Friday, September 25, 2009

sept 25th--the roman shade to caravaggio

Friday September 2009 25th,

The Roman shade is nothing like what we know in America. It is a solidly built enormous sheet of metal slats that one pulls up and down from inside the room, 6-10 inches inside the window depending on the thickness of the building. Here in the mckim white edificio, the windows are 8 feet high (our room 12-13 feet high?). the slats connected across the width with little bolts so that even closed a staccato tattoo of light marches across the wall with the sunrise. Exquisite tapestry of light that spreads slowly from 7 am to 7:30 am. Then you return to sleep if you don’t have your Italian lessons Mondays through Thursdays mornings! We love our class but will be glad to have our mornings back
You can pull up the shade all the way to reveal the mediterranean pine, animated trunks with flat tops, looking almost trimmed 40-50 feet above ground. In the doria pamphili park, the trees seem as if they are going to walk and follow you as in some children’s fantasy film by Peter Jackson.
Yesterday—was it yesterday? Perhaps wed we took a walk down to the farnese palace via the via giula, a lovely renaissance street with arch and rough fountain [I should find a way to accompany these blogs with fotos, eh?] and then on to campo d’fiore where people were selling flowers—not the usual food and meats by the time we got there…maybe after 3pm. Looked like a fantastic restaurant on the north east side of the square where ‘real’ Italians, not us tourists, expats, et al would go; failed to find the forno, an acclaimed bakery. We weren’t hungry —we are fed too much, two large meals a day, ala California nouvelle cuisine since the chef studied with alice waters of chez panisse (lala); Mona is terrific. But my stomach can’t quite take it day in and day out. Luckily they don’t feed us sat night nor all day Sunday. And I’ve taken to ordering the picnic lunch so I can be free to eat when I will ---but all is delicious. Never seen so many ways to cut up and marinate fennel.
I could go on about the food for sure: gelato- frutta de bosco, my favorite as it is raspberries blues and blackberries in a delicious sherberty mix. And definitely some places are better than others. I’ve had so so gelato and a magnificent one.
But enough of the edible.

Back to our walk — we went on to the piazza navona, which is a corruption of the word for piazza of struggle since it was initially a stadium. Something like 14 feet below is the original structure from the 2nd century where the gladiators fought and the chariots ran. We saw some clips from ben hur but the best were clips from a black and white version 1929 or 27 out of Hollywood, at a Fellow’s talk. The black and white was very beautiful and presumably the chariots were more authentic as well as more dangereous stunts!
From there we wandered wondered got lost and then found the santa francisca, in renovation on its fa├žade with the three caravaggio of st. matthew’s martyrdom interior. I am learning more about Catholicism than I ever imagined— Magnificent paintings. the angel coming down on an elder st matthews is so suggestive, sensual, his curls almost covering his eyes and the s curve of the painting's structure energetic and clear. The work is modern in its power. Another painting has jesus and st peter on the right in clothes of their time pointing a finger (in the exact same image as michaelangelo’s hand of god at the Sistine chapel) at matthew who is a tax collector (!) and whose original name is Levi, his head down among 5 other characters at the left of the painting all in renaissance clothes. There is a sharp line of light coming in from right to left and the hand is in a shadow area, signifiying the separation of the secular and sacred. Very powerful particularly the detail of the young boy who is watching, perhaps 12. Caravaggio’s young boys are compelling to me so sensuous, their skin a realist marvel.
I bought a book at the church which spoke of c’s love of a woman but it seems to me though possible unlikely, or perhaps like Cellini, he is bisexual. Ah those greeks and romans! They had it all. C’s end was quite desperate however running from a third degree murder rap and dying of malaria on the coast just as the pope gave him dispensation to enter rome!
The melodrama of the past----I am finding it not unexpectedly in my script for shelley and his circle. I may need to revisit my ideas of melodrama and modernity, along with future studies of image and text. So much to do, perhaps enough time?

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