Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Temple of All the Gods

The Pantheon is John and my favourite building. It was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D., to worship and honour all the gods of Rome. 
Our local grocery was just off the Piazza della Rotonda so we passed the Pantheon from different directions and at different times almost every day.
The historical centre of Rome is full of narrow streets that suddenly open up onto a bright piazza.
You can come upon the Pantheon from half a dozen different streets.
With each sighting the shock of the building's size and shape returns.
Let's go inside!
The height of the dome equals the width of the diameter -- 142 feet.
The lush marble interior has recently been restored.
The original marble interior has survived because when Christianity was adopted by the Romans the building was turned into a church. Monotheism reigned but preserved the pagan temple.
Christian uses have been found for the niches that once held statues of "all the gods", but the Christian altar and seating is unconvincing. It is dwarfed by the size of the interior.
But Raphael's tomb works.
I love the view of the Baroque fountain and obelisk when one leaves the building.
If you only see one ancient monument in Rome make it the Pantheon.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Grizzuti Harrison moment

Every time John and I walked by the Pantheon in Rome we remembered how one of our favourite travel writers described the bliss of sitting in one of the nearby cafes.
 Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's Italian Days (1989) is a wonderful memoir of Italy and it contains a hundred and fifty ecstatic pages describing her experience of Rome. John wanted to sit on the patio where she had sat and have a drink in her memory.
 The only problem is that the Piazza della Rotonda  has become a tourist trap with overpriced everything and the whole circus -- mimes, persistent hawkers of this year's junk novelties and endless tour groups.
So the reality of sitting in this square seemed pretty unappealing.
But nevertheless one evening we spotted an empty table. We were soon seated and served. We toasted our beloved Barbara Grizzuti Harrison with her own words:

 "I sit here for hours. Dear God, let me be this happy in Heaven. If Heaven rejects me, I have had this."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Roman Colour and Texture

To understand some of the reasons why Rome is unforgettable we last looked at pure Roman colour.
Now lets move up a layer to see how colour works with texture:
flowers and vegetation
framed in stone
framed in carved marble
colour, stone and cement
pure texture
random colours working well together
erosion adding a sense of age
erosion by water
colour in three dimensions
ancient elements
flat colour and stone
always erosion
raking side-light
the beauty of wear and tear
shadow and blazing sun
and at the end of every day a mellowing.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pure Roman Colour

Bill and I were walking in Rome with our friend Mariella Bertelli. She walked up to a wall and said, "I love this colour."
 Later I took a picture of it for her. Then the impulse grew and I began to document other Roman wall colours.