This was our last day in Rome, and we savored every minute! A few rose early for a morning run in the Villa Borghese gardens, just up the Via Veneto from our residence hall.
Then after breakfast (both of these cappuccini were for Ms. Cody, by the way)…
the whole group walked to the Villa Borghese galleries to view Bernini’s exquisite (and often classically inspired) sculpture.
Kevin, recent grad of AP Latin and our expert on all things related to Vergil’s Aeneid, lectured on the story behind Bernini’s famous trio: Aeneas fleeing the falling city of Troy, bearing his father on his back and leading his young son forward by the hand.
Bernini beautifully captures the touching symbolism of the scene: Aeneas bears his heritage aloft–literally shouldering the burden of piety for his father and his old country. At the same time he gently shepherds the new generation forward–his son is the future, representing the soon-to-be great empire of Rome. Inspiration for those of us in the sandwich generation!
Next we took a very long look at Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne sculpture. Before entering the gallery we had read the Latin passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses that inspired Bernini’s work. We were astounded by the artist’s loyalty to the Latin description of Daphne’s transformation into a tree. As we walked around and around the sculpture, we kept noticing new and surprising details. For example, viewed from one angle, the nymph Daphne still looks like a woman; from another angle, where only the bark encircling her waist and the leaves growing from her fingers are visible, she already looks like a tree. We marveled at Bernini’s technical and creative genius.
Another treat was in store for us. Julia is an expert on Bernini’s Hades and Persephone (she won a prize at Classics Day for her sketch of this statue!). As we gazed in awe at Bernini’s classical masterwork–Persephone is so lifelike that one can see the impression in the flesh of her leg made by Hades’ powerful, grasping hand–Julia told us the myth behind the statue and delivered an incisive art-historical analysis of the piece.
We had time to view some of the gallery’s other great sculptures…
…then headed back out into the Borghese Gardens for a snack and the trek to the Campus Martius.
On the way to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona we passed by the Spanish Steps: beautiful, though crowded.
At the top of the Steps…
and at the bottom of the Steps.
Mrs. Klumpp and Ms. Cody, inspired by the practiced poses of some glamorous young ladies in the Colosseum, try taking another selfie.
Now on to more Bernini: the Fountain of the Four Rivers in the heart of the lovely and spacious Piazza Navona, once Emperor Domitian’s stadium. Discipuli, can you still name all four of the rivers Bernini depicted?
The Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata Rivers are represented as River Gods–reclining, as we learned is typical of River Gods in classical and neo-classical sculpture, and equipped with symbols of their domains (the Ganges’ oar, for example, symbolizes its navigability).
Next up: the Pantheon!! We snapped a group photo outside the famous Temple of All the Gods, the actual purpose and function of which is still under scholarly debate.
Then we read Pope Pius VII’s marvelous Latin inscription celebrating his gentrification of the neighborhood around the Pantheon (in the 18th century).
“Pius VI…rescued the area in front of the Pantheon of Marcus Agrippa, which had been filled with lowborn shops, from hateful ugliness by the most prudent destruction, and ordered the view of the place to lie open freely.”
After lunch and some heavenly granita di caffe at the glorious Tazza D’Oro…
(Check out Mr. Eberle’s awesome selfie pose! Why can’t Mrs. Klumpp and Ms. Cody get it right???)
…we joined the enormous line of people snaking through the Piazza del Pantheon and prepared to enter the great, domed building.
Once inside, we marveled at the Pantheon’s splendid architectural features and sheer size!
We bid farewell to the Pantheon and walked to dinner at Osteria Da Fortunata, where we were charmed by the home-style pasta and warm, friendly restaurateurs, who were more like grandparents than business people.
Mama Antonia sits in the window, making all the restaurant’s pasta by hand! Her hug warmed our hearts.
A fitting end to a wonderful trip: the Trevi Fountain, where, as the tradition goes, we threw in coins to ensure our return to the caput mundi.