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Everyone in Parma seems to have trouble with their skirts


So, here I am in Parma, soaking up the heat and the art, and I can't help but notice that a lot of people in Parma seem to have problems controlling their skirts!

Or at least, controlling their clothing from the waist down.

Now, I'm a bit sensitive on this issue because there was some Unpleasantness last fall in Montefalco, when I strolled across the main piazza with my skirt tucked into my waistband. I didn't do this on purpose, mind you, and the memory has haunted me; I'm now like a dog with a sore tail, constantly swivelling around to check the rear view.

So, as I follow the Correggio trail in Parma (the Renaissance artist is extremely popular here, despite the fact he has been dead for roughly 500 years) I've been struck by how much of his art involves sacred figures soaring upwards with their skirts or robes flying up around their ears.

Consider the above work which I just saw in the Duomo di Parma, an important 12th-century Romanesque cathedral filled with Renaissance art. Its ceiling fresco by Correggio is considered a masterpiece of fresco work and the cathedral's most famous work of art. This Assumption of the Virgin by Correggio is in the central cupola, and it almost has to be seen to be believed. Painted in 1534, the fresco features the Virgin Mary ascending through a sea of limbs, faces and swirling drapery.

I've said before that this doesn't seem to be the most dignified depiction of the Virgin Mary -- it gives me the sense she is being sucked up towards The Light, like a figure in some overwrought drama. In fact, it seems that this imagery of the Assumption has created some bemusement over the years, with one contemporary of the artist comparing it to a "hash of frogs' legs" and Charles Dickens suggesting that the scene was such that "no operative surgeon gone mad could imagine in his wildest delirium.''

And I've seen Correggio do the same again, and again. In his Vision of John the Baptist, he has Giovanni shooting upwards through the dome of San Giovanni Evangelista, mere steps from the Duomo. Giovanni looks a bit less helter-skelter than Mary in the Duomo. This morning at Parma's National Gallery, I saw several angels and cherubs flying upside down in Correggio works. And Diana, the goddess of hunting, looks ready to take flight, in a Correggio fresco in the delightful Camera di San Paolo.

Finally, this Sunday afternoon in Parma's beautiful Romanesque Baptistry, a well-dressed lady about my own age sat down in front of me (and a collection of other visitors.) But before sitting on her linen skirt, she lifted it up gracefully --showing us all her black underpants -- before parking her butt directly onto the chair, rather than sitting on her linen skirt. Presumably, this was to avoid wrinkles -- at least on her skirt. My forehead is still wrinkled in puzzlement......

All I'm saying is, I'm not the only one who has the ocassional problem with unruly skirts.

Now that I've run the flying skirts story into the ground, I'll just add that this is my second full day in Parma, and the city is delightful. The weather has been really hot, but the air conditioning at Hotel Torino is very good.

The food and (window) shopping in Parma is fantastic, and the art here is wonderful. I'll be a bit sorry to leave here for Bologna tomorrow.

So far, my trip has gone very smoothly. My plane landed in Rome on time last Friday, my luggage and nerves intact. I left my luggage at Termini train station (which charged a shocking 4 euro for my suitcase AND another 4 euro for my small carry-on!) and had a good lunch near Termini before strolling around, soaking up sunshine to re-set my body clock.

Oh, and looping back to the subject of underwear, I have to say that both new bras have stood the test of global travel and have come out with top marks. The Stasi-issue number in particular has done very well under hot, stressful conditions, revealing no lines, no chafing, no stress at all.

Comments (20)


I loved your analysis of the flying skirts in Correggio's paintings, and the story of the lady in the linen skirt was hilarious!

Thank you for taking us with you on your travels.

What an awesome photo!! I loved your descriptions, too. :D Glad you're enjoying Parma - looking forward to more.

Sounds like you are having a great time, Sandra. Lucky you! Parma is on my list. I can't wait to hear more about it.

The flying skirts are funny.And did I tell you that I had that happen to me last year too? I am glad Bill caught as I was leaving the bathroom and I didn't have to walk too far!

Have a great time!

Well good morning from Australia! I sat on my bed, sipping my cappuccino, reading this.

Oh my! :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I'm so glad that your arrived safe and sound in Italy! And it looks like you are off to a great start in Parma. I love your explanation and descriptions of the art that you have already seen so far and I am really looking forward to reading more (if you get the chance).

I still smile thinking about your skirt post. And as for that lady, does being wrinkle free mean that much to her? I'm puzzled too. But everyone is different I guess.

I'm glad everything went well for your arrival in Rome and glad to hear that your new bras are holding up for you. :)

Thank you so much for posting while on your vacation. Take care and keep on having fun!


Sandra, I'm so glad you have your laptop with you and are posting en route. Looking forward to your impressions of Bologna and Ravenna in particular. And the various undergarment updates--priceless!


Happy you're there safe and sound, have a great trip. But seriously, I had to laugh at the image of you checking the back of your skirt while walking about.

I was so excited when I saw your post this morning. So happy to hear you are enjoying Parma, lifted skirts and all!! I thought it was 5 euro per bag so 4 is a deal! Can't wait to hear more about Parma and also Bologna!! Glad the bras are holding up :)

Oh and for some reason my email box keeps marking your emails sent from the bank address as junk. I just found your email in my deleted box yesterday! Sorry I did not reply before you left.



I am following your blog and wishing you a FABULOUS time in "our" beloved Italy. You are going to places I have yet to visit so I am even more interested. Have fun and take good care.

All the best!!!


1) that doesn't sound like "too much luggage"
b) glad to read the update on the support issues
Γ) this duomo reminds me of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Firenze and makes me regret I only spent one Sunday in Parma (of course everything was closed)
iv) thanks for another reason to avoid linen
Have a gelato for me!

Good to hear from you! Sorry about the heat but glad you've got good AC (and of course, gelato)! Have fun!

Brad'll Do It:

Well, I'm just going to skirt the art issue, and say that I'm happy to hear your travel travails to Italy were few (about 8 euros worth), and that I decided not to take literally the phrase: "and came out with top marks." Is there yet a "Playing for Pizza" (Grisham's book about American-style football in Italy) tour in Parma?


Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Kathryn, I actually packed linen and I'm not afraid to sit on it (but then, I also pack a travel iron, so there you go.)

Vicky, alas -- I didn't want to add to my luggage by bringing my beloved laptop, so I'm just writing whenever I can find a computer. Which is probably good, keeps me from spending all of my vacation online!

Girasoli, I just arrived at the Orologio a few hours ago and so far, so good! I'll email you soon with a proper review so you'll know what you're getting into. (One small warning: there's a weigh scale in the double deluxe bathroom. I'll probably heave mine out the window.)

Annie, I thought of you last night when I was strolling around before dinner in Parma. I came across this lovely little walled garden that seems to be a small cat sanctuary! I wish I had had my camera -- one poor fellow was missing half his tail (he definitely wasn't a manx breed!) And a few were pretty jump, but they all looked sleek and well-fed (of course, that applies to everyone in Parma!)

Brad, strangely there didn't seem to be any Playing for Pizza tours! I did have dinner Sat night in Il Tribunale, which is mentioned in the novel, but they didn't seem to have photos of Grisham or stacks of the book! Too bad, there could be a market for that!

Barb Cabot:

Sandra, I'm just doing some catching up and am so happy to hear things have started out great...luggage and skirts intact! I'm thrilled you are there, safe and sound and enjoying lovely surroundings. Can't wait to hear more. Enjoy!

That is so cool that you found a cat sanctuary! I'm glad they looked well-fed (and I too would get rid of the scales in the bathroom!).


I confess that when I read the title i thought 'dear lord, not AGAIN!' I am happy to read that your dignity and the good reputation of all Canadians is intact.

I'm glad to hear that you arrived in one piece and are enjoying a wonderful visit with the art of Parma.

I had the same thought as Jerry when I read the title of this post! So happy to hear that you are off to a great start.

I would hide the scale under the bed.

Well THAT was a funny read! (And so was Brad's comment!) Glad to hear you liked Parma - and that the bra worked out.


See this is why I wear pants. Excellent entry - you're making me smile.


LOL Sandra, I remember the skirt incident. Oh my, your hilarious stories, and descriptions of Corregio's style, with the robes flying up just made my day!

(Somehow I missed this entry before, so thanks to girasoli for pointing me to it!)

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