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Artistic Trip: 6 Weeks in Rome & Venice

When it was time to go on vacation, I decided to rediscover a city I went to in 2007 but never got the chance to see the “artistic hubs” in it… A major part of art history, a city that inspired art lovers from around the globe, and one of the best places to understand, witness the process of art development through different eras! Ladies & gents, let me take you on an up close & personal trip to Rome!

Day 1: Fontana Di Trevi – night view

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I went there & make a wish… Trust me it becomes true because I tried it before 🙂

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Day 2: Rome Art Market & Drawing Lessons

To enrich my stay in Rome, I took drawing classes with Artist & History of Art Professor in American University of Rome (AUR) Timothy Allen – I’m used to call him Tim. This is the second time I take a drawing course and before we start our first class, Tim and I went to buy materials for the course from Largo Di Torre Argentina.

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I remember Tim was going through brushes types while I was amazed with zillion types of paints, canvases, tools and of course brushes 🙂

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At the same day was my first class at Tim’s studio in Balduina.

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What’s a better end-of-day treat than Italian gelato?! 3 different chocolate flavors?! With nutella?! And nuts?! Yum!

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Day 3: Rome Countryside Celebrates My Birthday

On my birthday a dear friend gave me the opportunity to discover the countryside of Italy, Ardea, where they planned a surprised birthday party for me :)) made me feel like home & back to urban life & a walk around the famous Spanish Steps (Piazza Di Spagna).

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Day 4: Discover Street Art in Rome

I was lucky that my hotel is 35 km to Vatican, on this day I decided to walk & discover the area when I found graffiti walls in so many corners of the city! Talking about contemporary vs classic

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Day 5: Janiculum Hill Night View

After my drawing class & lunch at Piazza di Popolo, I went to The Janiculum (Gianicolo in Italian) in the evening. The Janiculum is a hill in western Rome, Italy. Although the second-tallest hill (the tallest being Monte Mario) in the contemporary city of Rome, the Janiculum does not figure among the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome, being west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.

The largest monument on the Janiculum is the Garibaldi Monument, an enormous equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, honoring the Italian patriot’s heroics on this hill in 1849. The statue, located at the center of a small piazza, was built in 1895 after a design by Emilio Gallori. It was a freezing night so I barely took one picture of the statue.

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Day 6: The Vatican … A Masterpiece Standing for Hundred Years

In 2007 I couldn’t go inside the Vatican because of the enormous crowd, so I made sure to visit it this time. I went to St. Peter’s Basilica and was amazed,, a true standing masterpiece that’s built, developed, designed by greatest Artists & Architects like Donato Bramante, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Raphael, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno, Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and others.

Saint Peter’s Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. While it is neither the official mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.

The Basilica of St. Peter is a huge church in the Renaissance style located in Rome west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Its central dome dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter’s Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The facade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres (18.2 ft) statues of the 1st century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul.

The entire interior of St Peter’s is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are also a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. The central feature is a baldachin, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini. The sanctuary culminates in a sculptural ensemble, also by Bernini, and containing the symbolic Chair of St Peter.

There has been a church on this site since the 4th century, begun by the Emperor Constantine between 319 and 333 AD. This church had been built over the small shrine believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. It contained a very large number of burials and memorials, including those of most of the popes from St. Peter to the 15th century. Like all of the earliest churches in Rome, both this church and its successor had the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building. Since the construction of the current basilica, the name Old St. Peter’s Basilica has been used for its predecessor to distinguish the two buildings.

Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 after it was neglected during the period of the Avignon Papacy, the old basilica was in bad repair, Pope Nicholas V was first pope to consider rebuilding, or at least making radical changes. He commissioned work on the old building from Leone Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino and also got Rossellino to design a plan for an entirely new basilica, or an extreme modification of the old. The work was completed on 18 November 1626.

The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136.57 metres (448.1 ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross, it is the tallest dome in the world. The altar with baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 30 metres (98 ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar, designed by Bernini who took his inspiration in part from the baldachin or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from 8 ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as the column to which Jesus was bound before his crucifixion was believed to be of that shape. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with olive leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban.

Bernini also worked on Cathedra Petri (Throne of St. Peter) a chair which was often claimed to have been used by the apostle. Bernini created a large bronze throne in which it was housed, raised high on four looping supports held effortlessly by massive bronze statues of four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose and Augustine representing the Latin Church and Athanasius and John Chrysostom, the Greek Church. The four figures are dynamic with sweeping robes and expressions of adoration and ecstasy. Behind and above the Cathedra, a blaze of light comes in through a window of yellow alabaster, illuminating, at its centre, the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The elderly painter, Andrea Sacchi, had urged Bernini to make the figures large, so that they would be seen well from the central portal of the nave. The chair was enshrined in its new home with great celebration of 16 January 1666.

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Day 7: How Caravaggio Influenced Artists?!

I had the chance to visit (ROMA AL TEMPO DI CARAVAGGIO) in Palazzo Venezia, an exhibition dedicated to honor one of the leading, influencing artist on Baroque school of art, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, best known as Caravaggio. The exhibition featured 140 paintings by Caravaggio, Annibale Carraci and their contemporaries working in Rome from 1595-1635. The selected works, some of which have never been exhibited before in Italy, provide a visual and historical insight into the turbulent events in Rome in the 17th century.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but I will post some of featured artworks.

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And here’s a view of Palazzo Venezia…

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The influence of the church on Art was very strong & obvious, where only the best of the best was accepted. Living in such pressure & restrictions back in the days did not weaken the techniques and perhaps imagination, but surely effected the artists freedom of creativity since they were all working within the same theme. That’s why you feel an explosion in the Italian contemporary art which I got the chance to see in Venezia Biennale.

Day 8: Jazz Night!

“Jazz washes away the dust of every day life” ~ Art Blakey

How can I talk about art & not mention music?! Then how do I mention music without experiencing it?! It was difficult to find a ballet performance or opera because it wasn’t a festive season & in November, they usually prepare for the holidays in December. But a twist of contemporary in historical city won’t harm; and what’s better than attending live jazz? Trust me nothing 🙂

I found a place called The Place, where they occasionally host famous local & international jazz bands. The night I went, an italian jazz band were playing live, I’ll leave you with some pics & a video.

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Day 8 and 9: Venice… An Endless Love!

Knowing that Venezia Biennale was still running during my vacation in Italy, I booked a one night trip to city of love & Art, Venice! I have a lot to share about this mini-quickie trip so I will keep it for another post (Up close & personal with Venezia Biennale, GlasStress, St. Marco & more!)

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Day 10: Save The Name: Piazza Navuna

A beautiful, cozy piazza in Rome. Piazza Navona is a city square built in the 1st century AD and in was defined since the 15th century as “highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art”.

It features important sculptural and architectural creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the aforementioned Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.

During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities, and a Christmas market is held in the piazza every year.

I felt very attached to this particular piazza, therefore I gave it two days of my trip and it was worth it!

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Day 11: AlMaha Visits FAO!

Even at the FAO I found artworks from around the world! But honestly I felt very proud when I saw H.H. Shiekh Zayed Al Nahayan quote on the main lobby of FAO building. Sheikh Zayed’s words had been chosen by an international organization out of all the leaders & presidents in the world is something anyone from Middle East & Gulf region must be very proud about! Here are some pics…

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Day 12: Last Drawing Class with Julius Cesar

Here how it started…

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Sketch in the process

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And finally… Here’s my Julius Cesar

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Although I don’t consider myself an “excellent artist” yet, but I learnt a lot from the course, it is not easy to be a true artist and they put so many efforts to come out with a genuine masterpiece. It give me a better understanding of the process & an ability to differentiate between artworks techniques wise.

I highly recommend taking classes with Tim -the friendly and MOST patience teacher ever!- for more info check out: http://www.americanartistinrome.com/

Last But Not Least … Flowers Field!

Compo de’Fiori, square near Piazza Navona that means (flowers field), is a main touristic attraction in Rome 24 hours! An open market in daytime & restaurants by night. The square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades—Via dei Balestrari (crossbow-makers), Via dei Baullari (coffer-makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers) and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors).

This beautiful vibrant square was once a “square of punishments” where public executions were held! In 1600, philosopher Giordano Bruno burnt alive by the Roman Inquisition because his ideas were deemed dangerous and all of his work was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. 200 years later, Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to Bruno on the exact spot of his death in 1887. Bruno stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of speech.

Also a famous execution was for theologian and scientist Marco Antonio de Dominis was also burned in this square, in 1624.

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Rome in Few Words…

My total days in Rome were 20 days, I shared 14 and the remaining 6 were between the drawing classes, hangouts with truly friendly people who became my friends – I tried homemade Italian food in 3 different houses! Shopping days -how could resist?! After all, it’s ROME! And the departure day to Kuwait.

Writing this post took me two days, and preparing for this remarkable, mesmerizing, inspiring, fun & deep trip took a year! Both are worth it & hoped you enjoyed my different approach of Rome, a mixture of culture, heritage & classic vs urban & modernity.

P.S. Daytime images in Piazza Navona & Compo de’Fiori were taken from www.wikipedia.com alongside with information of Vatican, Caravaggio, Piazza Navona & Compo de’Fiori

Cheers

2 Comments on Artistic Trip: 6 Weeks in Rome & Venice

  1. Read it, enjoyed it, really felt like being there. Thanks Moushie for making your 20 days in Rome one of the best & most amusing 20 minutes I have ever spent sitting on my couch at home; that’s how good & devoted you are.

  2. Good day! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for
    your excellent information you have got right here on this post.
    I will be returning to your site for more soon.

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