Angels fall from Heaven – Mitoraj

Pisa Piazza of Miracles

I walk through the archway and wham! I am blown away by how magnificent these buildings are, their splendour glistening on the velvet lawn. I am at Pisa.



I have been here so many times, but never on a cold winter Saturday with so few tourists and the line of trashy souvenir kiosks relegated (at least for the moment) to outside the wall. We had come to see the “Angels” exhibition by Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj in the Piazza of MiraclesAngel Mitoraj

Angel by Mitoraj




The powerful bronze body of Icarus melts into the lawn behind the Tower as if resting from his fall.

I am awed by the Baptistery such an ice cream cake, the lavish Cathedral and the famous Tower, and so appropriate for Angels to be in their midst. A pity that Mitoraj passed away last October, although as he spent much of his time in Italy I am sure he was honored at being the first contemporary artist to exhibit in the grounds and legendary monuments of Pisa. The introduction reads ‘The presence of the “Angels” has a symbolic significance, which is that of finding a minimum of serenity and peace’ and we hope Mitoraj has found his own serenity and peace.

Leaning Tower PisaAfter  a quick Tai chi pose to hold the Tower up, alongside the other tourists having a giggle, we were off to explore the exhibition.

Frescoe drawings



Part of the exhibition was in the Sinopite Museum where the preparatory drafts (sinopites) for the Monumental Cemetery frescoes gave a delicate background to Mitoraj’s dramatic faces of sleeping gods, or evocative Angels poised on their flight to freedom.

Sleeping Osiride Mitoraj sculpture Mitoraj Angels

The remaining statues, paintings, and swathed faces were on display in the Cathedral Museum, enveloped in its rich burgundy walls and décor that truly enhanced the heroic Angels, gilded in paintings and intensified the radiance of their marble hands and feet.

Marble hands

Classic AngelsTwo Angels  adorned the chapel coyly glancing at each other, their  poses and pared limbs a reference to classical sculptures, just perfect for this location.


Mitoraj works are not unknown to places of worship with several marble sculptures in the Vatican museum and the monumental bronze doors on the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome.

I first came across one of his Angels in the main square of Greve in Chianti, a rather bold statue in front of the Council offices, which always creates a talking point.Greve in Chianti piazza
.Mitoraj statue Greve




And another fallen Angel on my visit to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily.

Temple Agrigento

Valley of the Temples





The Angels exhibition in Pisa is still on until April 2015 in case you are over this way, or you are sure to come across Mitoraj‘s statues elsewhere  on your travels



Trekking in Tunisia


Tunisia Trekking

With some trepidation I set off on tour with a group of Italians over the festive period. An 8 day Trekking in Tunisia, which sounds rather exhausting, but it was really only 3 days hiking. Hiking Tunisia




Some long walks through old Berber villages, and a climb to the ridge to catch the sunset over the barren mountainsides don’t count as treks, yet were  enough to keep us warm as it was absolutely freezing!Oasis hiking

Tunisia Trekking guide





Market vendor, Douz




In the cities blue and white flashes everywhere while the old villages sport elegant geometric labyrinths of sandy bricks.

A kaleidoscope of colours are in the market place, although when to wear a psychedelic bra is anyone’s guess!?

Dune hike

We hiked dunes, rode camels, soaked in oasis hot springs, learnt about desert roses and salt lakes and ate couscous, more couscous and dates! Our driver had us chasing goats hoping to catch one for dinner as a special treat (it’s ok the goats were too fast for all of us!) Chasing goats


Desert shepherdDesert rose Tunisia









And we became jealous of the locals garb as it looked so warm, made from camels hair, wool or the newer version in polytech.

Locals MarketBerbers Tunisia








Even our drivers were well rugged up, as we were, when the sun went down on our campsite! (Fortunately an overnight stay only!)

Desert Drivers

Camp Tunisia

Baking bread










We saw Berber lodgings dug out of hillsides now largely maintained for tourist visits as so many have abandoned the village to seek a better future in the cities.Berber lodging

Grinding grain Tunisia






Ancient granaries that still house the old grindstone and

Granary and drivers
Ancient Mill











then a leap into outer space as we stare at the Star War’s café! THE tourist attraction at Matmata, now turned into a hotel!

Star Wars cafe entrance

Star Wars Star Wars cafeStar Wars cafe Matmata











But it’s not the weird touristy things that took my fancy. More the hiking on top of the world, an endless vision of the grandeur of Nature. Nurtured and unfortunately abused by man but still on its feet, offering a spectacle of floating dunes, breathtaking canyons, enticing us to play in its crevices and pools so cleverly carved out by wind and water.


And the stories told around the campfire or on the road by our driver, sharing his knowledge and passion for his desert and disdain at its ruin by dumped rubbish. The blue we have come to adore is now the plastic bags that dot the landscape like a rash.

Tozeur overviewTunisia Tozeur



Oasis Tunisia