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.

No comments: