Autumn In Rome, Italy.

Autumn In Rome, Italy.
Persimmons and Cupolas.
Church bells ringing in your ears awaiting the final hour.
The sun turns steeples and domes from cream-cracked marble to a slow-burn deep gold.
Everything shines in this orange hour, a last flash in the pan, you want this fire and this flame, you want the flush and the heat before stillness and sleep… and indigo creeps in and this gold turns orange, turns pink, … turning into navy and finally violet skies before disappearing into black velvet.
The shadows of the city reappear out of the cracks and crevices and pockets like Victorian roustabouts on a silent crawl looking for trouble, somewhere, anywhere, always, trouble waves them over since time immemorial.
The outline of the city is a different joy to behold in the evening.
Families make way for the lovers under the gas and electric lamps.
The Eternal City never feels the same way twice in a night where life is always on the cusp of being tasted, of being taken. Roma feels like ten centuries in one burst, a slow, deep, long kiss before dying.

“Chasing Beauty In Italy”

My “Chasing Beauty In Italy” BOOK

(The Second Edition, 2019 is available now!)

purchase here:
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THIS IS MY LOVE LETTER TO ITALY

(& to beauty, art, history, architecture, nature, slow travel, cuisine, & Romanticism!)

My bestselling travel book “Chasing Beauty In Italy”

NOW THE UPDATED SECOND EDITION FOR 2019 WITH 50 ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS, MEMORIES, MEMORIAL STORIES, ROMAN AND ART HISTORY, (CAFÉ, RESTAURANT, and ROMANTIC WALKS OF Rome GUIDE), EXPANDED MUSEUMS GUIDE, CINEMA AND TV IN FLORENCE, AND MUCH MUCH MORE.

THE TYPE SETTING AND THE ART AND DESIGN OF THE BOOK HAS BEEN COMPLETELY REVAMPED TO FEEL LIKE AN ART BOOK GUIDE TO ITALY.

ALL BOOK PURCHASES WILL COME WITH AN EBOOK COPY AND A PDF.

PREVIOUS PURCHASES WILL BE SENT THEM THIS WEEK.

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CHASING BEAUTY IN ITALY:

129 PAGES,

RICH COLOR PHOTOGRAPHS OF ITALY AND ITALIAN CULTURE:

LANDSCAPES, CAFES, RESTAURANTS, HOTELS,

SCENIC VIEWS AND HISTORICAL WALKS,

LITERARY SPOTS,

CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURE,

AND SHARP ART REPRODUCTIONS

ALONG WITH TRAVEL ITINERARIES,

HISTORY, STORIES, MAPS,

AND A CULTURAL GUIDE OF OFF THE BEATEN PATH RECOMMENDATIONS –

IN BETWEEN MUSINGS AND MEMORIES OF ITALIA.

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Read BOOK SAMPLES AND EXCERPTS: https://www.romepix.com/blog/

My first novel length book on Roman Italy; exploring 20 years of love, passion, art, and loss chasing beauty in the eternal city and (all over the cultural hot spots of Italia).

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SHIPPING IN USA $5.00

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See and read MORE BOOK SAMPLES AND EXCERPTS here: https://www.romepix.com/blog/

for daily European Art History & Western Culture: follow me on twitter: @romepix

for more ITALY photos and books: romepix.com

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Italy and England 

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There’s old Winston Churchill watching Big Ben, in Westminster, London, in March 2014.

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An anglophile’s dream: the omnipresent iconic red telephone box.

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Wandering around Portobello Road, in the Notting Hill neighborhood.

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The street art / grafitti is like The Sex Pistols and the Bbc all rolled into one.

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Tea at Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s house was quite amusing.

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Enjoyed searching for british china tea cups and white darjeeling on a half deserted faire.

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After wandering the many lovely garden parks of london wound up at  Buckingham’s Gate.tumblr_n2din7vCpZ1qznevxo4_1280

Making the pilgrimage to John Keats house at Hampstead Heath, London, after years of visiting the flat he died in, and laying flowers at his grave, in Rome.

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A room with a view…over the Thames, I was always excited to wake up to (and to raise my glass to) Big Ben.

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Saw the beautiful La Boheme set in 1940s Paris at the Royal Albert Hall.

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From the window of “221 b Baker Street, London

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From the beautiful garden of John Keats home, where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne and wrote some of his greatest poems.

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From the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. I do love a cloister.

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You have no idea how deep my anglophilia goes because I am always going on about Italy but these signs gave me a profound joy.

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This sign is so British it hurts.

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One of those moments in London an American or most foreigners savor.

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Always, a pilgrimage, a  beauty, a joy. John Keats forever. English Romanticism forever. B3-yzpZIAAIuVOk.jpg-large

Down the cloistered hall… like a dream of English classics, literary characters dancing in my head, London, a city looming in my brain of larger than life characters and eccentric, wonderful stories and frightful tales.

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The heartbreakingly beautiful dream of Italy view from my dreamy Sorrento hotel room terrazzo.

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Walking along the Appian Way on a quiet, car-free Sunday in Rome or along the Renaissance Via Guilia, I am forever excited and in awe over the small beauties and signs of the ancient world in this magical, mysterious city open-armed to the world.

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The architecture and cafes are familiar but I feel and live Rome anew each visit. There’s always something new to discover or a passion to stumble onto. Life is in the moment. It is heavy with the past, it is so alive it smacks of the future, but it is so wildly, lightly felt in the now, in the moment, Rome is like dreaming awake, feeling everything. Everything!

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Finding new off the beaten path cafes was a big favorite of mine in Italy this year. Always in search of the quiet moments and the hidden corners of Rome. This cafe was in Trastevere where you can sit and sip espresso and gaze at a Baroque Madonna painted onto a church exterior wall.

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I love the Eternal City because it has so many layers of history and love and unknown stories and marks of time and beauty in decay and new life bursting forth in a macabre, colored, brilliant celebration in Roman life today.

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Took a boat around my favorite island and swam in the Tyrrhenian sea on Capri, a place which invokes everything beautiful, lush and ancient about Southern Italy. There’s nothing quite like it.

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Returned to a lot of the same pleasures of the past, freshly squeezed oranges and lemons, under the Italian sun, by a Neapolitan woman who sings all day as she flitters around her Kiosk on the gorgeous Via Tragara.

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A return to Pompeii, the fascinating buried city with Vesuvius watchful in the distance.

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Meeting new friends abroad 🙂

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Long walks soaking in the sun and the past.

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Architectural details in half-obscured gardens of small villa art museums (full of amazing Renaissance, ancient and baroque Italian art)!

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Being the foreigner in a city you fall into like a comfortable affair.

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The moments you can’t anticipate but happen upon in the most beautiful of happenstances.

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My favorite spot on earth for the golden hour, on the Pincian Hill in Rome. This is before the view of the Popolo.

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A typical Roman street, wrapped into the mystery of fragments and pieces of history.

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The beauty of being overwhelmed in Rome.

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Cafe life in Italy, a class of wine or a coffee, a little treat, there is nothing like it. Another layered moment captured, to be savored and remembered palpably.

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On every wall there is a reminder of death and a reminder of love, the eternal kind, of love that lasts, and of life in the hand too.

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Rome, a city to return to, one that keeps its shutters open to the world, long enough for an unforgettable peek.

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Since that first moment I arrived there, now, and always, for Roma.

For traveling, for seeing the world, for meeting new people, and for being at home in the world.

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Here’s to 2014… and here is a cheers to 2015 and a new year of adventure and experience and chasing beauty!

throw out your guidebooks

Throw your guidebooks to the side (after you’ve seen the major sights) and get a little lost for an afternoon in Rome.

Side step vespas and taxis and pilgrims and other tourists behind maps, and get lost for a while. 

Do as the Romans do.

Bow in and out of the slants of sunlight and vespas, use sounds of water fountains and laughter as your navigation. 

An off the beaten path is not merely a passage but a rite and a full circle. 

When walking in Rome you are witness to the many passions of people in a cacophony of color and sound and motion. 

Roma begins to makes sense to you as you feel follow its rhythm; it is foreign and antique and familiar all at once. 

Rome is history in the bones of the city stirring the blood.

Roma changes you.

What could I suggest to you but to drink in the sublime here? 

See the city for the thousands of layers rather than one wild jumble.

Beauty is on display, oh yes, —but so is reflection of the human and the divine in every corner. 

The celebration of the individual is found even in the smallest of details in Rome. 

Art is a living thing. 

The story of mankind is in a treasured relic, and in a sip of espresso, and in a stolen kiss. 

Life is found in another language where the words are less important than the feelings they conjur in us all in the moment.

Rome is the tug of a heartbeat in a pulse before the veil falls over you.

Rome is a reminder of death that is very much a reminder to live! To live now!!

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tiny beautiful things

“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”

Cheryl Strayed, from “Tiny Beautiful Things”

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Boston a week after the bombs.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHI was born in Boston and lived there until I was six. We moved a lot, sometimes every six months and I lived in a series of small coastal towns on the south shore of Massachusetts, lining the seascape and woodsy old New England towns from the edge of the city to Cape Cod. I spent a lot of time in the city and its influence never really left me even when I was shuffled about the little beach communities. I moved back to Boston for high school and college and I’ve lived and worked there or nearby ever since, barring travel and living for a little bit in Los Angeles, Seattle and New Orleans. I have loved my city my whole life. It’s a different city for different Bostonians and it certainly has changed for me over the years. In the most compelling ways its been a city of art and books and learning (and difficult weather) and funny accents. It’s a college town, it’s a historical city, it’s mixture of working class and tony neighborhoods and has great hospitals and art museums and concert halls. It has a rich literary past. It’s full of Irish pubs, seafood restaurants and is home to one of my favorite Italian neighborhoods in the US. It’s a tough city at times and it’s a pretty one too. It has its own troubles but ultimately I found opportunity and inspiration here. I rode its trains and wrote about Boston life in the aughties. I photographed it in the last few years. And like most other Bostonians I was hit hard by the terrorist attacks at the 2013 Boston Marathon. About a week after the attacks I took my film camera and some art film and shot the makeshift street tributes and some of the scenes of the attacks. I also shot some of Cambridge (MIT – another scene of the attacks and Harvard Square and Tory Row/Brattle area) and other spots of Boston. I wasn’t surprised by strength of the city and its people in the face of the manhunt and the aftershock of violence which was palpably felt in every square mile. What struck me most was how much Bostonians were trying to be normal and live their lives and pick up the pieces on a beautiful spring day. The killers had not yet been caught. The aftermath was laid out in the closed off city blocks and there was an air of somberness in the heart of the city; at famous Copley Square, on posh Newbury Street, on beautiful, brownstone-lined Comm Ave, at the Public Garden and on Boston Common, in Back Bay and the South End. But it was also a sumptuously lit afternoon, the birds were finally out, the blossoms were opening on the cherry trees, the swan boats emerged, children ran about in the park, tourists walked with their maps and Colonial attired guides and there was a wedding in the gardens. We were still alive. We had to be. We were Bostonians. Life goes on on a lovely spring day despite ourselves. In spite of it all. Because we want to live. We have to.

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My art deco building – I lived here in the dormitory for Emerson College. The location was incredible. Now they are luxury apartments.

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Down and Out In London with South London’s Most Disappointed Man

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Recently I’ve begun listening to podcasts while I drive to work or take a long walk. Snippets of English Romantic poets or classic novels in audio book or the latest episode of This American Life on NPR. Then there are the hilarious British podcasts I’m addicted to now.

 

Despite my great public love affair with Italy I am a serious anglophile. Most of the television I watch is from Great Britain or Ireland and I listen to various BBC Radio stations throughout my day and on my long commutes. My smart phone has come in handy on these accounts and through a random “UK” podcast shuffle I found two disparate shows which really stuck on me. One was Helen and Olly at http://answermethispodcast.com/ It’s a witty, funny, silly podcast where Helen and Olly answer odd questions in clever ways. They are very big and popular.

 

The other podcast is by renegade podcaster Daniel Ruiz Tizon, whose audio journey down and out in London is funny, intense and strangely addictive. I can’t stop listening.

 

The Daniel Ruiz Tizon Is Available podcast is what I want to discuss tonight. I think it’s criminally underrated. There’s a heavy realism to his work, very timely in the face of the economic downturn. He faces temp jobs, public transport, high rents and the high cost of living with his own kind of panache mixed with grit. I wrote this little review after listening to several podcasts of his about one week after the first one of his I stumbled on. 

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I cannot help but think of this Khalil Gibran quote whilst listening to Daniel Ruiz Tizon Is Available; “Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.”

 

He engages the listener in a rolling monologue about a perceived flaw or an awkward exchange at a queue or the umpteenth failure of gripping the bus railing properly when ascending the stairs with the finely tuned detail of an obsessive… who can spin a good yarn. Even when he returns to recurring themes he’s entertaining; the career follies, lamenting hight rents, fetishizing chin fissures – (I don’t know either), rhinoplasty, worrying about dirty looks from the cashiers, cafe workers, and other strangers he has to face in his every day life in London. The guy even makes nectar points sound interesting and just the tiniest bit glamourous. But maybe that last part is because I am an American and everything sounds just a little bit better with a British accent?

 

The English voice and the self deprecating, dry, deadpan humor is what drew me in but the rawness, the edge and the honesty are what kept me returning for archives of the podcast. I shouldn’t even relate to him. I don’t think I’m his target audience. I don’t even understand all the references and I was bred on BBC and have a degree in British Literature but his musings are oddly universal. They reflect a commonality between everyone (at least the misfits and the socially awkward folks) even as they sparkle with his own vision of his terminal uniqueness.

 

And he has a passing resemblance to a young Massimo Troisi which adds to the warm eccentricity.

 

He’s like an International Man of Mystery without the mystery – he’s stripped it all away and wants to lay bare to the world his every fear, real (and especially imagined), his motivations for wearing a particular shirt or his stubble a certain way so as to manipulate his image in relation to the eyes of the world. He wants to disguise himself so he is not judged by outsiders but with his audience nothing is sacred, no stone is left unturned, he will dissect his every tick and quirk. He will eviscerate his very being for the audience. He’s in on the joke even if he’s not laughing. His self-satire is subtle, his send up of every one else is never a deep cut, more like a thousand pin pricks of mild disapproval and astute observations on the ridiculousness of people, places and things.

 

He makes an art form out of agonizing over choices of wearing a t-shirt in the summer because of his hairy arms or what topic of conversation will make him seem the most unaffectedly cool person in the room or at least not stand out uncomfortably.

 

In one archived podcast I particularly liked he described his anti-adventures in night school where he sums up the member of each class and assigns them each a classic role. He laments he always seems to buddy up with the one or two students who leave halfway through the term. And then he’s left hanging for the rest of the semester, ostracized from the others he initially shunned in favor of the friends who once again left him to manage on his own.

 

He uses experiences from his own son of Spanish émigrés identity and his working-class childhood to search for the meaning of himself and where he “fits” into the world in the minutiae. He’s not afraid to look at the mundanity of the common life most of us all have to plod through but he manages to be authentic and funny at the same time. Because, don’t get me wrong, he is funny. Laugh out loud funny some times.

 

It’s refreshing to not have yet another tidy, pasteurized, tony sounding, middle class Englishman trying to discuss the Spanish Civil War or the irony of wanting to live forever but not having enough nectar points to last long enough. I mean I just don’t think I would buy them at it, you know?

 

But with Daniel I believe every damned thing he says because he speaks with authority, the authority of forty one years of uninterrupted navel gazing with a purpose. To bring laughter to a bunch of repressed anglo saxons and three or so yanks and counting.

 

My favorite parts of the podcasts are the non-sequitars of overheard public conversations, his random musings on the secret inner lives of acquaintances, the memories of his parents (and of the 90s), the frequent references to his age like a death knell, his fragments of conversation with a young colleague and the unfiltered brilliance that pours forth from his young, dumb and full of… mentality.

 

Lastly, his interviews with a friend who is maybe a cockney or is a Charles Dickens character sprung to life in a London bedsit who runs the gamut of Vulgarian to Thoughtful Lover to Speaker of Romantic Languages to Answer Man for The Ages. He’s definitely a keeper. And so is Daniel Ruiz Tizon and his funny, amazing, crazy, addictive podcast. And he’s very available.

 

You can listen to the very funny podcast of South London’s Most Disappointed Man here: http://1607westegg.wordpress.com/

his fb fan page https://www.facebook.com/DanielRuizTizon

the podcast twitter https://twitter.com/1607WestEgg

Catch his latest podcasts or peruse his archives. I always give a show a few chances (a few shows) before I make my mind up about them.

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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