October 15th, 2013

Have You Ever Seen Something So Beautiful

Borghese-park
Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it brought tears to your eyes?
Something unexpected happened while touring a museum. I entered a room with a great sculpture, and instantly upon viewing it, my throat choked with a cry and my eyes welled up with tears. The beauty was overwhelming, figures coming to life then in a fated turn of events, one figure transforms into a tree.
It was Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, finished in 1625 and housed in the Borghese Gallery. I had seen it in books and didn’t think much of it prior to viewing it in real life. Just another statue by another Italian master. Statues are everywhere in Italy, street and museum alike, so their commonness impedes on their potential to impress. Still now when I view photos of it, I don’t see what moved me, but I can still feel its reverberation in my heart.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 7th, 2013

The Eternal City – Roman Forum Ruins

forum view large
It’s entertaining and edifying to learn about ancient Roman culture from bits and pieces of buildings. I can see how they were an advanced culture (minus the bit about all the slaughter at the Colosseum), ahead of their time, in the remains of the homes, buildings and public places left behind.
We toured the Roman forum, a group of preserved remains of the old empire dating as far back as 50 BC. There were temples, churches, the senate building (birth place of so-called democracy), triumphal arches celebrating leaders/tyrants sacks of neighboring lands, as well as the mundane markets, houses, watering holes and orchards of the average folk.
As we moved away from the dense old city center into the sprawling gardens and green space of the Palatine hill, I could almost feel what it was like to be live here. The climate is so mild, the abundant sea close, markets to trade and hear news and politics, public places like temples, churches and baths to come together; I can see how these people thought they were the bee’s knees.
The drone of traffic, horns and sirens faded away. All that could be heard was the cooing of birds and a gentle breeze through the olive trees. The green grass was sprinkled with wild thyme and periwinkle phlox and it almost felt like other places I’ve been, like Vermont or Oregon, until I almost trip over a cache of column bits or decapitated statures.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 6th, 2013

Roman(tic) Garden Side Street

vintage bug rome
The sounds of these sidestreets were playing children, distant sweet accordion music and the klickity-klack of dinners being made. And of course the streets were covered in plants of all sorts. Vines dangling like tinsel on a Christmas tree, flowering over window frames and doorways, grapes full of fruit that were actually quite edible spilled over into reach. Read the rest of this entry »