(Note: written last fall but never posted.)
We had a leisurely start to the day, with no tours booked, so we took our time with coffee, news and breakfast. Then we walked through the Campo to buy dinner for this evening – eggs, sausage, bread, arugula and a strange green called puntarelle that the nice vendor taught me how to cook with garlic, oil, anchovies, salt, pepper and aceto (vinegar, pronounced ashetto, not achetto).
There were lots of other delicious vegetables we could have bought,
but we tried to keep it simple because, by the end of the day, we have no energy for major cooking.
Today is a church day, because churches are where the art is. We started with Bernini’s famous St. Teresa in Ecstasy in the high baroque church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The sculpture depicts the moment when the saint was pierced by the sword of an angel as she was overcome by the love of God. Whew! Tucked up in a chapel, it was not as visible as I had hoped but still filled with delicate tracery, a gold smile and throbbing joy. I can only imagine that the photo is a bit blurred because of the ecstasy.
The baroque ornamentation is just as gold and frou-frou as can be, as you can see from this view of the ceiling.
Dazzled but not tired, we walked on quite a way to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The highlight here was seeing a few planks from Christ’s crib – just imagine! You can see the humble planks behind all the gilt. It was right up there with the holy blood that we saw in Bruges.
Other highlights were Bernini’s tomb and more beautiful tile work. Roman tiles really deserve their own post, but here’s a good one for now. After so much art and religion, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at a cafe just across from the church and enjoyed watching the clericals go by – men in robes, women in habits, the real significance lost on me. Oh, that Uncle Buzz had been with us to explain it all! We enjoyed our delicous salads and for me a Campari soda, for Alison an Aperol spritz. Refreshing for the weary art-lovers.
We had stopped earlier at a mosaic tile shop near our apartment, and the artist there told us that if we liked mosaics we should visit St. Maria in Trastevere. We taxied over to the other side of the Tiber and enjoyed a very old church with beautiful gilt mosaics above the altar. You can also spot them above the portico outside.Much as I love the baroque, a little bit of sparkling mosaic was refreshing after our morning travels.
Walking back home across the Garibaldi bridge we had a great view of St. Peter’s looming above the river. We’ll be there in a few days…
Dinner was our market catch. I have to confess that this picture makes it look slightly disgusting. But in real life it was warm, fresh, and comforting. Yum!