23 June ‘23 Sorry if yesterday’s blog was long. It was the surprise discovery of an artist and a stepping stone upon that other’s found inspiration that I found exciting. This is the last day in Rome as I leave early am for Termini Station to take the 5h train to Lecce. Today's blog is much simpler.
It will be another hot day so I rise early for an 45m easy walk to the ancient Roma. I did not purchase a tour. After that, I casually take the River Tiber walk to return which is filled with restaurants that are not yet awake.
There is one last place I must visit and that many would not find. It is the Library of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and Corsiniana in Rome, a combination of two very old libraries that constitutes a lyceum of original books of historic research of academics subjects of mathematics, architecture, geography, astronomy, history, philosophy, orientalists, astrological, alchemical and hermetic texts from the 15th – 17th Century. The library is hosting an exhibition “Rara Herbaria”. I can not resist looking at printed pieces from the 15th -17th centuries hoping for them to reveal a technique that I have not seen. I amble through about 10 linseeds oiled rooms of floor to a high ceiling of bookshelves of original printed and handwritten books.
I am traveling back with the sense of the smells of old parchment, cotton papers, ink, and past years of micro dust on the books of long ago. The Collection is far beyond just botany but brings together both original and mono (single) editions of printed, handwritten, and drawn texts books, and journals with detailed drawings from centuries ago. This collection exhibits precious important rare botany books of the world on plants. While their focus was not very much on process and technique (dang) it does give a great point of view of the evolution of explorations in cataloging of flora and other plant life. Below I have added a slide show of sample images. If you are further interested in the exhibition, there is the link in bold.
The library cataloging of early exploration into logging and recording reminds me of “The Signature of All Things” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. The novel’s heroin lives through her work and research of moss (yes, just moss) and finds an understanding of love, the deeper mysteries of evolution, and dives into the spiritual, divine, and magical workings of the world and of course… herself.
Deciding to explore early morning to beat the heat and a small breeze for made me hopeful. (Ahh, we gotta love the forever hopefuls and terminally optimistics) I ventured (as in adventure) to the Castel Sant Angelo and a plan to walk in the park with promised fountains and monuments. Castel Sant’Angelo Construction 130-139 dC.1447-1527 originally as the Mausoleum of Roman Emperor Hadrian, and then later used by popes as a fortress and castle, and currently a museum. I made it to Castel Sant Angelo and got lost again. I finally found the park around 5 pm and had down two liters of water throughout the day. Now, I am exhausted from the heat and steps I had made. I will say that I saw many sites that were not on the agenda…lol. I did decide that an eSIM for the phone was needed, and maps were passé. Click on either photo for more information if desired on Castel Sant Angelo. I did find a treasure at the Castel. A portrait of Beatrice Cenci painted by Guido Reni (Bologna 1575 - 1642; 1650; oil on canvas; 64,5 x 49 cm) I was caught by surprise and never seen it before. It is so tender and masterly executed and its beauty touched me. And, it felt familiar and reminded me of another. YES! A Girl with a Pearl Earring. (link) by Vermeer the Dutch artist who was of a different decade. NOW, I am intrigued and I research. I discover, even today, Beatrice inspires and arouses public sympathy, and human rights supporters. She has also become the subject of poems, dramas, and novels. It is said that Caravaggio was present among the witnesses of her and her family’s beheading, and inspired his painting from the biblical the Book of Judith and her beheading of Holofernes (click Judith for a link for THAT story) Beatrice inspired a multitude of artists, writers, and play writers. Walpole, Shelley, Swinburne, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickens, and Wharton. Did Vermeer see Reni's Beatrice Cenci portrait? I am suspecting he did.
Her story is of a young woman 22 years old, who was beheaded in Rome in 1599 and immortalized by this portrait. She beckons us to look directly at her. Her gaze is soulful filled with her accepted and desperate fate and ingrown hopelessness for living years of abduction in the La Petrella castle in Aquila. Her father, Nobleman Francesco Cenci of great wealth and influence was a dissolute man and known to all as vicious and violent. He imprisoned his second wife, Lucrezia, with Beatrice, and her brothers treating them with brutality. The Count was known to commit rape, incest, and murder, and got away with it on payment of regular large amounts to Pope Clement. Beatrice tried various attempts to escape to gain her freedom.
Beatrice supported by her brothers’ and her stepmother had decided to murder him. They succeeded but failed to make it look like an accident when they drugged, pummeled him to death, and threw him off the balcony. Through torture, her brothers Lucrezia, Giacomo, Bernardo, and stepmother confessed and were condemned to death by the Vatican, and all executed, except Bernardo who was granted a pardon from death because of his youth. Great efforts were made to obtain mercy for the accused, but Pope Clement refused to grant pardon. Bernardo was forced to watch the beheading of his family and then he was jailed. The Cenci property was confiscated by the church, and this, it was rumored, was the pope’s object in destroying them. So, I guess that was Count Cenci's biggest and last payment. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Beatrice-Cenci-Italian-noble https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holofernes https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/the-cenci-by-p-b-shelley Hawthorne’s works do, although both see her as an omen predicting the failure of America to achieve its https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Beatrice-Cenci-in-Hawthorne%2C-Melville-and-her-Hoeveler/f4b14524cf7a8d495bbc3bb968b7d3b4586f82c1
Whew… I was lost and found today and it was inspiring. Another long long LONG cool shower, nap till 8, and then dinner late as the Romans do. Shops were open and the street was crowded with much festivity. I slept-in the next morning and very deeply with many vivid dreams of living in a time of antiquity.
20 June ‘23 Arrived on a redeye flight and feel the effects of the complimentary wine on board on the 8-plus hour flight. My driver Patrizio waited an hour while I searched for my luggage from the chaotic Roma baggage claim with suitcases, boxes, and bags piled everywhere. I know it's here somewhere since it is tracked on my app. I arrive at my modest BnB and my room is not ready, and check-in is at 3 pm. They are happy to accommodate me earlier when it is prepared. It is 10 am Roman time, but maybe 3 or 4 am EST, I dunno, I am very very tired. The staff tells me I can wait in the garden, but I venture out for food and a WiFi café. I wander around and quickly get lost, but I figure it is the best way to get to know my way around.
I notice they have random monuments everywhere. This strange one caught my attention of a poet Trilussa which is his pseudonym for a very long name of "Carlo Alberto Cammillos Mariano Salustri." His pose is casual like he is in conversation, his heavy lidded eyes are looking upward with a very odd facial expression. I also think his fingers on his right are very large and reminding of a squids tenticles. I send the photo it to a friend who translates the inscription of a poem.. In the Shade As I’m reading my usual newspaper, sprawled in the shade of a haystack, I see a hog, and I tell it, — Goodbye, pig! -- I see a donkey, and I tell it, — Goodbye, ass -- Maybe these animals won’t understand me; however, at least I get the satisfaction of being able to say things as they are, without fear of ending up in jail Click the photo for Wiki has more information about his life and poetry if you are curious about him.
I return to BnB and my room is ready, there is no AC and it is over 90 degrees. A long cool shower until I have goosebumps, then slink in clean sheets and fall quickly to sleep with the ceiling fan spinning. This vine is outside my window. It is time for siesta and I will wake later and have a simple dinner... somewhere. I still need to get adjusted to the time and cultural change, so I will keep this evening simple,