Fresco detail, Chiesa di San Gottardo, Carmine Superiore
Our tiny church is covered in 15th-century frescoes of the Lombardy School, which were in the process of being restored when I first came to Carmine. I could spend hours in the coolness and solitude of this prettiest of churches, discovering the tiny details that are everywhere.
It took me a long time, for instance, before I noticed with a jolt, the black-painted devil-figure in the distant background of this crowd scene. In my imagination he's jumping up and down, vainly trying to make the overdressed fools in the foreground see that while they are preoccupied elsewhere their opulent city is burning : "Over here! The city is burning! Why can't you hear me?! We're on fire!".
While this is actually part of a cycle depicting the life of St Bartholomew (the saint often shown carrying his own skin over his arm), for me its message is to not get too dazzled or distracted with events that take place right outside your front door. Other more important (exciting, life-affirming) things are often happening elsewhere.
Perhaps it could also offer a new twist on the old proverb : "the devil is in the detail"...?