The end of last week, Becky and I spent the day in Rome visiting churches full of fantastic artwork. My daughter Patty flew into Rome the next day, and we spent the day in Rome being tourists before returning to Cortona by train.
Here, I’m standing under the dome in the Pantheon in Rome. The Pantheon was originally built in 27-25 BC by the magistrate Marcus Agrippa to commemorate the victory of Actium over Antony and Cleopatra, but it burned down in 80 AD. It was completely reconstructed in 125 AD by Emperor Hadrian and was dedicated to every known god—pan theos, “all the gods.” It was consecrated as a Christian Church in 609 AD by Pope Boniface IV, making it the first pagan temple in Rome to be Christianized.
These two magnificent paintings by Caravaggio are in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, which was commissioned by Pope Clement VII in 1518 for the French community here. San Luigi dei Francesi is the French national church, dedicated to St. Louis IX, King of France. Construction was halted when Rome was sacked in 1527 and was finally completed in 1589. When you think that you can see all of these beautiful places for free, it’s no wonder that people come to Italy to study art.
L. to R.: Becky, me, & Patty. We’re on top of the Castel Sant’Angelo, with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background. The Castel Sant’Angelo is a huge fortress in Rome that was built in 139 AD as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian. It has been used for different purposes over its long existence. It was once a prison, a refuge for the Pope from his enemies, and is now a museum. A tunnel connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican.
This glorious statue of Moses was created by Michelangelo (it was finished in 1545) and is located in the Church of St. Peter in Chains. The church owes its name to the relic it hosts: the chains used to fetter St. Peter in his prisons in Jerusalem and in Rome. We went to see the statue because it was done by Michelangelo, one of our favorite artists (we bow in humility before it). My house in the Town of Cortona has a painting of it on one wall. The owner before us painted a mural of the statue on a wall of one of the landings, so we dubbed it “Moses’ Palace”. Whenever the family comes to Cortona, we keep it free, and they all stay in Moses’ Palace. It has four bedrooms, is located in the center of Cortona, and dates back to the 1300’s. I stay at my daughter Becky’s house when I come to visit.
We went to see the necropolis beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and were given a wonderful tour by a guide (a professor at one of the universities in Rome) who was passionate about everything we saw, including what is believed to be the bones of St. Peter, which are located beneath the central alter.
The night after Patty arrived, we had a party in our backyard with some friends from Cortona.
This is my last week in Italy, and I’m so glad that Patty could join us. We’re having such fun! Patty and I will fly back to Virginia on September 12, and my next big event will be a show with Berlin Creek Gallery in Berlin, Ohio, September 23-24.
Victorian Splendor, left, and Brightman’s Sleigh Ride, right, will be released as a set at my show with Berlin Creek Gallery, September 23-24. For more information, please contact the gallery at 330-893-2686.
As we all know, Sunday, September 11, marks the tenth anniversary of the horrific attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. We must never forget the lives lost, nor the sacrifices made, nor the lessons learned that day.