Rome maybe didn’t change lately but it certainly did the way I can capture it now, after ten years we first met. Three days of walking along with the past and talking to great artists, feet are aching and details of some Bernini sculptures are still haunting around.
The city welcomes me with a bright big question mark, after a quick imaginative tour of its wonders and of my limited days on those grounds. The time game is as harsh in Rome as detailed its art is. I won’t display a three days guide of the seven colinas, but here’s a quick look of the things that made me stare:
A good start in Rome is a step back in time in Caffe Greco on Via Condotti next to the Spanish steps. Where Byron, Keats and even Cassanova sipped their morning ideas, seems that today’s jeans and cell phones simply don’t match, the place still belongs to its times.
The city of great noble families, having lions, honey bees and lilies emblems at doors vaults leaves some of them open. And so I stare at the precious silk on the ballroom walls of Doria Pamphilj house (Via del Corso) and still hear the crinolines noise on the pavement. I wonder if the mirrors hall somehow stored all the faces that looked inside the baroque frames during the last three centuries. Here lived Camillo, the Cardinal that gave up his rank for marrying the woman he loved, angrying so much his uncle the Pope Innocenzo X. Bernini on the other hand must have turned the Pope happy, at least through the marvelous sculpture portraying him in such a detailed manner that is the blunt sign of a genius (check the sculpted robe buttons as well).
Close to this palace is, as Stendhal said, the most beautiful trace of antique Rome. Entering the Pantheon and starring at the perfect nine meters round gate to the sky I wonder if the Gods from the other side up above are seeing us gathered here through this lunette. Raphael is buried in this sanctuary together with his fiancé Maria Bibbiena. On his grave it’s written: “Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.”
In the meanwhile, his mistress La Fornarina is some streets away in Palazzo Barberini, wearing Raphael signature on a blue ribbon bent at her arm. Maybe his signature positions wants to tell us more about whom he really loved. In this palace the competition between Bernini and Boromini begins at entrance steps, where both built his own staircase, one squared and one charmingly spiral. Taking the square one there is so much to discover, as at some point the vivid scene of Judith beheading Holofernes painted by Caravagio appears. It remains on the back of the eye for some time, only to be replaced by the sweatness of Narcissus falling in love with himself in the lake water.