Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not Just for Churches

Maybe it is needless to say this but I have been inside a lot of churches lately. That's where all the good medeival art is. I saw this flying death skull inside the church on Piazza del Popolo. The other comes from inside the Medicici library in Florence. It is famous for being designed by Michaelangelo and having a beautiful trick of the eye staircase. Also on the floor of the library, are these cow skulls. In marble. No flash photography please.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Go By Train!

At dinner one night, the person next to me said he really wasn't excited about train travel . No romanitc images of crossing the desert on rails, or cutting through the mountains carried along by an unimaginable engine.

We take the train every day here to get to Rome and to leave this city and visit others. Sometimes I stare out the window, sometimes I eat a snack and lots of times I draw the people around me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

There is a Reason They Loooooove Siena

More post card previews. I spent two nights in Seina, checking out more medeival art and getting lost. But I also spent a leisurely day wandering around the old city, stopping to draw. I took my time and make some of my favorite cards yet. Though I still have 35 to go.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not Just Old Stuff

In Rome, in the Church of Santa Maria del Populo, there is a fantastic painting by Carravaggio depicting the crucifixion of St. Peter. It was drizzling and grey the day I went. People huddled around the image as if its stark lighting might offer warmth. Also in this church are two recent art works. I don't generally associate the Catholic Church with new artworks and I was surprised. Both were references to crucifixion. This one, above, is made of six metal spikes breaking through the canvas, dramtically lit. The work is credited to Giovanni Manfredini and is titled "VIVI" which is the pattern of the protrusions of spikes. He also had another piece which was more difficult to photograph that was untitled.

On a much lighter concept, I saw these paper sculptures in a store window while walking around Florence. I am bot sure what they were thinking as they rolled pages from a book and them stitched them together but I am sure I will be borrowing that idea.

Part 2

This is in the window of the pastry shop in Frascati. The frames are very simliar to the ones I made for my final project in papermaking. Except theirs are even and consistent. Boring.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Deja Vu

I went hiking a few weeks ago around Lago Albano, which is where the pope has his summer palace. It is a lake created by the eruption of a volcano. The hike was more of a walk and half the time we were walking on pavement or though some kind of local park. But the other half of the time, we were in the woods, not too far from the water's edge. I stopped to take this photo of a spot so beautiful I was ready to live there forever. Looking at it now, I realive it is almost excatly the same photo I took for my Intro to Photography class. Except that photo was a clever trick of cropping out Dalrymple Drive. Sorry LSU lakes, Italy is prettier.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wish You Were Here

I got lost going from the center of Seina to the hostel. Twice. Last night I was trapped in a maze of apartments and dead end streets. I asked an italian police officer for help. I thought his directions were some sort of joke on me but finally I found the hostel. I also found these buildings, with bright colorful glass.

The next morning, I followed the windy, narrow road, with no pedestrian path, and found this lovely Tuscan scene: poppies and olive trees. I didn't get run over taking this photo either. Tonight I made peace with this town and walked all the way home from the old town. I passed this "beware of dogs" sign. On my way to dinner, I realzed that there is a bus stop right behind the hostel. So close and convenient. I am ready to return to Frascati.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Urban Planning Ideas

When I was in New York, Alec suggested that they ban the sale of bottled water in the city and install fountains for drinking and filling reusabel containters. I doubted the feasability of it. And this is why Rome was considered so great: drinking fountains all over the city. Some of them are more fountain like than others but the non-drinkable ones are clearly labled, which means you can assume all others are for your hydration. Of course, Rome also had an incredible system of aquaducts.
The flip side of beautiful water is the Tiber River. I am not sure what makes it so green but this is a waterfall creating a little fountain of garbage.

I wrote to my friend in Berlin who seems very excited to have me visit. Recently, the city reopened an abandoned airport as a park. He says people fly kites, barbeque. He also says it isn't too far from his house and we will go for sure. I am hesitant to leave Italy just as I sort of figure some of my way around, but there is so much else to see!

Saints and Sinners

I've never been a fan of those concrete shell-like statutettes of Mary some people put on their lawns. I actually never gave them too much thought. In Italy, I have been noticing small shrines built into walls, in buildings, and near doorways. They are often niches, though sometimes they are larger and encased in a small iron fence. I realized those cement ones serve the same purpose.

This is a shrine to Santa Prasedere in her church in Rome. It is very similar to ones I have seen outside buildings. Some altars in chruches are like this too, an encased image, candles, surrounded by a fantastic frame.

Pompei had amazing frecos, many of which had been removed to the National Museum. A few spotty ones remain such as this one, with staute for worship outside a home in the excaved city.

Not too far away in concept is the Alley of Saints in Boston. Not surprisingly, it is in the North End, where many Italian immigrants settled. My grandpa grew up here. My dad and I stumpbled across this alley while wandering around the North End before he took me to the airport so I could fly to Rome.

Baba in Napoli

Sunday I spent a relaxing morning in Naples, eating rum-soaked cake called babĂ  and drinking sweet sweet coffee. I have been a littlr bolder about drawing strangers, so I may have over-stayed my welcome at this cafe. And I think these men notice my staring and drawing. The cafe is located in the Galleria Umberto, a hundred year old mall with a iron and glass rome ceiling, huge arches that lead out to the crazy streets and giant angels in in the dome. Also in the floor were these thick glass sections covering more iron work.

I loved Naples. I did venture out to Pompei and to a little local beach. The local train system here is great but I splurged for a ferry ride from Sorrento to Naples, and was welcomed into the harbor by this lighthouse and statue. I was talking with a french man who spoke no english but some italian and spanish. We cut and paste romantic languages together to communicate a little about ourselves. My grammar is terrible but I am practicing listening and learning to speak slowly to be understood.

Me and Sophocles

Ah-ha! Some of my technological problems have been solved and now I can post photos of the past three weeks. I have organized them into themes so maybe it will make some sense of what is going on.

First, this is a very silly photo of me with a bust of Sophocles, an ancient Greek philospher. I was taking arm's length self-portraits in the Naples Archeological Museum. This is the first place I went in Naples, right off the train. It houses most of the artifacts from Pompei, which is why the actual site is eerily empty. I didn't take very good notes on what I was photographing, so maybe there is a history buff who will correct me.

Maybe you think ancient sculputure looks the same to you, white marble, idealized body types. But this table stand from the mid 2 century depicts a shipwreck. The gods of the sea are pulling sailors under, the sea dogs tearing at their arms.

Also, there is this alabaster scultpture of Artemis, the goddess of nature or fertility, depending who you ask. Also up for debate is whether she is covered in many breasts or, as my guidebook suggests, the scrotum (scrota ?) of many sacrificed bulls. Either way, she is made of a few different colors of stone, with increidble detail and action all over. There are tiny lions walking up her arms.

I spent a good bit of time in the museum, finally stepping out into the evening. I was warned about the drivers in Naples and I quickly became very assertive crossing the street. In a quieter part of town, I took this photo of a narrow street, laundry out to dry. Nothing to hide in Naples.
(Note the altar on street level. I'll quiz you on it later.)

One more note: I don't think I will ruin anything by telling you that the postcards for July will be sent from Italy. I have been drawing everyday and will have one hundred of them by the time I leave Vencice. I am posting some of them here because I want you to see them, too. Maybe I will post all one hundred when I am through.