love and the colosseum

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The Colosseum from an off the beaten path vantage point in Rome, where we all want to feel beauty and find love.

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Rather than just street views up close, some of the ruins can be viewed from greenery, captured like a stolen moment between lovers.

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The sun breaking through the “windows” of the colosseum still inspires excitement in me after 20 years in Rome.

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See how small we are in this world, and how the ancients wanted to remind us of that?

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The view of more centuries of history mashed together from atop the crowds, with the ancient symbol of fecundity a pomegranate in bronze.

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Arches built for faded triumphs, still gazed upon thousands of years later.

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The verdant hills of the Palentine whisper of a pastoral Rome found normally on the winding road of the interminable Appian Way.

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Angels were found in Classical Antiquity, and have guided me along my own travels in the Eternal City.

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The marble of Roma seems the only thing built to last some days.

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A Roman bride as bright as a white dove sent as some augur of hope amidst the ruins.

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Love can not wait for time to take over and wreak havoc.

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A Renaissance fountain and umbrella pines tucked away quietly from the crowds.

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Water and moss glint in the sunlight and shadow.

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The present is pulled between the past ashes and the future hopes.

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When in Rome embrace love, life, and passion in the moment… bathe in warm sunshine before the sun crawls west and the moon rises in the east again, except for two days of the year.

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The moment is now, the touch is palpable, the hum of machinery is drowned out by the flight and song of sparrows, the cypress and umbrella pines wave in the breeze, and the scent of wine and food beckons like a kiss from nearby.

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Laugh in the face of death while you still can, make love in the dying of the light to make your embers burn deeper, richer, more wildly.

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The gods have left their dice behind, we only have to roll them.

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Remember what has been, recognize who you are, breathe it all in, and then move with the traffic to the next thing.

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The vestiges must be broken from something solid and beautiful before we are all dust.

 

a valentine “aphrodite / venus” book

I’ve designed, printed, and hand wrapped an amazing Romantic Valentine’s Bundle deal that lasts a lifetime for your beloved. 

A sleek soft bedside or coffee table book, each book contains 38 pages printed edge-to-edge on 100% recycled photo-paper, perfectly bound in a soft matte cover.

I’ve filled with the A LOVE LETTER TO ROME aesthetic of classical and Renaissance art details, paintings of Aphrodite and Venus, photographs of art, Roman ruins, the Pantheon, sculptures, columns, the Tyrrhenian Sea on Capri where the Roman Emperors lived and holidayed, images of cupolas among the ancients, images of beauty, sensuality, and Eros. It’s an elegant gift for a lover or Classical Antiquity or Italy or ART enthusiast. It’s gorgeous and romantic! BUY HERE only $50. See the site for deals as low as $5

  • 38 pages of full-bleed photos.
  • Measures 8 x 10 inches.
  • comes with Tea or coffee, Perugia Italian Chocolates, and a blank Valentine Card
  • hand made packaging
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musings on rome written to a new friend

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I feel, in Rome, as if I am fully entered into the ancient-ness of the place.
I feel the history in my blood.
I feel almost Italian (with a mix of invading barbarian).

But I tread lightly in Italy.

I try to penetrate the history, the stories, but I tread lightly.
I don’t leave any trace.

I only steal moments.
I steal away people’s feelings in a one second snapshot.

I take more lingering pictures with my eyes.

I really don’t want to be the center of attention, I would rather fade into the background, and let people live around me.

I am greedy for their life spilling out.
Still as much a thief as I was as a child, after all.

This is why I love Naples.

I dread it a little, too.
I want to slap it around occasionally.
I want to remind it of its grit (as if it needs my reminder).
I want to shake it awake to its beauty and history and art.
I want it to not lose its charm, ever.

I don’t even care about the trash that much.
I love the darkest alleys.
I love that life is lived on the streets.
I love that the windows are always open.

I love listening to the strains of a language I cannot decipher because it always sounds like music to me that way.

That’s how I linger in churches so long…
I can’t understand the sermons so I can spend time looking at the art and thinking about pagans all day as if in a dream.

In Italy I am living in the dream and I don’t wake up again until I’m back home in the cold north.

I return to Italy like a lover who cannot stand the separation a moment longer. I want to feel the curves of familiar streets. I want to taste the crushed fruit of summer wine and feel that sun so different from mine. I want to see the stars again against the faint glow of the ruins.

villa farnesina

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The Villa Farnesina is an early 16th century Renaissance suburban villa in the Via della Lungara, in the district of Trastevere in Rome, central Italy. It has incredible frescoes by Raphäel,  Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano, and Il Sodoma. The villa was built for Agostino Chigi, a rich Sienese banker and the treasurer of Pope Julius II. It was later purchased by Cardinale Farnese (future pope and brother to the Borgia mistress, Giulia Farnese).

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I had always missed visiting the lovely Villa Farnesina on earlier trips to Rome so I was delighted to finally see it in person in October 2012. The villa has a pretty little garden in the courtyard and larger gardens (fenced off) on one side. There is an understated elegance to the grounds and exterior architecture for a Renaissance palazzo. There are pink roses and pomegranate trees in clay pots.

FH050003And little lemon trees and stone lined pathways. Trastevere is a great neighborhood to visit when in Rome and this villa is even more off the beaten path if you are looking for an alternative to the usual Roman Holiday Tour.

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After the initial two or three visits to Rome I’ve tried to visit more of the quiet corners of the city and get to know my favorite spots better. It’s a “slow food” approach to travel and it’s worked pretty well for us. FH050004The large grande dame museums of Rome are wonderful to visit, especially if you have limited time in the city. But if you have an extra day or the off the beaten path vacation is more your speed, I suggest visiting one, two or three small villa or palazzo art museums. Farnesina, Doria Pamphlij, Spada, Borghese (the Queen) and a few others.

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The Loggia of Psyche by Raphaël and his workshop

It’s difficult to convey how astounding it is just standing on the marble floors, looking up at all the beautiful frescoes. Walking the same halls so many infamous and interesting figures had crossed centuries before.

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The museum was quiet and there were a few small groups moving in and out of the rooms. I had time to view the work in complete silence and solitude which rarely happens in a larger, more popular museum.

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Venus, Ceres and Juno

I had run out of color film so I shot these magnificent frescoes in black and white. I think they at least capture the richness of the dark colors and the creaminess of the “skin”. The color in person was vibrant for such old masterpieces.

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Cupid and The Three Graces, 1517-1518

A part of the great appeal Renaissance art has for me is it’s allusions to classical literature and mythology. In order to understand the works beyond my emotional response to them or my aesthetic pleasure in them, the allegorical works force me to learn the meaning behind them and catch a glimpse of the artist’s intention behind the work. What does the piece mean philosophically? Politically? What does it say about love? Man? And God? About life? And death? What historical event are they re-imagining? Beyond the beauty I am hungry for the history.

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Venus on the Chariot Pulled by Doves, 1517-1518

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The Council of the Gods, 1517-1518

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When I was there I was amused to find graffiti carved into one of the walls in German! Well, normally I’d be less amused but it’s from a later Barbarian Invasion of Rome in the 16th century! At the time I couldn’t find anyone to translate it for me.

During recent restorations, an ancient “graffiti”, in German gothic, came to light between the columns. It marks the passage of the Lansquenets and states: “1528 – why shouldn’t I laugh: the Lansquenets have put the Pope to flight.”

From the windows on the first floor there is a beautiful view of the gardens. A pleasant stroll under the laurel bower leads to a marble plaque which bears the inscription:

Quisquis huc accedis: quod tibi horridum videtur mihi amoenum est; si placet, maneas, si taedet abeas, utrumque gratum.

[Trad.: Whoever enters here: what seems horrid to you is pleasant to me. If you like it, stay, if it bores you, go away; both are equally pleasing to me. ] – Academia Nazionale die Lincei

The Villa Farnesina in Rome, Italy is open from

Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,

Closed on Sundays and holidays
Guided tours on Monday, Friday and Saturday at 12.30

 

//photographs copyright rebecca price butler …

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