Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Farnese Folly

In his artless way my good friend Parsi was asking if I was rehearsing "Vissi d'arte" at the Palazzo Farnese this past Saturday; no, Parsi I was just trying to get into one of Rome's great architectural treasures. Every spring the Fondo per L'Ambiente Italiano celebrates spring by opening some of the gardens, parks and historical buildings which it maintains. It's a chance to see many of the incredible venues that are normally closed to the public: as an example the Palazzo Farnese is now the French Embassy and as such can only be visited on official business.

We headed out for Via Giula - which was the centre of attractions in Rome - a little later than we should have and by the time we reached Campo di Fiori it was 2 pm. The market at the Campo was still in full swing - flowers, fruit, vegetables, bric-a-brac, dishes, kitchen ware, name the item it was probably there.
Bruno over the Campo
That's Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher, hovering over the marque tops. He was burned at the stake in the Campo in 1600; this statue was commissioned by supporters of the reunification of Italy and erected in 1889 on the site of his death. Several Popes tried, unsuccessfully to have it removed.

Clean up at Campo di Fiori
At the end of the market day - around 4 pm - the clean-up job is an enormous task.

We joined the line up in the Piazza Farnese at around 2:10; at that point it circled around the Piazza, down the side of the Palazzo and around to the garden entrance. It seemed to be moving fairly quickly and given the chance to see the incredible frescoed rooms we decided to wait. An hour and a half later we had made it as far as the side of the building and where then told by an FAI volunteer that there was no guarantee we would get in. A wonderful, typically Italian, scene then broke out: the volunteer chastised the guards for not cutting the line off sooner, the guards fought back, people in line started either grumbling at her and the guards or attempting to wheedle their way further up in the line. At that point I needed a coffee so we, reluctantly, gave up. However we did stroll around the area, enjoying the sunshine, a double scoop gelato and espresso.
The line begins
Around the Piazza....
the line up continues
... down the south side of the Palazzo ...

And concludes
... around the corner to the Garden entrance. Hmm... she was right we wouldn't have got in.

We decided to wander back to Piazza Venezia and on the way stopped into Chiesa del Gesu - the great Jesuit church in Rome. The Piazza in front is said to be the windiest place in Rome. In A Companion Guide to Rome - a treasure trove of anecdotes and history - Georgina Masson says: ... this fact is accounted for by a curious legend. The devil and the wind were once walking there and the devil asked to be excused for a minute to go into the church; he never emerged, and the wind has been waiting for him ever since. What may have defeated the devil was the baroque excesses of the interior - he probably got lost amongst the cupids, curlicues and decorations. Myself I find it just a bit over the top - but then to be honest I'm not the greatest fan of baroque architecture or decoration. Given that fact, Rome is not exactly the best place to be.

More to my taste is the Basiclica di San Marco at Piazza Venezia; I've never seen it open and despite its central location, when it is open it's not often frequented by tourists. A church has existed on the site since the 4th century and it is one of the ancient titular churches of the city. It's Venetian origins are apparent in the mosaics, the decoration and the layout. Fortunately the 17th and 18th century "improvements" haven't obscured the Renaissance ceiling and portico. It really is "worth the detour" and the Vivaldi playing in the background lent a nice touch.
Mosaics at San Marco
The 9th century mosaics in the apse depict the risen Christ and various saints, including San Marco holding a model of the church, the lamb of God and twelve sheep representing the Apostles.
The Lion Lectern
The Lion is the symbol of San Marco and Venice - the Basilica is the national church of Venice in Rome.

I was remarking to Laurent that often when we head out to do something here our plans go awry but there's no point in getting upset - there's always something else to do and see. My God I may be getting use to life here - for the moment.

08 aprile - San Antonio Pavoni

1 comment:

sageweb said...

Well I think you still saw some amazing things.