Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Touring Aversa

Today I took a tour into the nearby town of Aversa. This is not a town that would be on any tourist's route because it's attractions can also be found in locations that are prettier, more easily accessible, and in far greater number. But Aversa is our nearest large city to the Support Site base with a handy, little bus which picks up right outside the gates and drops passengers off at the Aversa train station - which connects us with downtown Napoli and Rome, and thus, the rest of the country. But Aversa on its own is a nice destination for military families living out here. The town has over 100 churches, one of which we toured (not the one in the photo).

The cathedral we toured has one of the most gorgeous interiors of any I've ever seen. A friend who has traveled throughout Europe once remarked to me that once you've seen one cathedral, you've seen them all. She didn't mean it quite that literally, but on my backpacking trip back in 2003, I began to understand. There's a cathedral on every street corner, and they all hold remarkable paintings, plasterwork, altars, etc. It's very easy to quickly reach cathedral apathy. The cathedral we toured today, though, was stunning. The walls and ceilings were painted white, so even with the soaring arches overhead, we could clearly make out the ornate plasterwork. Marble floors were being buffed as we walked by staring at the artwork, and then we reached the truly amazing parts. Normans conquered this region back in the 1000s or so. At that time, they built this cathedral, and in the back of the church, we could see the part of the church still standing that was built by those Normans over 1000 years ago. In addition, some surviving, plaster panels were on display with artwork unlike most European cathedral art. As one of our tour members commented, the panels had a design more reminiscent of the South Pacific than of what we'd think of as Celtic influenced. In addition there was a replica of Mary's (mother of Jesus) house set right into the front of the cathedral. There are often little side chapels and the like, but this was an entire, freestanding house. Apparently, after Mary died, a wealthy family from around here brought her house to the region and put it on their land. This cathedral had a replica built of it and has turned it into a gorgeous chapel. Unfortunately, photographs were forbidden. I would have loved to share this place in photos with you.

Aversa has a small historic section, and while wandering up the main, historic street, we came across this:
Just an old column supporting this building, containing a clothing store. Living with this ever-present reminder of ancient history seems so overwhelming to me. Everywhere I turn, there are ruins or churches a millenia old, or ornately-carved decorations on crumbly, old buildings that are probably 300+ years old, or a lake that the ancients thought was the portal to Hades (more on that later since we'll be living about 1/2 a mile from it - yep. we're moving in next door to Hell - fantastic. I hear there is a lovely, little nature walk around it, enhanced by the faint smell of sulfur.). I want to learn about all of it, but I start reading the history of one little thing, which leads to all these other tangents, and then I get lost in the mythological world of Sirens and Hades and Sybil the Oracle (we're also living just down the street from her cave).

Aversa also offers a nice bit of shopping, including several outlets, a mozzarella di bufala shop, restaurants, and a wine store that sells wine out of humongous, metal vats for 1.5 euros per liter (a liter is slightly larger than a typical bottle of wine). The shopkeeper sticks your bottle (your own or one you buy for .20) under a tap, much like a soda fountain. There were about 10 wines to choose from. I tried the first tonight - it's not going to win any awards from me, but for 1.5euros, it tastes great!

When Nathan returned home, we headed out to visit Auchan...Italy's version of WalMart. Surprise, surprise - we did NOT get lost on the way, but then, we weren't using the GPS. At Auchan, I was just overwhelmed by such a large store after weeks of not seeing anything like it. It has a lot of groceries, which we skipped on by to check out the wine and liquor sections. They are excellent, by the way. We'd planned to then stop at the nearby Decathalon (think Sports Authority), but the sheer volume of people and stuff in Auchan forced us to take cover in the car and plan our retreat. We'll storm the castle another day.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like there is a lot of wine to choose from. Please check it out and find the kind with the least amount of sugar. :-)