A mosaic feast in the North of Italy – part 2

In this second installment of my mosaic tour of Friuli (part one here) I have a treat for you Roman mosaic lovers…

Aquileia, the most complete example of an Early Roman city in the Mediterranean world, is a UNESCO world heritage site, ‘visited’ by Attila the Hun (my visit was a little less eventful!).  The Basilica contains so much mosaic flooring (c. 4th century, some of which is still being excavated) that the shoot button on my camera was almost permanently pressed as I walked through. I couldn’t help but imagine being one of the workers making those swathes of mosaic flooring – it must have taken years – and imagining whether the therapeutic value of the mosaic making process is totally negated by being a mosaic slave?  As with many of these floors, the storytelling is strongly present (Jonah and the whale) as is the sacred geometry.  What struck me most was the  vibrancy of the colours – perhaps a reflection of the region’s  stone, nestled as it is by the Dolomites with their unique colour? Take a look…

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Grado is the next town up from Aquileia. Sitting on a peninsula, it is easily missed as a place to visit, despite its proximity to Venice (and great ice cream!). Of interest to mosaic lovers is the Basilica of Sant’Eufemia, with large 6th century mosaic flooring. Unlike the Basilica in Aquileia, you could get up close and personal with these mosaics. As a mosaicist, I also took special note of the restoration work, which I found rather odd…

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I hope you have enjoyed the Roman eye candy! As I said in Part 1 of this little series on mosaics in the North of Italy, it is easy to miss some of these sites. If you visit, your inventory should definitely include Cercivento, Aquileia, Grado and of course Venice. But for me, the peak moment of my tour of the region was the visit to the mosaic school in Spilimbergo.

Next week, I will show you all the (many, many) photos of of contemporary mosaics from the school, and you can sit in on a conversation between Michela Ippoliti (Spilimbergo graduate) and myself on what we learned from each other in 18 months of living and working together. See you then…

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