Friday, May 20, 2011

Day Three - Campidoglio - the beginning

Head of an Amazon, copy of an original bronze made for a competition in Ephesus between 444 and 430 BC. I think this is beyond stunning.

The Campidoglio is the modern Italian name for the Capitoline Hill where the major temples and seat of power lay in ancient Rome. Bill had researched all the major museums and knew we would not want to miss the ones here. And wowzer, what incredible art is within. So many works one knows from art history books are right here, the originals in their splendor.

Tonight's posting is just the warmup.

I was still tired from the Vatican trek the day before. I found this climb daunting. I made it but not without a pause. It was a very sunny day (hence the cap I picked up because I had forgotten my sunblock for the bald spot). The piazza at the top was designed by Michelangelo as are the steps (la Cordonata).

The original statue is now inside but this copy dominates the piazza. It is of Marcus Aurelius.

A detail of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

A river god in front of the Palazzo Senatorio, which housed the Senate from the 12th century and is now the office of the mayor of Rome.

The Palazzo dei Conservatori, seat of the city's magistrates in the late Middle Ages.

Colossal head of Constantine from the 4th century AD. I really should have someone nearby for scale. It's really big. Hand and foot below.

The following are other statues and reliefs in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

With her parted lips she appears able to breathe or ready to speak. I was quite blown away by the ancient sculptures we saw on this trip.

Partway up the staircase there are several sculpted panels, reliefs in honor of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The first is his triumph.

In this panel Marcus Aurelius bestows clemency on two barbarian captives. I have a second shot here in black and white to show detail.

The emperor makes a sacrifice in front of the temple of Capitoline Jupiter.

The emperor enters the city, greeted by the Genius of the Senate, the Genius of the People, and the goddess Roma.

Il Spinario, the famous bronze statue of a boy pulling a thorn from his foot.

Camillus, a youth responsible for ritual duties, with silver inlay eyes, first century AD.

Go, Lobos! [Local University of New Mexico reference there, folks.]

The She-Wolf, from a fifth century BC workshop in Etruria or Magna Graecia, she was an ancient symbol of justice in the Lateran. With the addition of the suckling twin humans, possibly by Pollaiolo, she becomes the Mater Romanorum (Mother of Romans) and symbol of the city.

The head of Medusa by Bernini.




Artemis of Ephesus

I am thinking this is Marcus Aurelius again.

And that concludes our opening tour. Much more to come.

--the BB

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day Three - Trajan's Column & VEII Monument

Satellite view of the area
Martedì, 19 aprile

Having taken the Metro on Day Two we took it again on Day Three, this time changing lines, heading for the Colosseo stop. Emerging, we saw this.

But the Colosseum was not our destination. We had decided we could look at it from the outside. We had our hands full as it was, though we did not realize how much lay ahead of us. Our destinations were the Capitoline Hill and the Imperial Fora. So we marched down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, looking at the Fora below us on the left. We had decided to do the museums of the Capitoline first since museums require some alertness and attention. We wanted to be fresh.

Trust me, by the time we got to the Fora we were not fresh.

Our trek toward the Capitoline led us to two significant spots on the way: Trajan's Column and the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 CE, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, that artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.

The structure is about 30 metres (98 ft) in height, 35 metres (125 ft) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of 3.7 meters (11 ft). The 190-metre (625 ft) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 stairs provides access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan's Column weighs 53.3 tons, which had to be lifted to a height of ca. 34 m.[Wikipedia]

Bill captured some goomba tourist in front of the column.

I have highlighted some details so you can get a sense of the amazing narrative artistry in the column. [As usual, you can click on the photos to embiggen.]

Across the street is the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or "Il Vittoriano" is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy, such as Angelo Zanelli. was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1935.

The statue of Italy stands above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, unifier of Italy and Father of the Nation.

Anyone who knows how I feel about those who risk their lives for their countries can anticipate that I prayed and wept here.

I close with a black-and-white detail of the opening Colosseum photo.

Next: Museums of the Capitoline Hill

--the BB

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day Two - Sistine Chapel & supper

We all know that Michelangelo did the ceiling and the Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel. The side walls have frescoes by Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and Signorelli (scenes from the lives of Christ and of Moses).

As one nears the end of the tour of the Vatican Museums one follows signs through a maze of rooms to get there. The entry is by a small door (I had to stoop) and the guards keep urging people forward into a sea of gawkers. If I said we were sardines in the Raphael Rooms, that was nothing by comparison. One could hardly breathe in the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling is very high and I could not help thinking that I had seen it much better on television and in books, well lit and up close with detail.

I wrote in my journal that it was "introvert hell" and that I wanted to get out the second I was inside it. Making the best of the only time I expect ever to be there I shot as many photos as I could. Leaning backward to point the camera upward I was dizzy. The air was close and there was no personal space. The din was maddening. The photos here are pretty much the only ones that came out without blurring from my unsteady camera. Well, unsteady me. Let's hear it for zoom lenses.

The exit was through another single small door. Ah, to be in the spaciousness of cramped passageways again! It takes fifteen minutes to get back to the entrance/exit so we passed through a seemingly endless collection of painted papal wardrobes. I share a bit of the rest of the journey.

If this looks like an endless corridor through many doorways... it is.

And this is the cool staircase toward the exit, built in the 1930s.

Once outside and across the street we found a seat and had gelato (mine was pistachio) and water. Bill had an espresso for energy. Then a walk to the Metro and back to the hotel. The scent of orange blossoms was in the late afternoon air.

We took a very short walk down the street for supper at the Osteria Barberini. It is a lovely little place. Our waitress was a lovely young Rumanian woman and the food was delicious. A real bargain too. We shared a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba. After dinner we walked around the Piazza Barberini and called it a day.

--the BB