I don’t always have material to write about so don’t like to write unless I’ve something new and meaningful to share; thankfully I’ve got something for this month’s post. I recently spent some time in Genoa Italy – which I found enchanting, beautiful, but with a shade of sadness within the town and its streets. I can’t put my finger on it, but some kind of ache for feelings and people past, got into my skin. It is also a place where time can stand still if you let it even though at times it is a fast place with people rushing about. But head out into the restaurants, coffee shops, the harbour with its views if you climb high enough, and the coast, and you are transported to a different time and level.
My fascination is with a statue in the rock at Monterossa, on the Cinque Terre (meaning Five Lands):
Bombs and harsh seas have reduced the giant man, ‘Il Gigante’ to an armless, over-powering figure keeping watch over the sea. He is Neptune, built in 1910. It was designed and built by Arrigo Minerbi, a Jewish Italian sculptor who had works in several cathedrals. In 1937 he was forced into hiding due to his Jewish ancestry. The statue is far from timid and shows its strength in its ruin – it is a ruin yes but its beauty is in its decay – it retains its watchful and perceptive eye on humanity. Is he holding up the world, and suffering as a result?
As I write this I can’t help but think of this figure as the ‘Ecce Homo’ – ‘Behold/Here is the man’ – which is especially poignant at Easter. The figure is not a personal one but nor is it removed from us. It is a human and we can identify with this. It is solid, yet at times, probably crumbling. Like our fragile world, and its people.
I was also interested in the writing on the walls in the streets in Genoa – in its alleyways mainly. Again there are links with my feelings for the giant – the words in the photo below mean ‘we are dead to the dead’ and ‘we have lost our meaning/centre’. Powerful and worrying words. If this is the case, this is tragic. Have we? What meaning do we have in our lives?
I leave you with the image of The Man; weak and strong at the same time, like us all, and always vulnerable.