One last photo to grab before I leave Rome. What a great city over all. Entirely walkable due, but definitely rather difficult to navigate. I was also surprised at how fairly inexpensive it was. Rome is a city that is consistently complained about as being a heavy blow to the wallet, but I didn’t find that to be too true at all. Sure if you chow out every night it’ll be a hefty expensive to visit, but there’s more to Rome than the food that’s for sure.
This was an interesting suggestion by a fellow hostel-mate, Mario. The Capuchin Crypt located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini was right around the corner from where I was staying so it was a no-brainer to go and see. In 1631 when monks moved into this church apparently they had a cart load of the remains of 300 deceased friars. Okaaaaaay.
Photos are not allowed so this is the only one I was able to sneak. One room uses pelvic bones to form an altarpiece and femurs and vertebrae cover the ceilings and walls in geometric forms. Somebody was really bored and had a bunch of bones piling up, that is a definite. As creepy as you would think these scenes would be, I had a strange sense of calm come over me as I walked through these small rooms. And so it goes the display is not meant to be macabre, but a silent reminder of the swift passage of life on Earth and our own mortality
Upon returning to the homelands, people will probably inquire as to my favorite part of Rome. To this inquiry I will reply: walking the streets at dawn, walking the streets at midnight, and the frescoes of Villa Farnesina. Inside one can find one of my all-time favorite splashes of colour: Raphael Santi’s The Triumph of Galatea. As a designer I take a lot from the Renaissance master, and this fresco is a main reason. It’s a beautiful concoction of compositional balance through symmetry and colour as well as a wonderful depiction of feminine grace and strength. ( I also love the creatures Galataea is skiing across the water on. )
Around the corner in the main hall you’ll find more amazing work from Raphael and his assistants. The entire room from floor to ceiling is designed with a mythological motif, and since this was a private residence, the narrative depiction is of more pagan intrigue rather than the standard religious propaganda.
The other rooms of the villa house brilliant works as well. The trompe-l’œil frescoes by a dude named Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi present an amazing illusion of wall being open facades into gardens. Also, Il Sodoma’s scene of Alexander and his wife’s wedding night: Roxanne Receiving Her Husband’s Crown is one of the great romance scenes of Renaissance painting.
One of the great parts of getting down to the riverside to see this villa is that it is not a major (nor a secondary even) tourist destination so for example when I went, the place was empty. And so in the air conditioned villa on the Tevere River I sat comfortable away from the hordes this fine afternoon and tried to coax Raphael from my own pencil.
Of course I had to go through the Rome Colosseum and see what it was all about. I actually wasn’t that thrilled to tell you all the truth. I was impressed with how steep the steps leading the spectator “bleachers” were, and wondered at the physicality of the common ancient Roman. I think I was most in awe of how many people flock daily to see this venue that once staged death for the purpose of entertainment. In a city filled with boundless amounts of visual art, there is still a disgusting line to tour this decrepit, stone death pit. I will admit if you can trigger the imagination, some fun can be had looking down and envision Russell Crowe or yourself fighting mano e mano for another day in the sun.
Have you ever seen the movie The Never-Ending Story, and there’s the part in the beginning when they first set sight upon the ivory tower? That is what I liken my experience to this morning at the break of dawn. Rome easily takes top honors for the most beautiful city in the early morning hours! It was magical in its serenity… barely a soul around— I was in the middle of Via Della Conciliazione snapping photos all alone of old St. Pete’s. This is easily one of thee most walked streets in the world!!
Rome at dawn! The city takes on light like the book of Genesis. Your eyes sparkle as the freshness of morning creeps up in the east… absolutely awe-inspiring. I have never seen anything like it.
I’ve often remarked that if you want to see Impressionism in America, you have to go to Chicago. Well… if you want to see Caravaggio you must go to Rome. It’s interesting to compare his work hanging in the naturally lit royal halls of the Louvre, in which case come off as being fairly mediocre, to the magic his work emits in the shadowy corners of a cavernous Roman church. It’s like day and night- haha. He was the artist to fill my peepers the most this hot first day of July, and it was great to feel appreciation for his art once again. He was truly a master of human anatomy to say the least. Attached are my photos from the day. One thing to note is how these churches make their “coin.” The spaces in which these works reside are very much dark chapels in corners of epic churches so 90% of the time there’s a little coin box for tourists – haha. Drop some metal in and the lights go on. Pretty clever, indeed.
Today was a big day for sight-seeing in Rome. I got some Caravaggio sketching in and ran the battery low on my Canon G12. The ceiling of Il Gesù was even better than I had thought possible. The perspective that Andrea Pozzo was able to achieve with his ceiling Trompe-l’œil is absolutely breath-taking.
The nice aspect of the piazzas in Rome is that it brings the city down to a community level. Amongst the hustle and bustle are these wonderful open-air coves that makes the city feel not so overwhelming but more welcoming and friendly. A concert was being setup this afternoon in the bright sun with plenty of people lounging about and a general vibe of ease upon the air.
The Sistine Chapel is pretty dim in the AM! And currently photography is not allowed. Besides I really feel that it’s just too extravagant to fully appreciate. There’s just so much going on up there. It’s a weird effect, I must say. It’s beautiful and it’s moving, but give me a Velazquez or an Ingres portrait alone for an hour and I’m a happy camper.
However, the Raphael frescoes steal the show, but perhaps I’m biased. As you may surmise, I toured the Vatican Museum today and saw all the old artifacts that have been stolen, I mean looted, I mean acquired justly over the years. (I can’t wait to see Britain’s spoils at their National Gallery) The Egyptian artifacts were especially interesting. Unfortunately, I was feeling a bit woozy from my travels and such, but I had to keep my pre-purchased appointment. Alas, I cannot say I appreciated the entire collection as much as I might have with a full tank of virility. C’est la vie as I say in times like these, c’est la vie.
And for an instant the clouds parted at one particular coordinate on the massive globe and light leapt through as was intended… as was designed. Talk about divine creation! I laughed, I cried, I repented for all the terrible things I’ve had the pleasure of doing so now I can do them all again. There in lies the beauty of religion: amazing art, awe-inspiring architecture, and the get-out-of-jail free cards you need. Life is peachy. Arrivederci!