This falls under the category of “Monuments We Just Happened To Run Into While Wandering Around Rome.” Sounds specific, but there are actually a surprising amount of items in this group. It commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian wars. The 98 foot marble structure was completed in 113 (classic case of running into things that were built 2000 years ago).
Right on Via del Corso (the Fifth Avenue of Rome), this gallery is most likely the largest art collection in Rome that continues to be privately owned. Not only is the collection – assembled since the 16th century – amazing, but the palace itself is unbelievable. Here’s how it went down: Pope Innocent X made his nephew Prince Camillo Pamphilj a cardinal (that’s where the term nepotism comes from, because so many popes made their “nipote” into cardinals), but Camillo went against the family and married Olimpia Borghese. So his mom was pissed and the couple got exiled from Rome. But eventually they were allowed to move back and hopped into this palace with all their art.
The masterpiece of the collection is the Portrait of Innocent X by Diego Velazquez, 1650. Up close you are almost convinced that his vestment is actually satin. There was also a couple of Bernini sculptures, so that’s casual. But my favorite was a series of portraits by an unknown artist of Plato and Aristotle and all my PLS boys. They were quite dark and bleak looking, probably created to say “Hey look, after all this, we still have no answers.” Sort of how I feel in PLS half the time. I can’t find pictures and we weren’t allowed to take any, but I thought they were really cool.
Not only did we (Katie and Claire) successfully use the Roman bus system, but we saw what is thought to be the first ever depiction of the Virgin Mary and child. The first. Ever. It is a fresco that was painted on one of the walls of the catacomb in 230. Again, inconceivable. These catacombs also house what is thought to be the first ever depiction of the three kings. The catacombs are 11 miles long over two levels, and they are as creepy as anything I’ve ever seen. The worst part was seeing the rows and rows of foot-long graves due to the high mortality rates at the time. The time being between the 3rd and 5th centuries, when the catacomb was excavated. After that, they were abandoned until the sixteenth century, when the noblewoman Priscilla apparently just used the graves as her cellar. In any case, it was an incredible experience, which lived up to its description in someone’s guide book as “intimate.”
Since I’m such a legitimate Italian, I think I’m required to say that this Vittorio Emanuele II monument is an atrocity. It’s actually pretty nice, the thing is it absolutely sticks out like a sore thumb because of how blindingly white it is. I’m out of energy and I have an impending need for gelato so I’m going to go take care of that. Ciao for now!