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Camposanto - the world’s loveliest cemetery?

  • Camposanto – the world’s loveliest cemetery?

    The treasures on the Campo dei Miracoli culminate the Camposanto, a gorgeous white-marble cloister carved with the mythological scenes that inspired the pulpits of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. The cloister is paved with the grave slabs of medieval Pisans, carved with coats of arms or tools of their trade. It was the fashion for Pisan merchants to ship home Roman sarcophagi from the Holy Land or North Africa to reuse as their own tombs. Inspired by the realistic battle scenes carved on these antique marble tombs, the Pisani created their own versions: great pulpits sculpted with crowded and dramatic scenes from the life of Christ, which can also be seen in the Cathedral, as in Sant’Andrea church in Pistoia. In addition, frescoes damaged by incendiary bombs during the Second World War have been restored to their original positions. They include a grim series of images (1360–80) inspired by the Black Death, on the themes of the Last Judgement and the Triumph of Death.

    Learn more about the Camposanto frescoes by crossing the square to the Museo delle Sinopie. The frescoes were created by laying down a sketch on the plaster undercoat using red paint (called sinopia because the pigment came from Sinope on the Black Sea). When the final thin layer of white plaster was applied, the sinopia sketch showed through and guided the artists to complete the fresco in full colour. The fire which followed the bombing of the Camposanto destroyed or damaged some of the frescoes but the disaster had a silver lining. While salvaging the frescoes, rescuers found the huge sinopie (preliminary sketches) lying beneath the frescoes - and these are now restored.

    Address: Camposanto (Monumental Cemetery), Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
    Web: www.opapisa.it

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