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il lago d'orta, the most romantic of italian lakes il più romantico dei laghi italiani

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The Basilica of St. Julius: the Ambone


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The Basilica of St. Julius, built on the homonymous Island, is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Piedmont. Tradition has it that the church was founded by St. Julius in the fourth century and later restored in the Middle Ages. The interior hides precious frescoes of the XV-XVI century and paintings of Giorgio Bonola and Francesco del Cairo, among others. But the most historically significant object (with its mysterious medioeval symbolism) is the pulpit (called ambone)

 

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The Romanesque ambone, made by dark gray-green serpentino (a kind of stone that on contact with air it takes a color similar to bronze) and extracted from the nearby quarries of Oira, can be dated to the early twelfth century.

It has a square plan with four columns supporting the parapet and rests on a base decorated with acanthus leaves.

Watching the figures we find: a centaur in the act of shooting an arrow at a deer, the symbolic four evangelists' representations (the ox of Luke, the angel of Matthew, the lion of Mark, the 'eagle of John), and the representation of a griffin that bites the tail of a crocodile. The two fight scenes - corresponding to medieval bestiaries - signify the struggle between good and evil

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Between the Mark's lion and the John's eagle is placed a male figure, in a solemn posture, with the cloak and a stick with tau's form: the identity of this figure is controversial and much debated. An interpretation that seems to be sufficiently established says that is the figure of William of Volpiano, born on the island and venerated as a saint by the Church.

photos © by pansaram