Friday, February 26, 2010

the sun is up, the sky is blue. it's beautiful...

Not having friday class was always wonderful, it meant I could go to work and spend the afternoon getting things done.
Now in Roma I never have friday class, and I don't have a job, so the afternoon is spent wandering, watching movies, and just laying around.

The day is absolutely beautiful again. We are sitting outside drinking coffee and eating oranges we have climbed the tree to get.
Another round of midterms is on the calendar for next week, so I'm planning on laying around for the afternoon and tomorrow a trip to Oriveto.

Monday, February 22, 2010

50 Special

We are having to learn this song for Italian class.
Beware, it's incredibly catchy...I am looking forward to driving around Houston with this on the stereo.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

terra firma

Finally I get around to posting something new about the happenings in Roma.
This week has been crazy to say the absolute least.
It's already midterm here, which is ridiculous to me...Spring Break starts the weekend after next and the days are flying by like they never have before.

My days are spent looking at the most incredible art, listening to amazing operas, watching movies that changed the face of the Italian film industry, and going to see the most beautiful ballets. While all of those things are ways I am glad to spoil myself with, they are also work. That being said, I enjoy them absolutely, but it isn't all fun and games. All of those enriching experiences have to be written about, studied, analyzed, and then turned in for a grade (hopefully a good one).

This week we were shown "La Nozze di Figaro" (The Marriage of Figaro) which I loved loved loved...the music is outstanding, and the libretto is amazing. While Tosca is still my favourite, this one is currently standing at second. While it is a sequel to "Il Barbier de Sevilla", Mozart wrote "Figaro" before Rossini's "Barber" was even composed.

That will show you the opening duetto, which is one of the best in the opera, also Figaro's aria "Non più andrai" is very well known, and a prime example of the Rondo Aria, where the refrain is repeated more than once (in this case A-B-A-C-A-D) versus the more standard DaCapo form (A-B-A).

The majority of the week was spent studying in the library amongst the stacks, specifically in the Dante section, which has now gained many names, depending on the day or one of our moods corresponding to one of the circles. For once I feel like I am doing an incredibly amount of work, I have never studied this hard or prepared this much for an exam or paper. Maybe it is the level of demand that is being put forth by our professors at Loyola or maybe it's the fact that I am in classes all above 300 level, but the point is that it is hard. And I love it. Being challenged makes me want to work that much harder. I would rather spend hours pouring over books, hi-lighting, marking, analyzing, and obsessing than just have it come easily. I feel like I am actually learning, not just retaining and then repeating information.

I took a break Wednesday, braved the ever too common Roman downpour, and went to the ballet at the Teatro dell'Opera to see "Il Papavero Rosso". Which was a hardcore Russian ballet- incredible scenery, costumes, and such strong character roles. Very long, but well worth the three hours and two intermissions.

After my "Art in Rome" exam and "High Renaissance and Mannerist Art" exams, I was free as of Thursday night, and spent Friday afternoon in sweatpants, watching movies and drinking coffee, relaxing for a night out in Roma. We wandered around Trastevere, which is a really happening and hip neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants. Winding cobblestone street turning into another winding cobblestone street, it is easy to get turned around, but has some of the best tucked away bars. Our favourite is Cafe Gauguin (go figure), very comfortable with good music, good drinks and not too crazy of a scene. Evenings that take us into the heart of the city usually end in very early hours of the morning, and this was no exception. Rome lit up at night is something everyone must see once in their lives. While Paris is beautiful at all times, and Roma incredible no matter, the dark of the night against the lighted bridges crossing the Tiber and the rest of glory of Rome is absolutely indescribable, pictures can't even sum it up. It is just something you have to see with your own two eyes.

Just like everything else- like art, like love, like the entire world.
It is all incredible on paper, all wonderful to hear about,
but there is nothing like experiencing it on your own terms and in your own time.

"Much sweet love in the light.
That in the dark, the city shone bright."

(fanny pack count =32)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

when I dream of Michelangelo.

While I get the weather of the world on CNN here- I know about the massive snows in the midwest, and about whatever storm system is moving across Asia- I doubt you hear about the first snow in 25 years in Roma.
Waking up on Friday morning to snow on my window was quite the unexpected treat.

Saturday here was absolutely beautiful, the snow melted away, and the sky was the bluest of blue.
I put on a sweater and some sunglasses and walked the three and one half miles to the Vatican and stood under one of the most beautiful of ceilings.
I completely forgot what it felt like to stand in the Sistine Chapel.
Standing among what could arguably be the greatest works of the greatest artists, not just of the Renaissance, but of any time period, I couldn't manage to get the goofy smile that I get when I look at art off of my face.
Not having to deal with the hustle and bustle of crowds was also very, very nice.

Having stood there at 10, which I remember my thoughts being "WOW! This is ALOT of paint." and "WOW! I wonder if Michelangelo could have stood EXACTLY where I am standing?"...and then again at 20 where thoughts couldn't even surface in my brain, I am curious to see what my reaction at 30 will be.

From the Vatican I wandered to Old Bridge Gelateria which is the best gelati Roma has to offer...not to mention 1.50 euro gets you plenty of a serving. Old Bridge is right outside of the Vatican wall and apparently has the best flavours, though I will always go for nocciola. Gelato in hand I then wandered to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli on the Esquiline hill where Pope Julius II tomb is...

Pope Julius was elected to pope in 1503 and is most famous for being a great patron of the arts, he wanted to restore Rome and the Papacy through art and architecture. He ordered the rebuilding of St. Peter's, the painting of the Sistine Chapel, and ordered one of the most extravagant and intricate tombs one could imagine. The tomb of Julius II, was supposed to be a colossal structure of 44 sculptures, both in the round and relief, that would have given Michelangelo the room he needed for his superhuman, tragic being to come to life, ended up becoming one of the great disappointments, best known as "the tragedy of the tomb", of Michelangelo's life when the pope, for unexplained reasons, interrupted the commission.

The tomb was finished with only 22 figures...most famously it is known for the sculpture of Moses.

Now I could go on for a few paragraphs talking about this particular work, but I will spare you.

Most people are curious as to why Moses was the particular figure chosen to be a main point of this piece. Throughout the entire work there is an underlying theme of deliverance serving as an allusion to the promise of everlasting life. Moses, most famous for being the leader of his people and delivering them out of Egypt, is symbolic of the deliverance of the Catholic Church under Pope Julius.

The pose of Moses and the pose of David are very similar, though David is standing in contrapossto and Moses is sitting, you notice that from the waist up the movement is almost the same, especially the arms.

The right side is closed, while the left is open...this apparently is derived from the saying "at the right hand of the Father"...having the right side of the body closed off and protected by God and the left open to the world ready to defend against opposing forces. In the case of David his slingshot is in his left hand, ready to fight Goliath and Moses holds the tablets with the Commandments on them in his right.

Another big point of interest are what seem to be horns coming out of the top of his, there are many explanations for this floating around, but the one that seems to be most correct is to be blamed on a mistranslation from Hebrew to Latin text. The word for "rays of light" is apparently very similar to the one for "horns" in this case we take it that the horns are symbolic of the rays of light coming off of Moses' face after his encounter on Mount Sinai.

Michelangelo is known for never putting non-human characteristics on human figures. In fact, he refused to paint angels with wings, and only did so once.

Most famously though is the beard, which is said to be "the greatest beard in all of the history of art", a statement which I completely agree with.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

rain, rain go away

Getting up before the sun rises is something I hate to admit I am getting used to...especially when the night before was spent singing and dancing into the early hours with the rest of my classmates.

"Art in Rome", one of my on site art classes usually requires me to be somewhere across town at 9 in the morning. While it is wonderful to be given lessons inside amazing churches or standing in the forum, on rainy days such as this one was, a six o'clock alarm is not something wonderful to wake up to.

Today, we dragged our freezing and soaking selves to the churches of Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Pudenziana, and Santa Prassede to look at the mosaics and some of the architecture. All three were absolutely breathtaking, though I really loved Santa Pudenziana the most- one of the side chapels, which served as a tomb, was covered completely in glittering tiles. It would certainly have been something to see when illuminating with oil lamps, even so it was still incredible lit with bulbs (that I had to pay 1 euro to turn on). Robert Browning penned the poem posted at the bottom after visiting Santa Pudenziana.

Following my cross town trek I spent the afternoon reading Anna Karenina in the library (which is super cozy and really small). While I should be reading Kant or a textbook, rainy days are the best of any to take a time out from craziness and just enjoy something other than work. Tomorrow we are scheduled to get snow, tonight I am enjoying my Nutella and banana panino, fresh from the stove.

Robert Browning

Rome, 15 -
Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity!
Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back?
Nephews - sons mine... ah God, I know not! Well -
She, men would have to be your mother once,
Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was!
What's done is done, and she is dead beside,
Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since,
And as she died so must we die ourselves,
and thence ye may perceive the world's a dream.
Life, how and what is it? As here I lie
In this state-chamber, dying by degrees,
Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask
"Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all.
Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace;
And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought
With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know:
- Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care;
Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South
He graced his carrion with, God curse the same!
Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence
One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side,
And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats,
And up into the airy dome where live
The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk:
And I shall fill my slab of basalt there,
And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest,
With those nine columns round me, two and two,
The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands:
Peach-blossom marble (1) all, the rare, the ripe
As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse.
- Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone (2),
Put me where I may look at him! True peach,
Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize!
Draw close: that conflagration of my church
- What then? So much was saved if aught were
My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig
The white-graped vineyard where the oil-press stood,
Drop water gently till the surface sink,
And if ye find... Ah God, I know not, I!..
Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft,
And corded up in a tight olive-frail,
Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli,
Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape,
Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast...
Sons, all I have bequeathed you, villas, all,
That brave Frascati villa with its bath,
So, let the blue lump poise between my knees,
Like God the Father's globe on both his hands
Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay,
For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst!
Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years:
Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?
Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black -
'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else
Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath?
The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,
Those Pans and Nymphs you wot of, and perchance
Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so,
The Saviour at his sermon on the mount
Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan
Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off,
And Moses with the tables... but I know
Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee,
Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope
To revel down my villas while I gasp
Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine
Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at!
Nay. boys, ye love me - all of jasper (3) then!
'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve.
My bath must needs be left behind, alas!
One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut,
There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world -
And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray
Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts,
And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs?
- that's if ye carve my epitaph aright,
Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word,
No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line -
Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need!
And then how I shall lie through centuries,
And hear the blessed mutter of the mass,
And see God made and eaten all day long,
And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste
Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke!
For as I lie here, hours of the dead night,
Dying in state and by such slow degrees,
I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook,
And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point,
And let the bedclothes, for a morthcloth, drop
Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work:
And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts
Grow, with a certain humming in my ears,
About the life before I lived this life,
And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests,
Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount,
Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes,
And new-found agate urns as fresh as day,
And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet,
- Aha, ELUSCEBAT quoth our friend?
No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best!
Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage.
All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope
My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart?
Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,
They glitter like your mother's for my soul,
Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze,
Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase
With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term,
And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx
That in his struggle throws the tyrsus down,
To comfort me on my entablature
Whereon I am to lie till I must ask
"Do I live?, am I dead?" There, leave me, there!
For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude
To death - ye wish it - God ye wish it! Stone -
Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which swear
As if the corpse they keep were oozing through -
And no more lapis to delight the world!
Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there,
But in a row: and, going, turn your backs
- Ay, like departing altar-ministrants,
And leave me in my church, the church for peace,
That I may watch at leisure if he leers -
Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone,
As still he envied me, so fair she was!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"La vita è troppo breve... per bere vini cattivi" -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

I have returned from carnivale in one piece following a lot of dancing, very little sleep and two overnight trains.
While it was fun, I think it was one of those things that you have to do once in your lifetime and then never again. It was just too many people in a too small of a space. While there were some moments that absolutely made the trip.

The city is beautiful, especially in the hours when the streets are empty...wandering around at 6 am following my arrival was probably one of my favourite moments I have spent here. Also, I got to stand in the center of a completely deserted piazza San Marco, which is incredible, huge, and very very rarely empty. But Venezia is something that is best seen in the quiet, at sunrise or eating nutella sandwiches on a beautiful sunday.

We started Saturday night early and starving first with pizza and then wine at Naranzaria (where the polenta is really AMAZING) which is a restaurant and bar owned by a family friend ( and like everyone should do when they are in Venezia we also enjoyed Bellini- "the drink of Venice".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Il Papa

So...My mom sent me the picture she took of JPII when she went to Roma.
Cool, huh?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pope wears red shoes

5 AM alarm clocks are something I am becoming more and more used to...

This morning we wandered to the Vatican before the sun came up to ensure our seats at the Papal Audience, what a cool experience! While waiting outside in the cold for hours, and then sitting around for a few more hours was at the very least very annoying, it was well worth it in the end...It's kinda cool when the Pope specifically comes to greet your university.

I also think it's a neat thing that both my mom and I have gotten to see up close two popes in Rome when we were both twenty, I wish I had the picture of Pope John Paul II to put up next to mine on here. Speaking of JPII, visiting his tomb in St. Peter's was incredibly eerie and at the same time just incredible.

St. Peter's Basilica was just something else. The absolute definition of so many different words.
Incredible. Other worldly. Overwhelming. Awe-some. Beautiful.

And then I saw this...

I am still completely dumbfounded at the amount of things I have been able to see, do, and just experience in the last three weeks. There are still three months left to pass, and I already have done things that some never will get to do in their entire lives.

Sto facendo le mi ossa.

"If you speak bad Italian Dante WILL hear you"

Finally, I am updating this.

The weekend brought me to bella Firenze, where we spent the days wandering the cobblestone streets, eating panini and gelato, looking at the most beautiful art in the world, and of course shopping.

Alana was brave enough to wander the Uffizi for hours with me on Saturday morning, I think of all places that I have visited and all the museums I have wandered it is by far the one that is the most important to me.
Of course I cried (for the first time since I have been here), Botticelli's "Annunciation" did it to me. The room it hangs in has "The Birth of Venus" to the wall on the right (sinestra) and "La Primavera" on the wall across, while all the other spaces are covered with some of the most marvelous examples of high Renaissance Botticelli, and DaVinci in the the gallery over. There was just something about it- something about the expressions, the weightlessness of the fabrics, the way the light was rendered. It was beautiful.

I also saw so many other incredible pieces, not just at the Uffizi either. After stepping off the train at Santa Maria Novella, the girls I was traveling with immediately went into the little market to browse, while I walked around the corner into the church to see Masaccio's "Trinita"- something that I have been waiting such a long time to see. Wow.

We spent the rest of the time wandering through the cobblestone streets, climbing to the top of the cuopola at the duomo, getting lost and finding things including leather gloves, belts, and bags.

In Firenze they have these things called "waffel" which is basically two belgian waffles with a huge glob of nutella im between. YUM! Sitting on the steps of the duomo in the sunshine was probably my favourite moment of the weekend with Ghiberti's gates in front of me, just watching people pass.

Also, another observation we made was that the Florentines dress much better than the Romans. In Roma "wet look" puffer jackets seem to be all the rage, funny stuff...and currently the fanny pack count is at 21.

Sto facendo le mi ossa.