‘What kind of treasure?’ we all wanted to know.
‘No one can say for certain. Most people say it’s a cache of gold coins. But it might be jewellery, or Roman swords and cups. The Romans were here, you know.’
From The Lantern
You can’t travel far in
without being reminded that the ancient Romans were here – and that it still bears the name given to the region by Julius Caesar, simply The Province. The mythological beauty of the countryside is underscored constantly by the loving preservation of classical ruins and the way other ancient buildings live on alongside the present. Some are still used, like the theatre at Provence , while others have simply melted into other walls. Orange
A clear cold day in winter is my favourite time to visit such places, and here is Vaison la Romaine in the Haut-Vaucluse. There are no crowds and it’s possible to stand and gaze at the broken columns without having to filter out the present. What was it like to walk through those narrow roadways two thousand years ago?
What comes through most strongly for me is the sense of calm, though with big questions hovering that I may or may not want to think about. The passing of time, for one. The way what we are seeing in these weathered stones is ‘all passion spent’ for those who erected them – but survival of their spirit and vision.
The face of this statue of a woman – I should find out who she is, shouldn’t I – is striking. At first I thought she looked sad, but after a while it seemed her expression points to a woman who is contemplative, with strong opinions and character and a drive to understand the world around her. She looks like a book lover to me.