Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sights in Italy

A thousand travel photographs and each has its own story. Walking the ancient streets included ruins of Roman civilization as well as the glorious Renaissance. Marked with Latin, a language I suffered through for 6 years allowed me some translation skills I didn't know I retained. Triumphal arches celebrating battles and generals, church scripture and labels all brought me back to Latin class and the Gallic wars we endlessly translated.

Reflections on the Tibor, a regular view when walking, and between Trastevere and Capitoline HIll.

Absolutely ancient columns embedded in the early walls of Rome. We hopped off the tram here for an 'archeological spot' thanks to Charles, grabbing the next tram a few minutes later.

A side trip southeast, beyond the ancient walls included pizza from this pizza shop; just tell her how big a piece you want and it is priced by weight. And delicious.

Laundry still attracts me. In Cuba it is everywhere, but most city buildings in Rome have central courtyards and the lines are out of sight. This is in a bit more 'suburban' area.

Founded in 440AD, St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) was expanded in 1475, 20 Doric columns of the nave are from the original church. Michaelangelo's tomb for Pope Julius II here was to have originally been a towering wall including a series of giant sculptures by him. Only his Moses was completed before funds were halted and Julius was buried inside St. Peter's Basilica. One of the artworks I didn't want to miss, I was disappointed that the wall of sculpted figures was obscured by scaffolding as it is being restored. Nevertheless, the church is absolutely spectacular.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hidden treasures

Walking Rome and Florence's streets is a wonderful visual adventure. I took photos of new and ancient symbols and curiosities on every street. I loved the Via Urbana walking street, just wide enough for single small vehicles and scooters. On the way back to our apartment I found this small brass marker in the street, that's my shoe to see the relative size. It marks where Catholic priest Don Pietro Pappagallo was arrested January 29, 1944 and assassinated March 24, 1944. He worked for the underground, aiding victims of Nazism and Fascism in World War II. Dying for freedom, I only feel awe of his memorial.

Schifano in Rome

Turning around from the marker, this little church on the hill was closed to us for renovation as well as Sunday services, but its low elevation and simple basilica shape belied ancient roots. Faded wall paintings and simple lines date this church to ancient times.

San Pietro en Vincoli

St. Peter in Chains is the English name of the church that contains a lighted and elegant box in an altar niche containing the chains that are beleived to have held Peter when he was imprisoned in Rome, but that was not my goal.

Michaelangelo's massive Moses was one of my top two mental wishes and it wasn't until the end of  a busy week that we finally walked through the massive doors of San Pietro en Vicoli. We cut through ancient Roman alleys and found hidden staircases between streets. Arriving a half hour early we used stone benches on the porch to rest and I drew the arch capital at the gate. I knew Moses would be on the front right wall but there were many of us waiting, so I started on the back left, amazed at the number of grim reaper and skull themed art works that seemed contemporary. The crowd thinned near the front and I was disappointed by extensive renovation scaffolding hiding the 3 story wall of sculptures. 

Michaelangelo was working on this tomb for Pope Julius II when he was summoned to paint the Sistine chapel. It is not as large or decorative as he had envisioned even though he kept returning to work on it. When Julius died the funding stopped and he wasn't buried here, and parts of Michaelangelo's plan were moved to other locations. Moses wore a dark shadow across his face from the steel pipe scaffold. This was a lovely, holy and dramatic space. I'll have to come back another time to see it all restored.

At Santa Maria Maggigore, a wedding

Rome, Italy. An opportunity to visit noted paintings and sculptures I exhorted as a high school art history teacher for so many students finally occurred. I created a mental list of 'must see' as well as as a written list of required locations. Little did I realize that every single lane and road would have multiple basilicas and sights to add to my list. It did not matter that I had no idea what to expect as I passed through most doorways, it was always a treat. In fact, the most severe facades and plainest entrances presented the most surprises. 

 A fortified entrance with tents for purse and bag inspection attracted us and the line was quick. It turned out to be one of the oldest and best preserved churches, built in 432AD when Popes were becoming the political leaders as Rome fell to the Goths. The ancient mosaics glowed among the newer paintings and sculptures. This basilica layout had traditional side aisles, unlike many others we visited, as well as an apse that was closed to us. Bernini grew up in this neighborhood and is buried near the altar.

A wedding or a procession was in preparation and it appeared to be for a group from India, with young women gathered in white saris bordered with gold threads, and young men in white shirts were erecting a tall sparkling silver maypole contraption out in the front plaza, colorful umbrellas bursted from bags, bright blankets laid on the perimeter fence and two nuns in soft gray habits carefully decorating the altar with bunting. Comparing the ancient church and the modern wedding traditions was a culture and time blending experience.