Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery
Today was the final day of our Italian Tour.
We ended the visit with another visual and historical tour of great opulence: the Borghese Gallery.

The assemblage of artworks in this museum was collected by the powerful and wealthy Cardinal Scipione (in the early 1600’s) who was a fanatic about adding masterpieces to his collection. History recounts that he often used very ” unholy” and illegal means in his attempt to amass this art collection. As a result, some of the world’s greatest treasures are housed here. Among my favorites are the sculptures of Bernini : Apollo & Dafne, Pluto & Proserpina; and the paintings of Caravaggio : Madonna de Palafrenieri & Boy with Basket of Fruit. These works are all breathtaking. The Gallery is surrounded by beautiful gardens which afforded us a pleasant stroll as we said our good-byes to Italy.
We decided to console ourselves with one last gelato……….

We thank you for following our journey………Un Abbraccio, a hug, e Ciao Ciao,

Anahid and Maleka

September 23, 2011

our last gelato

our last gelato

Vatican Vatican Vatican

Vatican Vatican
Today we visited the Vatican. I do not think I can put into words the kind of artistic Splendor we witnessed in this sacred place. We visited the Vatican Museum where we saw Raffaello fresco’s in the Borgia appartamento which then lead us into the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo’s ceiling masterpiece startled our senses, leaving us in an awestruck state. We left the Chapel and proceeded to St Peter’s Basilica in the core of the Vatican. Catholics who wish to attend Mass are allowed to proceed to the front altar of the Basilica while other visitors are kept in the back of church until Mass is completed. Being a Catholic while visiting Rome does make one feel like a privileged first class citizen. We attended the mass which included a male vocalist who had the beautiful voice of an opera singer. Experiencing the Mass in the world’s most Magnificent Church triggered strong emotions. I reflected on my Parents who would love knowing that we were visiting the Vatican. The reverberating spirituality of my surrounds made me certain that they know. With a warm heart I sign off today…….Ciao, Pace and Peace. Anahid

Raffaelo frescos Vatican Museum



There are fountains and there are other fountains……but there is nothing like Rome’s Trevi Fountain. The Trevi sits in a tiny piazza and commands an enormous presence. The base of the fountain is natural stone forms and then in a convergence of water and stone, enormous horses and figures jettison out of the rock with incredible strength power and beauty!!!!! Bellissimo!!!!! It is a visual masterpiece in every dimension.
We crossed the Tivere River and had lunch at a charming Trattoria called Gli Amici. The restaurant is part of the Community of Sant Egidio which is a group that has pledged to spread peace in this world thru friendship. Many of the restaurant staff have handicaps and thus are paired with a ” friend” who helps them manage their work. Our meal was delicious, the service excellent, and it warmed our hearts seeing Christ’s message of peace which is artistically expressed in the thousands of artistic images everywhere in Roma, here in this little piazza, being practiced in real life. If you are interested in learning more about this community their web site is Ciao i miei amici, Anahid

OstiaOstia Antica20110920-033731.jpgSea
Yesterday our first day in Roma involved touring the usual tourist spectacular sites including the Colosseum, The Roman Forum, Monument to Victor Emmanuel, Church of Santa Marie Maggiore etc.etc. So, today we needed a break from city life and we took an excursion outside of Rome to the city of Ostia Antica where ruins from 500 BC stand. The ruins of this ancient port city can be walked thru and the sophistication of this civilization can be observed and respected. The community had beautiful theaters, baths with hot and cold water all decorated in intricate mosaics which remain today and we as tourists were able to stroll across. Truly amazing that this has all survived….the photos tell the story.
After Ostia we continued on the to the tiny sea side town of Stella Polare where we walked the beach and enjoyed a few hours on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

We are enjoying being Catholics in Italy. We started the day hoping to see the inside of the Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but the imposing line to enter the church scared us away. Instead we chose the Baptistery, where Catholic Mass was being held and thus the church was only open to those attending Mass. What a perfect opportunity to attend mass…in we went with a tiny handful of attendees. It was a beautiful experience. Of course the mass was all said in Italian, but catholic liturgy is same all over the globe so Maleka and I felt right at home. Receiving communion in such a structure was profound. The Baptistery is well know of the outside doors done by Ghiberti telling the stories of the old testament..”the gates of paradise”. The inside structure is equally inspiring. The interior dome is decorated with a 13th century gold mosaic of a giant figure of Christ with images of death and resurrection…..the meaning of a Christian baptism. After this we crossed the Arno to visit the Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens. The gardens are a beautiful maze of paths, ponds, views, fountains and fruit trees all blended into an aggressive hillside hike. We were offered vistas on one side of the entire city of Firenze from a birds eye view and on the opposite side of Tuscan hills with Villas and olive groves. It was the perfect way to say good bye to Firenze. Now off to Roma. Buona Notte. Anahid

Another beautiful day in Firenze. We began our day at the Basilica of Santa Croce, a Franciscan Church. The allegorical frescoes by Giotto, glorious Gothic style architecture, paintings, chapels and sculptures in this structure delivered the messages of the Franciscan friars from 1294 when church was first built to today. The basilica was modified many times over the centuries reflecting a balance of power among rulers of the land, power of the church and the Franciscan’s message as followers of Christ. The church was built with the patronage of Florentine families, who’s large financial donations earned them the privilege of being buried under the church floor. As a result the floor is covered with flat tombstone style markings. In addition all of Firenze’s most famous citizens have sarcophagi in this structure including : Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini etc.etc. Hard to belleve so much genius can all come out of one small place. Must be in the water here (I am trying to drink tons, but so far it is not working). The Basilica also included the Pazzi chapel designed by Brunellesci and a Convent with long expanses of loggia. The Basilica’s organ includes 7,000 pipes, one of the largest in all of Europe. I could go on and on but best to sum up and say this church was another perfect example of Florentine’s love for the beauty of Art and Worship over the centuries. Next major location of the day was the Uffici gallery, a one time home of the Medici family. The mesmerizing and etherial paintings of Botticelli and serenity of Filippo Lippi’s Madonna’s make me want to sport wings and float away. But alas, no time for floating as we still need to view the Duomo, Baptistery, and the Boboli gardens. A domain, Anahid

We began our time in Firenze with a fortuitous stumble on the recitation of the rosary in the Chiesa of San Salvatore di Ognassanti. As we entered the beautiful structure just expecting to observe the art, we heard the melodic voices of the Nuns chanting the rosary. We stayed for a few minutes of reflection. This religious note set the tempo for our first day tour. Visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella we listened to the audio tour and received the most amazing crash course on the Renaissance. After a casual lunch in the Mercato Central, we battled the lines to see Italy’s most favorite son……Michelangelo’s statue of David…an awe inspiring celebration of humanity. The day included a Tour of the Basilica di San Lorenzo and a nice respite for cappuccino, wine and sweets at Gilli’s on the Piazza Della Repubblica. Life is sweet……Ciao, Anahid