts from Ancient Egypt. The museum was well organized, beginning with the oldest treasures and moving through the Greco-Roman era. Finally, at the lowest level, were the largest pieces, my favorites. Here are photos of a fraction of what we enjoyed.
1. The Book of the Dead, written on Papyrus along an entire wall. This tool assisted in moving through the challenges of the afterlife and was buried in the sarcophagus with the embalmed body. Below is a sample of one panel of it.
2. Speaking of the dead, below is a photo of a mummy on his side, resting. This one is very early and, if I recall correctly, was a natural mummification in the sands of Egypt.
3. There were beautiful examples of artistic wall paintings. Here is one below.
4. And the false doors built into the resting places of the Pharaohs where their spirit leaves their mummy and walks the night among the people.
5. What’s next? Stone tablets in hieroglyphics showing offerings to the gods.
6. Many tiny sculptures accompanied the soul to the burial ground. There are many theories. Most believe that these are the servants and animal friends that accompany the deceased throughout eternity. This particular group fascinated me.
7. We moved through the middle kingdom and onto the New Kingdom. The well-crafted bronze below was another piece that captivated me.
8. I could show 100 photos here. I need to skip to my favorite section, the lower level with mostly New Kingdom sculptures and bronzes.
9. Ramses the Great, Ramses II, (above and below) the longest reigning Pharaoh who supposedly had over 100 children and may have been the Pharaoh described in the Old Testament as the one presiding over Moses, the ten plagues including the first Passover. He has more self-likenesses than anyone in Egypt. This work is exquisite.
The detail is incredible.
10. And then there is Sekmet, the female goddess who is loved and feared equally.
This Lion-Headed goddess could heal or kill at her own discretion.
11. Hathor was the goddess of women’s health and childbearing.
She was depicted as a cow or as a cow-headed human as above. She was the goddess of beauty and of the act of motherhood.
12. The goddess Teweret pictured below was the goddess of childbirth and is shown as a crocodile headed, pregnant woman here.
In Egypt, her major shrine is at Komombo in Upper Egypt. Women would come there to bear their children on ingenious chairs with holes where the baby would drop out below into hands of an attendee. We now, in modern day, are just beginning to examine this less painful, more natural, way of delivering our young. Amazing, isn’t it?
Torino also is famous for the Shroud of Turin, a relic believed to be the wrapping of Jesus Christ at his burial. The jury is still out on that but most Roman Catholics believe it is a relic. Mindy wanted to see it. I wasn’t sure it would be on display but we walked to the church where it is housed.
It was not on display. All we saw were this photo of the head portion and a video of the shroud. By this time, it was dark. We had walked and shopped a bit. It was time for dinner and our 9pm train ride back to Chiavari.
My still healing left foot was killing me. But we marched on, slowly, enjoying the scenery and shopping for boots.
We finally chose a little trattoria to eat near the train station, Trattoria De Felice. We were the early birds, arriving as it opened around 730. We shared a wonderful meal.
Our main course was gnocchi with sausage and mushroom in olive oil. As usual, the food was regional and luscious. We were tired, overloaded on art and ready for the somewhat boring ride on the train.
Going to and from Milano and to and from Torino is a fairly bland experience. These are PLAINS mostly until you approach Torino o Genova near my home. That was all right. With this blitzkrieg type of touring we all need a big of ordinary to realign our brains.
There is so much more to Turin besides what we experienced and besides skiing. I need to go back but this is all the time we had this time.
Early the next morning we were back on the train and moving toward my favorite city, Florence. Want to hear more about it? And what you can do in only two nights in Florence. That will be next week’s blog.
Ciao for now!
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Ciao for Now!
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