Gyldendal, who is my publisher, rents several apartments in the Italian city of Terracina, both for its staff and for its writers; for a cheap money we get to rent great, large apartments. Terracina is a coastal town (it has a beach – five kilometers of sandy beach named after Church, the sorcerer in Odyssey) located in southern Italy, between Rome and Naples; The town is divided in two as it has an ancient city up on a hill, where Gyldendal rents its apartments, and a fishing and seaside town below, by the sea.
The center – if it is the right name – in the old town is a place at a cathedral (therefore we call the square the square, but the correct name is Piazza del Municipio); and this church, which is really a cathedral, is a Renaissance church built over an ancient temple (here the Catholics were pragmatic).
The marble slabs on the square are 2000 years old, right through the old town the Roman road Via Appia connected Rome with southern Italy, and I imagine that Paul has strolled here and Goethe, and maybe Blessed Ibsen – here is a big stone scene where the youths play football and have their school graduation, where of course they put up a drama of just that Odyssey, as the Italians know how to preserve their ancient heritage, although this drama was originally written by a Greek, by Homer.
High above the courtyard and the old town, on a rocky nut, lies the Jupiter Temple; an ancient Roman ruin, which the old town is otherwise full of – there are pillars everywhere, fenced with small signs; antique, it says, but the Catholic heritage is here, too; down the narrow street to our last apartment, named after his wife who brought Italy to a realm: Anita Garibaldi's street, which is very narrow, and there they drive cars – over cobblestones that are completely black; how old they can be – fast, and one can wonder how smart it is, surrounded as they are by Roman ruins. As we walk down this street, we come to a small waterpost with a clock, a cafe and one of the first apartments Gyldendal rented, and a few meters down, towards the Roman gate, stands a really strange church: the church for those who come to the purgatory .
So the purgatory. The stairs up are full of weeds and through the centuries crooked steps; on the facade are four semi-columns, three oval windows, stained-glass windows. In the middle a rectangular window, also with a decorated frame, worn brick facade – and at the very top, in a very Baroque tympanon, the knuckle-man stands in the middle figure with a scythe, and the tip of the scythe ends in an hourglass, thus a memento mori (below the scythe stands it in Latin: Hodie mihi cros tibi – "Today me, tomorrow you"). Somewhere I've read, by extension Dante's Divine comedy, that purgatory was invented in the 1200th century as the poor ended up in inferno and the rich in paradise, so where were they in between after death? Craftsmen, sub-officers, farmers, the middle class of the city? Well, just for the purgatory, or the purgatory
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