Monday, January 26, 2004

Snow on Tile Roofs

Yesterday Antonello and I visited Urbino, up in the northern part of Le Marche. Antonello had never been to the Marche Region Gallery of Art (located in Urbino's Palazzo Ducale), so we called several times in advance to see if it was open and, without getting any response, we set off on a prayer that our luck would be good and my guide book wasn't lying. It wasn't (my guidebook, that is. Our luck turned out to be fine), and we got to the picturesque little jewel of a city in time to tour the museum.

As we arrived in Urbino, it was just barely beginning to snow. The ground was still dry, and I snapped a photo of an archway that perfectly framed the duomo's cupola and bell tower, right before the snow began to cover it. Then we hurried on to the palace and the museum, where paintings by Raffaello and Piero della Francesca awaited us.

I had visited the museum before, but seeing it with Antonello was something special. He has a way of looking at things that I have not mastered, and it's wonderful. He notices tiny details--the colors, the way a ring looks on a painting of a woman, a red lilly in the hand of Mary in a Madonna and Child. Then he nods after looking at a painting for a few minutes and turns to me and says "Mi piace." He likes it. As if he's decided, and we can move on.

The snow collected while we were in the museum, and halfway through our tour, I looked out of one of the windows to see Urbino below us, beautiful white with snow covering once orange-tile roofs. It was my first snow fall this year, and it was magical to look down at it like this--from a window in a palace in Italy.

From another window I saw a woman covering up her face with her scarf and running carefully in the just-fallen snow with a bag--groceries maybe--back to wherever she needed to be. And, I knew, in some thirty minutes, that would be Antonello and me--but hurrying together, hand in hand, back to our car and, eventually, back home.

And I smiled slightly and moved on, past the window to another Madonna and Child, where Antonello was looking, with observant eyes, at the gold-leaf halos--patterns pressed into the paint like a stamp.



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