For instance, I took a lovely walk with Jordan the other day, and for the life of me I can’t remember when it was. I think it was in September, actually. Whenever it was, it was an absolutely gorgeous day to go exploring.
I do not know the significance of this monument. I am sure that I could look it up somewhere, but I think I will leave it nameless because that is just the way Rome is: nameless novelties everywhere.
We named him Hugo.
We walked through a very beautiful residential area, suspected that politicians lived there since there were army jeeps with alert soldiers parked in a random places, found some lovely churches, walked past the famous keyhole view of the Vatican dome with absolutely no desire to look through it, and found a park in an orange grove.
Oh! It was one of the nicest places that I had seen so far. I cannot possibly describe the scent! And the view was phenomenal as well!
A little further on, we began looking for the “non-Catholic cemetery,” which is supposedly not only gorgeous but also the final resting place of plenty of famous people.
We couldn’t find it.
We did, however, find a cemetery which promptly shot to the top of my “most beautiful places in Rome” list. It was dedicated to the British soldiers who fell during World War 2.
It was so quiet, and so reverently kept, and the arching stones of the Aralian Wall seemed somehow perfect for the place; sympathetic. If you had walked in my picture down the path, you could have read with me the ranks and ages of the soldiers, and often a short line mentioning that he was an only son, and that they would meet again, and that would break your heart. Eventually there would be some sort of altar (you can kind of see the white in the picture), where there was a placard which said something to the effect that the Italian government gifted this land to the fallen soldiers in thanks, hoping that they would find peace even in a foreign land.
We left the place a little somberly, but also strangely rested, and then made our way to the only site that I had actually written down to visit before I left America: The Centrale di Montemartini.
Once upon a time, this building was the first electric power plant in Europe. Now, it is a kind of homage to the hulking black machines, and houses a superb collection of marble statuary, which had been kept in storage until recently.
The contrast in color, texture, and history is truly beautiful.
Jordan mentioned that it was these statues which finally convinced her of the beauty of the human body, and I really have to agree. I always referred to the beauty of the human body, in my mind, to the intricacies of its workmanship, to its fundamental meaning and the beauty of what it could do, but it is these greek/roman statues of real people, standing, not necessarily posing, as if their naked bodies were adornment enough, which finally told me that… we are beautiful.
It gave me the willies.
After trying and utterly failing to imagine a scenario in which someone would actually want to display such a sculpture in the foyer, I decided that it was the most expensive piece of pornography I had seen and moved on to a wall of harmless heads.
This is one of my favorites. I have since discovered that the model was Septimus Severus, and a prominent general. He must have been a good one, because he doesn’t seem like the type who would have his portrait put up all over Rome just because people liked him.
Another of my favorite pieces was this one of a girl. She’s just a girl, and she’s just thinking, and she is so modest that even hand is covered, but she’s so natural! Even senza nose her expression is perfect, and the sculpting is so skillful that you really believe that there is a soft body underneath the fabric, even though it is stone, and of course solid all the way through.
I’ve seen so many wonders, in so many contexts, in this city.
PS. Since my camera died, the picture of Aphrodite from behind and the thinking girl are from Ye Almighty Google. I heartily apologize that the picture of the girl is so unimaginative and flat.