Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mosaics and Trastevere

Apse of Santa Maria di Trastevere
When we were planning our trip we realized there were places that we'd have to skip - popular places, cities that held treasures that we'd love to see. Limited to three weeks we had to make some choices.  One of the towns I was sorry to miss was Ravenna because of the reputation of their mosaics.

So I was thrilled when my friend Christina told us that her favorite church in Rome was the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.  She said they had gorgeous mosaics.  We set out for a nice walk from our apartment, ambling along the Tiber River for much of the time.

The church is one of the oldest in Rome, some of it dating back to the third century.  The spectacular thirteenth century mosaics in the apse were done by Pietro Cavallini - they are really breathtaking. Maggie and I spent over an hour there sketching, taking pictures, walking around and looking at all the beautiful details.

Mosaic Studio
Afterward we looked for and found a small mosaic studio where classes are taught.  I have a friend who did some mosaic work for her church and saw how difficult it was to cut the small tiles into the right sized pieces.  I liked the logs on end with a wedge of metal to cut them - don't know if that is easier than a pair of cutters, but they look impressive!

During our walk to Santa Maria we had passed the Villa Farnesina and promised ourselves to stop in on our way back. The villa was built for Agostino Chigi, a Sienese banker, who was said to be the richest man in Europe at the time, which was the early 1500's.  He chose the best painters he could find to decorate this home.  There are magnificent paintings and frescoes by Raphael and his pupils and Il Sodoma.

Ceiling Frescoes by Raphael and Students, especially Giulio Romano

And that was what we did before lunch!  Around four we headed over to the old Jewish Quarter  to see an interesting exhibit that one of Maggie's professors had of the work he'd been doing during his summer residency. That area is now filled with fascinating little galleries and artist's studios.  That evening was when we revisited the Vatican Museum to look at the contemporary art.  Such a full day.  We collapsed at the end of it!  Maggie's step calculator said we'd walked about 9 miles.  Enough to easily earn a gelato!

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