We made it back to Scandicci from Rome on Friday evening. Rosa, the incredible cook at Avanti (where we are staying), spent the better part of the afternoon hand-making tre colori (three color) pasta for us to devour upon our arrival. It was so good. The dining room was silent except for the clinking of forks to plates and the chanting of “Viva la cuoca.” It’s become fairly common for us to praise Rosa through chants, hugs, tears, etc.
The place has remained fairly silent since then – several students are using the weekend for free travel and the others are busy completing art history and painting assignments. We had a great week in Rome. What an incredible city that is just teeming with culture, history, art, architecture, etc. As a group, we visited the Pantheon, Piazza Navona w/Fountain of Four Rivers, Capitoline Hill, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Arch of Titus (and many more arches – they’re about as prolific as obelisks), Circus Maximus, Vatican Museums, Sistene Chapel, St. Peter’s, Villa Borghese, Capuchin Crypt, Santa Maria della Vittoria and Trevi Fountain (currently under restoration). Rowan and I managed to see Ostia Antica (the ancient port town of Rome that’s like a little Pompei), Mouth of Truth and the Baths of Caracalla. Whew! It really helped to have five full days to explore – and the daily rain forced us to rest and just enjoy being in Rome. Actually, even though that is quite an extensive list of sites, we had generous amounts of time to simply explore, wander the streets, sit outside, observe and meet locals. I think those moments are the most memorable and formative.
Case in point: on Thursday afternoon, we treated the students to gelato. We found a small gelateria on a side street near the Capuchin Crypt and were served by two friendly Italian women. (I haven’t run across an unfriendly gelateria employee!) Later in the day, we encountered one of those women again on the tram as we were heading back to our hotel. She struck up a conversation with me and was curious about our group – where we were from, what we were doing, where were we staying, etc. As we got closer to our stop, she pointed to the Jewish Ghetto (which was very close to our hotel) and said we must visit a small bakery called Boccione and order pizza. Okay, pizza? I think we’ve done the pizza thing. She went on to say that people from around the world come to this bakery for its pizza. We got off the tram and she wished us well.
The next morning, I went to Boccione. No sign out front and the place is tiny – easy to just walk right by. In fact, I had probably passed it half a dozen times during the week.
Oh, but the aroma. How did I miss that? I wish I could post it here. Maybe some day. Until then, just take my word for it – it was heavenly. I went in, summoned my best Italian and ordered two pieces of pizza. Here’s what I got:
Turns out pizza in the Jewish Ghetto is this AMAZING fruit cake. Dense, full of nuts, fruit and pure goodness – not like any fruit cake I’ve ever had. I’m glad I listened to a local.
Okay, enough about food – on to some sketches. On Thursday, we visited the Villa/Galleria Borghese, which has incredible works by two of my favorite Italian artists: Bernini and Caravaggio. In fact, one of my most indelible memories is seeing Apollo e Dafne in person for the first time thirteen years ago. Since it had been so long, I decided to spend some quality time with them during our visit. This sketch, while no masterpiece, earned me a kiss from a British woman, another from an Italian (I can explain Jana), good conversation with a woman from Fort Worth (of all places), and a bookmark with a photograph of the sculpture. Too bad I didn’t complete it before submitting my Tenure & Promotion portfolio to ACU.
Apollo e Dafne | Galleria Borghese | Roma | 19 June 2014
The next one is from the Baths of Caracalla – an immense structure that included hot and cold baths, pools, saunas, gyms, dressing rooms, etc. There was enough room in there for 6,000 naked Romans.
Terme di Caracalla | Roma | 21 June 2014
Fiume Tevere | Roma | 22 June 2014