“Chasing Beauty In Italy”

My “Chasing Beauty In Italy” BOOK

(The Second Edition, 2019 is available now!)

purchase here:
Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.43.42 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.43.31 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.45.25 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.31.44 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.31.19 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.31.02 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.30.32 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.30.20 PM

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).

ORDERS DO SHIP OUTSIDE THE US!

SHIPPING IN USA $5.00

Canada and Mexico FOR $7.00 SHIPPING FEE

EUROPE / AUSTRALIA / NZ / THE WORLD: $10.00

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

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.29.05 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.28.27 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.28.00 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.27.41 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 5.27.24 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.54.20 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.46.23 PMScreen Shot 2019-03-16 at 4.46.14 PM

 

Advertisements

the wild beauty of Capri

DHyhZ37VwAA22qG.jpg-largeCapri is an island known for glamour, and while there is plenty of that in the air and along the charming pedestrian lanes of Capri Town and upper Anacapri in the haute couture shops, Grande Dame hotels, and restaurants… the true Capri is found off the beaten path wandering silent side streets and hiking in wildflower, woodsy meadows until you reach stunning 360 degree views of the cliffs below and the sea. This view above is of the famed Faraglioni Rocks; coastal and oceanic rock formation eroded for many many years by waves. Faraglioni is possibly from the Greek pharos or Latin pharus (“lighthouse”) and is correlated to the Spanish farallón. Some locals have told me it means the wild strawberry, for its similar shape to the tiny, bittersweet berry.img_1944There is a sublime pleasure in wandering around the island on your own and discovering ancient overgrown paths hinting of ancient Roman history of the Neapolitan isle. You can hike the “back way, the 19th century way” from the Villa Lysis to Tiberius’ most visited ruins, the Villa Tiberius. It is a little treacherous at times but completely satisfying to climb where many have tried before you. The clean scent of the sea is carried on the wind as is the perfume of lemon trees and bergamot and roses and freesia warming in the sun all day. capriblueThere are so many different breath taking views on Capri that I recommend staying for a few days if you can. A day trip can be a lovely experience if you retreat from the crowds and do something spontaneous and pleasurable at a slow travel pace, but nothing beats waking up hours before the day-trippers descend and exploring the magical side of this Campania treasure. Each turn is unexpected but you never feel truly lost. Unexpected joys are found in a simple moment of beauty – it transfixes and transforms your heart and even how you decipher beauty, see the world, view love, and even how you look at yourself. Have a glass of wine or tea and look at all the beauty of nature around you, and feel the timelessness of Italia, and the bittersweetness of the shortness but intensity of our own lives. Take a bite of something, share a smile with a stranger, warm your face and body under the gentle sun, and breathe it all in slowly. The days last forever here. 34

There is a wealth of natural beauty on Capri which mingles perfectly with the scattered ruins of Roman Emperor villas and important Greco Roman fragments in museum villas with enviable views in outdoor cafes and winding gardens. Have a lingering lunch of local food on Anacapri (La Rondinella has great vegetable antipasto, salads, seafood, pizzas, pasta, and wine, and is reasonably priced). Stopping at the Villa San Michele museum is wonderful and something I highly recommend. It is one of the places I am happiest in. The Villa was owned by Swedish writer and doctor Axel Munthe and you can see my tour of his gorgeous gardens and Roman marble portico. See the galleries here and here. Don’t leave the garden without looking out to the sea for one of the most beautiful views of the ocean and neighboring islands in muted greens and blues.  Not too far away is the Casa Rossa, with a 1st Century Hera statue and four ancient nymph statues from Tiberius‘ swimming cave, the Blue Grotto, where Caligula and Augustus were also purported to have swam.

Next post I’ll be writing about the Greek Revival Villa Lysis and the hike up to the Roman ruins of the Villa Jovis!

 

La Rondinella restaurant

Via Giuseppe Orlandi 295, 80071 Anacapri, Island of Capri, Italy +39 081 837 1223

Villa San Michele museum

Viale Axel Munthe, 34, 80071 Anacapri NA, Italy

La Casa Rossa museum

– Via Giuseppe Orlandi, 78, 80071 Anacapri NA, Italy

Images shot on Portra 400 analog film and Velvia film slides.

rebecca-starr butler    alovelettertorome.com / romepix.com

 

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-a-lady-with-a-unicorn-1506

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.

Tiziano_-_Amor_Sacro_y_Amor_Profano_(Galería_Borghese,_Roma,_1514).jpg

Sacred and Profane Love by Titian. c. 1514

 

lala30

I love the gorgeous architectural details in stone and in fountains and statues lining the entrance of the Galleria Borghese.lala34

Remnants of the past play out as well in “ancienne” statue fragments and the fountains outside the museum’s grand entrance.

lala33

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.

lala37lala35

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.

lala38lala39

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.

lala31lala32

 

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.

16451956270_ef3de821b3_o

16637921421_b98acb2c30_o

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.

Cuu0bRjW8AA6FpZ

The Santissima Trinità dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps from the Via Condotti.

CC4oK3NVEAIF6CL

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.

CZIHrQYWAAAGH0M

Casino Valadier’s LOVE ELIXIR
€25 per person.

La Grande Cucina S.p.A.
Piazza Bucarest, Villa Borghese
00187 Roma
P. I.V.A. 05901701002

Tel (+39) 06 69922090
Fax (+39) 06 6791280
info@casinavaladier.it

Il Margutta’s San Valentino 2018

 

GALLERIA BORGHESE (english site)

Via del Collegio
Romano, 27
00186 Roma, Italia
tel. 39 06 67231
www.beniculturali.it

rome-map

map by Guilbert Gates

 

Antico Caffè Greco

Via dei Condotti, 86, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

 

img_0864-1

B64lOC5IAAIjqEACulZx56WcAU-pvm

Babington’s Tea Room 

Piazza di Spagna, 23, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

B2LjI1aIIAEsx00

Cuu_SJZXgAAI_h-ClriITrWYAAbSuYCuu_SJbXgAAKtcvCuu_SJZXEAABeOxCuu_SKqWAAUoHXu

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin; a Grecian ode in black and white 

I am exceedingly charmed by Berlin. I’m smitten with it, in fact. This German city is pristine and enormous, with beautiful stretches of wide open boulevards and bridges betwixt baroque, art nouveau, Romanesque and post modern architecture (with character).

They have turned part of the old Soviet regime of East Berlin, that former extension of the cold eastern bloc into a museum island of buildings housing rare antiquities and art from around the world… in an homage to ancient Grecian architecture — one could almost imagine what it felt like to walk between intact Greek temples and palaces, everything is just so well tended to, the whole part of the city marries the past and the present together seamlessly.

I stayed in the chic, sleek, uber modern Potsdamer Platz East Berlin neighborhood, just a short jaunt up from the stunning Brandenberg Gate. Another ode to Ancient Greece, you feel in Berlin as though you are in a city which truly both reveres and celebrates learning and culture.

Because East Berlin was isolated for so long after World War II, it was the perfect spot to turn Bizmarck and Weimar Republic era buildings into museums and hotels, and the Soviet utilitarian era 20th century monstrosities into apartments and offices. The sleekest designs of exciting new architects are in areas like Potsdamer Platz, and it’s fascinating to walk through areas where you can still catch a sense of the ambience of the Stasí and yet where 21st century modernity has taken over.

Berliners take their coffee very seriously, and I fell in love with every cup of coffee or chai or tea or double espresso I had in East and West Berlin. I will be writing about my favorite cafes in Europe soon… And Berlin truly impressed me with their innovation and attention to detail and quality.

There’s so much to enjoy about Berlin, there is dark history to absorb yourself in, sumptuous art to view in gallery after gallery, classical antitiquites like the Ishtar Gate, Greco Roman ruins and objets, the Pergamon altar, and the brilliant Berlin Philharmoniker, restaurants and bookshops and even elegant BMW taxis to recline in the back of as you drive through the city listening to Beethoven.

Museum island 

Ishtar gate

Roman market gate from Ancient Greece/Turkey.

Italy and England 

FH000036

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

FH080025

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

tumblr_n2m2boeRBt1qznevxo1_1280

Wandering around Portobello Road, in the Notting Hill neighborhood.

tumblr_n2m3vm4QKN1qznevxo1_1280

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

tumblr_n2jpi8fjpD1qznevxo1_1280

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

tumblr_n2td6nd9hv1qznevxo1_1280

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

tumblr_n277oxPbB41qznevxo9_1280

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.

tumblr_n25cocvIUQ1qznevxo6_1280

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

tumblr_n277oxPbB41qznevxo10_1280

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

B5BU7bICUAE64GN.jpg-large

From the window of “221 b Baker Street, London

B3-31pGIYAAu66l.jpg-large

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

B3-zkWjCMAAMYrJ.jpg-large

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

B3-uIR-IEAAdpcl.jpg-large

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.

B3-2OnVCIAIZ5PE.jpg-large

This sign is so British it hurts.

B3-nT6QIUAAD_4A.jpg-large

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

B3-3i1BIAAAWb_P.jpg-large

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.

tumblr_ncpjorBGx51qznevxo1_1280

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

0505823_0505823-R9-077-37

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.

0505823_0505823-R9-071-34

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!

0505823_0505823-R8-028-12A

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.

0505823_0505823-R4-047-22

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.

B30QipuIYAAsZ8r.jpg-large

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.

0500158_0500158-R1-037-17

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.

0500158_0500158-R3-012-4A

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

0500158_0500158-R2-059-28

Meeting new friends abroad 🙂

0500158_0500158-R8-021-9

Long walks soaking in the sun and the past.

0500158_0500158-R7-046-21A

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

0500158_0500158-R7-072-34A

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

0500158_0500158-R2-067-32

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

0500158_0500158-R8-055-26

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

0500158_0500158-R10-049-23

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

0500158_0500158-R10-037-17

The beauty of being overwhelmed in Rome.

0500158_0500158-R10-013-5

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.

0500158_0500158-R4-025-11

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.

0500158_0500158-R4-059-28

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

0500158_0500158-R10-059-28

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.

tumblr_mauq7qjOcf1r82902o1_1280

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