…take it easy. And enjoy the detours. It’s what I had to tell myself yesterday when my camera’s battery died out of the blue. It didn’t give me a low battery warning when I was using it the day before. (Although common sense dictates that using a camera continuously for a week means the battery probably needs charging soon.) And this happened early in the day too. So I decided to take a shopping day. Let me take you to the scene of the battery’s last breath.
The Il Gesù, “dating from between 1568 and 1584, the first Jesuit church to be built in Rome,” (DK Eyewitness Rome) is a 2 minute walk from the hotel, traffic notwithstanding. I read a lot about the church and I did intend to see it, but I wasn’t particularly excited about it because, in hindsight, the guidebooks did not do it enough justice. That’s true for almost anything they describe.
I had photographed it from the outside a few times and it looked like…well, like many other churches in Rome do…and, boy, are there a lot of churches here! So I finally made it in time to enter the church during its visiting hours, went inside, looked around, looked up at the ceiling, thought, Oh, that’s an interesting fresco, let’s take a picture of it. So I clicked twice, took a look at the just-snapped picture and gasped. I sat down in one of the pews and opened the guidebook I was carrying.
It was the DK Eyewitness travel guide. I read the description again: The illusionistic decoration in the nave and dome was added a century later. Its message is clear and confident: faithful, Catholic worshippers will be joyfully uplifted into the heavens while Protestants and other heretics are flung into hell’s fires. [Please know that this is what the guide says and these are so not my views or opinions. My only opinion is that it is an incredible piece of art.] I read that and thought, That’s it?! That unenthusiastic passage, seriously, did not prepare me for this:
It isn’t the best shot, but look at it! Il Baciccia’s fresco appears to be breaking boundaries and letting its story spill out of its frame by actually keeping a part of the story from entering it! It is so brilliantly dramatic! You can probably find better shots of it somewhere on the Internet. Here’s a close-up to get you started: Flickr–Il Gesù.
Please excuse the shoddy quality of my shot. It’s what I expect from a point-and-shoot camera. If, by this time on the trip, I needed any more convincing that such cameras are not worthy of Rome (and that’s understating it) this picture clinched it. I must invest in a good SLR camera which can capture the moving beauty of the city.
I sat there stupefied, staring at that painting for a while. Then I noticed the mirror that was set up at an angle on the ground so that it was possible to take a closer look at the astonishing art and I stared at that for some more time, studying whatever I could in the cloudy daylight.
A few pictures later, the camera advised me to change the battery pack and shut itself off. I was upset for a few minutes and then thought I would make the most of what I had and walked around the now familiar, already photographed sights such as the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (threw another coin in), finding my way back to Via del Corso. Now my room smells as if it’s made of leather. And this when I’ve decided to go vegetarian again. I noticed I’d had no meat on the first day of the year so from the 2nd day on I started making a conscious effort to avoid it. The aromatic pistachio ham that was part of the breakfast buffet almost got me. Almost.
Also, there’s a Caravaggio exhibition at the Palazzo Venezia museum. Roma al tempo di Caravaggio 1600-1630. Dying to see it. No idea why I haven’t already.