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  • Betty Girardeau

A Town of Stones and Saints

I would have liked to have spent a lot more time in this amazing city, Avila, Spain. In 2014 my sister and I took a tour of Spain and Portugal. One of our lunch stops on that eleven day trip was this storybook Medieval city that looks much as it did in the 16th century. Purportedly it has the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches per capita in Spain. It looks so "untouched" by time that it is easy to see yourself walking amidst monks and tradespeople from the Renaissance period. And, indeed, we did see some of that. In the old part of the city center all the streets are pedestrian walkways. They are not particularly wide except where several streets come together into something like a roundabout often centered by a fountain and from which the streets fan out to twist through the city once more. There were a few people in period costume and there were monks walking the streets and chanting. But for me it did not feel "touristy." It seemed natural and that maybe we were the interlopers. Our lunch was a full meal prix fixe one complete with a delicious bottle of wine. We did have time afterwards to do a little more walking around afterward and went outside the city walls. We walked far enough that we could look back at the city and see it from an observation point that gave us this panoramic view. I loved the fact that a storm was beginning to move in over the city which gave me the opportunity to capture this image of the city with the brooding clouds. I have read that Orson Welles said that Avila was the city that he would most have liked to live, calling it a "strange, tragic place." I think this view describes those comments perfectly.

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