Sunday, January 10, 2010


Here are some shots I took of Mackenzie over the weekend.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rome, Italy (September 23, 2009)

On Wednesday we drove to Catelfiorentio to catch the 5:30 am train to Florence & then to Rome.

After about a three hour train ride we met up with our tour guide for the day at the train station. The first part of our tour was a van ride around the city. We stopped at the Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi to get a view of the city.

We drove over to San Sebastiano fuori le mura (Saint Sebastian outside the walls) to take a tour of the catacombs. The church was one of the seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. The church was originally build in the first half of the 4th century and is dedicated to St. Sebastian, a popular Roman martyr of the 3rd century. The church was built over catacombs. According to the founding tradition, in 258, during the Valerian persecutions, the catacombs were temporarily used as place of sepulture of two other saints martyred in Rome, Peter and Paul, whose remains were later transferred to the two basilicas carrying their name. The dedication to Sebastian dates to the 9th century.

Sebastian's remains were moved there around 350 then were later transferred to St. Peter's in 826, fearing a Saracen assault. During this time the church was destroyed. It was refounded under Pope Nicholas. The current edifice is largely a 17th-century construction.

This is a view of one of the tombs in the catacombs.

Various shots from inside the church.

From there we made our way over to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). This fountain in the Trevi rione is the largest Baroque fountain in the city. The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revivified Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 8 miles from the city. (This scene is presented on the present fountain's façade.) However, the eventual indirect route of the aqueduct made its length some 14 miles. This Aqua Virgo led the water into the Baths of Agrippa. It served Rome for more than four hundred years. The coup de grâce for the urban life of late classical Rome came when the Goth besiegers in 537/38 broke the aqueducts. Medieval Romans were reduced to drawing water from polluted wells and the Tiber River, which was also used as a sewer.

The Roman custom of building a handsome fountain at the endpoint of an aqueduct that brought water to Rome was revived in the 15th century, with the Renaissance. In 1453, Pope Nicholas V finished mending the Acqua Vergine aqueduct and built a simple basin, designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, to herald the water's arrival.

In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Bernini's lasting contribution was to resite the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so the Pope could look down and enjoy it). Though Bernini's project was torn down for Salvi's fountain, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it was built. An early, striking and influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early 18th century sketches, most unsigned, as well as a project attributed to Nicola Michetti one attributed to Ferdinando Fuga and a French design by Edme Bouchardon.

Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei - but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway. Work began in 1732, and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Clement's death, when Pietro Bracci's Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche.

Salvi died in 1751, with his work half-finished, but before he went he made sure a stubborn barber's unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase, called by Romans the asso di coppe, "the "Ace of Cups".

The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin.

This is the side of the Trevi fountain I didn't see in art history books, the enormous crowds of people.

After lunch we finished the second part of our tour at Vatican City.

Statue of Apollo Belvedere.

Statue of Neptune.

Lacoon and His Sons (Gruppo del Lacoonte)

Various statues at the Museo Pio-Clementino

Ceiling at the Museo Pio-Clementino

Statue of Artemis of Ephesus.

Galleria degli Arazzi (Tapestry Gallery)

Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (Map Gallery)

The entrance to Saint Peter's Basilica.

Saint Peter's Basilica.

Saint Peter's Square