June 6, 2007

Everywhere in Rome Is a Museum

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:22 pm by classicalmusic

In my first ever visit to Rome, I found museums everyplace.

Santa Maria del Popolo

It was my first visit to Rome – at least 15 years ago.  It was February and a cold, gray, dreary day.  But my sister and I had been told by the hotel desk clerk that it wouldn’t rain, so off we went to explore Rome.  We decided to walk to the famous Spanish Steps at the Piazza Espagna.  Once there, it began to rain.  Just a steady drizzle, but we hadn’t brought umbrellas. Thus, we wended our way up Via Corso – a big main street with many shops – looking for a store to buy umbrellas.  However, it was Monday morning, and, being novices in Rome, we didn’t know that all shops are closed on Monday mornings – they only open at two in the afternoon.

By this time we were quite wet and had reached the Piazza del Popolo.  That was when we saw the church Santa Maria del Popolo.  Well, a church was always open and a good place to dry off a bit.  We entered the church and made the discovery of our lives!

Caravaggios!

There in one of the church’s chapels were two of the most gorgeous Caravaggio paintings:  The Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter.  Had we consulted our guide books (which we had left in the hotel), we would have found out that the two paintings are the reason tourists visit this church.  However, for us it was as though we had discovered America.  Just think!  Two paintings which in our home country would only be found in a museum, sitting there on the chapel wall.  The paintings were done by Caravaggio in 1601 and show his immense talent for chairoscuro – the play of light and shade on the bodies depicted.  We were enthralled.  That was when I realized that everywhere you go in Rome is a museum.

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