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Diary in Roma - October 2008

photos, artwork and web design by Francis van der Riet. Oct, Nov 2008

08-11-2008 Last entry: this is the last entry for this diary. I found these photos of my very first visit to Rome in 1972. So that's me with the statue I
refound. The second one is also of me at the Vatican. Interesting because cars used to park in the square! All very nostalgic. I wish to thank all of you for sharing this experience with me. You have been wonderful with your comments and feedback. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have. Francis.

07-11-2008 Back home in Paris:and it's cold and grey. I will miss Rome.

06-11-2008 9 years old: when I was nine and came to Rome for the first time with my Dad, I remember passing this statue. For Rome it is nothing special, just another statue in another courtyard. It's not in the guide
books. I always thought would I ever find it again? When you look for something you don't find it. I wasn't searching and guess what? I stumbled upon it. I'm glad I found her again.

05-11-2008 Via Appia: a foray out of the centre to the Appian way, the famous Roman road. Started in 312BC and still there today. Parts of the original road still exist. The various catacombs are also to be
found here. I visited the ones at the
Saint Sebastian Basilica. Also famous because it was originally where the remains of Peter and Paul were. These were then were subsequently respectively moved to St Peter's and St Paul's. After that it became St Sebastian's resting place with this magnificent statue to witness the event. The St Sebastian basilica also has the last known sculpture of Bernini. For centuries this sculpture (a bust of Christ) stood in the adjacent convent. Finally eight years ago it was identified as a Bernini and moved to the basilica.

04-11-2008 Art is everywhere. Today someone went round Rome clothing the statues with red ties. This one looks good, toga and tie.

03-11-2008 Palatino, Aventino, Celio, Esquilino, Viminale, Quirinale e Campigdoglio - the seven hills of Rome. At least that's what I think they are
and I still yet have to meet a Roman who can name them all. But it is more complicated than that as you will discover
here. The Palatine hill is where the emperors lived. Very lush with beautiful views of the Forum and the rest of Rome.

02-11-2008 Yes, I finally went there! It is impressive and amazing to think that the coliseum is around 2000 years old. The good weather has come
back and I have visitors. Stephan is here and Alberto arrived this afternoon. Both are here for a short visit. So I braved the crowds and went to this mighty monument.

01-11-2008 Happy Birthday Alfredo!

31-10-2008 Teresa in ecstasy: in the Santa Maria della Vittorria one can find Teresa in the Cornaro chapel executed and designed by Bernini.
Teresa asked to see an angel in bodily form and this is what she saw. It left her ecstatic with the love of God, with a pain so sweet that it made her groan. if you ask me it all smacks of...well whatever you want it to.

30-10-2008 More rain and strikes: the weather has taken a definite turn. But the colours are incredible. Before the rain comes it gets dark and grey, even purple. Then the comes the rain in torrents.
It shimmers and soon its over and there's a yellow glow (almost holy) that pierces through the sky. But for most Romani today was hectic.
A general strike brought chaos. They chose the right day for it.

29-10-2008 Stormy weather: last night there was a terrific storm. The sky is now more turbulent - lovely grey blues and greens. Things were also a bit
stormy with the neighbour downstairs. Rain came into the appartment and some went down through the floor. Not a lot but enough for it to be 'una tragedia!'. I helped the poor thing, disconnecting her computer and putting it somewhere safe. Probably five drops of rain fell onto the computer but you would have thought the whole building had been flooded!

28-10-2008 Sacchetti: some time ago I mentionned the palazzo Sacchetti. Patrizia arranged to have my own private viewing today!
I did not get to see the frescoes thought to be done by Michaelangelo but I still saw many beautiful things. I liked these frescoes. It has been raining quite a bit. It seems with the time change, the signal has been sent for winter to start. I must say I have enjoyed the weather change - a chance for everyone to put on their chic leather coats. But as I write the sun is starting to shine through. It seems rain is not a Roman thing.

27-10-2008 Crudo: my birthday finished last night having an aperitivo at a lounge bar called Crudo. Mario suggested we meet there. Trusting a Roman we went to meet him there with some of his friends. It was an
interesting surprise. Today my sister and I went to the
Farnesina where Raphael and his students went wild. Here's a picture of Pschye being received by the Gods on Mt. Olympus.

26-10-2008 Compleano: I had a pleasant day today. Went to the Villa Borghese and was saturated with wonderful art again. Borghese was,
like Farnese, a passionate collector of art. I particularly liked the statue of
David by Bernini. Then a walk in the gardens and a long lunch. The waiter took our order and then forgot to bring half of what we asked for. He made up for it by bringing a delicious dessert.

25-10-2008 Tourist day: my sister Margre is here. It's her first visit here and only for the weekend. So we blitzed Rome. Went to the Capitol, Forum,
Coliseum, Circus Maximus, Pantheon, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the Tortoise fountain... plus had lunch and many cuppicini (we didn't miss Alfredo's). Last night we did the Piazza Navona and the Vatican. We've had San Crispo's gelato (but I still prefer, and Margre agrees, Gelato di Teatro in the piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro). There was a political demonstration today. So parts of Rome were deserted and others full of tourists, weddings and Roman soldiers!

24-10-2008 Dios di Roma: after the wonderful concert yesterday I was inspired. I went to work immediately on the 'Roman Gods' Exhibition. It's not finished but here's the start. Click on the photo below. The stadium
was built to impress. Each statue represents a province of Italy and there are around sixty of them. The statue above is Rome. All the statues are of naked men - that's Rome. Very few naked women here. It's the papal city.

23-10-2008 Fontane di Vaticano - Argentina: second rainy day today. I went to the palazzo Spada and saw a whole lot of 18 century paintings. Can't say I'm a fan of the 18th century. This afternoon ambled to my pilates lesson and played around with these fountains I found in the Vatican.
Tonight I go to the Teatro Argentina for a opera concert. Should be good. Must get ready for it.

22-10-2008 Mercoledi: there are four big chuches in Rome. One of which is San Giovanni in Laterano and that is where I went today. Here's a pic of
the cloister. It made me think of the Alhambra in Granada. Then entered a garden with wonderful views of the Coliseum and the Palatine hill. Spent some time sketching there. When it was time to leave, I couldn't get out! Turns out I was not supposed to be there. Fra Giuseppe was very kind and let me out in exchange for a glimpse of my sketches.

21-10-2008 Castel San Angelo notte: here's a night shot. Tosca threw herself from the balcony here when she learnt Mario was morto.

21-10-2008 Stadio dei Marmi: Rome, the Mussolini era. This stadium is stunning with the red, white, green and blue. I came here 13 years ago, took loads of photos and wanted to organise an exhibition. I never did. Then five years ago, in Paris, there was one of this new Roman wonder! Everyone raved about it. Well, we all know nothing is new.
I felt cheated and now that we are digital, I will get my revenge! There are over sixty statues and I photographed everyone of them. Took me ages! Each statue represents a province of Italy. Keep a look out on this space for my exhibition! But give me a bit of time to prepare it.

20-10-2008 Bellini: after a monring's work I went off to see the Bellini retrospective at the Quirinale. Beautiful! Coming out I chanced upon the changing of the guard in front of the Quirinale (that's where the President lives). Not only was it the changing of the guard but of the whole battalion. It was some grand entertainment with music and the Italian national anthem. After that I went for another long walk. Passed the Quattro Fontane (shown in photo). Then a quick sketch and an aperitivo at the Piazza Barberini and onto Trinita dei Monte. Mass was about to start and I stayed. It was high mass with music.
I surprised myself by remembering the whole ritual. It was splendid. Mass in Rome is grand and it always seems to be full. After that I decided to see the new Woody Allen film. It was, amusing. A lovely day indeed. I do enjoy Rome!

19-10-2008 Colours in Rome: I chose these photos as they show the palette of colours and patinas so typical here and make Rome what it is.
Had an aperitivo and lunch with Patrizia. She has an apartment in the palazzo Sachetti next door to me in the via Giuglia - which I will come back to but not today.

18-10-2008 Second Saturday: Alfredo was in form today. The sun was out and everyone was happy. Took a stroll to Trastevere,
and visited the palazzo Corsini where there is this beautiful

17-10-2008 Rainy day: today was a rainy day and all the Romani were tristi. Just a few drops but enough to change their mood. Alfredo was very glum. Imagine if they lived further north! How would they cope? Went to St Peter's today. All built to impress and dominate.

16-10-2008 Palazzo Farnese: so there's this man in the 16th century called Alejandro Farnese. He's quite a guy and eventually becomes Pope Paul III. Anyway he needs a fancy palace and builds for himself the Palazzo Farnese. Gets all the grand architects of the day involved: Saganello, Michaelangelo... He goes digging in the Terme di Caraculla (see yesterday's entry) and finds all sorts of wonderful things. He finds, amongst others, this bath and uses it as a fountain in the square in front of his palace. Actually he found two and there are two of these beautiful fountains. He also found the famous Farnese Hercules at the Terme. The orginal bronze statue was found in pieces all around the Terme except for the legs (they were found later buried in the Palazzo Borghese's gardens). The statue is magnificent but the original went to Naples as part of a dowry. A plaster copy was left behind.
Then Mr Farnese hired the Carracci brothers to paint a Sistine Chapel number in the dining room on the theme of the triumph of love (and remember this guy was a pope!). The painting is wonderful and unlike the Sistine chapel no silly loin cloths were added afterwards. Today this wonderful palace is the French embassy. So in order to visit one needs to book an appointment on the
internet. It's free and it's fantastic. No photos are allowed but you can get an idea of what inside by going here.

15-10-2008 Roman baths & bars: today the Terme di Caracalla. I remember going there with my dad and watching La Fianciulla (Puccini's 'The Girl from the Golden West'). Today no opera, just a pleasant day outside.
Then lunch and laughs in a bar near the Circo Massimo. More sketching on the Tiber before taking Becky back to the station for Paris. I will miss you Becky and thanks for the encouragement!

14-10-2008 The Forum: Becky and myself walked, walked and walked even more around the Forum today. We sketched, explored and observed.
Then pasta at home and
to top it all I had a pilates lesson at the end of the afternoon. After that an unexpected invitation to the opening of an exhibition at the
Villa Medici, thank you Patrizia

13-10-2008 Taking it easy on Monday: today a long walk in the gardens of the Villa Borghese with Becky. These trees are so typical of Rome.

12-10-2008 Domenica in Roma: A long walk down the via Giuglia, piazza Farnese, the Ghetto, the Capitol, piazza Venezia and the Pantheon.
A beautiful sunny day! And thank you Anna and Giovanni for a lovely weekend. Safe trip back to Venezia.

11-10-2008 Sabado sera: Valintina's apartment has a splendid view of the Gianicolo. The colours fade as the afternoon sun passes behind. So I figured that looking back at the flat from the Gianicolo must be
a beautiful sight. I was right and the view of Rome is magnificent. This was the sunset view.

11-10-2008 Vatican museum: got up at the crack of dawn to join the queue to get into the Vatican museum. Once in, we headed straight for the Sistine Chapel to avoid the crowds (or rather a lesser crowd).

It was fantastic, despite the number of people there, sitting in a pool of colour, richness and splendour. But there are other gems to be found and one needs a lot of courage to find them. Since we did not follow the prescribed route, it gets difficult to navigate around. Ended up going through the Sistine Chapel twice (and almost a third time) to get to the places we wanted to go to. We lost each other because of the crowds. Luckily with the help of the mobile phone we found each other again.


10-10-2008 Vittoriano: at sunset, or the famous type writer

Another well known feature seen from a different angle, the
Trevi fountain. So many people in front of it! My fifth visit and as always I threw a coin to ensure that I will return to Rome. The first time, with my father, we didn't throw a coin since we did not have any more change for the bus fare back to our hotel. The second time I threw in two coins, to make up........ My Venetian friends Anna and Giovanni are here for the weekend. Tomorrow we are going to try and visit the Sistine Chapel - depends on the queue...

09-10-2008 La terzera: no need to comment, all lovely to look at......

08-10-2008 Segundo giorno: rushed off this morning to take this photo before the sun was too strong.

Then back home to meet Gabriella the cleaner and the computer technician Massimiliano to get internet working. Today was very sunny and after a little siesta I took a stroll to the Capitol and the Forum. Going home I passed a negozio called
il museo del louvre. Giuseppe, the owner, asked to take my photo for a protest exhibition that he is organising. A month back the police confiscated everything of his last exhibition entitled 'IDENTIFICAZIONE' - all about convicts and their objects of crime. He feels this is not on and in protest wants to exhibit photos of ordinary people. Once he has 4000 photos he will have the show.

07-10-2008 First day in Rome: fun day today, started with coffee at Alfredo's bar downstairs- gave him greetings from Angelina in London. He was delighted. The cuppuccino....to die for! Then met Brunella, Angelina's aunt, who works at the Palazzo Taverna for the association 'Incontri Internazionale d'Arte, and then met Mario my new Pilates teacher in Rome. Passed the Castello St Angelo and this lovely angel
on the way back home in the Via Giuglia

06-10-2008 Last day in Paris: picture from my flat of the skyline whilst packing.


Art and Emotions log

They always say
time changes things,
but you actually have to
change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

for other emotions artfrancis
and more



Saint Sebastian

last known sculpture of Bernini

Seven Hills of Rome


Villa Borghese

David by Bernini

Teatro Argentina



Farnese Hercules

internet bookings Farnese

Palazzo Farnese

Villa Medici


Sistine Chapel

famous type writer

Trevi fountain

il museo del louvre