Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rome 27.12.2013 (2): Pantheon Solstice and Mussolini Lemons

Rainbow Christmas Lights, Via del Corso, 24 December 2013

Day two, Christmas eve, we took a long see-Rome-on-foot walk from our hotel, the Modigliani on Via della Purificazione near the Pantheon, to all sorts of places: the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona and the four rivers fountain, Campo de Fiori, Piazza Colonna with its famous column, and more churches than one could shake a stick at.

In fact, we stopped at any church along the way, since it was Christmas eve and we wanted to see the presepio in each church. We made photos of each, none of which seems very impressive as I scroll through them.

Pantheon, Christmas Eve 2013
Impressions: the majesty (and welcome emptiness) of the Pantheon, where Steve succeeded in getting a spectacular shot of the sun crowning the dome at noontime. As he pointed out, the nearness of the winter solstice caused the light to be at its lowest angle at midday, causing the light to cast the least angle inside the dome that's geometrically possible, and his photo captures this. 

I found the Piazza Navona Christmas marketplace fascinating. We bought, as a remembrance of the day, a small painted ceramic angel from a booth selling presepi items, and Steve got a colorful recycled plastic wallet from a sweet smiling young African man and woman crafting such items out of recycled materials to benefit some good cause. We also got some delicious hazelnut croquant at a candy booth in the market.
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi from Christmas Market

Campo de Fiori: wonderful to visit, a feast for the eyes with its displays of lemons, oranges, peppers, greens, and flowers. We got lemons from a crusty old woman who appeared enraged when we couldn't understand her, and who threw plastic bags at us, muttering something about Mussolini. The point may have been that she wanted to pick the lemons for us, but we didn't understand this. Her son found the whole scene amusing and stood by laughing, then sold us three lemons, whose juice has felt wonderful on my sore throat, mixed with honey and hot mint tea.

Near Campo de Fiori we went into a bakery doing a bustling business, which had marvelous Christmas pastries in its windows. We shared a slice of vegetarian pizza and ate it at a corner stand-up table, with a glass of red wine each.

Campo de Fiori, Christmas Eve 2013
We also hunted down two places recommended by our friend Emily, Tazza d'Oro and Giolitti, and had coffee at the first and gelato at the second, both superb.

In the Gesu church, propositioned by two hookers who purported to be Spanish women, and who wanted to know what our plans were for the evening and if we had a hotel room. We encountered them at a huge mirror in the back of the church, set up to allow one to see the details on the ceiling. I suppose that by looking into the mirror as they peered into it, I somehow communicated that I might be interested in renting a Spanish (?) woman for the night.

After a rest in our hotel room (sans hookers) following that long walk, which also included tours of San Ignazio and Santa Maria sopra Minerva, we then took an evening walk to the Capitoline Hill and Santa Maria in Aracoeli, where we'd been told there might be Christmas eve candles lining the many steps leading to the church.
Capitoline Wolf, Christmas Eve 2013

There were no such candles, but by happenstance, we came on the famous statue of Romulus and Remus and their vulpine mother, wonderfully lit by soft light from beneath, and took a splendid photo of it.

Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Christmas Eve 2013


Willydee said...

I'm glad you guys live in hope, but your blog title and subscript seem without hope. I'm passionate about Jesus Christ, and hopefully, you have passion for Him too in your theology.

William D. Lindsey said...

Have you even read Edwin Muir's poem, Willydee? Your "hopeless" reading of the poem runs completely counter to what Muir actually says.