Rome(ing) Around the City Again

Pardon my puns. It may be bad, but it is true. This last weekend I went on a field trip to Rome with one of my classes, “Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini.” I had gone to Rome about five weeks previous, but with my study abroad program. The first trip, we hit the highlights of the city including the Pantheon, Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. We sadly, were unable to make it to the Vatican or to the Borghese Gallery, both of which house some of the art I was most interested in seeing in Rome. Thankfully, I knew I was going back to Rome for my class! In the class, we thoroughly discuss the styles of the three artists mentioned. Michelangelo is known for his works in Florence and Rome during the High Renaissance. Arguably, he can be considered the figurehead for the Renaissance and Mannerism is developed following his style. Caravaggio and Bernini are known for their work in Rome that shaped the Baroque era of the late 1500’s to 1600’s. Personally, I prefer the expressionism of Bernini and Caravaggio for their tendencies to more exaggerated motion and figures. I suppose this is why I also happen to love the rise of Modernism in the 19th century (think revolting against previous norms in art a la Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, etc.). Regardless of the kind of art you may fancy, I believe this weekend’s art would have appealed to anyone.

My roommate, Kate, and I are in this class together, so we left for the train station in the morning together on Saturday. Our train left at 7:38 am and arrived in Rome a little after 9 am. We visited three churches in the morning to begin the day. Every place we went to had some significance for our course. The first church was San Pietro in Vincoli. Michelangelo carved a tomb for Pope Julius II that was placed here. It was never completed, but the most recognizable statue is his Moses. The second church was San Luigi dei Francesi. This church was created for the French Catholics residing in the area. Caravaggio’s first commission from the Catholic church was here in a chapel dedicated to St. Matthew. A cycle of three paintings was commissioned, one of them being the famous The Calling of St. Matthew. The last church we visited before lunch was Sant’Agostino. It had another painting by Caravaggio in it, Madonna di Loretto. 

After lunch, we visited the Vatican. We went to the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. This was amazing. If anyone has ever been to see this, you’d know what I mean. Regardless of your faith background, it is awe-inspiring. The letters written below the drum are about 9 feet high, the huge canopy over the alter is about 7 stories high, and the dome is the highest in Rome. Coming from a faith background, this place was significant to me as it is deemed the seat of modern Christianity. I honestly was overwhelmed with emotion. The piece playing in my head during this time was “Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s Requiem. Although, granted, this piece was written over 100 years after the completion of the basilica. I teared up twice.

Sunday, we went to the Borghese Gallery in the morning. Here, I presented with my roommate, Kate, over Sacred and Profane Love by Titian. In this gallery are amazing works by Bernini. His Apollo and Daphne, David, and Rape of Prosperina are all presented here. The sculptures invite you to walk around them fully. They are sculpted with heightened drama, emotion, and motion. They are amazing and beautiful. The details are divine and delicate. It is amazing that they were once whole blocks of marble.

We walked to three churches for the early afternoon: Santa Maria della Vittoria, San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane, and San Andrea al Quirinale. The first has Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, the second is remarkable for the facade by Borromini, and the third was closed when we tried to visit it. The group split up for the afternoon until we met back up again at the hotel to catch our train. I ate pasta carbonara, Rome is known for this, and went to the Trevi fountain again after. The day was long, again, and I enjoyed my time. We crammed a lot of things into the two days we were in the city, but I was happy to see what I wanted from not getting to a month or so ago.

This weekend, I’m off to Paris! This is going to be one of the highlights of my semester because I am going to spend a lot of time in the Louvre and seeing art! Ah! I can’t wait. My art history nerd self is going to have a heyday. There are only 21 days left abroad (where did the time go?), but I am making the most of my time left!