Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Roman Medley

Are you getting tired of visiting churches?  So am I.  
Let's look at some of this and some of that.  Maybe the quiet roaming of the last day in Rome.

Maybe the day will begin in the old markets of Piazza Navona.

Even if you are tired of sightseeing, you have to make time to visit the Pantheon.

And make time to people watch.

After walking around for a day, it is time to rest for a while on the rooftop terrace of the hotel, 
for another view of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel and a nearby church.

In the evening let's go across the Tiber to the active nightlife of Trastevere.
On the way, enjoy a view of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance from a bridge across the Tiber.

And, find a nice trattoria to say goodbye to Rome.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Churches, Churches and More Churches!


The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) is one of four major Papal basilicas in Rome.
It was built under Pope Sixtus III (432 - 440 A.D.).
It is a huge church festooned with wonderful fifth century mosaics.

Saint Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is a Dominican church designed by Michelangelo and built in the late 16th century over the ruins of the third century A.D. Baths of Diocletian.
This is the first church visited by the Pope on Ash Wednesday.

Santa Maria della Victoria (Our Lady of Victory) is a baroque 17th century church.

The Basilica of Saint Praxedes is an eighth century church built over a fifth century structure.
The most impressive features are the intricate mosaics.

In the Church of St. Louis of the French -- a 16th century church that is the national church in Rome of France -- the highlights are three Caravaggio paintings.  Two are here,
The Calling of St. Matthew and The Inspiration of St. Matthew.

Finally, Sant Ignazio di Loyola is a 17th century baroque church that has a beautiful trompe l'oiel ceiling fresco painted by Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit lay brother.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

St. Peter's Basilica

This trip to Italy is nearing its end, but there are a few more days to show you.
Photographs are not permitted in the Sistine Chapel. But, there is still plenty to see at the Vatican.

The Basilica of St. Peter and an Egyptian obelisk are seen from St. Peter's Square.
This square will be packed today for Palm Sunday.

Construction started near the start of the 16th century and took about 125 years to complete.
The nave of the basilica leads toward the dome.

Here is the dome of St. Peter's.

The Pieta is one of Michelangelo's first major works, completed in 1499 when he was 23.
It is in the first chapel on the right side of the basilica. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Vatican Museum

The Vatican museum holds countless treasures.  A surprising number were outstanding pagan
statues.  I picked out some of the Christian stuff to show.

This is an 1854 fresco by Podesti, celebrating Mary's Immaculate Conception.

A heavily decorated barrel ceiling soars above the map gallery in the Vatican Museum.

This is a detail from a Flemish tapestry from the 1500s in the Vatican Museum.

And this is a 19th century fresco influenced by Rafael's earlier works.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Rainy Day in Rome

On a day with steady rain, I put my camera away and took photographs with my iPhone. 

I think this is the Forum's main square, with the Arch of Septimius Severus at the rear center.
But I am issuing no guarantees.  It was a long day.

The Hippodrome of Domitian is next to the Palace of Severus.  The Emperor Domitian was paranoid, 
always thinking his rivals wanted to kill him.  He was killed by a rival.  
Sometimes paranoids have good reason to worry.

This is a partial view of the Roman forum from the Palatine hill.

The arch of Septimius Severus is from about 200 A.D.  It commemorates two successful campaigns against the Parthians.  You remember them, don't you?

 The ubiquitous sellers of selfie sticks start selling umbrellas the instant the first raindrop falls.
There must be a genie who transforms selfie sticks into umbrellas.

The Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (or the "Altar of the Nation" or the "wedding cake")
dominates the Piazza Venezia, right around the corner from the Roman fora. It was finished in 1911.
In the center is a huge equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel, the father of the country.
On each top corner, there are statues of Winged Victory, one for freedom, one for unification.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

First Day in Rome

When in Rome, what do you do?  You visit the Colosseum.
It is undergoing a cleaning paid for by a shoe company.

In a nearby church -- the church of San Pietro in Vincoli -- there is an impressive installation designed by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II.  After Michelangelo started work, the Pope had second thoughts about having his own funerary monument created during his life.
So, although the monument was eventually finished (after the Pope's death),
Michelangelo only sculpted a few of the statues.  This is his Moses.

And in the Capitoline Museums, there so many statues and paintings that I came out numb.
This one is of Brutus.  Seriously, Caesar, how could you ever trust a guy with eyes like those?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Last Day in Florence: Basilica of Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce is a Franciscan church in Florence.  It contains frescoes by Giotto and
funerary monuments for some rather important folks.  Here are two.

This is part of the monument marking the tomb of Michelangelo.

And this is part of the tomb of Galileo.  Galileo was excommunicated for his teachings that the earth revolves around the sun.  He was originally buried in a plot outside Santa Croce, but nearly a century later he was reburied in the main church, directly opposite Michelangelo.
The Pope canceled Galileo's condemnation order in 1992.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Looking Down in Florence

The octagonal Tribune Room of the Uffizi from the 1500s housed the Medici family's most precious 
paintings and sculptures.  The room re-opened two years ago.  It is a feast for the eyes.

Here is an example of the plain walls and decorated marble floors of the Duomo,
which I mentioned yesterday.

This is the lovely entrance of the Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella, one of the oldest 
pharmacies in the world.  It was established by Dominican brothers in 1221.  
They sell soaps and perfumes and the scent is just shy of heaven.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Look Up in Florence!

A group listens to its tour guide in the Palazzo Strozzi.

Much of the interior of the Duomo (except for the floors) is rather plain, but this painting by Giorgio Vasari of the ceiling under the Brunelleschi dome is astonishing.  The perspective is perfect, 
but the ceiling is actually flat.  And, the details are endless.

The previous four images are all from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, one of the oldest
palaces of Florence.  The museum houses many superb sculptures by Michelangelo, 
Donatello, Cellini and other prominent gothic and Renaissance sculptors.

With all the wonders on the walls of the Uffizi, it is a challenge to look up, 
but the ceilings of the loggia are amazing and reward the viewer.

The Pitti Palace became the residence of the Medici family -- the grand dukes of Tuscany -- in 1549
when it was bought by Eleanor of Toledo, a Spanish noblewoman who married Cosimo de Medici.
The ceilings are masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque art.  The ceiling in the bottom photo
looks like it is loaded with statuary and mouldings and columns, but it is troupe l'oeil.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Walking Florentine Streets

Some daytime shots of night shots shown yesterday:  Ponte Vecchio, carousel and Duomo.
(Too many pictures today, so less text.)

If you're going to deface a wall, at least do it with quality.

The Mercato Nuovo, an outdoor market for leather goods.

A bust of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio.  If you want to feel inadequate,
compare yourself with Cellini, a goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier and musician.

The Uffizi courtyard.