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Circe in the moment / Napoli
It’s the moments that flicker past your half-closed eyes — like blinding patches of sunlight you can’t help but look directly into — for that sweet temptation of pain that’s warm and bright and just stinging enough to feel more alive, more wild, to feel right now — but you turn away before you burn because we all want to see again eventually, we need to see clearly the far off promises of beautiful experiences something just within reach, a blue horizon haze of blue and gray and green … some imperceptible breath away from the first day of the rest of your every thing. Every thing that will make it all worthwhile. That will make you worthwhile.
That will make you before we’re all undone in the shadows. ———
Napoli is a metamorphosis, a beautiful growling animal built by Circe’s hands, singing songs to travelers who love a little doom and gloom with their beauty.
Death becomes her.
“Chasing Beauty In Italy”
My “Chasing Beauty In Italy” BOOK
(The Second Edition, 2019 is available now!)
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.
PLEASE NOTE: THE BOOKS SECOND EDITIONS ARE AT THE PRINTERS AND WILL BE SHIPPED OUT LATE NEXT WEEK FROM THE PUBLISHERS.
CHASING BEAUTY IN ITALY:
RICH COLOR PHOTOGRAPHS OF ITALY AND ITALIAN CULTURE:
LANDSCAPES, CAFES, RESTAURANTS, HOTELS,
SCENIC VIEWS AND HISTORICAL WALKS,
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.
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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what thou art may never be destroyed.
No Coward Soul Is Mins
love and the colosseum
The Colosseum from an off the beaten path vantage point in Rome, where we all want to feel beauty and find love.
Rather than just street views up close, some of the ruins can be viewed from greenery, captured like a stolen moment between lovers.
The sun breaking through the “windows” of the colosseum still inspires excitement in me after 20 years in Rome.
See how small we are in this world, and how the ancients wanted to remind us of that?
The view of more centuries of history mashed together from atop the crowds, with the ancient symbol of fecundity a pomegranate in bronze.
Arches built for faded triumphs, still gazed upon thousands of years later.
The verdant hills of the Palentine whisper of a pastoral Rome found normally on the winding road of the interminable Appian Way.
Angels were found in Classical Antiquity, and have guided me along my own travels in the Eternal City.
The marble of Roma seems the only thing built to last some days.
A Roman bride as bright as a white dove sent as some augur of hope amidst the ruins.
Love can not wait for time to take over and wreak havoc.
A Renaissance fountain and umbrella pines tucked away quietly from the crowds.
Water and moss glint in the sunlight and shadow.
The present is pulled between the past ashes and the future hopes.
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.
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.
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.
The gods have left their dice behind, we only have to roll them.
Remember what has been, recognize who you are, breathe it all in, and then move with the traffic to the next thing.
The vestiges must be broken from something solid and beautiful before we are all dust.
Valentine’s Day in Rome in the Villa Borghese and at the Spanish Steps!
One of my favorite and most romantic things to do in Rome is to stroll through the Villa Borghese parks and gardens to one of the most elegant and sensual villa art museums on earth: The Galleria Borghese.
The Renaissance and Baroque gardens of umbrella pines, cypresses, palm trees, flowers, hedges, and exquisite lemon, orange, and magnolia trees surround the gorgeous villa, bringing one back into the past glories of Roman country estates, free and open to the public for generations.
The parks were private gardens for the aristocrats of Roman society until they were opened for the 19th century Grand Tourists. In 1820 English Romantic poet John Keats himself strolled through these same hallowed grounds before he succumbed to tuberculosis in his rooms at the Piazza di Spagna. Goethe mused through the art collection of the Borghese’s a generation before that, recording his impressions of the palazzo and of the art in his grand book, Italian Journey.
Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn is a painting by Raphael.
The beautiful Galleria Borghese is home to part of the Borghese art collection curated by the Cardinal Scipione Borghese (nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605-1621).
The Villa was commissioned to be designed and built by the architect Flaminio Ponzi, partly based on sketches by Scipione, as a “villa suburbana” on the country edge of Rome. Scipione was one of the first patrons of Bernini and collected many pieces by Caravaggio, including The Sick Bacchus, Boy With a Basket of Fruit, and the poignant Saint Jerome Writing.
The Borghese collection also includes the breathtaking Bernini sculptures of David, Rape of Proserpine, and Apollo and Daphne, – and the Tiziano masterpiece, Sacred and Profane Love.
Other maestros are Raffaello “Lady With A Unicorn” (purported to be the Lady Giulia Farnese, commissioned by Pope Alexander aka Rodrigo Borgia), alongside countless pieces by Rubens, Barocci, Antonio Canova, Coreggio, Dosso Dossi, Domenichino, Veronese, Lorenzo Lotto, and Parmigianino.
Sacred and Profane Love by Titian. c. 1514
I love the gorgeous architectural details in stone and in fountains and statues lining the entrance of the Galleria Borghese.
Remnants of the past play out as well in “ancienne” statue fragments and the fountains outside the museum’s grand entrance.
The walk to the Galleria Borghese always has that lazy Sunday feeling, surrounded by Roman families and visitors enjoying the greenery and fresh air. Young and old lovers can be spied kissing under a tree or lying on a picnic blanket enjoying the sunshine and the sounds of songbirds above them.
There are homages to temples, gods and goddesses, Greek Tragedies and Comedies, and to Rome’s storied past in the “Romantic era ruins” among the pleasure walks and dreamy Umbrella pines. As you approach the museum you feel you are in for something really special… and are not disappointed in the great architectural reveal.
More architectural details by Flaminio Ponzi and Scipione Borghese create a feast for the eyes, before entering the villa with a ticket… for the Roman antiquities and Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, … in room after sumptuously decorated room.
Tickets are recommended bought IN ADVANCE, online or at the ticket office down the stairs. To enter the museum, proceed up the stone stairs to the stunning Classical Antiquity portico where they will take your ticket.
You don’t want to miss this experience!
After an afternoon stroll and a few hours in the museum, head to the Pincio at the Golden Hour (an hour before dusk) and watch the sun set over the cupolas and ruins and houses behind the glittering Piazza del Popolo.
The golden and orange light eventually turns a deep violet, and there is an enchanting glow about Rome at its most magnificent! It is a heady, Romantic vision, and every one seems to be under a collective spell of beauty and the feeling of immortality in Éros in the Eternal City.
This is one of the best, most beautiful, and unforgettable days you could spend in Rome. It could be the most romantic Valentine’s Day of your lives. Rome seen and felt like this is truly writ on the heart for an eternity.
You can eat at the romantic nearby Casina Valadier for sweeping sunset views and aperitivos or an early dinner – they have a Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu for lovebirds.
Looking for something quicker? Walk a short distance to the late Renaissance church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, (French: La Trinité-des-Monts).
Pop into the sanctity and quiet beauty of the French Roman Catholic church and you may luck out with a choir of nuns singing en français classical songs of devotion while you peer at lush murals, sculptures, paintings, and the altar.
Light a candle together and head down the famed Spanish Steps just outside and whisper a snippet of a Keats ode into your beloved’s ear outside of the Keats Shelley (Byron) House Museum (worth a visit if you’re there earlier when it is open!).
Stop for a late tea at Babington’s and try their Rome in Love Tea inspired by the Paolina Borghese sculpture and Female Beauty at the Borghese, or enjoy some cocktails or champagne and light fare – offered in the luxurious comfort of their 125 year old tea room. It’s a cute British afternoon tea room with Italian flare.
Looking for something sexier? Cross the avenue and stop in at the nearby Romantics’ saucy hangout, the Antico Caffè Greco, decorated in 18th century red satin and marble decor, for drinks and desserts.
The Santissima Trinità dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps from the Via Condotti.
Gregory Peck’s apartment in Roman Holiday where he brings Audrey Hepburn in the film.
If you’re still in the mood for a short early evening walk hand in hand past the glamorous shops and passersby, head to the most romantic street in Rome, the charmingly low-lit, ivy covered boutiques and artisan art shops, boutique hotels, and restaurants, Via Margutta (made famous by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday!) I love the vegetarian restaurant created by film director Federico Fellini, Il Margutta! They have many vegetable creations, handmade pasta and smoked cheeses, and a vegan and gluten free menu, with exceptional organic wines, mocktails, and delicious desserts, including house made gelato.
Casino Valadier’s LOVE ELIXIR
€25 per person.
La Grande Cucina S.p.A.
Piazza Bucarest, Villa Borghese
P. I.V.A. 05901701002
Tel (+39) 06 69922090
Fax (+39) 06 6791280
Il Margutta’s San Valentino 2018
GALLERIA BORGHESE (english site)
Via del Collegio
00186 Roma, Italia
tel. 39 06 67231
map by Guilbert Gates
Antico Caffè Greco
Via dei Condotti, 86, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Babington’s Tea Room
Piazza di Spagna, 23, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
And Happy Valentine’s Day from A Love Letter To Rome… to everyone lucky enough to be in the sexiest and most romantic (and Romantic) city in the world, Roma, Italia! May Cupid’s arrows always find you when you least expect (but need) amore!
let us lose ourselves
Are they a shadow now? Can they hear your thoughts now that they’re ether, a chimera, soon to be dust? What becomes of love when you lose the object behind it?
To think you will join them one day; older, wiser, less you than they remember.
Your dust will never become theirs. There is no map to follow, no compass, no ship or footpath to take, no direction to fly in except to fling oneself back into space.
The will of love, the struggle, the battle for tender ownership is gone. They have vanished, you will vanish, it appears life is lived to once more succumb.
What are subterraneans to each other but cells divided once more and spread through the earth? That cold science of it, when emotions which once ran hot have now ended.
What is love but a bargain with a dream to not yet wake up?
You love your visceral charge, the pulp and sponge of brains and bodies mingling, the clawed caress of longing. The rush of losing. The falling. A little pain goes a long way towards desire, toward the fumbling of the living.
You like your love laced with sadness, no, you like your misery traced with desire, you like the reaching out to hold onto another who turns and looks and then really sees you. No motherly embrace, no fatherly pat on the hand, no lone anchor inside yourself compares with the mirrored eyes of a lover.
To know the unknowable, to reach the unreachable, to fold into a future grief as though the stars made a gift for only you. The pulse means more when there is someone else to listen to it. The ticking clock of your life suddenly speeds up… Every bell once a death knell has become a hallelujah.
The blush of love is the breaking of sun through the tops of trees, the breaking of the waves, the sky after the storm, the first cry at birth, the first hint of pain that can be sweet. To become alive in another’s eyes and heart, to ignite a mind, to wish for them more than you wish yourself.
—An excerpt from one of my pieces in the ongoing writing and audio installation series “Let Me Lose Myself” in Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm, Sweden, 2016 — for ccseven.
On Italy, on Love, a Keatsian letter never sent
I write to you from Italy. It’s where I belong, if I belong anywhere in this world. I should be writing this in Italian, that beautiful language… the language of Dante, and poetry, and of the maestros, but I’ve mastered one language only, English. Mastered it with the devotion of a life long lover who never grows bored. Such is my devotion to Italia itself. To the stories of Italy, to the soil, the sun, the gleaming stripped marble of ruins, the art, the hum of life for centuries still playing in stone.
Love and Italy are entwined for me. But love for a place feels less dangerous than love for another soul. What is it about love more than any other sensation or state that makes it worth dying for for nearly everybody? Is it the intoxication? Is it that danger of falling; first in love, —the surrender of giving oneself so completely to another, and then, —the alluring danger of falling into disrepute and disintegration?
(‘before sunrise’ trilogy film still)
You’ll never have nowhere to go, I heard in a song once. That’s the other thing about love too, isn’t it? If you are my fail safe, I’ll be your home. We’ll never have nowhere to go, we’ll never be quite alone, never be utterly lost in the world with our pieces of love tethered to an anchor. Love gives you the buoyancy of floating, even at the end of a rope. The deeper the love, the deeper the water, the longer the line, the sweeter the kiss, the saltier the tears. The deeper the knife plunge. Something like that.
(Shot by me, double exposed b&w film, protestant cemetery, Rome, Italy, 2008)
Loving is swimming that feels like floating, falling that feels like flying, until loving feels like drowning when there’s still a spark in the brain and air in the lungs, — quickly quickly at first, then slower, slower so there’s a flicker of hope, until the last tick tick tock of blue veins and dark arterial blood, and with the sounds of a few trite memories, voices of ghosts before you’ve forgotten, —then the spark is faltering again, then flickering out, the air is now escaping, —then, at once — nothing.
(shot by me, portra film, capri protestant cemetery, isle of Capri, Italy, 2013)
Keats said, “Love is my religion; I could die for it.” Not for religion, not for country, not for god or even one’s soul, but for love itself, that fickle slow dying and quickening and petering out and rushing back and dissolving of self, that is worth dying for, each and every time.
We hope for one great love in life, but perhaps there is a beauty in a few great loves, slipped into and out of like different characters? Multiple loves for multiple lives.
(analog photograph by the amazing Francesca Woodman)
That’s what we have, you and I, isn’t it? We fall in and out of love, in and out of each other? We hunt and repel, we submerge together, and reemerge on opposite sides, —we crash back into, then back away, sometimes we look away when speaking…
Tell me when does love stagnate? When the newness of sex becomes too familiar or the nuances of our narratives loses their mystery? When we lose ourselves a little too much to capture the other, and no longer “get each other?” When the brains soften followed by the body?
(greco roman style neoclassical painting)
I fear I’ll never feel that with Italy, my love will never die for its myths and beauty. I’ll always return to its warmth, its reminder of death, and of the temporary. My love for you also feels endless, for it is already a ruin we revisit, happily, to hold onto the dust a little longer, to declare we were once here, to hope when we’re carrion our love will find itself in the hum pressed into stone too.
favorite views of rome and the fatal charm of italy
“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi
The top of the Castel Sant’Angelo from the Ponte Sant’Angelo.
Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning. – Giotto di Bondone
The golden hour of sunset on the ruins in the heart of the city.
A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority. – Samuel Johnson
Looking over the city at dusk from the Villa Medici where the Pincian hill and the Spagna area meet.
“I sometimes fancy,” said Hilda, on whose susceptibility the scene always made a strong impression, “that Rome–mere Rome–will crowd everything else out of my heart.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne
The casina view on the tip of the Pincio (Pincian hill) overlooking the Piazza dell Popolo. It is my favorite spot in Rome to watch the sun set. Get to it by the Popolo, Piazza di Spagna or the Villa Borghese park.
More views from the majestic Pincian Hill. There’s a particular happiness I experience whenever I am on the Pincio. I have so many beautiful memories there. It represents everything I love about Rome; the history, the beauty of the landscape and architecture, the art, the people watching. I love the ivy covered apartments and Renaissance architecture.
Another one from the Villa Medici with the silouhette of Saint Peters in the distance.
In the world Rome is probably the place where most in beauty has been accumulated and subsists in span of twenty centuries. It has created nothing, only a spirit of greatness and order of beautiful things; but the most magnificent monuments on the earth have extended and were fixed in it with such energy to leave the most numerous and indelible tracks in it, more than in anywhere else on the globe. – Maurice Maeterlinck
From my hotel balcony overlooking the Aurelian wall, the Villa Borghese metro stop, apartments and the Villa Borghese park. A sign of Rome is the countless antennas on rooftops.
On top of Saint Peter’s Cupola, Vatican City is laid out.
From the dome of St. Peter’s one can see every notable object in Rome… He can see a panorama that is varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history than any other in Europe. – Mark Twain
Peeking through a gated fence and cypresses to a private garden.
There are a thousand little views of the Vatican from different corners of Rome.
A glass of prosecco and a view from my hotel balcony on the Via Veneto at the Grande Albergho Flora.
From a Vatican Museum garden, another breathtaking cupola and manicured, statue studded garden.
Rome through a glass of Sicilian wine at sunset.
The Coliseum from a distance on a tele photo lens.
Rome from the top of the observation deck on the Vittoria Emanuale Monument.
Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life… Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome. – Goethe
The Via del Corso from the Vittorio Emanuale (aka the Wedding Cake).
The rooftops of the historic center of Rome.
“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
The Roman Forum and the Alban hills.
“She had always been fond of history, and here [in Rome] was history in the stones of the street and the atoms of the sunshine.” ― Henry James
Cupolas and sky high statues.
Churches over the Forum; layers of history, people and ruins.
“Rome was mud and smoky skies; the rank smell of the Tiber and the exotically spiced cooking fires of a hundred different nationalities. Rome was white marble and gilding and heady perfumes; the blare of trumpets and the shrieking of market-women and the eternal, sub-aural hum of more people, speaking more languages than Gaius had ever imagined existed, crammed together on seven hills whose contours had long ago disappeared beneath this encrustation if humanity. Rome was the pulsing heart of the world.” ― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Forest House
A beautiful frontpiece to an old church and an arch.
Rome is beautiful, so beautiful, I swear, all the other things seem nothing in front of it. – Charles de Brosses
Cypresses and stone.
The cypresses, umbrella pines and verdant green against red stone and brick and roof tiles are gorgeous.
A lone goddess in a corner.
See the wild Waste of all-devouring years!
How Rome her own sad Sepulchre appears,
With nodding arches, broken temples spread!
The very Tombs now vanish’d like their dead!
Borken temples and pillars.
Rome – the city of visible history, where the past of a whole hemisphere seems moving in funeral procession with strange ancestral images and trophies gathered from afar.
Ancient Rome, Baroque, fascist architecture and the 21st century in one sweeping glance.
You cheer my heart, who build as if Rome would be eternal. – Augustus Cæsar
The Alban Hills appear blue against the sky no matter the weather or season. They once hid Julius Caesar from his enemies in his earlier youth.
For me, Rome is the old center, with her narrow streets, in warm colours, orange,red and even gold. Here is Rome like a house. The alleys are passages, and in three minutes you are in the most beatiful squares of the City, Piazza della Rotonda with the monument, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona. These are my reading rooms, my refreshment rooms, my salons where I meet my guests. – Rosita Steenbeek
The Wedding Cake view of Rome is the view of the gods.
The light that reveals Rome’s monuments is not that to which we are accustomed; it produces numerous optical effect plus a certain atmosphere, all impossible to put into words. The light strikes Rome in ways that I’ve never seen. – Stendhal
The back view of the Wedding Cake of the Forum, the Coliseum and Palatine Hill, where the Emperors and the Patricians lived in Ancient Rome.
The traveler who has contemplated the ruins of ancient Rome may conceive some imperfect idea of the sentiments which they must have inspired when they reared their heads in the splendor of unsullied beauty. – Edward Gibbon
The Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536–1546 at one of my favorite museums and spots in Rome on Capitoline Hill.
O Rome! my country! city of the soul! Lord Byron
Julius Caesar and the ruins.
Porta San Sebastiano is the modern name for the ancient Porta Appia, a gate in the Aurelian Wall of Rome, connected to the Via Appia, the old entrance to the city for ancient pilgrims, wanderers and the 17th, 18th and 19th century Grand Tour.
A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome. – Alaine de Lille
Another peek from the Pincio.
The alternate view of Rome from the Janiculum Hill, the Giancolo.
The Pantheon, which draws me to it at night to admire it’s immortality against a navy sky.
The Roman evening either keeps still or it sings. No one can behold it without growing dizzy, and time has filled it with eternity. – Jorge Luis Borges
Did I mention how amazing dusk is on the Pincio?
A private rooftop garden, the Auerlian Wall on the original “1950s & 1960s La Dolce Vita” street of the Via Veneto, not too far from the Lord Byron statue.
The Twin Churches of the Piazza del Popolo and the Vatican.
“The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo.” —Mark Twain
A palm tree (or descendent of) left over from ancient Egypt, planted a millenia or two ago perhaps.
This spot is disarmingly charming. Below to the left is the luxe 19th century Hotel de Russie with an enormous garden terrace and marble stairs with cafe tables, coffee and cocktails from an outdoor bar.
“Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” — Fanny Burney
Wandering around the city at night, the cobblestones lit up by cafe lights.
“What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago.” —Erica Jong
The Villa Borghese gardens leading out to the Pincio.
For us to go to Italy and to penetrate into Italy is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery… back, back down the old ways of time. Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness.” —D.H. Lawrence
The sun falls over the Piazza del Popolo through construction fencing. At the center of the square is an Egyptian obelisk — it was brought to Rome in 10 BC by order of Augustus.
I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble. Augustus; quoted in Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
The Fontana del Mosé Salvato view of the Pincio.
Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city. – Anatole Broyard
The wide view of Via del Corso always reminds me of the film Roman Holiday and Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s vespa ride.
“Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!” — Percy Bysshe Shelley
Near the Piazza di Spagna, at the top of the Spanish Steps. Young lovers are all over the park snatching amorous moments out in public.
Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy. – Bertrand Russell
The sun rises and sets in Rome and each golden hour the view becomes more and more beautiful. It’s what brought the Romantics and the artists for centuries. The landscape, the ruins, the fountains, the art, the cupolas and the stone and marble bathed in the Italian sun. It’s why I keep returning to the Eternal City. It’s what I live for.
“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” – Anna Akhmatova