Monday, 27 June 2011

Roman Holiday

I recently returned from a fabulous holiday in Rome and Tuscany. I came back with hundreds of photos, several hats and scarves, and about 5 extra pounds (all that pasta and gelato), but amazingly no yarn! I had done some research about yarn shops in Rome, but in the end we only had time for sightseeing (and not nearly enough at that), and anyway, I hadn't heard of any must-visit shops, so I'll just share some of the photos instead.

We went on holiday with my parents-in-law. Their main goal was to track down some of the locations where my husband's grandfather fought in WW2. My main goal was to see Rome - so we compromised with half the holiday in Rome, half in Tuscany.

It's a lost cause trying to see Rome in three days, but we are very efficient sightseers and managed to fit in an impressive amount. (We'll see the rest next time, because I am definitely going back.) I won't overwhelm you with everything we saw - instead, here my top 3 highlights.

The Pantheon. Possibly the most amazing building ever built. Partly because it was so ahead of its time, also because it is such a feat of engineering that it has lasted so long, but ultimately because of that beautiful, simple dome. Big enough to be impressive, but also strangely intimate (in its cozy piazza). It would be an amazing building to spend some time with, through different times of day and seasons, because the dome, with its open top, is so receptive to the outside. It is also, almost two thousand years after it was built, still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.

sneaking up on the Pantheon

Pantheon in its little Piazza della Rotonda

Pantheon interior

Pantheon dome

Vatican Museum Gallery of Maps. I always love discovering something I've never heard of when I travel, and the Gallery of Maps was a delight. We passed through it on our way to the Sistine Chapel (which was of course very impressive also, but I've seen so many pictures of it, it wasn't exactly a revelation). The Gallery of Maps was just over the top sumptuousness, which I don't normally appreciate, but this was done with such gleeful panache we couldn't help but be enthralled. Also we figured it must go on for at least a quarter kilometre.

sumptuously painted ceiling
endless hallway

ceiling detail

one of the maps

Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa. A sculptural masterpiece by Bernini, it is in the little nondescript church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. It completely overwhelms anything else in its vicinity with its theatrical presence. The ecstasy of St Teresa is frankly voluptuous - a "melding of sensual and spiritual pleasure."

St Teresa on her stage

angel visiting St Teresa

St Teresa in ecstasy

And there you have a few of my favorite sights in Rome. And luckily I managed to touch on highlights of the Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, so you've gotten a nice little overview!