Scaffolding. A given in just about every vacation I’ve ever taken. Something somewhere is bound to be “under restoration.” In Italy, I’ve come across so many “in restauro” signs (on closed buildings, on museum walls in spaces normally occupied by paintings, etc.) that I used to joke with a friend that the museum in the town of Restauro must be chock full of the best paintings in the world. The certainty of restoration has become almost laughable now, and a good thing it has, because scaffolding and repairs are inevitable. Notre Dame in Paris. The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. The Prado in Madrid. Less so in the USA, but then we’re not as old as those other places and need fewer facelifts, it seems. Above, the scaffolding within one of the oldest buildings in the world (dedicated in the year 360; not a typo), the big and beautiful Aya Sofia (current structure dates from 532; also not a typo.) First a church, then a mosque, now a museum, this building has seen it all, survived it all. Wars (holy and otherwise), schisms, revolutions, earthquakes...and it’s still standing, still welcoming visitors throughout the passing years. And, frankly, because the interior is such an eclectic mix of Christian and Muslim, secular and religious imagery, the scaffolding has a beauty all its own and somehow doesn’t look at all out of place.