In Rome sunrise was at 7:14 and the Sunset will be at 18:40 and the poor Ave Maria bell is still set, in vain, to ring at 19:00 for the Curia.
Under one of these ROME posts someone mentioned a book I have in the past recommended warmly and with fervor. I renew my recommendation. It is an amazing window into the Rome of that time and, therefore, this.
The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome by James Morrisey.
I had a stroll over to Trastevere today, and on the way I went past the famous “Big Mask”, Mascherone fountain. As it appears today.
As it appeared in the day of the artist Ettore Roesler Franz (+1907)
There was a lack of water in the area, so Paul V brought Acqua Paola to this fountain. There are different waters that flow into Rome, identifiable from their sources. I quite like all the Roman waters. In times of celebration, however, the nearby Farnese’s would make this fountain to run with wine.
Now to the easily identifiable Ponte Sisto, with its single large “occhione” or “big eye” in the central pier. That reduces the force of the water against the bridge when the Tiber is in flood stage. Yes, it gets that high, which is why all over the center of the city you can see plaques and inscriptions indicating how high the waters reached in certain bad years.
Who wants to try their Latin hand? I was with Fr. Reginald Foster on a walk with students once upon a time, and a very fancy classics prof at Harvard was somewhat stymied by one of these.
Pope Sixtus IV (Della Rovere), builder of the Sistine Chapel (thus, the name) built this bridge in 1475 to help the movement of pilgrims to Rome during a Jubilee Year. Just up the street is St. Trinità dei Pellegrini where St Philip Neri’s congfraternity helped pilgrims.
There is a problem with the claim in this first inscription.
I like that “magna impensa” part. Ol’ Sixtus paid for this bridge using taxes on the papal states sanctioned brothels.
So, let’s say a prayer for Sixtus. All in all, of comparatively happy memory, considering….
On the other side of the Tiber you see a grand fountain which is actually connected to a huge fountain on the top of the Gianicolo Hill, looming over the neighborhood. This fountain was once in a different place: set over to the right of this photo and into the wall of a building that was razed to put in the massive embankments around to keep the river in check. Now it is a great place to find drunks in the evening, with their particularly mangy dogs.
I’ve been mentioned Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, the poet who wrote in brilliant Roman dialect. Here is a restaurant named in his honor. Back in the day it was alright, though I have eaten there in years.
You see there “Der Belli” which is Roman for “di il” or “del” Belli… “Belli’s Restaurant”. Romans like r’s in place of l’s, so “del” becomes “der” and “il” becomes “er”.
Inside Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Mother of God in Rome, perhaps older than Mary Major.
You can see that it is in the clutches of the Sant’Egidiots. They are obsessed with putting stuff – usually related to nothing in the style or architecture of the place – in front of altars. It is as if they have no clue at all what an altar is, other than a place to prop stuff.
The mosaics by Pietro Cavallini date to the 13th century. They depict moments in the life of the Virgin Mary.
They are of unrivaled delicacy, though they are hard to see from a distance.
More courtly sheep decorously processing to the Lamb and the safe pasture and place of refreshment (refrigerium).
Nice ceiling, if you like that sort of thing. Painting by Domenichino.
Here is the tomb of Pope Innocent II (+1143).
He was originally in the Lateran, but one of the times when it burned, they moved him here. Ironically, also in the this church somewhere (not sure where) is the tomb of an Anti-Pope, Anacletus II, who was Innocent’s rival. Innocent was backed by St. Bernard who, when it came to anti-popes didn’t always get it right. There was quite the schism. Of course back in the day things were done directly and not by ambiguity and innuendo. Lateran II polished off the schism in 1139.
Lovely. The columns and capitols came from the Bath’s of Caracalla.
In the porch, you see many fragments of inscriptions and tombs.
Some are in verse. Anyone want to try this?
Vincere supplicibus properas qui sidera verbis
effusasque Deo tendis in astra preces,
hic pete quo Dominus praesentem commodat aurem:
hac nullus hominum tristis ab arce redit,
nullius hoc fructus pereunt sub culmine voti,
Iulius hic Christum quae cupis ille rogat,
hic duo pro populis Dominum suffragia flectunt,
cum pariter templum sancta Maria tenet.
Omnibus in templis quod iustis gratia praestat,
hic et peccantis impetrat alma fides;
hinc exauditus Crescentius addit honorem,
qui instructis aditis vota secunda tulit.
Bits and pieces. The little figures make our forebears more real to us. They lived much as we do, even without our tech and advancements. That’s the error that most libs make: they think that humanity has evolved into something more sophisticated, such that we don’t any longer have to do things like kneel before the flames of transcendence when we enter the sacred spaces to encounter the transforming mystery.
On the way to the island, I ran into a lone tribble, perhaps Andorian. Not terribly chatty, so I went on my way.
Remember I said that the claim in that Latin inscription was weak? This, or rather that, by the large, modern bridge is the “Ponte Rotto”.
This fragment of an ancient Roman bridge is what’s left of the monumental Pons Aemelianus built by in the 2nd c. BC, between Trastevere and the Forum Boarium where the ships docked and there were huge markets for vegetables and animals and all sorts of things. It was a Greek quarter, too. Just on the edge is the church where as a seminarian I served for a couple years and directed a Gregorian chant schola of women who sang ethereally.
St. Bartholonew. This was the titular church of Card. George, late of Chicago, who is deeply deeply deeply deeply missed.
Again, this is in the clutches of the Sant’Egidiots, who uses altars as shelves for stuff and are determined to make every view of every corner and prospect cluttered.
Got a beautiful apse painting? Let’s put something in front of it!
This time, I must admit, there were interesting things littering the altars… every single side altar. These are relics of various modern martyrs, each altar being a different region or persecution, such as “Americas” or “Communism”. On the one for “Europe” (no… don’t mention Islam!), is the Liturgy of the Hours book of French martyr Fr. Hamel brutally slain by an Islamic terrorist.
Since I am doing bridge inscriptions… Here’s an innocent little offering, that you should not have too much trouble unraveling. Note the reference to “FABRICIUM”.
Here is the PONS FABRICIUS, also called the Ponte dei Quattro Capi, for reasons that will be made clearer.
This bridge originates from 62 BC. There was a wooden bridge here, eventually replaced by Lucius Fabricius. Think, “The Great Roman Fabrizio” and you will remember also this bridge. This comes from the western bank of the Campus Martius over to the island in the middle of the Tiber, where since antiquity there have always been hospitals. In ancient times there was a temple to the healing god Asclepius here, named in the Hippocratic Oath. You can see the ancient inscription on the arch of the bridge: “L(UCIUS) FABRICIUS C(AI) F(ILIUS) CUR(ATOR) VIAR(UM) FACIUNDUM COERAVIT” The Bridge of Cestius goes from the other side of the island to Trastevere. It has been rebuilt a bunch of times.
The “four heads” come from a pair of “Janus” herms, which look in both directions. There weren’t original to the bridge, but rather moved here from a nearby church.
Over on the Viale Trastevere, before crossing the river, you see a large monument of a guy in a top hat leaning on a wall by a thing with faces sticking up. That’s the Roman poet, Er Belli!
Errand report: I was able to get my sewing stuff and made a repair to my rather tired and worn light alb I travel with. It is kept these days at Ss. Trin for mass. Also, I was able to score yesterday a thing to suppress splatters from pans while cooking. In Italian a – great word, this – paraspruzzi!
Here are my cheese guys in the Campo de’ Fiori. The stuff is amazing. They’ve taken to me and I’ve been learning and sampling.
Some of the soft ripened cheeses, various milks. The Robiola is really good.
I tried one called Barrà. Beh! A cow milk cheese. In the photo above, in the front there is Pagliette, of goat. These are the two I took home for supper.
Greetings to Mary on the way home.
I concluded the day by heading to church for Mass. I am making myself sketch a little.
I’m terrible, but… you know, this is an extended time in Rome when I haven’t been hard at a job or studies or something. I’m just .. living. So, I want to do a few things I haven’t ever had time to do. Anyway, I’d very much like to have even part of the gene that brings drawing skills.
My apartment is furnished with the most elegant of drinkware for an evenings’s Aperol.
Puntarelle, dressed with anchovy, garlic, a touch of white wine vinegar, oil and pepper.
The main event with pizza bianca.
Cold report. Not worse. I had a good night’s sleep. I’m blasting it with vitamins and using other nasal interventions. Cough has not worsened.
This is longish, so I’ll conclude. Today, Mass for Benefactors.