Roman Holiday Recaptured


In the chapter “Rome Recaptured” Hughes talked about many movies that were shot in Rome. The one we are most familiar with since we watched it on a beautiful night at Meg’s house is “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. This movie was released in 1953, ten years after Italy (captured by Hitler) surrendered to the Western Allied Forces.  We can see areas of Rome within the scenes of “Roman Holiday,” showing how it had been beautified back to its pre-war splendor.  We also can see areas where we will be visiting. Hopefully we can see all of these settings from different parts of the movie.  We have an added advantage, though.  We get to see them in color!

This is the place where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck put their hands in the statue to see if their hands will be bit off because of the legend.

Where they meet up with Irving before the wild ride in the city on the Vespa. Ann drinks champagne. This is right by the Pantheon

The night of dancing on the river

  • Castra Praetoria

Wall of wishes, a part of the ancient Roman fortification

The studio where movies are made in Italy.

American News Service Office

Ann’s embassey

Where she sees Joe again after she gets a Gelato

The first place they go when Irving is taking her picture from his cigarette lighter.

When they jump in the river so the guys in black suits can’t get Ann and take her back.

Joe Bradley’s apartment

where Bradley finds the princess asleep on a bench

Barbiere where the princess has her hair cut

  • Palazzo Colonna- The final interview of Princess Ann

There’s an actual “Roman Holiday” tour. Here is the link:


Mangiare with Mussolini


In Chapter 11, Futurism and Fascism, Hughes talks about Mussolini. As I read about Mussolini, I felt that the undercurrent of what Hughes was talking about was food.  Here are two quotes that drew me to that conclusion. You may disagree with me. See what you think:

“Not only was Mussolini returning the state to its primal dignity, but he was seen as the man to save Italy from shortages, the one who gave back to Italian food its primordial and sacramental character” (432).

“April 28, the day after their capture [Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and their 15-man entourage], the Duce [Mussolini] and his party were driven to the nearby village of Giulino di Mezzegra and shot to death. In a moving van, their corpses were taken south to Milan and dumped in Piazzale Loreto, where partisans strung them upside down on meat hooks from the awning of a gas station—in the past, Fascists had done the same, in the same place, to partisans—to be ritually execrated with stones, vegetables, spittle, and curses” (435).

So in light of the food motif of this chapter I think I would like to post on Italian food.  I believe that a very big part of the Italian culture is wrapped up in their food. (No pun intended. Or maybe it is.)  There are many Italian dishes I would like to taste while we are in Rome.  Pizza, of course. Anything with pasta. Gelato. Cannoli. (“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”). Most important are the moments of eating these meals with friends. The wonderful conversations that can transpire when people of similar interests are sitting around sharing ideas and remaining open to different perspectives.  Slowly enjoying wine, food, conversation, and camaraderie. These are the moments that I am looking forward to.  The touring will be fantastic, but at the end of the day we can all gather round a table or two and talk together about our experiences.  Over good food and equally good wine.

Here is a listing from lonelyplanet of restaurants in Rome. I also thought maybe we’d like to save a little money now and then and make our own meals in someone’s kitchen.  We could possibly pick the nicest apartment or largest kitchen and everyone can bring different food to create a feast. What do my fellow students think about that?

Monumental Changes

It is amazing to me that one human being can have such a monumental effect on the world as Napoleon had during the Nineteenth Century.  Throughout my posts I have written about individuals who have made their world a better place when they created art and beautified places like Rome and Florence.  Their works made Rome the place we know today.  Napoleon, however, did not contribute anything positive to his world.  Especially not in Italy.  His huge ego created chaos where there had been order and he tried to take God out of everything.  In secularizing the Church’s property he also caused Italy to be all mixed up. There was no central government but local centers of power that didn’t get along.  He also took God out of art, which caused the art world to suffer.  There would never be someone like Michelangelo or Bernini, again, because the church couldn’t commission art on a large scale like they had done in the past.  Friedrich Overbeck was the leader of a group of German artists who believed that to bring true art back they needed to put religion back into it.  Hughes says, “They felt their duty was to create a revival of religious art in Germany and, spreading outward from there, throughout Europe” (357). They felt that secular painting was “culturally impotent” (357) and in order to combat this trend of secularization of art, they needed to work from the center of what was considered the “mighty capital of past religious imagery” (357), Rome.  So they rented out rooms in a building that had been a monastery.  The monastery of Sant’Isidoro had been an Irish-Franciscan monastery in Rome until Napoleon drove all the monks out and took possession.  These men who were fighting for the right to put religion back into art, rented rooms at a monastery.  Ironic or poetic?  You decide.  Eventually Napoleon was killed and all the chaos that he caused was re-ordered when “At long last [1870], Rome became the capital of an Italy united under its new king, Vittorio Emanuele II” (370).  However, just as true art captures the human story and governmental changes throughout world, so did the art of the Eighteenth Century.  Paintings were different than in the past, but they reflected their times.  Literature also reflected the political and spiritual culture of that era.  The Romantic writers created beautiful poetry and prose and the urban and landscape scenes created by painters and photographers drew those same types of introspective feelings.

Impressions of Rome

Everyone has an idea of what Rome is. Meg challenged us to reflect in Rome and decide what is the one thing we see that we will say, “This is Rome. I am here.” When I went to London for the first time, it was Big Ben.  When I saw it towering above me, the gold glittering in the sun, I knew I had arrived in London.  What will it be for me in Rome? What will make me sigh deeply and say, “I am in Rome.”  I asked a friend of mine what her personal revelation was when in Rome, and she said the Colosseum.  Seeing something that is as iconic as the Colosseum probably does it for many people.  I also wonder what our impression of Italy will be. How many of us will see it how Percy Bysshe Shelley saw it when he said:

“There are two Italies, one composed of the green earth & transparent sea and the mighty ruins of ancient times, and aerial mountains, & the warm and radiant atmosphere which is interfused through all things.  The other consists of the Italians of the present day, their works & ways.  The one is the most sublime & lovely contemplation that can be conceived by the imagination of man; the other the most degraded, disgusting & odious” (Hughes 317).

The one thing I am most curious about is the light. I hear that there is a golden light that radiates and gives the buildings and things a different color than any we have experienced here.  Much like Shelley is talking about: “the warm and radiant atmosphere […] interfused through all things.”  Can the way the sun shines on Italy be different than the way it shines on the United States?  Is it the sun that creates the golden light, or the buildings that soak up the sun and radiate out from them?  What will our impressions of Rome be and will the golden light give us that feeling that, “Ah, now this is Rome.” or “Ah, now this is Italy.” or perhaps we will just say, “Ah, now this is the life.”



Michelangelo is to the 1500’s as Bernini is to the 1600’s, creating a life that was central to every Italian existence.  The art of both these masters embrace and mold Italy, not only when the churches, fountains, piazzas, monuments, paintings, and statues were created, but well into the future and for all to enjoy.  As outsiders looking in, we cannot imagine Italy without these important objects.  As insiders looking out, we will not be able to imagine Italy without us.  Bernini created his works for popes, but I’d like to think that inside his mind he also knew he would be creating them for each person who enjoys them.  As we look at the churches and marvel at their design, as we throw coins in the fabulous fountains, prance around the piazzas, marvel at the monuments, ponder on the paintings, stand by the statues, we will be able to connect with Bernini and his city that embraces his art. We will want to touch his statues as a way of connecting with Bernini in an intimate and introspective way, much like the way he would have created that statue.  His creative conceptions have constructed a world that is understood by all as quintessential Rome.  La perfetta esistenza romana!

The Phallus of Rome


Each leader wants to make their own important and indelible mark on their world. Pope Sixtus V wanted to beautify Rome in a way that would be credited back to him for all time.  Even if it caused hardship for his people, he was going to rebuild and expand the city.  Not only outward, but upward. The obelisks were his lasting symbol in Rome, showing to the world who was most important. Hughes explains that “The obelisks of Rome were souvenirs of the Empire’s conquest of Egypt, and most of them had been brought to the city in imperial times” (249). However, Pope Sixtus erected them in the places where he wanted them to represent his papacy.  He “moved the obelisk that was sitting behind the new Basilica of Saint Peter’s to the front“ (252), right in the center of everything that represented the Catholic Church. He felt that it “symbolized the work of the Counter-Reformation, the reunification of the Church, the defeat and pushing back of heresy” (254). To show that they are now symbolizing the Church, they are topped with Christian crosses.  Combining Egyptian hieroglyphics with Christian crosses makes a very powerful statement when put there by a pope.  With these new symbols of Pope Sixtus’ reign, Rome once again was connected to Egypt just like they were when Julius Caesar and Cleopatra were together.

Here is a map of the obelisks of Rome:

Renaissance Rome

When thinking of the Italy during the Renaissance one can’t help but think of the three great masters who ruled the art world: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. 

Leonardo da Vinci


Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).  Known as the true “Renaissance Man” because his knowledge encompassed more than just art.  He also had a scientific mind as we can see in his diagrams of flying machines as well as the Vitruvian Man.

 davinciflying machine

Drawing of a flying machine by Leonardo da Vinci.

vitruvian man

The Vitruvian Man (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci: Showing the perfect proportions of man. He also painted the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.”


Hughes says, “The construction of Saint Peter’s took 120 years and lasted for the lifetime of twenty popes. When Bramante died in 1514, he was replaced by Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo, and Raphael.  Sangallo and Fra Giocondo both died the next year, which left Raphael as the master architect until he, too, died in 1520.”


This painting by Raphael is called “The School of Athens” and it shows “The arch of the wall [that] opens out into a perspective series of further arches…suggesting that the building is the new Saint Peter’s” (222).  The people in the painting are philosophizing as they argue, read, write, explain.  The two men in the middle of the painting are Plato in red, and Aristotle in the blue cloak.  Raphael has painted Plato to look like Leonardo da Vinci. I think that’s pretty cool!


Michelangelo was probably the most influential Renaissance artist. And maybe the most influential artist of all time. He sculpted, painted, he was a poet, and an architect. He created “David,” that very well know statue of the biblical hero. The statue is over 14 feet tall and carved out of marble. He also painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  He also designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, but died before it was completed.


The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.


This is The Pieta.

I cannot imagine what it will be like to see these sculptures and paintings for myself. Just to be in the presence of something that was created by such talented people and in an area that was the center of the world for them.  What an amazing experience this will be!

San Giovanni in Laterano


“At the very least, Constantine knew he owed Christianity a great deal, since the new god on the cross had clearly overseen his utter defeat of Maxentius and placed him on the imperial throne.  He also knew that debts have to be paid, especially when owed to such powerful gods, henceforth, the Christian Church would receive massive underwriting from the Roman State” (Hughes 144).

This book gave me a new perspective on Constantine.  It was my impression that Constantine was a strong Christian fighting for the church and against the persecutions and killings. I used to picture him charging on his horse, a champion for Christianity, willing to sacrifice all for the One True God.  However, from this perspective, we see that he was actually just covering his butt and following the money.  He was so used to appeasing the gods, he didn’t especially care which god helped him, as long as he won. So, now I understand better why he didn’t force everyone to believe what he believed but was lenient with those who continued worshiping the old gods. Under his rule the Christians and the old aristocratic families who still worshiped many gods co-existed peacefully.  Because of his status, though, he was able to have some sort of influence on people toward Christianity.  He made it popular, so people would want to follow the Christian faith.  Hughes says, “Instead, he gave Christianity the status of the most favored religion, then let social pressures take their course” (145).  Eventually, through Constantine’s power and dedication to Christianity, the Church was turning into a major political force and as he acquired new landholdings, the money started rolling in.  Lots and lots of money. The churches could then be built.  And they could be constructed, lavishly, beautifully, sparing no expense, to last forever. Thus was born San Giovanni in Laterano: “the cathedral of Rome” (146).  It is considered “the mother church of all Christendom” (146).  Many may think that St. Peter’s Basilica is the Diocese of Rome’s cathedral, but it is not. The Pope is the bishop of San Giovanni in Laterano.  And of course, I got all this vast information from the great and powerful Wizard of Hughes in his book “Rome”.

Roman Holidays

Page 115 in Hughes’ book, “Rome” made me really respect those Caesars.  Apparently they were quite the partyers.  Hughes says, “To wit, the Caesars underwrote leisure, the blank tablet on which amusement is written” (115).  They created more opportunities to party and take days off for leisure than any other leaders.  People really appreciated chances to relax, have fun, enjoy the Roman baths, NOT work.  (Well except for the whole killing the Christians thing) “Dies fasti” days were work days and “dies nefasti” were non-work days.  If they worked on dies nefasti days the gods would be offended.  Hughes says, “one might not be far off the mark in saying that imperial Rome had one holiday for every day of work” (116). Can we live like the Romans do? Lord knows I don’t want to offend the gods!

The Pantheon


I found this chapter very engaging, reading about Nero and Caligula, Virgil and Pliny, gladiatorial “games” and Christian killings, the Colosseum, Trajan’s Column, and especially: The Pantheon.  Hughes calls the Pantheon, “The most complete Roman building to survive from antiquity” (109).  He explains how it is a masterpiece of engineering with its vaulted roof that “resembles the heavens” (110). At the top of the huge dome is the oculus, a hole in the middle of the dome which brings in light.  Hughes explains how this building is true Roman architecture, even though the word “Pantheon” is derived from the Greek word “Pantheion,” which means “temple of the gods” (110).  We know it is Roman architecture because of the curved structures. Greek architecture is straight posts and walls created with hewn out blocks of stone.  Roman architecture was produced from concrete set in curved molds, giving the builders a way to craft domes and arches.  The curved, wooden, forms were shaped and the concrete, which had been carefully mixed with the right amount of water, lime, rock, and volcanic ash, was then poured very gently in the form.  With careful, strong but precise hands, they added small batches of the concrete, meticulously tamping it down to get rid of the air bubbles as they watched the water rise to the surface. Then they would add more concrete, tamping it down between each addition.  I imagine they took great pride in their work, as they measured, poured, molded, and tamped; making bridges, aqueducts, arches, domes, roads, and many other things that gave them the power to become the center of the world for many, many years.  I wonder if the people who made the 5000 ton dome of the Pantheon, and really the whole Pantheon, knew that they were building something that would last so long. How long did it take to build? How did they get the 5000 ton dome up there? What amazing engineering to create a dome with a hole in the center, but still architecturally sound.  I would like to go to the Pantheon early so I can lay on the floor and look up through the oculus. Anybody want to join me?