Do you have a favorite architect? For me, visiting San Carlo alle quattro Fontane made my choice pretty clear, and then Saint Ivo sealed the deal. Francesco Borromini!
Sant'Ivo is not the easiest place to visit. From what my online research told me, it seemed to be open, only on Sunday mornings, from 9 to noon! Within that short window, on Sundays, you can rest assured that there are services going on, as well. Timing is everything.
I was having a little trouble waking up, after my night on the town with Inta, but I threw my clothes on and headed Southwest toward Piazza Navona. The church is at the south end of the piazza and a block or so east of it. The weird thing is, that the church wasn't even on a couple of my maps. But when you know what you're looking for ...
Thank you Google Maps!
The big grey vertical on the left is Piazza Navona. The big white circle, touching the right edge, is the Pantheon. In the, almost dead center, is Sant'Ivo ... see the horizontal rectangle with the little round circle? The little round circle is the church, and the space in the rectangle is the courtyard. You enter on first street parallel to Piazza Navona, to the east. This took a little help to figure out on the ground. After all, it looks a lot different from the street!
In the photo below, just right of center, you can see a little information booth to the right of van. I asked the gentleman inside, who I am sure gets this question all the time, where I could find the entrance to Sant'Ivo. He pointed around the corner, to the left of the building with the flags.
Open only on Sundays? Not on all maps? Don't they know that every art history class, that covers the Baroque, talks about the this church, with it's convex and concave façade, and it's groovy spiral spire? Come on!
Anyway, here's a bit of Italian Baroque music to go with the architecture ...
Finally! Through a big door and out onto a courtyard ... the first view of the famous façade...
Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
The Palazzo della Sapienza Courtyard and Sant'Ivo
The church (center) was build for the Palazzo della Sapienza, which was the seat of the University of Rome until 1935 (founded in 1303.) In 1500, Giacomo Della Porta started work to centralize the structures and bring it all together. He created the two story colonnade you see to the right and left of the church, in the photo above.
Giacomo died before finishing the project so it fell, thirty years later, to Francesco Borromini, who designed the church we are about to enter!
The altar and Church are dedicated to Saint Ivo or St. Ives, patron saint of lawyers and abandoned children. To find out more about St. Ivo (1253-1303) "Advocate of the Poor", click here and here.
Sorry about the photo of the painting. I never could get a good shot of it!
Altar by Giovan Battista Contini
Sant'Ivo, Leone, Pantaleone, Luca e Caterina d'Alessandria in Gloria di Angeli,
Painted by Andrea del Cortina
The pilasters draw your eye up to the beautiful dome ...
Check out the little cherubim above the windows and around the center.
Not to get distracted, but how cute is this chair? And, I love the floors!
Borromini created incredible drama, which the Baroque is known for, but without having to cover everything in gold gilt. He let the play of light create the drama. It spills in through the windows, over the beautiful, three dimensional details, and across convex and concave surfaces. Bellissima!
Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
Genius hits a target no one else can see.
This girl sat down to sketch. I was jealous but I new my time was limited!
As I mentioned, in the St. John Lateran post, Borromini was a fan of putti or cherubim. I'm not sure of the difference but basically, it's a head with wings. And, in this case, they are very cute!
To love beauty
is to see light.
There's another one, below, peaking over the ledge!
I was right about my time being limited. About 10 minutes after I entered the church, several Italians without cameras were making their way into the pews. Crap! Oops, sorry, we're in church. Anyhow, I took a bunch of pictures, like my life depended on it and then was escorted out, along with about 15 other touristi.
This poor guy, above, was in charge of letting in the actual patrons and keeping out the folks with cameras. I'm guessing he goes through this every Sunday, because he was very good at his job and knew who was there for mass and who wasn't.
When I got outside, I realized that not only was my camera battery dying, but I'd run off without my spare and it was only 11am! Thank goodness for my iPhone.
While I was fiddling around with my camera, a nice Kiwi lady was trying to communicate with the gentleman about when she would be able to get into the church. "Mezzogiorno ... meno un quarto Signora." My Italian was now coming in handy and fortunately, you learn "time" in Italian 101. I looked at my watch, "Quarantacinque minuti?" "Si," he said. "O.K.," I told the nice lady from New Zealand, "we've got 45 minutes to hang around, but it's totally worth it."
In the above shot there are lion heads, in the little roundels, representing Pope Sixtus V and the Montalto family. In fact, there are symbols of popes and their families represented all over, if you know where to look. All of which, contributed funds for the building. The Dragon was Gregory XIII. Pope Paul V and the Borghese were the Dragon and the eagle ... Innocent X and the Pamphilij were the Dove, olive branch and so on.
My photo, taken by a sweet couple of boys from Eastern Europe.
Courtyard of Giacomo della Porta
Love the stones ... wouldn't that look so pretty in a garden? ;)
In the following photo, if you look in the little roundels above the 3rd floor windows, you can see the Barberini Bees. (Pope Urban VIII)
After visiting with my new friends from Eastern Europe and New Zealand, and taking some photos, it was time to head back into the church, which stayed open for about 15 minutes before closing, presumably until the following Sunday. (If someone has other information, please share!)
A few more angles with my iPhone, and then I just took in the space ... soaring and beautiful!
We live in a wonderful world
that is full of beauty,
charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures that we can have
if only we seek them with our eyes open.
Ciao Sant'Ivo! Ci vediamo ... spero!
Later that day, after another visit to Piazza Navona, I went to Pizza Zaza, where I'd eaten on my last two trips to Rome (see the white canvas sun shield, behind the folks walking toward us? That's Zaza.) Well, look up and see what had been right around the corner, the whole time! How could I have missed that wonderful lantern and spire? I guess that's what happens, when you have your face in a pizza!
For more information on Sant'Ivo, check out Sacred Destinations and for a great New York Times article entitled Borromini's Rome, click here. (It discusses both churches of St. Ivo and San Carlo and gives visitor info on these and other works by Borromini.)
This guy cracks me up! Check it out! ... It's a video about the rivalry between Borromini and Bernini with a funny Italian dude. Great shots of Rome and the buildings, including my favorites! ;)
Warm wishes, my friends,
for a blessed and peaceful
Have a beautiful weekend!