Saturday, April 11, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Part 17 - The V's Have It

Where Our Heroes
  • Imbibe of their locale
  • Have their most fundamental ideas of home decor challenged to their roots
  • Get a lesson in the 'real' world of the Knights
  • Find a challenger to the wonders of Sarcophagus World
  • Have a bifurcated meal
  • Enjoy freedom from the tour group hordes 
  • Learn that the Inquisition really was not all that bad
  • Once again outwit the Slightly Powerful, Phoenix Kitty God of Maltese Public Transportation

That would be the towns of Valletta and Vittoriosa our destinations for today.  Valletta of course we've already been to but there was one major site that we had missed.  Vittoriosa is across the harbor, is in fact the older city, was the original home to the Knights of St. John and was the focus of much of the brunt of the siege of 1565 by the Turks.

But first there was a nice relaxing getting ready for the day.  We decided there was no need to get going all that early so we had a nice relaxing breakfast.  It was warmer today and I took my third cup of coffee out on our deck and watched the sea traffic go by.

Our first task was getting back to Valletta to see the Co-Cathedral of St. John.  Why you say 'Co-Cathedral'?  Well the original cathedral is the one we saw in Mdina but the Knights wanted something closer to their base so somehow they worked with the Catholic powers that be and had their church become a 'Co-Cathedral'.  As far as I know this is the only place where this has occurred though maybe some Catholic readers can inform us otherwise.

This is a very interesting building in that the exterior is very plain, sort of like the fortifications all around it in the town of Valletta.  Now there are two main themes I'm going to explore.  Let's start with the theme of what should an up and coming megalomaniac like de-I learn from a place like the Co-Cathedral of St. John.  Well I'm thinking that maybe Wife and I don't understand the real meaning of 'tasteful restraint'.  We've always gone for a sort of clean, more modern decorative theme in the Tower.  But let's take a look at the Co-Cathedral and see if we can get a better idea of what a restrained decoration might look like.

You know, I'm thinking Wife and I maybe a little too understated.  Maybe we too should aspire this symbolism of piety and devotion. 

And that gets us to the second theme which is the true nature of the Knights of St. John.  The official history (which is promulgated here in Malta) is how these were wonderful, pious protectors of the faith.  A reading of other history says that way early in their timeline they became pirates and plunderers as well as sybaritic lovers of pleasure.  A far cry from the supposed pious mission of the order.

This brings us to some new ideas for what to do with de-I's funerary remains.  There were certainly a number that represented the Grand Masters of this order over the years.

Here's one I kind of like - simple, restrained accompanied by the allegorical figures of hope and justice.  No ego here.

Then there's this one.  Like the two figures on the bottom?  They're suppose to represent two slaves, one from Africa and one from Asia.  Evidently enslaving these folks was a good deed that would eventually render them up to Christianity. 

  It took us a good two hours to get through the Co-Cathedral and I didn't get to take a picture (because you're not allowed to) of the best pieces of work, two paintings by Caravaggio and a series of fabulous tapestries from Belgium.

Then it was on to Vittoriosa.  Unlike Valletta, it is really off the major tourism trail so we were able to enjoy the city with a minimum of others around.

I could have taken a hundred similar pictures of this very old town where people live on a regular basis.

We had lunch there at an Italian place from our TripAdvisor App.  It was a mixed bag.  My meal was great.  I had a porchettta for an appetizer

And a seafood soup that was really great both in flavor and the quantity of things they gave you.

On the other hand Wife had a risotto that was tasteless.  Go figure.

We continued to wander through the town making our way to the waterfront where we saw some locals using a boat and looking like they were training for a race.

On a passing note, we managed to get seats on both buses back home, though it took some real pushing in line to get one on the last bus from Valletta to Sliema.  I think Magical Unicorn Pony Code of Travel has a minor deity serving here to cover the local bus system called the Slightly Powerful, Phoenix City God of the Malta Public bus system.  We are keeping it at bay so far.


alexis said...

good you're able to take the vagrancies of the bus travel with humour.

Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Wow, that is a stunning cathedral.

Agent W said...

Gorgeous cathedral! Everything is so amazing!