Return to Benevento

Welcome back! After my extended Thanksgiving break (celebrated at Open Baladin with Italian beer, hamburgers, and potato chips dusted with paprika and garlic) a brief return to Benevento, because the wonders of that little town never cease. There is a medieval cathedral facade and tower:

genuinely old!

which reveal when you go inside a cathedral completely rebuilt in the 1950s-60s, because the original structure was bombed to smithereens in World War II:

it maintained the classic medieval basilical shape, but in all modern materials and forms. It was weird.

Benevento also sports a Roman amphitheater. It’s not particularly big, but I am being completely serious when I say that, while wandering its passageways and onto the stage and through all the arches, I exclaimed: “this is better than the colosseum!”:

view from the stage
view from the stands
in the corridors
bits of ancient sculpture just hanging out

You could go everywhere in the amphitheater and there were no guards to tell you not to pick up that bit of ancient marble. We had the place nearly to ourselves. Our host, who had lived from age zero to about 20 in the area had never actually explored the amphitheater before, and even he was impressed by the structure.

And of course, Benevento would not be complete without a Belle Epoque-style park including, what else?, swans:


black swan in the foreground, white swan in the distance

When we told people we were going to Benevento, the typical response was, “why??” I know much better now how to respond to that question. Benevento is beautiful and fascinating, and like much of the south, hugely, hugely, flawed. But there’s so much life there, which is always worth seeing:

“I love you.” Graffiti on a 2000 year old bridge