Friday, 9 October 2009

Mostly Rome

Why not start with a photo of the Colosseum? I visited it on my first ever trip, and this time we decided to refresh the memories. It is awesome, in the original sense of the word. We had come by the Metro and as we were about to cross the road we were accosted by a woman wanting to sell immediate entrance, with a guided tour. For twice the cost. Being relatively aged and mature, we thought we'd take our chances, so went and queued, and got in after only ten minutes. The real reason entry took so little time is that the Colosseum is immense, and it does not matter how many people are admitted, it is NEVER going to look as though there are more than a handful of people in it. Just even thinking about the number of people who crowded into in in its g(l)ory days make my head spin. The pale part is a floor which has been put in to enable people to see how it worked. Immense pieces of columns abound.

The photo with the statue is of Campo dei Fiori, one of my favourite places in Rome. On my first trip to Rome my sister and I stayed at a small and very basic hotel nearby, where the shower was part of the room, separated only by a shower curtain. The statue is of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for heresy. Such punishments form a large part of the horrors of the past - it seems that cruel and unusual punishments - the type prohibited by the American Constitution - were commonplace in the days when life was short, nasty and brutish, and formed part of the entertainment of the people, rich, powerful, poor and weak. Western civilisation has reached better standards than those of the past. Campo dei Fiori is still a market place, with fresh food and flowers sold there to the people of Rome. Cafes and restaurants abound, and it was there that I had my first gelato of the trip - raspberry, which surely must have an addictive substance in it, as it is quite madly delicious. From Campo dei Fiori we proceeded to Piazza Farnese, and a view of the Palazzo Farnese. Some idiot sold it years ago to the French, and it is now the French Embassy, which means that people cannot get into it. Drat! From there we walked across Corso Vittorio Emanuele to Piazza Navona, and visited the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, which is beautiful. Obviously I cannot describe the many churches we visited, but I can certainly recommend them. Then we set out to find San Luigi dei Francesi, which has three Caravaggio paintings, including the Calling of St Matthew. It took us a while to find it, mostly due to my poor map reading. Despite directions from helpful Romans we could not find it. When we did succeed, we realised that one reason for our difficulties was that it was covered in scaffolding, and thus was not recognisable.

This is the remarkable oval staircase of the Palazzo Barberini, built for Pope Urban VIII and family. He is the one who authorised using the bronze from the roof of the Pantheon for Bernini's baldacchino in St Peter's. This is the sort of thing that bean counters do to save money. This gave rise to the saying (and I can't remember the Latin) that what the barbarians could not do, the Barberini did. It is a remarkable building, with a flight of 80 stairs
(yes I counted them)
between the ground floor and the first floor. Surprisingly, it has a copy of the Holbein portrait of Henry VIII.

The Elvis and Beatles stained glass windows are part of a cafe in via Veneto. Good fun.

I have managed to delete some of the photos I had selected. Sorry. I don't think there is an undo button available for this sort of thing.

The noseless Statue comes from Brescia. Part of conquerors' revenge. The other photo gives the history but it might not be legible.
I dare not have a go at deleting the duplicate Elvis image.

This black cat is painted at the base of a wall in a street in Brescia, and I have to say is an improvement on the usual standard of graffiti, which is ubiquitous and awful. There was another and similar cat image in another street. No idea what it means, but I love those orange eyes.



Frogdancer said...

"Some idiot sold it to the French..."
That made me laugh!

Anna said...

Wow, you have a gift for describing your travels concisely but without removing any interest! Love the photos and commentary.

molly said...

More? Yes please!

Meggie said...

So entertaining! Lovely to have you back, posting.