Back then I "won" a trip to Rome on Alitalia. (I foolishly bid on the trip during a fund-raising silent auction.) On the other hand, it was our first visit to Rome, our first opportunity to stand, mouths agape under the dome of the Pantheon, in the shadow of the Colosseum, and to simply savor the life of one of the world's most ancient cities. Our son and his wife gave m a trip journal suitable for watercolor, so although I had never done such a thing I kept a coherent (mostly) up to the moment series of entries about our visit.The journal went into a bookcase long ago, and was nearly forgotten.
|Roman courtyard, wc & ink, 9x5|
|Bernini's Elephant, wc & ink, 4x2|
The rest of the day included a visit to the Pantheon, the Galleria Doria Pamphilij and a quick stop at the Trevi Fountain. Any one of those deserves a single, separate entry, but I made no sketches in either place. They were mesmerizing and involving but this post is about drawing.
|Temple of Saturn, wc & ink, 9x5|
|Ruins of Castor & Pollux Temple, wc & ink 2.5x6|
Literally everywhere you look in the Forum is ancient history, from the Curia (where the Imperial Senate met) to the Rostrum, where speakers like Marc Antony harangued the mobs, to the melted mass of brick that had been the Temple of Julius Caesar. There wasn't much time to spend delving deeply into each. On a first visit we had to be satisfied with a quick overview. Details would have to wait.
|Arch of Septimius Severus, wc & ink, 4x3|
We wandered east, along the Via Sacra, to the Arch of Titus (dating to about 82 CE) but I had no chance to sketch it because it was shrouded in scaffolding and fabric, undergoing restoration. The arch was erected by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate his elder brother Titus' victories, including over Jerusalem. We went up the slope just south of the arch to the top of the Palatine Hill, which is said to be where Rome originated. When we visited many of the attractions of today were yet to open. So the site of the House of Livia, for example, could be seen, but there was no access. Instead the hill was a cool and welcome respite from the hotter Forum. We spent some time wandering there but in the end went down again to the Via Sacra, and thence to the Colosseum.
|The Colosseum, wc & ink, 3x5|
We spent the following day visiting the Galleria Borghese, surely one of the top museums in the world. This particular museum is in the Villa Borghese, set in the enormous Villa Borghese Gardens on the Pincian Hill in the north of Rome. The gardens and villa were begun in the early 17th century, the brainchild of Scipione Borghese, a wealthy cardinal and nephew of a pope. He used the villa for a country place and to house his art, including works by Bernini and Caravaggio. The
|Borghese Garden Temple, wc & ink, 3x3|
|David, wc & ink, 2x2|
The next day we visited the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, but I made no sketches, partly owing to the intense crowds and partly because there simply was no time to sketch. And my own sketches would never do justice to some of the works held in those amazing galleries. I did write several pages of text in my journal, but this entry is about sketching.
Our final day in Rome was in some ways most enjoyable. We spent the morning and part of the afternoon walking about in the old city, soaking up the ambience and flavors. We went up to the Porto Pinciana (which fronts onto the Borghese Gardens), then strolled down the Via Veneto, scene of la dolce vita in the 1950s and 60s. We stopped in a sidewalk
|Roman Street, wc & ink 6x5|
The journal brought back a flood of memories of a first visit to a city we've returned to several times. Rome is indeed eternal.