Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa and the St. Maria Della Vittoria (St. Mary of Victory) church
Bernini's Ecstasy is one of the most iconic sculptures in Rome. The fluid look of the marble, particularly in St. Teresa's dress, is breathtaking. The difference in texture between the angel's clothes (light and airy) and Teresa's (heavy, earthly) is also quite astonishing. How was Bernini able to depict such subtle differences in his carvings, I do not know.
Bernini was a dramatist, interested in staging and theatre. Stepping back from the sculpture, you can see the light which seems to radiate down from the window above. In combination with the golden rays, Ecstasy appears a heavenly scene.
My personal thoughts about the sculpture are conflicting. While I love the fluidity and romance of the baroque style, I am not certain how I feel about such a sensual depiction of a saint. The artist took no liberty in such a depiction, rather, it seems an accurate portrayal of St. Teresa's own description of her visions. Our guide read us the passage from St. Teresa's writings that inspired this sculpture, and they are undoubtedly sexual. St. Teresa was chaste as a Carmelite nun, and she reportedly used such sensual descriptive language to be able to explain her experiences of divine love in a way that anyone would understand. The idea is that no words can perfectly describe such bliss, but this is close.
The Quirinale Palace (Italian Presidential Palace)
My favorite room was the 18th century library, which housed (and still houses much of) the personal collection of Queen Margherita, the wife of King Umberto.
I copied a short history of the Piffetti Library from the Quirinale's website:
This is one of the Palace’s most impressive rooms: the Piffetti Library. The room was not designed for the Quirinale Palace but for the villa of the Queen, one of the residences of the House of Savoy in Turin. The library dates back to the first half of the 18th Century and was brought to Rome in 1879 to be adjusted to the apartment of Queen Margherita, the wife of King Umberto I. The original structure consisted of a tall base and book shelves, while the wooden flooring was made at the time the library was installed in Rome. This masterpiece was made by Pietro Piffetti, one of the greatest woodworkers of his time, who mainly worked at the service of the royal House of Savoy. The Quirinale Palace library is made of a poplar frame lined with different kinds of wood like rosewood, olive wood, boxwood and yew wood. The structure is embellished with refined ivory inlays. The books kept in the library mostly date back to the end of the 19th Century and many of their bindings are decorated with the coat of arms of the House of Savoy. Some also contain dedications to and ex libris of Queen Margherita.
My Last Day: The Italian Parliament, the Jesuit church in Rome: Sant Ignazio di Loyola, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona
The gallery is arranged in the order of the list above. I didn't get a picture of the Italian Parliament building that was all that spectacular, but this column outside certainly was! The St. Ignatius of Loyola church was gorgeous and potentially one of my favorites due to the chapel with the crucifix. The lamp and architecture make it look somewhat Eastern to me.
I finished my last day in Rome eating spaghetti pomodoro and drinking a cappuccino outside in the Piazza Navona... and then shopping at the Rosario shop outside the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica. My favorite purchases here were icons of the Holy Family and the Last Supper. Later, I visited the American church (St. Patrick) where I refreshingly spoke some English to strangers!
On Monday, January 21, 2019, I left Italy for the city-state of the Vatican. Here is a picture of me in St. Peter's square, with a gallery of photos from the Vatican Museum below. I saw the Sistine Chapel but photos were not allowed - just more time to admire with my own eyes.
Something very unique about Italy (and perhaps Europe), and startling to an American is the way significant artifacts pop up seemingly out of nowhere in an otherwise "modern" city. In Berlin, it's remnants of the Berlin Wall along with their tragic and intensely interesting history. In Rome, you walk right into the earliest artifacts of Western civilization as we know it. Today, we explored the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum.
This is where they used to ride the horses, so of course I had to get a picture...
A view of modern Rome and the Colosseum from the Roman Forum (Campitelli.)
The Arch of Constantine (sides) and the Arch of Titus (middle.) The Arch of Constantine has the words instinctu divinitatis, or "inspired by the divine," which relates the story of a vision of God that Constantine had before he was victorious in the sign of the cross at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.