Monday, August 2, 2010

A 75% Successful Day

Today was another pretty relaxed day, touring the churches of Trastevere. My goal was to visit four churches: San Francesco a Ripa for its tomb by Bernini, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere for its sculpture of St. Cecilia by Stefano Maderno, Santa Maria della Trastevere for its general awesomeness and for its columns taken from the Baths of Caracalla, and San Pietro in Montorio for a look at Bramante's Tempietto. I got a little bit of a late start, but enjoyed my walk through the winding streets of Trastevere to my first location, San Francesco a Ripa:

The interior of the church was relatively plain by the standards I've become used to in Rome, but the simplicity was soothing:

There weren't too many tourists in this church or really in any of the churches or other places I visited today; after the crowds at the Vatican, the Colosseum, and so many other places in Rome, it was great to get away and have a chance to breathe without running into anyone. I highly recommend Trastevere for anyone looking to take a break during a long trip, and I'm becoming a big fan of the philosophy of slow travel in general. Because I've been here in Rome for so long, I feel like I'm really getting a sense of the city, and I'm also getting the chance to see sights that aren't on the average tourist itinerary. It's awesome.

Anyway, on to the main event, Bernini's tomb effigy for Beata Ludovica Albertoni (photo found on the internet because mine didn't really come out):

This was one of Bernini's later works, and I think I actually enjoyed seeing it even more than St. Theresa in Ecstasy, which it clearly echoes. Maybe it's the fantastic rumpled bedclothes in red marble (I think I've made my feelings on colored stone pretty clear!) or maybe it's just because I haven't seen it in pictures as often, and so it felt fresher to me. The lighting from the hidden window illuminated the sculpture beautifully.

One last odd thing:

This must be a copy of Guido Reni's painting of the Archangel Michael in Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini - Charlie and I saw the original last week. I'm always more surprised by a copy of a painting than a sculpture, and I wonder what the story is here, whether the copy is by Reni, or by his school, or someone else entirely. It's very strange.

The next stop was Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, a lovely little oasis with a walled-in courtyard containing a delightful fountain adapted from an ancient marble vase. There were so many fantastic details here: mosaics, column capitals, and much more. In the interest of time, though, I'm editing out some of the details, so here is the courtyard and facade:

I was interested in coming to the church to see the original of Stefano Maderno's statue of St. Cecilia, the copy of which so startled me in the Catacombs of St. Calixtus:

It's an extraordinarily morbid sculpture, supposedly representing the position in which the saint lay when her tomb was opened several hundred years after her death. You can probably just see the sword slash in her neck, representing the attempted decapitation that factored into her martyrdom. I'm semi-serious about pursuing the story of the St. Calixtus copy at some point; it's definitely filed away in my brain for some point when I have some time to research it.

The other neat feature of Santa Cecilia was an underground display of the crypt and of several archaeological discoveries made on the site, including complete Roman rooms that have been incorporated into the church's basement. There wasn't really a lot of explanation, and what was given was in Italian, so I had to guess at what I was seeing, but this kind of looked like a shop sign, which is neat:

I'm guessing that because of the axe carved into the marble. I had this part of the church entirely to myself, and it was a wonderful luxury.

After walking through the excavated rooms, I stumbled upon the crypt chapel, gated off so that I couldn't enter, but even more wonderful and mysterious for that. I stuck my camera through the bars and snapped a quick picture:

After leaving Santa Cecilia, I stopped for lunch, a whole pizza with lots of toppings for only 4 Euro! Trastevere is awesome. I read a bit more of The Marble Faun while I ate, and came across this hilarious description of the Trevi Fountain: "They ... stood gazing at the absurd design of the fountain, where some sculptor of Bernini's school had gone absolutely mad in marble." I'm doing a lot better reading The Marble Faun this time around, and I think I may actually finish it. It's a lot better when you've actually been to Rome.

After lunch, it was only a short walk to Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is picturesquely located in the piazza of the same name:

This whole church was extraordinary - gorgeous mosaics, fantastic architectural details, and loudspeakers piping classic chant melodies, such as Pange Lingua or Ubi Caritas, which really added to the atmosphere. Here's a shot of the nave:

And here's a detail of one of the columns, spolia from the Baths of Caracalla:

That's a bust of the Egyptian/Roman god Serapis at the center of the column capital. I read an argument about the creative use of these columns once, but unfortunately I can't recall much of the argument, or even who wrote it! Can any art historians help me out?

One last detail from Santa Maria in Trastevere, the fantastic gilded ceiling:

And then it was time for my last stop, San Pietro in Montorio. It was a short walk, but up a steep hill in the heat of the afternoon. I was excited to arrive at the church, but sadly, it was closed! Unfortunately, I missed the line in my guidebook that said "except Mondays". I have more business in Trastevere, though, so I'm definitely going to try again later in the week.

I did manage to get a pretty good view of the Tempietto through the gate:

So there's that. And I also took a quick self-portrait in front of some flowers:

So that was my day. Tomorrow is a much more involved expedition - I'm heading out to the old Roman port of Ostia Antica.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photography! I must say that you are experienced photographer and took incredible photo. Thank you for sharing you experience with us. Many thanks to you!
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