Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reflecting on Rome; Overhead and Beneath our Feet

Church of the Gesu

This has been a long winter. My thoughts take me to Rome. A walk down the Via Giulia ( or most any street for that matter) , I feel the varied levelness of the square black cobblestones beneath the thin soles of my shoes.
In a church the texture under foot changes to that of smooth, cool marble. The floor may have an exquisite pattern.

The Gesu

Rome is a place of layers. Rome unfolds in front of your eyes. We found in the church of the Gesu that we were always looking up. The Baroque fills the space. Figures fill corners, domes,
walls, and chapels. No space here goes unadorned.

Annibale Carracci, Palazzo Farnese

Inside the Palazzo Farnese ( now the French Embassy) is a room that was painted by Annibale Carracci. Our time was short here , but the room is remarkable, with all the walls & ceilings painted. The corners were of particular interest. Must return for another look!

Palatine Hill
The ancients looked up to this hill. On the hill is the remains of the house of the Emperor Augustus and the house of Livia (wife of Augustus). Cicero also lived on the Palantine Hill. From the hill one can look down into the ruins of the temple of the Vestal Virgins.

Fresco by, Fillippino Lippi, Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built around 1280 (completed in 1380) on the foundation of what was a temple to Minerva dating to about 50 BCE.
There were changes made to architecture and interior in the 1500's & 1900's

Filippino Lippi, Santa Maria sopra, Minerva (1480's)

Filippino Lippi was commissioned to paint the Carafa Chapel in the Basilica .The fresco fills the walls & ceiling of this chapel with extraordinary color and visual vitality!

Steps away beneath the floor of the Basilica is the tomb of painter Fra Angelico.
He died in the Basilica's adjoining monastery, which is also the building where Galileo was tried.
The body of St. Catherine, patron saint of Italy, lies in a tomb beneath the alter.

Here the layers of Rome unfold to reveal treasures of history, religious beliefs, art and architecture.

The Pantheon

Not far from Santa Maria sopra Minerva is the Piazza della Rotonda where the Pantheon is found. Here is the ultimate " don't forget to look up" experience! The building seems to sit right on your shoulders. Likely, the most magnificent space ever built.

We have just started to peel away the layers of Rome. It is said that Rome takes a life time to see. I am sure this is so.

Monday, February 14, 2011


On this February day, Valentines Day, our garden is fully hidden by the snow. Pictures remind us of our rose garden in June. Poetry by T.S. Eliot recalls in words something of summer and remembrance of a garden .

Allow but a little consciousness,
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose garden
The moment in the arbor where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
be remembered; involved with past and future
Only through time time is conquered.
(from the Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot)

...Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading.
Not in the schemes of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?

(from The Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot)

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in May time,
you would find the hedge
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.

(from The Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot)


So, here in the middle of February we think of the garden and of the sweetness of spring and the bounty of summer.
We plan a spring menu for dinner. We select flower & vegetable seed from the catalogues.
We paint, bringing color into our lives and the lives of others.
We buy tulips, roses and hyacinths and violets to fill vases for our house.
We wait for signs of spring.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Flower Identification

Photos / top to bottom:

Rose, William Baffin

Lilac,' meyeri palibin'

Rose garden with: Heritage Rose, Ballerina Rose,
Sweet William

Heritage Rose

Friday, February 4, 2011

February Garden

A look out the window this morning finds the garden still in shadow. It has been reduced to form and a minimal palette of grays.

A painting immediately comes to mind, Piet Mondrian's, Grey Tree (1912).

A Sweet Bay Magnolia rises gracefully above the deep snow of February.