If you’ve ever been to an Italian town, you’ll often come across its main church, or Duomo, in the town’s biggest square or piazza. In the town of Amalfi, the Duomo is also in the main piazza, but in one of the most dramatic settings I’ve seen – up an incredibly long and steep flight of steps, reaching to the heavens!
This scene is the inspiration for my latest 3″ square miniature artwork, “Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi” and recalls one special visit to the Duomo in 2011.
On a very warm July afternoon, after an icy-cold lemon granita in the piazza, my husband and I felt sufficiently hydrated to tackle the stairs up to visit the Duomo. As we started to climb, we saw several well-dressed people climbing with us – high heels, full suits, satin strapless dresses, hair piled in various twists and stylish knots. At the top of the stairs, white fans with ribbons were being passed out to the female guests. We’d wandered into a wedding!
Once inside the church, the wedding guests gathered to chat in the pews adorned with huge floral arrangements of various white flowers as a string quartet played softly in the background. We hadn’t really taken in much of the church before a loud cheer arose from the street, which then caused the guests inside the church to join the cheering. The bridal party had arrived! Part curiosity and part excitement propelled me out the church door and down the bazillion steps in a flash just in time to catch the bride and her two attendants as they emerged from a shiny black Jaguar at the foot of the stairs.
While her attendants were fussing with her dress, she was looking up at the steep staircase with a faraway look in her eyes. She gave a big sigh, nodded to the others that she was ready, and her climb began.
As I watched her, I wondered what she was thinking as she looked up to the church door because she wasn’t smiling. Was she considering that maybe what awaited her at the top might not be worth the climb? Such a long staircase would definitely provide ample time for a bridal deliberation!
I don’t know if the expression “cold feet” exists in Italian, but I wondered how many brides had turned around part way up and headed for the dark alleyways or a water taxi? How many were called to by a scorned lover in the crowd at the bottom “Don’t finish the climb to him – come back to me, mi amore!” (Okay, the last one was for all you romance junkies out there!)
Another cheer arose when this bride made it to the top, and then she turned to smile to us all below. Her lack of a smile on the way up was likely just focussed self-talk, like “ok, girl, your number one goal is to make it up these stairs without fainting, tripping or falling!”
That church and those stairs proved a big challenge to me, too. While painting this scene. I almost gave up on it, because all the intricate detail was proving very difficult to paint. What was I thinking? Why had I chosen this to paint as a miniature? Then I thought of my inspiration, the Persistent Bride, and she inspired me push through.
I was so happy to finally finish this precious piece, and I hope that the Amalfi Coast bride is happy too, as she’s hopefully about to celebrate her 10th anniversary!
(Original available in shop)