Friday, October 30, 2009

Reading the birds

Thom has been trying to get me to go to the Quirinale hill near our house to see the birds swarming at sunset, but so far he's failed because I'm always working in the studio too late, trying to grab the last of the good light. But tonight he dragged me outside to the river, and just looking down the Tiber towards the hill was incredible. The starlings here are skywriters, and they give new meaning to the old stuff about reading the flights of birds. If birds write like this in the sky every night, what kind of moron would NOT think it meant something?

Tomorrow's mission is to get to the Quirinale hill at the right time. Thom says the birds are so dense there that they block the view to St. Peters as if they're weather.

I'm also going to some more incredible churches tomorrow. I've pretty given up on posting about all the churches I visit because a) taking pictures in churches is problematic: it's usually forbidden and when you are allowed it's often way too dark to get anything good and b) there is already plenty of information about the churches of Rome online. Also c) half the time I go to a church I think I need to go back again. Sometimes I go when there's a mass, or it's the wrong time of day or I need to get better pictures or see some part of it that's closed or something. I've tried 4 times to get in to San Franceso di Sapienza, and by gum, I will. Because this is the outside!

No big whoop, you might think. But I protest: whoop. Look closely at the tower.

This (below) is another one of the churches I need to go back to, St. Carlo alle Quatro Fontane, by Boromini. Boromini was supposed to be buried there, but he killed himself and so the plan was cancelled: in the bottom of the church there's a wonderful staircase that he designed leading down to a very sad empty crypt.

It's beeee-utiful inside, too: here's the view looking up at the dome.

I have to go back there for sure because I need more pictures: there are the apartments of a saint upstairs; you pay a euro to a woman who is clearly auditioning for the part of Dracula's housekeeper and she leads you up some stairs to one of the oddest little apartment complexes you have ever seen. Or will see, when I go back there with my camera.

This is Santa Prassede, a gorgeous church with an incredible byzantine mosaic chapel that is totally impossible to photograph, I discovered. Even the internet cannot provide me with a good enough picture of it. I did manage to take video inside the chapel, which is probably better than nothing: it was dedicated to Theodora, the mother of the pope who built the church.

Have I mentioned how much I love Rome in the last five minutes? No? Well, I love it. This graffiti was in the metro station on my way to work.