Unexpected Art

November 25, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
The delightful town of Pietrasanta, in western Tuscany, modestly hides a treasure house of beauty. Step through the ancient town walls, and one sculpture after another waits to be discovered. Not surprising, since for centuries this has been the place where sculptors work their magic on the renowned marble of Carrara, a few kilometers north.

Stroll down the main shopping street, Via Giuseppe Mazzini and peek inside the little Chiesa di San Antonio for the biggest surprise in town.

Rather than the usual graceful, slim Madonna or saint, a jolly rotund Virgin welcomes those who approach the Porta del Paradiso, as a strumming angel provides the soundtrack: the unmistakable figures of world-renown, Colombian contemporary artist Fernando Botero… a part-time Pietrasanta resident.

And the cautionary tale on the opposite wall, chunky bodies scattered across the fresco… it warns of the torments of hell. Have you ever seen a plump skeleton before?

— Anne Woodyard and her husband are the founders of Music and Markets tours (www.musicetc.us), through which they introduce others to the wonders of Europe. Follow their current adventures via their blog, musicandmarkets.blogspot.com.

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