Florence

At first I wan’t sure about Florence, I was unprepared for the number of tourists here (foolishly) and after Naples it was a bit of a shock,  however, as I started to visit the galleries and churches, I suddenly got what all the fuss was about.

First (and as a sort of retreat), took the number 7 bus up to Fiesole to visit the Roman ruins and get the most spectacular view of Florence, the Archaeological museum there was also excellent. Then I visited the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni), both of which were breathtaking.

In many ways, it has been really good to go without knowing what I am going to see, I often have no idea of what I should expect at a place, I prefer to do most of my reading up after I have visited somewhere, this has allowed me to get an unadulterated first impression and enjoy the surprise and the wonder at each destination.

I am here for a few more day before I head to Rome, the weather has changed, its wet and much cooler and the two jumpers I packed have been needed, in the heat of Athens, I nearly discarded them, but I am so glad I didn’t.

IMG_5682My current look, you can tell I have had a drink while I was writing this.

IMG_5647Lettering starts to get decorative.

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Its difficult to see, but I loved the letters in the halo, they are so playful, check out the G in Mary’s halo.

IMG_5619There is colour everywhere you go in Florence

IMG_5488From the Uffizi museum

IMG_5680Gardens in Florence, bit to formal for my liking.

IMG_5679Last days in Naples with Eoghan

IMG_5677The heat of Naples seems a long way off now

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Stuff

I have been here in Naples for a week now, and I have seen loads of stuff, some of it in museums, some at archaeological sites, some in Churches and some just in the streets. There is stuff everywhere to look at!

I visited the Flavian Ampitheater in Pozzouli, which was full of inscriptions, many of them abandoned, a few cordoned off and some displayed by the ticket office and hidden behind plants. I made sure I had a good look at them all.

Pompei was great, too big to see all in one day, and at the end of the 8 hours I spent there I was knackered but really glad to have been!

What has struck me most about all the stuff, is the freedom of all the lettering I have seen, almost everything so far looks like it has been done very directly, there is lots of movement and irregularities in the forms, the lines, interline spacing and even the positioning of the body of the text onto the stone. For me marks, cut or painted, speak of the hands that made them, its evident in every mark that they are of the hand.

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Brush Lettering Pompei

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Carved Inscription Pompei

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Carved Lettering Pompei, and the biggest letters I have seen so far on my trip.

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Under the Arena at the Flavian Ampitheater Pozzouli

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Memorials by the ticket office, Pozzouli

Naples

I arrived in Naples on Monday and its quite a different city to Athens, its busier, dirtier, grittier and more difficult to get your bearings, at least for me. It feels just as hot as Athens as even though the temp is slighly lower, its more humid here.

I was a little sad to leave Athens as I had such a great time there. I had booked my room via airbnb and stayed with an amazing Brazilian women, Cristina, she went out of her way to make my stay special. It was my first time using airbnb and I was initially a little apprehensive about staying in someones home, but it turned out to be brilliant, my stay was all the better for it.

But now I am in Naples, staying in the center of town (again with airnbn and very nice Italian hosts), up on the 5th floor on a narrow street, its a great location where I can walk to almost everywhere from in city.

Yesterday I walked to the Capodimonte Museum, full of great artworks, not as much lettering as I thought there might be, but an inspiring place to visit nevertheless.

IMG_4358This is the view to the street below my bedroom balcony

IMG_4331IMG_4333IMG_4354IMG_4357My last day in Athens was spent at the Epigraphic Museum and the A Cemetery.

Delphi

Got back form a trip to Delphi yesterday AND IT WAS AMAZING!

I got the bus from Athens and stayed in a great little hotel that welcomed me with fresh fruit and fortified wine! Then as soon as I had checked in, I dumped my stuff in my room and headed out to visit the archaeological site, saving the museum for the next day.

Delphi is breathtaking, in it’s location and the ruins of the site, there is a lot of stuff to see and I spent hours walking round looking at it all. Loads and loads of lettering, much of it really tiny, (I can’t quite get my head round the size of some of the letters and how to cut like that),  even at 5-8mm tall they are still so visable after all these years, gave me a lot to think about!

For me though, the best bit was when I was making my decent on the first site (there are 3 sites over terraces) I was passing the Athenian Treasury and the whole southern wall was covered with this tiny lettering, glittering in the sun, it was beautiful. It was cloudy as I went up, so I had missed the carving, I was so glad I had taken the time to turn round and have another look! The scale of it was beautiful. I discovered the next day in the museum that the inscriptions are hymns to Apollo, and include some of the first inscribed musical notation. Made my day!

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Carving on the side of the Athenian Treasury

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The Treasury from above

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Delphi

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Some nice carving, I especially like the B

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Another new watch!

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Me on tour

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A nice man in the museum obviously took pity on me, perhaps it was my look!

Out and about in my first week.

Its still really hot here, today the temp got up 36 degrees so I have spent most of my time inside the museums, thankfully most of them seem to have aircon, I think the Epigraphical Museum must be an exception! The forecast is for the temp to drop next week to about 30 degrees, so I have been saving my outdoor excursions for the ‘cooler’ weather.

I enclose a few images below of things that I have seen, the images are from the Numismatic Museum (coin collections and a new word for me – and where I discovered the Athenian Owl) and the Benaki Museum, I think my favourite place so far, it also happens to have a great cafe on the second floor. The images are in no particular order.

My least favorite museum, possibly of all time, is the New Acropolis Museum – a beautiful building and there are masses of stunning carvings inside, but you are not allowed to take any photos at all. The 3 most beautiful decorative inscriptions I saw I have no images of. I did sketch them but a photo as reference would have been good too and as usual there are never any images of the items I want in the shop. This just feels mean!

Owl-coin-Numanistic-MuseumI love the way you can see how the letters are influenced by the making process here.

Penis-PlaqueThis just made me laugh, I love it!

Decorative-and-rough-stone-carvingI liked this a lot, I have not seen much quite like it for decoration so far.

1916-carvingThis is only from 1916, I think there is something really wonderful about it.

Refugees-WelcomeThis made me feel good as I walked into town yesterday.

6-9-15-sketch-bookNot quite finished, but thought I’d photograph it before the light fails.

My Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship

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My blog will be narrating what I get up to and see on my Travelling Fellowship. It will be a personal record of my journey, highlighting the best points, and also the worst points, as I make my way around Athens and on to Italy via Naples.

For those of you who don’t know (and there can’t be many now), I have been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship – I will be travelling in and around Athens and Italy looking at lettering inscriptions and letterforms for seven weeks. For more info on the Fellowships visit http://www.wcmt.org.uk, the application process is open until the 22 September if you are tempted to apply.

Today I visited the Epigraphical Museum  and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. I took a lot of photos, but also did some drawing and I was instantly reminded of the value of drawing. It forces you to look and see what is really in front of you and take note of things you can easily miss if you rely only on a camera.

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