Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

20 August 2009

The Amateur Photographer in Pisa

We visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo where they keep all the goodies associated with the cathedral. I’m particularly fascinated by hymnals on vellum, hand-lettered and illuminated in the 13th to 15th centuries; they are enormous, heavy with thickly ornamented initials and borders in vivid golds and primaries, bright and fresh as if they were done yesterday. The calligrapher in me twitches - but the life of a scribe would, surely, have been drudgery? (I’m reminded of when I was offered a job ‘calligraphing’ in Chancery hand the minutes of the Corporation of the City of London at the Guildhall. Though flattered and tempted, I turned it down because I couldn’t face a life of writer’s cramp. Poor bloody monks!)

On the first floor of the museum a colonnaded external gallery looks over gardens to the leaning tower. From this angle the tower is very prominent against the cathedral and I set up my tripod. But a young man in uniform stops me.

‘No tripod. Only camera.’

I ask him why.

‘Professionale.’ he replies, wagging a finger at me.

So I rest the Minolta on the balustrade - just like any other amateur.

From ‘Antipasto’ random samplings from various writings made over a few years of visits to a ‘New Zealander’s Italy’



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By Don Donovan