When I woke up this morning I couldn't believe that I have been here for 12 days already. In some ways it feels like forever (meaning I can actually recognize places and feel as if I get lost I probably would be able to figure out how to find my way) and then I feel like it has been no time at all. This has already been such an incredible experience for me personally and professionally. And who doesn't want to live in a dorm again after 20 years?!
It was another day of blue skies and increasing temperatures and humidity. I'm somewhat happy that I am heading for home on Monday because it looks like it is only going to keep getting hotter and more humid...did I forget to tell you there is no air conditioning in the dorm rooms? It honestly hasn't been too bad because it does cool down at night. We do keep our windows open all the time and the ceiling fan has been running for the last 12 days.
We started out this morning going to the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II in the Piazza Venezia. I have rode by it multiple times on the bus so it was nice to be able to walk up into it. Professor Colella gave us a great presentation on the meaning of the different parts of the monument and a brief summary of Italian history. It was really helpful. You will see several pictures of the monument under AP Studio Art tab in Student Work.
We then split up from the other class and we headed out to see some churches. We started at San Ignazio (Church of St. Ignatius). Please see the incredible picture of the ceiling fresco done by Andrea Pozzo, who was also a Jesuit. He created the quadratura technique. "The term quadratura describes a form of illusionistic mural painting in which images of architectural features are painted onto walls or ceilings so that they seem to extend the real architecture of the room into an imaginary space beyond the confines of the actual wall or ceiling. Although the term can apply to the illusionistic "opening up" of walls, it is mainly associated with Italian church fresco painting, notably that of the Baroque era...Among the greatest paintings ever and certainly the finest example of Baroque quadratura decorative art, is The Triumph and Apotheosis of St Ignatius of Loyola (1691-4, San Ignazio, Rome) by Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709). Painted on the 95-feet high ceiling of the Jesuit church in Rome, the massed figures soar into the heavens in a stunning glorification of the Jesuit Order." The fresco opened up the ceiling so that you felt as if it kept going on and on. I think it is one of my favorite frescoes that I have seen yet. He also painted the "dome" (see picture). Funds were lacking and they were unable to build the intended dome for the church. Instead of foregoing the dome entirely, Andrea Pozzo proposed that he paint a life-sized illusion of a dome that would fool the eyes of visitors (as long as they looked up from the proper angle). It is a masterpiece of trompe-l'oeil.
We then walked to the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where St. Catherine of Siena's head is buried. We then walked to the courtyard outside of Sant'Ivo. The church is considered Borromini's masterpiece. Unfortunately, we were only able to look at it from the outside because it is only open to the public on Sunday mornings. From there we made our way into the wide open Piazza Navona where the Pamphilj Palace stands along most of the side of the piazza. Connected to the palace is the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. (There are 2 pictures in the AP Studio Art tab) It is believed that the church was erected on the spot where St. Agnes was beheaded in 304 AD at the age of 12 or 13. Her skull is preserved in the church in a special side chapel. We have seen the remains of martyrs during this trip, but for some reason seeing the tiny skull really hit me hard. How could a young girl of 12 or 13 have the resolve to stand up to the prefects of Rome? As an adult I can't fathom what that would take. And if you read more about the story of St. Agnes you will find out that she took more than just the beheading. At the very least it makes me think about what am I doing to honor God?
After some time to be able to sit and really see the church we walked out onto the Piazza to see Bernini's Fountain of Four Rivers. The fountain is built around a slender Egyptian obelisk surmounted by a dove, a symbol both of the church and the Pamphilij (the papal family). The surrounding sculptures represent the four major rivers of the four continents that were recognized at that time; the Ganges in Asia, the Río de la Plata in America, the Danube in Europe, and the Nile in Africa. (You Angels and Demons fans should recognize this fountain)
From there we went to our last church of the day, Santa Maria della Pace (St. Mary of Peace). This small church holds one of Raphael's frescoes. After one monument and 5 churches our class for the day came to a close. Even though it sounds like a lot, it really was a good day. In each of the churches we were really able to sit and soak up the art and the sacredness of each of the churches.
I would like to add a few items onto the
Mrs. Plagge's Random Thoughts on Rome, art, etc. section...
1) New one today-Instead of duct tape I saw a car that was using zip ties to hold its bumper together...what a genius idea! I'm not sure that I have mentioned it yet that it is perfectly acceptable here to bump the car in front and behind you when trying to parallel park. It really does explain the duct tape and scratches that are on almost all cars.
2) It only took me 2 weeks to figure this out (I know, pretty sad) but many of the sinks in restaurants, etc. have sinks without knobs. There are mysterious pedals under the sink to press your foot on to make the water run! Who knew?! If you ever come to Rome, hopefully this will help you.
3) This only took me about a week to figure out (or be shown). Remember all those amazing fountains throughout the city where you can fill your water bottles up? Well, quite a few of them have a small hole halfway up the pipe and if you put your fingers on the main part where the water comes out (think of a hose when you go to squirt it using your finger) it will make a drinking fountain! Genius!! I actually got to teach someone today in the Piazza Navona how to do it. Boy, did I feel pretty smart. It's always a good thing every once in awhile.
Mileage by Andrea: 7.98 miles
I only have a few more days to soak up the La Dolce Vita. Ci vediamo!