Tag Archives: bernini

Day 3 (pt 2) – St. Peter’s, Piazza Navona, Pantheon

Day 3 was packed; for the second half of the day we hit three of the biggest sites in the city – St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon.

Duc Jed and Don at St. Peter's

Duch Jed and Don at St. Peter's

St. Pete’s is connected to the Vatican Museum, so right when we exited the museum, we headed into the Basilica…which is enormous. When you walk through the doors, the opposite side of the church is two football fields away; everything here is designed to inspire awe through size.

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

Directly to the right is Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Pieta, done when he was 25. There was originally some controversy over who actually sculpted it, and so Mike took out his chisle and retrofitted Mary’s sash with “Michelangelo Did This.” 

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta

The 7 story bronze Baldacchino over St. Peter’s grave is very impressive, as is the apse beyond, both done by Bernini (who also did the Square outside). The alter below the canopy was actually made using marble taken from the Pantheon. The dome above was designed and begun by Michelangelo, and after his death, it was finished based on his diagrams.

Bernini's Baldacchino and Apse

Bernini's Baldacchino and Apse

 We didn’t make it down to the crypt or up to the top of the dome on Day 3, but we have plans to later in the week. We headed out and down the broad boulevard, across the Tiber River, and over to Piazza Navona for lunch. The Piazza is dominated in the center by Bernini’s greatest fountain, “The Four Rivers,” which depicts four river gods representing the four continents of the time: the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube, and the Rio de la Plata. 

Duch and Don in Piazza Navona

Duch and Don in Piazza Navona

After a couple pizzas in the piazza, we walked a few short blocks to the Pantheon (latin for “all gods”).  The open oculus in the center of the dome was meant to produce a column of light piercing the rotunda. When it rains, the water flows down the slightly slanted floor into drains on the outsides of the circular floor.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Originally, it was used for the greeks as a kind of worship supermarket – it had sculptures of all of the major gods, and you prayed to any or all that you wanted. Today, those statues are gone, and buried here are the first two kings of Italy and one of the original Renaissance men, Raphael (pictured below).

Pantheon, Raphael's Tomb

Pantheon, Raphael's Tomb

Tired, we walked back to the Metro, getting a large gellato on the way, got back to our beloved Urbis 2nd piano room and passed out until night time, went out to a couple bars, and caught the bus around 4:30am. Tomorrow: Florence.

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Day 2 – Borghese, Steps, and Fountains

We had a 1pm reservation Sunday at the Villa Borghese and the Borghese Gallery, which, due to the previous post, we missed.  After waking up at 2pm, realizing our error, we decided to grab some food and hopped on the Metro north towards the Gallery.  Luckily, the Gallery takes stand-by’s, we made there by 4pm, walked around the enormous park (Villa Borghese) and got into the museum at 5pm.  There is something about the Villa that makes people want to make out and kick soccer balls around because these are the only two things everyone was doing.  It kind of made me want to make out, or at the very least, kick a soccer ball around.  Once inside the museum, we began on the first floor (always a good place to start) and worked our way up through three floors the elegant rooms of the Borhese family.  We didn’t get to take pictures, but I was able to snag one of the building before we entered.
Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery

There were only about four works of significant art history (all sculptures): Canova’s “Venus” (which Napoleon’s sister posed nude for :O ), Bernini’s “David” (the most action-packed of all the David sculptures), “Apollo and Daphne,” and “The Rape of Proserpine,” with various paintings by Caravaggio, Correggio, Titian, and Raphael, among others. Overall, definitely worth the €8.50 entry fee.

From here (northern Rome), we walked south to the Spanish Steps for our first Italian dinner.  The Steps were nice, but it was dark by this time (trucks and staff were cleaning up all of the Rome Marathon admin gear that was left strewn around from the race earlier) and I had heard they were more fun during the day, when they were flooded with hundreds people – Romans and tourists, alike – lounging around and basking in the sun.

Real Italian pasta dinner at the Spanish Steps

Real Italian pasta dinner at the Spanish Steps

From the Spanish Steps, we walked towards Trevi Fountain, sculpted by Nicola Salvi – from what our book said, while the Steps aren’t as impressive at night, Trevi is more impressive at night.  We grabbed a couple Peronis (giant Italian beers) for €1.15 each and sat at the Fountain for about 3 hours – definitely the best hangout for people-watching in Rome, and arguably in the world.  In the time we were there, hundreds of people stopped to take pictures, make out, talk, and just sit and watch other people (like us). 

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The only draw-back were the peddlers selling dumb trinkets that nobody wanted.  The classic trinket combination was the camera tripod and noise-making magnet set.  Who in their right mind would say, alright, I have room to carry only two types of goods: let’s go with camera tripods and magnets. Nobody was buying camera stands, and after being rejected initially, the peddles would look at them with this face that said, “Oh, you don’t need a camera tripod? Well that’s okay, you must need these useless rattling magnets then!” No. Nobody wants your crap. We were there for so long that we would see the same guys going up to new people and we would heckle them.  “You probably should get that camera tripod, wouldn’t want any shaky pictures at a time like this! No tripod? Lucky you! He’s got magnets also!”

I didn't take this because my camera is bad at night.

I didn't take this because my camera is bad at night.

We ended up meeting a girl from Drexel grad school and her cousin who went to St. Joseph’s, coincidentally, when Duch commented that the picture they just took by the Fountain was “Facebook Profile-quality” or something.  We had been joking around with lots of people who were taking pictures for the past two hours, and we were kind of surprised when these two talked back to us, much less that they were also from the Philadelphia area. The five of us ended up going out to Scholar’s Tavern (the Irish pub from the bar crawl) and taking down a fifth of lemoncello (lemon flavored grain alcohol) on the walk to keep warm.  After a couple hours at Scholars watching March Madness and soccer, we parted ways and headed back to our hotel, getting lost a number of times on the way, knowing that we couldn’t be out too late because our reservation for the Vatican Museum was at 10:30am, and we didn’t want a repeat of the morning of Day 2.