Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rome: The Pantheon

Sometimes a photograph of people taking photographs is more interesting than a photograph of the thing people are photographing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Florence: Ahh, Fiorenze

Cami fell ill with Stendhal syndrome in Florence, but rallied back to health after copious amounts of limone gelato and fresh air.

Venice: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

I expected Venice to be a really backwards, down-on-her-heels kind of place. I sure was wrong. Venice makes a really strong showing in the world of modern art, with both the Venice Biennale, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Peggy Guggenheim was a major American art collector, with a collection of hundreds of pieces by familiar names. She was married for a short time to artist Max Ernst; later she purchased a villa on The Grand Canal of Venice. Upon her death, the villa was converted into an art museum.

Thought the rooms aren't really designed for large groups (the echoing of voices got really distracting until I inserted my ear plugs), and the hallways are narrow, the museum is an inspiring must-see for any fan of modern art.

Not a bad place to live. Peggy Guggenheim's digs on the Grand Canal. Inside: works by Picasso, Ernst, Dali, Delauney, Duchamp, Calder, de Kooning, Pollock, you name it. If you were studying 20th century art, this would be the place to visit.

Looking directly into a delightful mirrored garden sculpture.

Alexander Calder.

The gardens of the villa are a slice of heaven.

Cami at the wonderful Guggenheim gates.

Rome: Quality of Light

Even with a point-and-shoot digital camera, you can still get some pretty incredible shots in Rome.

There's a quality of light that can elevate the mundane into the extraordinary. This shot was taken at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, home to Michelangelo's Moses.

Venice: Electronic Ticket Lesson

In Venice, Cami helped some of our fellow Americans figure out how to use the automated ticket system.

How do you spot an American abroad? Easy! The arctic-white tennis shoes.

(You see, we don't actually exercise — we just wear things worn by people who do exercise)

Florence: Self-Portrait

This way you don't have to bother anyone to ask for a picture.

Rome: Atop St. Peter's Dome

Like a cat, I enjoy being up really high. No matter the city, I love to visit the highest point.

If you make the claustrophobic climb to the top of Michelangelo's dome, you're rewarded with fantastic views of Rome, and the surrounding hills of Lazio.

Michelangelo's Resume: Sculpture: The David. Painting: The Sistine Chapel. Architecture: The Dome of St. Peter's.

St. Peter's Square can hold 60,000 people. The curved arcade around the plaza is meant to represent the open arms of the church.

There are no modern high rise buildings in central Rome; the skyline still has a pre-electricity look.

Rome: Public Displays of Affection

You just don't see this in Salt Lake City... something about Rome brings out the passion in everyone.

Scooter passion.

Baltic passion.

Subdued passion.

Rome: The “Gatti” of Largo di Torre Argentina

Problem: each time the Romans attempt to make modern improvements, they run into some kind of archaeological wonderland like the Largo di Torre Argentina.

The #64 bus stops right in front of the site. If you walk around, you'll see the remains of Pompey's Theatre (where Julius Caesar was assassinated), along with several Republican-era Roman temples.

This area is also a sanctuary for feral cats. The City of Rome passed a law that provides safe zones for cats. This ancient site if full (though not teeming) with healthy looking cats, whiling away the hours alongside some of the most significant ruins in the world, in the middle of one of Europe's busiest cities.

The site is not far from The Pantheon. It's exists far below modern street level, reminding us how Rome is built layer upon layer.

Cami thinks fondly of her own Momma Kitty.

This cat rubs her neck on a stone to mark her territory. Her territory, in this instance, is an ancient Roman temple.

These Roman cats are friends.

This little Roman cat makes his pillow out of a 2,000 year old piece of stone.

This 'lil guy blends in with his surroundings.

This is the largest feral cat colony in Rome. They are all spayed and neutered, hence the relative peace and harmony.

Florence: A Light Lunch

Fortunately, we walked 12 miles after lunch. Pizzas like this one are served throughout Italy. They're light and crusty, with no American gimmickry (like cheese-stuffed crusts).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rome: Spanish Steps

Venice: The Patina of Decay

For me, the beauty of Venice is its decay. A thousand years of floods, saltwater, and sea winds have worked together to give the city a patina that can stop you in your tracks. You'll walk past stately wooden doors that compel you to pause to admire their rotting beauty. You wonder if you've ever seen anything so beautiful. Everything in Venice is an elegy, everything is dying, but everything still lives.

Venice: Around St. Mark's Square

Gondolas as the sun begins to set...

The Doge's Palace

Rome: Vatican Sketches

Saul gets zapped in a modern painting of the Road to Damascus.

For me, this scene depicts the opposite of juvenile delinquency.

Hearthrobs of the papacy, including the always-photogenic Joey Ratz.

Scented rosary beads with a none-too-subtle marketing pitch await shoppers in a trinket shop across from St. Peter's Square.

Florence: Ponte Vecchio

Looking over the Arno from the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge spared by the Nazis during WWII.

Glittering jewelry shops line the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence's six bridges. It dates to Roman times.

A waiter prepares for the evening at his restaurant looking out over the Arno.

Some of the eye-catching costume jewelry available on the old bridge. Until the 15th century, the bridge was lined with butchers, fishmongers and produce sellers, but Ferdinando I pushed them out to make way for the more elegant goldsmiths.

The shops lining the old bridge still have living quarters on the upper floors. We're not accustomed to inhabited bridges in the 21st century, but during medieval times, this was a common architectural style.