Travel

TRAVEL – Camposanto Monumentale, Pisa

Literally translated, Campo Santo means ‘holy ground’ or ‘holy field’ and so Camposanto Monumentale is a monumental burial ground.

Built in the 12 century it is situated in the same square as the famous leaning tower yet is relatively unknown compared to its neighbour.

And indeed its large walls and almost characterless exterior do seem to hide a secret place and preserve the quiet of this holy ground.

The calm of the Campo Santo takes you to an immortal moment; with its oblong tour where the dead lie named beneath your feet and the endless symmetry of the 43 blind arches pulls you onwards – or even upwards perhaps – toward something eternal.

I went there alone and my tour was disturbed by only a few parties of other visitors who moved around swiftly talking softly in Italian. I was enclosed in the walls and ‘thus did I steal along that silent road’. I felt like a warrior or a soldier, taking time away to walk away from the battle and ironically seek comfort from the dead.

I had time and I had my camera and so together – the Campo Santo, my camera and I – we painted with light. Our new friend cast shadows on the religious frescoes framing certain faces, pulled our eyeline up his cylinders and he exposed the sides of his milky cream arches, their curves pushed into the sun heralding other buildings towers and the sky, the bright blue sky as they have done for centuries.

I took photographs as I did in the very beginning when I first picked up my camera: with firm purpose and deep calm. Carefully going through the motions – lying on the cold stone, walking quietly – yet all but forgetting these actions as I thought and was led only by the little frame inside my camera and the images I could see through it. And I was enchanted.

And so the photographs I will show you now have not been edited. Do not worry, I am still an obsessive perfectionist, but here the perfection lies in the closest mirroring of the sights I saw and framed that day: the colours of the stone in sun and shade, faces of timeless guardians and all the time the light casting an awareness of deep-weighted space in shadow on the materials of Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa.

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