Aquileia

Leaving Trieste proved to be a bit interesting. Italian old town roads are just awful if you’re not Italian, suffer from any sort of self-awareness, question (in any shape or form) your daily invincibility or drive a motorhome. Some of the previous may well apply to me, so here’s a view through the windscreen at a typical two-way street (seriously, two way for vehicles, not just pedestrians!)

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Two-way street, with parked cars as optional additional hazard

Eventually turned right when we should have turned left, but, as a consequence, saw whole parts of Trieste we weren’t planning on visiting. This happens.

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This is the bus route into town … Heaven help us!

Our goal for the day was to visit the ancient Roman town of Aquileia, at one point housing over 100,000 inhabitants and one of the largest cities in the world. The key feature is the Basilica of Aquileia, with foundations started in 313 AD. Following destruction, visible in the brilliant way that layers of excavations are showcased under glass floors, passageways etc, successive church structures were built, overlaying or incorporating previous structures. An amazing highlight is the Paleo-Christian mosaic floor, at 760 square meters, the largest in the Western world.

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Other interesting sections abound – the Crypt of Frescoes is foremost. Built in the 9th C and painted in the 12th C, the frescoes, like much of the church, echo Byzantine traditions. Interesting, but lacking any description, are fainter images on the lower walls clearly depicting scenes from the crusades. Amazing that the frescoes have retained their colours and remain so luminous.

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Crypt of Frescoes
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Close-up, bones of Martyrs
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Martyrs
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Crypt of Frescoes

One more modern piece is very striking – A sculpture of Christ of the Trenches by Edmondo Furlan, a veterean of WWI. This is just so evocative!

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The whole town seems to be a vast archaeological dig, with sites scattered along the road and open to visit.

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Given our usual pathetic effort at sticking to a schedule we had to abandon our planned walk as we were running out of time. We need to walk faster, read less and, definitely, not show so much interest in this stuff! Venice is going to be a challenge.

Speaking of which – the road to Venice was indeed a challenge. Mile after mile of roadwork was at least alleviated by a constant view of the snow-covered mountains skirting the north. Traffic was, of course, heavy on this section, made no easier by the convoys of trucks.

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Eventually, here we are, outside Venice in a pretty average campsite, but very conveniently situated 1km from busses into the city – looking forward to eventually getting in to St Mark’s after giving up on two previous visits, put off by queues of 4 hours or more. Sun is setting, Super Moon is rising, whiskey is cold, and, apparently, there is hot water for showers in the ablution block – how bad can this be?

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