Friday, May 16, 2014


I spent three days in lovely Liguria, but have no photos or sightseeing adventures to report.  My Ligurian friend Marina was recently hospitalized after suffering a stroke, and my friend Riccardo and his three daughters are rallying around her to give love and support.  I was able to spend a little time with Riccardo and to visit Marina once in the hospital, but it was hard to enjoy my last days in Italy with my friends suffering the stress caused by this health crisis.  I ask all of my friends and family who believe in the power of prayer to say one for my friend Marina, that she might recover completely from this illness.

I moved on to Avignon, in the province of France, last Sunday.  I love my apartment here, especially the lovely garden and the stone wall of the old church that borders one side of it.  

I'm once again in a country where I can't speak the native tongue and it's a liitle more difficult to get around.  But I'm managing, with the help of a few natives who know enough English to point me in the right direction.

My friend Andra arrived on Tuesday, and we've been exploring Avignon and the surrounding area.  We went to see the Palace of the Popes, which is the largest Gothic palace in Europe and dates back to the days when Avignon replaced Rome as the center of Christianity.  This is a view of the palace from the Pont Saint-Bènezet, which extends partway across the Rhone River.

Meet my friend Andra, posing at the drawbridge of the Pont.

There isn't much inside this immense palace complex these days, except a few frescoes that you aren't allowed to photograph, and a bit of statuary.

We hopped on a bus yesterday to go to the middle of nowhere to see a 1st century AD Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, that is a World Heritage Site (yup, chalk up another one).

Then we came back to Avignon and toured two art museums, the highlight of which was a wonderful exhibit of the work of Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

We like Avignon.  It's a walled city, and the walls are completely intact and well preserved.  

It's easy to get lost because the streets branch off willy nilly in all directions.  The city planners must have been in their cups when they designed the street map!  This is one of our favorite landmarks.  I've never seen a merry-go-round with two levels.

There are lots of people begging on the street here, just like I saw in Italy and Spain.  This man had a stuffed cow seeking contributions.

Today, we took a bus across the river to Villeneuve lez Avignon to see a 14th palace/monastery founded by Pope Innocent VI, called Chartreuse du Vai-de-Bénédiction.  There were three cloisters, a church, monk's cells, gardens, and the biggest Carthusian monastery of the 18th century.  The frescoes in the chapel were painted by Matteo Giovannetti, who also decorated the Palace of the Popes.

This stone canopy covered a large well.

The halls were quite deserted....there were very few tourists here.

And the streets were deserted also, almost like a ghost town.

We walked up a steep stone road to take a look at Fort Saint-André, which protected what was then, in the 14th century, the border of the Kingdom of France.

There were some magnificent views from this height.

And the views from inside the walls were pretty nice, too.  

There's an Office of Tourism in Avignon that gave us some excellent assistance.  We were regular customers and became quite fond of a young woman who worked there.  This is our new friend Karine, who we decided to adopt as our godaughter.

At the end of these days of sightseeing, it's always great to relax with a nice glass of chilled French wine.  A votre sante!

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