|Very quick sketch of St. Carlo. [The only one i have].|
It is hard not to feel the same euphoria, treading your way through Rome's chaotic traffic, dodging the Fiat 500s. Vespas mount the footpath to avoid the traffic lights, one once ran over my foot as I waited to cross the road. Then there is the appearance of the people, everyone dressed in their best as though on their way to a wedding. Beautiful young women in ridiculously high heeled shoes, eyes set straight ahead without any outward sign that they are aware of the world around them. Always dressed in the hight of fashion, hair piled high, fresh from the hairdressing saloon as they negotiated the crowded street. Even builder's labourers carry their work cloths in bags only to be worn when they get to their job.Italians would never be seen in the 60's wearing anything draggy.
Rome is so full of must see sights that often my walks would draw me from the most direct route towards the art school. Starting in Trastevere , were I lived , I would negotiate one of Mussolini half built staircases, wooden at the top, but built of marble at the bottom were it was wide enough for twenty people abreast to descend in a line. This is one of the delights of the city, everything is conceived and built on a grand scale.
Sometimes after crossing Piazza Venezia, I would be tempted into a short detour into Rome's past instead of continuing down Via del Corso. Past the Pantheon for a quick coffee in the local cafe, I often wondered what the Pantheon would look like if it still possessed it's bronze roof cladding, instead of having it stripped by the Barberini family to build the Tabernacle standing over the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican. There is a saying in the city "what the barbarians never did the Barberini did", such is the ego of Popes.
Then I could walk on to Piazza Navona, former site for Roman chariot racing, now one of the most elegant piazza in the city. The figure on Bernini's fountain holding up his hand in fear that his arch rival Borromini's church St. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane would fall on his fountain. The church houses Bernini "The Ecstasy of St. Therese" one of the most sensual sculptures in Rome. Later when I meet my future wife Heather I would continually give her tour guides around this magic city relating it's story. It is hard to convey this joy of discovery to anyone who has not experienced it.