Monday, February 1, 2010


Hey everyone! Sorry this post is a little late in coming but it was SO DAUNTING! pity us. Also right now I'm a little sick and by that I mean REALLY REALLY sneezy and snuffly and my nose is unbearably itchy on the inside. In other words. gross. Anyway let's do it to it! yes I am aware that NOBODY says that.

Here are some more pretty pictures that we took at the ASS CRACK OF DAWN. Ricardo really likes them. We took the fast train to Rome at 6:30 am! One plus: we got to see the sun rise. When we arrived in Rome we took a bus to our hotel to leave our bags and then immediatly headed out to our first stop which was Borromini's WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS CHAPEL?!!

For those of you who don't know who Borromini is (i.e everyone who is cooler than art history geeks) he was a super cool but sad and touchy artsy type guy in the Baroque period who made amazing buildings and was Bernini's biggest rival. He is pretty much a very cool baroque dude.
Unfortunately you can't go in this church because they don't have the funds to hire people to look after it and keep it open. So we moved on to THAT CHURCH that has the Contarelli chapel in it! OMGZ EXCITEMENT.

This is what the interior of the church looked like, but it's not important because the Contarelli chapel is in the far left corner.

Sooooo the Contarelli chapel is so great and cool because there are a million Caravaggios in it! (there are three Caravaggios) It's also kind of a fun name game because it's called the Contarelli chapel because the patron was a french dude name Mattieu Cointrel and Italian people can't pronounce that apparently AND because Caravaggio is not a name but a place! and his real name was Michelangelo Merisi (da Carvaggio). ALSO there are all these paintings of St. Mathew presumably because the patron's name was Mattieu. HA. CLEVER GIRL. and no one thinks any of this is cool but me.
The Martyrdom of St. Mathew

The Calling of st. Mathew

The Inspiration of St. Mathew

From there we high tailed it to the Pantheon. Ricardo was SO EXCITED. I was pretty pumped as well. There was this pretty sweet ancient Egyptian obelisk outside which Ricardo tried to read because he was in Ancient Egyptian art and architecture last semester and knows some hieroglyphs. PRETTY COOL GUYS.

Here's the Pantheon!

Here's us AND the pantheon for the parents! Two for one deal! Limited time only! Because you know we can't do this all day!

The doors to get inside are REAL BIG and covered in Barberini Bees! The Barberini were mega prominent family in Rome (as in SEVERAL popes prominent) and their family crest had three bees on it so now there are a lot of bees all over artworks in Rome! They're pretty cute.

and this is the only shot we have of the inside.

Totally kidding. this is what it looks like!

and Raphael was buried here! Here's his tomb! (it's weirdly small) unfortunately poor Annibale Caracci (founder of the Bologna school of painting along with his brother and painter of the Farnese ceiling, which you can't see except with an appointment MADE A MONTH OR MORE IN ADVANCE because that building is now the French Embassy (???!?!?!) and the French apparently SUCK)

ANYWAY, this is one of Bernini's earliest pieces in front of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Frankly, it's allright. Nothing spectacular. Gotta cool obelisk that was stolen from the Egyptians and all.

We went into the church behind the elephant. Its called Santa Maria Sopra Minerva because it was built over an old pagan temple to the goddess of wisdom, Minerva. It had a smattering of styles and was pretty nice.

BUT WAIT, WHAT'S THIS?!? A Michelangelo sculpture that NO ONE ever mentions? BLASPHEMY!Christo della Minerva by Michelangelo Buonarotti

WHOA so totally awesome and unexpected! That little loincloth bit was added on later during the counter-reformation, because the Christians became way prude.

After leaving through the back door, we walked to Sant'Ignazio which for reason I forgot to take a picture of the outside of. Not that that's the important part because the important part is this amazing quadratura (when there' fake architecture on the ceiling making it look like there's no ceiling) by Andrea Pozzo which illustrates the triumphs of the Jesuits over the four corners of the Earth! So there are A LOT of angels with a Jesuit monk rising to heaven in the center and the four continents are shown underneath, Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. Ambitiousness of the crazy visionary and artistic kind is apparently rewarded in heaven. This is (of course) a FRESCO if you please. (Which means they painted this in sections as the plaster was wet, which means they had VERY limited time to get it right.)

Also pretty funny and charming (I think) is this painted trompe l'oeil dome! it looks just right if you stand in the perfect spot (same with the ceiling) but once you move it's totally obvious that it's just a flat surface. It was painted on canvas and stretched across the blank space on the ceiling. They did it because they couldn't afford a real dome. sad face.

So! That was all fun and games but Helen never-stops Waterson thinks that Baroque works are impressive but basically distracting and obnoxious so we went to see some ancient stuff instead. Thu we ended up in front of Trajan's column! Trajan ruled from 98 B.C.E to 117 B.C.E and the Roman Empire was extended to its greatest extent during his reign. The column once stood in the middle of Trajan's forum and commemorates Trajan's victory over the Dacians (Dacia is around the area of modern Romania)

Ricardo here now! Christina is sick and fell asleep so its up to me to finish posting! As you can see this is me in front of Marcus "Badass" Traianus (aka Trajan)'s column.

Christina in front of what's left of Trajan's Forum

A forum was essentially a long plaza of super important buildings like civic centers and markets. Forums were essentially the center of Roman life. Well, after that we WALKED FOREVER until we reached that oh so famous of Roman landmarks...

THE COLOSSEUM (featuring Christina and Ricardo!)

The Colosseum is a really cool place with a pretty sweet story. Alright so this total douchey Mcdouche pants Emperor Nero takes a bunch of public land for his own private Neverland Ranch. However, nobody likes him, so as soon as he's dead it gets totaled and the area lies in ruins for a bit, until this hoopy frood called Emperor Vespasian said 'Hey guys, I know this used to be yours and all, so I'm going to build a bitchin' amphitheater where you can watch guys kill animals and each other.' And the Roman people, being a rather violent lot, thought this was the greatest idea since the toga, and watched over 9.000 (I'm European now) animals get killed during the inaugural games, which lasted 100 days. On the very first day they held a mock naval battle by flooding the arena. THEY MADE A FAKE OCEAN.

Here you can see some of the intense underground tunnels that allowed them to summon animals and slaves at will!

ANYWHO, after that we ran off to get lunch. That was uneventful, but then after lunch we saw THIS:

That's right mofo' The triumphal arch of Constantine (with a bunch of stolen parts from other people's triumphal arches) and Christina being an Asian tourist.

And now, even though Christina has been asleep for two days and perhaps her legs are beginning to atrophy from not leaving the bed, she is now back and narrating. AKA This is Christina typing right now. AND here's the Roman forum right now.

The arch of Septimius Severus. NOT a name from Harry Potter.

Here's Ricardo showing how baby tiny he is in comparison to the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine also known as the Basilica of Peace. This is only one third of the building. Because Romans are crazy and have concrete.

The arch of Trajan, because he's so badass that he gets a column and an arch and an equestrian monument in the middle of his forum. After we left the forum, learning what all the buildings were and what they were used for and what not we went to yet another church where there was nothing of importance except the piddling remains of what was once going to be one of Michelangelo's most incredible works. Julius II contracted Michelangelo to design him an incredible tomb as soon as he was named pope. The original design had 40 figures on it andwas completely in the round. Most scholars speculate that the reason Old St. Peter's was rebuilt and remodeled was to fit Julius' II tomb because it wouldn't have fit in Old St. Peter's. What was eventually made has something like ten figures on it, only three of which are by Michelangelo and the most exciting is the Moses, which I personally don't even find that inspiring but everyone else ever seems to think it's the shit. So here you go!

After we left there we walked some, passed some more ruins and walked all the way up the palatine hill to see the equestrian monument of Marcus Aurelius which is the only equestrian monument that comes down to us from antiquity.

This one survived because those who had been destroying images of those crazy pagan Romans thought this was an image of Constantine the first Christian emperor. ACCEPTABLE. So thank god for that.

the view from the Capitoline Hill

From there we walked to down THE BEST PART. Or thethingIhadbeenwaitingforallday. Il Gesu.
As you may have guessed by the name Il Gesu s a Jesuit church and as you may have guessed by the obscene amounts of gold, it's a baroque church. The ceiling painting by Gaulli is INCREDIBLE. Some things you may not really be able to tell upon first glance are that the gilding is in fact real and in three dimensions BUT Gaulli had parts stuccoed over so that he could paint figures on top of the gilding thereby making it look like the figures were coming out of the sky that comes through the "open" part of the ceiling and into the building where they would overlap the gilding. AND he painted fake shadows on to the gilding to make it look like the central light source (which is the glowing name of god "IHS" in the center of the composition) was casting shadows in real space. WOAH. MIND FUCK.

ALSO there's a Caravaggio, Madonna of the Pilgrims in one of the chapels. It wasn't actually there because it was in a show at the Borghese gallery because this is the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's unfortunate death, but we saw it on the last day and the reproduction in the chapel was very good. Supposedly the pilgrims that are adoring Mary on their knees are the patrons of the paintings, although that's not totally documented. Totes documented is that that's a prostitute posing for the Virgin Mary. SURPRISE! Caravaggio is SHOCKING and BRUTAL!

yeah, yeah, yadda yadda. A Bernini fountain?! much more exciting.

The Trevi Fountain!? the most exciting of all. We mos'def threw in our useless American coins and made wishes. BUT YOU CAN'T KNOW WHAT FOR.

LASTLY we were SO HUNGRY that we didn't even go back to the hotel even though it was twenty steps away from this restaurant called Le Masquere WHICH WAS SO GOOD. It totally merits all those caps even though what I normally write totally doesn't. Ricardo had pasta a la carbonara which was AMAZING and I had asparagus risotto which was also good but was outshone by Ricardo's past fo' sho. We also split some bottle of wine with about seven people so it didn't come out too expensive and there were live opera singers and candles and one giant cobalt blue wall and waiters that could only understand half of what we said and plants hanging from... EVERYWHERE... and it was amazing.

look! we have friends! here's some people we like from left to right: Amelia from Indiana, Galen from California/New York and Anne from Connecticut (?)/ New York, who is also our room mate.

and so ends the saga of the first day. saying that makes me realize that there are still two days of Rome left to blog about and I suddenly feel much less accomplished.

In case you were wondering no we are not making basically any art work. I do intend to remedy this...eventually.

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