Monday, June 13, 2011

Day Three - I Fori Imperiali

Temple of Saturn - trust me, these columns are monumental. The entire scale of the fora (and yes, I insist on using the Latin plural of forum because it hurts my brain to type "forums") is meant to impress on the viewer the might of Rome and its rulers.

I return to the tour and it is midafternoon of Day Three. Following the restorative lunch on the terazzo of the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the conclusion of our museum tour we climbed the steep and sloping steps to the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Aracoeli. I wanted to take photos but it was forbidden to do so and, unlike most of the tourists with cameras inside, I behaved. The church dates from the sixth century and is situated on the Capitoline peak where a temple of Juno Moneta once stood. The following photos are taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Interior of Sta Maria in Aracoeli

Fresco of Madonna and Child by Pietro Cavallini

Central fresco by Pinturicchio
in the S. Bernardino Chapel (1486).

There are some nice bits in the church, as shown above, but I was not kind in journal comments:
... a horrid clash of too much with an excess of chandeliers - source of immigrant bad taste. Ugh. And the Santo Bambino of olive wood from near Gethsemane in Jerusalem allegedly carved by a Franciscan and painted by an angel is one of those fat ugly babies like so many Gothic & Renaissance Madonna and Child paintings where the baby is butt ugly.
My attitude is most uncharitable but there you have it. There is also a factor that truly puzzles me. Why are so many of the babies in late Gothic and Renaissance paintings lumpy and homely? Seriously. With all the painterly skills of the artists and some lovely women in the role of Mary, were there no pretty babies to be found? I really do wonder and would be interested in any theories.

For now I will pass over our visit to the Mamertine Prison in silence.

Looking down on the eight surviving columns of the Temple of Saturn and the three columns of the Temple of Vespasian. The Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio) is on the right.

Detail from the Arch of Septimius Severus

Massive inscribed stones

Remnants of the Basilica Aemilia. This vast area housed law courts.

Looking up toward the Palatine Hill where the
imperial palaces were located

There is a reason many of our formal typefaces are based on the carvings from imperial Rome. The letters are beautiful.

Would you care to guess the significance of this spot where folks leave flowers and other offerings to this day? You cannot see these unless you walk behind a wall to look.

It is the Altar of Caesar in the ruin of the Temple of Julius Caesar. This is the spot where his body was cremated after his assassination in 44 BCE.

Temple of Saturn and Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

The lone Column of Phocas is the last monument placed in the Fora. It was dedicated on 1 August 608 to honor the Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas who had visited Rome and donated the Pantheon to the Pope.

The Arch of Septimius Severus (yet again) viewed from near its base.

The Temple of Saturn. I wish I could convey the scale. Wait, I believe I can. A photo taken from the Campidoglio overlooking the Fora:

The large columns to the right of center are the Temple of Saturn viewed from their side. Note the people in comparison to the monuments.

Some interesting floral scroll work on a stone fragment.

Remnants of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. There was a temple here from the fifth century BCE but these "modern" bits are from a rebuilding in AD 6.

Some wildflowers growing amid all the stone.

Foundations and retaining walls of palaces as you look from the Fora to the Palatine Hill.

Remnants (with lots of restoration) of the Temple of Vesta where the Vestal Virgins tended the sacred flame.

The Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius with Bill standing in front of it so you can grasp the immensity.

Chiesa di Santa Francesca Romana

The Arch of Titus (19th century reconstruction)

Domitian built the arch in AD 81 to honor the victories of his brother Titus and his father Vespasian. In this panel you can see a menorah being carried forth from looting the Temple in Jerusalem when the Jewish rebellion was put down.

The emperor in his chariot attended by the winged Nike, goddess of victory.

The Senate and the Roman People (SPQR) to the divine Titus son of the divine Vespasian, to Vespasian Augustus.
Looking down the Via Sacra toward the Colosseum

One of the cats of Rome viewing us with indifference

Arch of Constantine


The Colosseum

Our visit to the Fora was rushed as the sun was close to setting and the area was closing as we departed. We returned to our hotel and had snacks and a bottle of wine, quite sufficient at the end of a tiring day.

And that concludes Day Three.

--the BB

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nel giardino

Today's gardening extravaganza includes comparisons with last year.

Right now I an writing through a haze of alcohol and aches. This weekend I went to the gym twice. I worked in the yard doing significant planting Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon. I have done lots of stretching and resistance training at home. My body is ready for some rest. It being the Fiftieth Day of Easter and the Great Feast of Pentecost, I have also broken out of my virtuous eating habits of late to consume some of the small See's milk chocolate Easter eggs still on the dining room table and to have a stiff drink after the yard work.

We also had a good time at San Gabriel this morning. There is a lovely new sign with an icon of San Gabriel on the outside of the building and it was blessed before the service began. We were a riot of red but that was nothing to the riot at the reading of the Gospel. It was in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Norwegian, Koine Greek, and Old English. I was reading in Italian and could hardly hear myself in that cacophony which is a pity. I would love to have heard it read in each language singly. But a great morning. I loaned my "red dress" to Mother Rhonda so she could flash in colors of fire. She also had on some outrageous red glasses given her years ago (so she says; I think she "borrowed" them from Dame Edna).

And now our pictorial yard report.

Here is the Methley plum with the new plantings of the last week that surround it now: four pink penstemon, periwinkle, pink butterfly gaura, English lavender, salvia, and white petunias.

Now, a retrospective look at the northwest corner from last year. There were peaches on the two trees on the right. The right near peach tree, the Red Haven, did not make it through the winter and has been replaced with a cottonwood. I hope to have shade as it grows to hugeness.

Although from a different angle (shot from the south end of the yard), this is a view of the north end this afternoon. Just a few months ago this was nothing but brown. Hooray for spring and summer! The cottonwood is mere slip of a thing visible just to the left of the series of three windows on the neighboring house.

Here are some John F. Kennedy roses.

This is a bit of a panorama of the yard from near the dining room door. You can see more hardscaping as I have added more retaining blocks to define the garden from the sandbox near the house.

I don't know their name but these have blossomed on a rosebush planted before the Italian trip that I thought might not make it.

America roses from a bush that made it through the winter.

I don't know the name of these either but they make my heart smile.

The Warsaw Nike clematis was planted two years ago. Prior to this year it never got more than about eight inches tall but it has survived two winters and finally grown up and blossomed.

Here is a view of the southwest corner from last May. The Lady Banks rose was flowering against the wall. This year it has only grown near the base with no flowers. The cherry tree in the left foreground did not survive and has been replaced with a nectarine. I have also planted an apricot and a Babcock peach this year. Many of the roses pictured here perished with our harsh winter.

Here is a view from the north end looking to the south end this afternoon.

There were more grapes on the vine last year but these are most promising.

Here is one of two areas planted yesterday.

One of the day lilies planted today.

And here is a shot of the north border planted rather intensively this afternoon.

And that is today's garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it. I enjoy planting and watching things grow.

May rain come.

Pray for the firefighters and those in danger of wildfires. I work for Smoky and I have friends out there.

--the BB