Tuesday, June 6th

We started out bright and early this morning because we had timed tickets for the Borghese Gallery.  And since it takes us nearly an hour to get almost anywhere via bus and metro we had to start at 7:30.  I am very lucky because we are staying at the John Felice Rome Center which is owned by Loyola University of Chicago.  It was at one time a convent, so it is very much like a dormitory, but the facility is very nice and there is a cafe onsite to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner if you don't feel like going out.  The only downside is that it is in the suburbs of Rome.  We are still within walking distance (remember what I said about Italian walking distances) to 2 buses that pretty much take us anywhere we want to go, but it does take a bit of travel time to get there.  And almost always, full to packed buses.  Today I actually got off the bus at a stop because it was so crowded I couldn't take it anymore.  So, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then got on another, much less packed bus.  Sorry about that tangent...

The Borghese Gallery is located in the Villa Borghese Gardens which are in the more northern part of tourist Rome.  The Gardens are vast.  It is three square miles of what could be likened to Central Park in New York.  There are several museums and the zoo located within the gardens.  The Borghese is the villa that once belonged to the Borghese family of Rome.  Scipione Borghese (1577–1633) was an Italian cardinal, art collector and patron of the arts. He was the nephew of Pope Paul V.  He sounds like a very interesting person in many different ways.  I think he may be an excellent example of nepotism in the Church.  A member of the Borghese family, he was the patron of the painter Caravaggio and the artist Bernini. His legacy is the establishment of the art collection at the Villa Borghese.  The amount of significantly important work in this collection is inconceivable.  There is work by not only Caravaggio and Bernini, but by Raphael, Bronzino, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and many more.  Unfortunately, the Borghese only allows a certain amount of visitors in for a 2 hour period, so once your time is up you have to leave.  I could easily have spent several more hours looking and drawing from the pieces in the collection.

We then visited the church of S. Maria del Popolo.  For all you Angels and Demons fans, this is the church with the famous Chigi Chapel that Robert Langdon climbs down into the crypt, also known as Earth in the movie.  With any luck I have been told I will go to all the places in the Path to Illumination here in Rome.  Fingers crossed.

We then headed out on the metro to walk past the Trevi Fountain and onto the Pantheon.  I have seen the Pantheon from the outside several times on this trip already, but I have not had the opportunity to go inside yet.  Please check out some of the pictures on the AP Studio Art tab.  I have had the opportunity a number of years ago to go into the Pantheon, but I think no matter how much you do it, I don't think it is possible to not be in awe when you step through that massive door into the central space.  The way the light filters in through the oculus (the hole in the center of the dome) and radiates into the giant space is breathtaking.  To know that it has stood for almost 2000 years is truly remarkable.  This was another architectural masterpiece headed by Hadrian.  Hopefully, you may remember his name from my trip to Tivoli this past weekend to visit his villa.  The Pantheon dome remains the single largest, unreinforced concrete dome in the entire world.  Since the Renaissance the Pantheon has been the site of several important burials.  One of those is the great painter Raphael.  One of the things that I did not know is that the Pantheon is actually in use as a Catholic church. Masses are celebrated there on Sundays and holy days of obligation. How amazing would that be to go to mass in the Pantheon?  I may have to see if I can do that this Sunday.  

I'm going to call it for the night.  It's just about 5:00 pm, but I have a lot of sketching to do and we have the Vatican Museums tomorrow.  I only have one random fact for today.  If you are going to the Pantheon, it is a hotbed for pickpockets because everyone is looking up and not paying attention to their bags.  Good to know if you are planning on going there.  Tomorrow is going to be a long one, but I'm sure another amazing day.

Mileage by Andrea: 5.91 miles