Since I'd arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, it had been grey and raining but when I walked out the door Friday morning? Bits of blue sky! Yay! I walked up the street from my little pensione to the top of the Spanish Steps, where the church of Trinità dei Monti stands. The air was cool and crisp and the view was lovely.
Trinità dei Monti
Looking out beyond the Spanish Steps ...
Inside Trinità dei Monti
Santissima Trinità dei Monti
Most Holy Trinity of the Hills
Consecrated in 1585
Architects Carlo Maderno, Domenico Fontana
Chapel of St. John the Baptist
Heading down the Spanish Steps, a sweet couple asked me to take their picture, which of course, I did. Then, they offered to take my picture. This happens a lot when you are traveling on your own and it's kind of a fun little "job."
Love the beautiful Burnt Sienna color of this building!
Apparently, the Spanish Steps are the widest set of steps in Europe. This shot, below, is only the middle section. To the right of the steps, looking up, was the home of poet John Keats. Sorry, somehow I guess I didn't get a shot of it. It's now a museum but of the many things I did in Rome, that wasn't one of them. There is just so much to do!
Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) built in 1627-29, credited to Gian Lorenzo's dad, Pietro Bernini. It's a great place to people watch.
LOVE these buildings!!
At 1pm on Friday, I was to meet up with a friend of a friend, Dawn, who's been living in Rome for more than a decade, married to an Italian man (they have two kids together.) She is an English teacher at the private school, which is just behind Trinità dei Monti, and is connected to the monastery and convent.
We planned to meet at the obelisk, describing ourselves and what we'd be wearing. She is an old friend of my friend Mark, who I've known for years. We had touched base by email and I just knew she'd be cool because Mark wouldn't be friends with someone who wasn't!
She'd told me that after we had lunch, she had a surprise for me ... and it was in the monastery. She knows some of the monks and bakes for them so ...
We were able to go upstairs in the cloister and see this ...
This mural was amazing! The anamorphic fresco of St. Francis di Paola as a hermit. St. Francis di Paola founded the monastery in the 15th century. You can see the Saint beyond the tree ... but as you get closer ...
It all stretches out to become a little town ... and the sea ...
It's so cool how it changes as you walk down the corridor! I've been trying to look up the artist's name but I still can't find it. I'm still working on it!
I think this was supposed to explain how the artist did it but ... it was in Italian.
This St. Francis, was also a Franciscan and had made pilgrimage to Assisi. The two major movements of his order, were nonviolence and humility. The non-violence, included all creatures, and he followed a vegan diet.
Astronimical table by E. Maignan (1637)
More information in Italian ...
at the bottom of the window is a little door ...
The light through the window is supposed to hit somewhere in the room, depending on the time of day, year etc.
This stuff was never on my vocabulary lists in Italian class but maybe we can find someone to translate, though it doesn't look like Italian ... anyone?
Everything was just so beautifully rendered. Being a Sagittarius, I had to get a shot of the Archer!
Dawn then took me to the Mater Chapel ...
There is a fresco of the Virgin Mary she wanted me to see. There was a man praying so I didn't want to be obnoxious and take pictures of it. This photo below is from Wikipedia.
Miraculous fresco Mater Admirabilis
The story goes, that Pauline, a young French lady, was asked by the nuns at Trinità dei Monti to paint a mural of Mary in 1844. The story Dawn was told, (and relayed to me) is different than the account on Wikipedia. According to what she was told, Pauline repeatedly tried to finish the Virgin's face but never felt she got it right. She returned one morning and the face was painted in a way that she and the nuns thought was perfect. No one knew who did it, but apparently they liked it so much that they left it.
The story on wikipedia says that after Pauline finished it, the Mother Superior thought it was too bold and bright and covered it up with a piece of fabric. A couple of years later, the Pope showed up (Leo XII) and asked what the fabric was hiding. He insisted on seeing it and supposedly it had mellowed in a couple of years, and he loved it. He called her Mater Admirabilis, (mother most admirable) which it is still called today. It's been associated with several miracles. I'll let you know when I find out what they are. (I guess the story of it being finished by an unknown hand, is one of them.)
Back to the Spanish steps ... you may remember adorable Audrey Hepburn having a gelato on the Spanish Steps with Gregory Peck (0:41 on the video) which was, as you may recall, the inspiration for my 2011 Christmas card. ;)
Roman Holiday 1953
My Christmas Card 2011
It was such a special day, having my own little private tour of these treasures, hidden away in Rome. Thanks Dawn for a great day and a wonderful memory!
Rome is the city of echoes,
the city of illusions,
and the city of yearning.
~Giotto di Bondone