Chasing Caravaggio, Bernini, and Michaelangelo
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Our original plan was to head for the Basilica of St. Peter (hello, Bernini and Michaelangelo!) but the Pope had his audience on Wednesday, and we could not get in! I did, however, take a photo of the Pope, way off in the distance.
So we headed to the Cast'Angelo, the fortified palace of the popes that is linked to the Vatican by bridge of angels, and walked around in puzzlement until we found the first church, the Church of St. Augustine.
There we saw, on display, a Caravaggio called Madonna of the Pilgrims. It shocked the art world when he first displayed it because the Madonna had no shoes
We headed for the fountain, The Four Rivers of the World, by Bernini, in which he portrayed the four main rivers of the world as it was known at the time!. I loved the torsoed bodies, the figure representing Africa with his shirt over his face. And the amazing engineering feat that Bernini achieved, which was to create an arch or hole in his fountain, but to place an obelisk right over the arch. How was that supported?!
We passed by Hadrian's six pillars, all that is left of a temple devoted to the god Neptune.
Then we were at the amazing Pantheon.This is an incredible Roman engineering feat. It is not a Bernini or a Caravaggio, but it is the biggest ancient concrete dome in the world, fronted by enormous pillars of marble. The bronze doors into the Pantheon are original -- that is, they date to the second century A.D. Inside the Pantheon, the light shone through the hole in the centre, illuminating the entire dome with a kind of classical purity.
After the Pantheon, we saw the wonderful curlicues of Trevi Fountain, a baroque confection, with a deity standing on an enormous shell as horses rise from the water around him. Trevi Fountain has three levels of water cascading down from the front sculpture. I was slackjawed with amazement.
But we were still chasing Carvaggios! And, in our quest, we stumbled upon a palace of a prince, the Palazzo Pamphyj. This truly was a happy accident
Bernini featured as well. He did a marble bust portrait of Pope Innocent, so lifelike that you could see the button on the Pope's cloak that was half in and half out of its slit.
I had never seen so much amazing art in one day in my life. But it was not yet over. We stopped by at yet another church, where Michaelangelo's Moses hid behind its niche. We stopped at the same time as afternoon mass, so we crept in, took a few photographs, and crept out. Amazing.
Finally, we found Bernini's Teresa in Ecstasy. This was at a tiny church called the Chiesi della Vittoria, completely nondescript
Although the day was late, we rushed to the Colosseum to take a photograph in the setwe had dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant, and saw the final beautiful scene of the day -- the Tiber River in the late evening, illuminated.
The finding of each masterpiece of art was like a treasure hunt, because we did not know how to get to each church. The day entailed a lot of walking, sweating, consulting of maps, and puzzling over street signs. Rome's streets are not a grid! We got lost numerous times, we trekked up and down the sides of hills and near the Palatino as the dusk came, one of us lost a metro ticket, and we ended up taking a taxi back to a metro station. But we survived. And we saw all that art. It was so amazing.