Sorry this is coming a little late. A long day yesterday wore me out and I didn't have the energy to get it together last night. Yesterday we started the day off by visiting 2 churches: Basilica of St. Augustine and the San Luigi de Francesci. St. Monica, St. Augustine's mother, is buried at the Basilica of St. Augustine. There are many famous pieces of art there including Caravaggio's painting called "Madonna of Loreto", a fresco by Raphael from 1512 showing the Prophet Isaiah and 2 kneeling angels on the altar sculpted by Bernini. It is mind-boggling that we can walk into just one church (and believe me, there are way more than a few churches in Rome) and find so many pieces of work done by incredibly notable painters and sculptors.
The second church we visited was San Luigi de Francesci. It is the French national church in Rome. See pictures of the inside of the church under AP Studio Art tab under Works. The church houses Caravaggio's first public commission in 1602, which was to paint 3 paintings about the life of St. Matthew. There are nods to one of Caravaggio's influences, Michelangelo. He uses Michelangelo's "God creating man" gesture for Jesus pointing to Matthew to come and follow him. Caravaggio would have seen the Sistine Chapel while he was in Rome. One of the things that I think is so interesting is that most of the churches that we have gone too are still functioning churches that have mass. I can't even imagine going to normal mass at a church so immense and grand. These churches inspire you (or at least me) to see the power and enlightenment of what the true message of the church is. They create an environment of sacredness that I am not always sure I feel at our churches in the States.
The final stop of the day was at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj. This gallery was and still is a noble family's lavish mansion tucked into the heart of the old city. The family still lives on the site and the audioguide was narrated by the prince. The amount of work was overwhelming. Paintings were stacked 3 and 4 paintings high on the walls, sculptures lined the hallways, one of which was meant to replicate the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles-just in a smaller version. There was work by Bernini, Lavinia Fontana (one of the few women painters during the Renaissance), Pieter Brueghel, Albrecht Durer, Bernini, Caravaggio and many more. We had the opportunity to sketch for about an hour. I think I finally hit the point yesterday when I had seen enough artwork...just for the day.
After a small siesta, we went out for dinner near the Piazza Navona. The Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini is the center of the Piazza. The piazza was filled with people last night, having dinner, eating gelato and just soaking up the cool evening after a warm day. I did get to have lasagna for the first time last night. That was pretty exciting and terribly good! We capped off the night by getting gelato and walking to the Pantheon where we got to sit in the portico against the giant granite columns holding up the roof. It was a beautiful evening to just hang out, people watch and enjoy the interesting choices of karaoke songs being sung at the local cafe looking out onto the piazza.
Some additional Random Thoughts on Rome...
1) I know I'm not used to public transit (spoiled by the life of middle class America), but I have learned there is no sense or right to personal space while riding a bus or metro in Rome. Yesterday I nearly face planted right into the gentleman standing next to me on the bus when we stopped suddenly. That was fun.
2) This connects to the first thought- deodorant and showering are a VERY good thing while traveling on the metro. I'm not sure that a good majority of people subscribe to that policy...
3) Strange fact: Parakeets, Crows and Seagulls are all over the place in Rome. They are VERY loud in the morning.
I think that is it for now. Talk to you all soon!