"" Writer's Wanderings: France - Arles

Friday, November 27, 2009

France - Arles

Arles is a town full of Van Gogh and ancient Rome. There are little brass markers embedded in the sidewalks that show places where Van Gogh painted. And around every corner it seems there is some remnant of the days of the Roman Empire from Romam columns embedded in the facade of a building to a full blown amphitheater that is still in use today.

On our walk we passed by a café frequented by Van Gogh and immortalized in one of his paintings. Often at a significant VG spot, there was a sign showing the painting he did from the angle he must have sat as he viewed and painted.

One of the more famous places in the town was the hospital where Van Gogh was admitted after the famous ear-cutting which, by the way, did not take off his ear entirely as most of the stories tell. It was another symptom of his mental illness diagnosed as several different things including depression, bipolar disorder, and not the least, too much absinthe. After his stay here, he committed himself to the mental hospital in St. Remy and later, when he was released from there returned to Paris where his depression deepened and he shot himself at age 37, dying relatively unknown.

The ruins of the Roman Empire were impressive, especially the amphitheater which is still in use today for a type of bull fighting that is done in France. In the Carmague bull fight, the bulls have a red cockade that hangs on a string stretched between their horns. Each horn also has a white tassel. The razetours clad in white try to remove these prizes from the bulls. No bulls are killed and they are returned to the fields to fight again another day.

The amphitheater is being restored and cleaned but not so for the theater that lies mostly in ruin nearby. But isn’t that the way it is in most places? Sports always seem to take priority over the arts.

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