I'm sure you're sick of hearing about Italy. But, this is my blog and I get to write about whatever I want.
Plus, I don't think you're really sick of it.
What is it exactly that's so great about Italy?
Funny you should ask.
Take this, for instance. This skeleton guy is hanging on a church wall. It's about 25 feet tall.
What a fantastic way to introduce your kids to church.
Scare the shit out of them right off the bat.
And not just once. Every single Sunday. I don't have stats but I'll bet Italy's crime rate among teens is lower than ours. Every time little Luca picks his nose, or punches little Isabella during the sermon, all Mama has to do is point.
This'll straighten his ass up, pronto.
If that's not enough, there's this.
It's on the other side of the same church.
Again, about 25 ft. tall.
I mean, come on. You know you're kids are gonna talk about you in therapy. Might as well make it worth their while.
This isn't in the same church.
Duh, it's not a skeleton.
This is in a different church. In the middle of the aisle.
Nothing like a corpse laid out on the floor to get the party started.
Yeah, yeah, I know. My hand basket is on its way to pick me up...blasphemy is my strong suit. But, really? Isn't this a little much?
Nah. You're right. It's fantastic and you can rotate churches with your kiddies.
Then there's this guy.
He's a dead guy covered with some kind of metal. A human made into sculpture. There's actually a bunch of these all over the place.
Lots of churches have their own dead guy.
I thought this was a good idea for me. If I go first, hubby can have me encased in metal and enshrined in a prominent spot like the living room. Or, the bedroom. Maybe even sitting on the couch with a glass of wine in my stiff, metallic, little hand.
It might decrease his chances of marrying again. But so what? Like that's my problem?
You might recognize her. I posted this photo on my Facebook page already. It's Saint Lucy. The patron saint of eyesight.
Hard to tell from this photo but those are her eyeballs in that bowl. A little confusing because she still has eyeballs in her head.
"It's too gruesome to paint her without eyes," Tour guide said.
Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of the other martyred Saints we saw. Mostly because they were in places we weren't allowed to take photos in.
Martyrdom is big. Apparently you've got to die a gruesome death and then you're in.
There's the guy who is always painted with giant rocks sticking out of his forehead and blood running down his face. He was stoned to death.
Me: "That's not too gruesome to paint?"
Tour guide: Silent.
There's the guy who's always painted holding his own skin since he was...skinned to death.
Me: "That's not too gruesome to paint?"
Tour guide: Silent
Or, the guy who's always painted with grill marks all over him because he was...you guessed it...barbecued.
I didn't bother to ask.
Virginity is good.
Sex is bad.
If you have sex its important that you don't like it and you're punished for it.
Even the Greek myths celebrate virginity among its Goddesses.
About the only acceptable way to get pregnant is by a snake, a pig, or an invisible man.
Hey, that's the way a lot of women get pregnant today. WTF? Coincidence?
See girls? We really are like Goddesses.
They've got these sassy little angels all over the place.
My favorite was one I couldn't photograph.
He was nude except for his chaps (butt-less of course) with a big, wide cowboy belt holding up the chaps. Picture Howard Stern's flight into the MTV awards that one year. But smaller. No shirt. Less hairy.
Speaking of Sassy.
This is Kinky Boots David.
I mean, Donatello's David.
Kinda like Michelangelo's David if his kitten-with-a-sword sex game had been interrupted by having to pose.
I mean, really. How much do you love this?
In case you couldn't decide...
Yeah, you love it.
I love the Italians.
Even our tour guide had to comment on it: "If you answer the door totally naked, it's entirely plausible that you just got out of the shower. If you answer the door naked, except for your hat, boots and sword...somethin's goin' on."
Yeah, we even had cool tour guides.
No photograph can do justice to this sculpture's magnificence. You really gotta be there.
At first, I felt ambivalent about seeing it. I've seen the replica in Caesar's Palace...that's pretty much the same, right?
Not even close. (For more on our ugly americanism see this).
In Florence, the message is: "We've got Michelangelo. You don't." And do they ever. What a guy.
He was only 26 when he finished the David.
He was in his early 30's when he painted the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. He'd only painted one painting before that and never a fresco which involves wet plaster and is very difficult. He didn't really like to paint.
He was hard to get along with.
He was obsessed with the nude, male form. He'd sculpt nude women but they looked like men, burly, buff men, with bad boob jobs. On the Sistine chapel ceiling even God has firm, taut, buttocks.
He'd drag his feet on projects he didn't want to do. Like a gigantic tomb for a Pope. It took him 40 years and he never finished it. Pieces of it are displayed around Italy.
He knew his own worth and died a millionaire. Part of his feet dragging involved negotiations. He'd stop work to re-negotiate his fee. Not starting again till he got the price he wanted.
He never married and when he died at 89 he had a young, male, Roman companion.
You go, Michelangelo. I'd love Italy just for him
Okay, this isn't really a toilet.
It's a bidet. Both of our hotels had them.
In restaurants toilets have no seats. Not even women's toilets.
In hotels you get double toilet action. I don't know about homes. We never got an invite. Shocking, I know.
I'm afraid of bidets.
How do you use it? Do you straddle it facing the wall? Do you sit on it like a regular toilet? Do you turn both handles? There's soap?
Too much pressure for me. I was afraid I'd have some embarrassing bidet accident that would go down as legend, talked about at every hotel staff party for years to come.
There is no one photo, or series of photos, than could ever do justice to Italy.
But, as you can tell, it's in my mind forever.
As a writer, I can't help but love a country that reveres its artists like Italy. Everywhere you go there's someone's artistic expression. No surface goes unloved, no building unadorned. The Italians value art, they preserve it, they restore it, they dig for it, they hang on to it.
It's a country where angels guide you, Saints have your back, and breathtaking beauty soothes your soul.
I've been humbled by gratitude ever since I laid eyes on it.