10.08.2012 35 °C
Conimbriga was once a "big" Roman city, abandoned as invaders pressured the locals and power shifted up the road to Coimbra. Today we wandered around the buildings revealed by archaeologists, with several baths, houses, forum, amphitheatre and massive walls. They say it is only about 15 percent of the city. Lovely mosaic floors just lying open to the elements. I guess there is a shortage of money for ideal preservation work. A river ran below in a steep green valley. An Italian woman and I shared a bi lingual response to some of the lovely finds in the ,museum. It did not matter that neither of us could understand exactly. Gorgeous matte cobalt blue glass beads made on site! Masses of pottery and weaving weights.
Language challenges abound of course although I have had several chats using my remnants of French. So that giant pink knitted piece hanging from the museum wasn't a yarn bombing by university students ( they are traditionally very politically active here), but left from the commemoration of queen Isabel referring to a famous story to do with roses. This is a famous university city, with elaborate rituals which bond students to their years here. They wear black capes to class, have developed fado singing in a local style, and scrawl wordy graffiti on the old walls.
We went to a fado performance with the distinctive plangent sound of the local guitar, a fne tenor singer and guitarist. Very theatrical with mournful laments or songs of praise for the beauties of the river. Impressive number of public plaques celebrating writers, poets, artists, singers and intellectuals in this city.
The older part of the city is based either around the base of the hillside or around the university buildings clustered at the peak. The streets are winding and narrow.this leads to some great terrific moments, mostly visitors. Like the BMW reversing uphill and around a bend when the driver realized he really would not be able to proceed down those steps. The street was only just wide enough for his car. He was laughing, but his parents in the back seat were flapping their hands a lot. I have no idea whether he made it!
It has hit 35 here, and lots of kids were out around the fountains in the pracas last night as the light went. How many centuries have adults gathered for a drink and rest while their children splashed the cobblestones and chased the pigeons?