I made this drawing while practicing getting the proportions right in drawings. It’s based on a statue of the torso of Diomedes (see photo Torso of Diomedes) and is drawn with graphite pencils and colored in Photoshop.
There is a short story behind this abstract drawing. I work at a large publishing house, and we are now closing down a book archive. Most of the books will be digitalized and made as e-books while others will find new homes in private collections or elsewhere. Amongst the books in this archive, I found quite a gem. A beautiful bound book, which claims to be Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (Kun den stærke er fri in Danish), but which in reality contained all blank pages:
I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand, but this is the most magnificent sketch book I have ever had. I used a lot of time contemplating on what I should draw in it, and this morning I finally decided. I want this to be the book in which I start to draw freely, without thinking too much about it and without having a specific subject or motive. So the above drawing is the first one in the book. An image born while enjoying the sunshine and thinking of nothing.
We reached Forum Romanum early Saturday morning, but it was already steaming hot in the sun. Forum Romanum and Palatino was amazing, but it is so hard to say anything clever about the visit, because it is rather hard to fathom. Ruin after ruin, with an amazing feel of history … and the feeling of getting quite lost in it. Casa delle Vestali stands out in Forum Romanum with its haunting beauty with its broken statues between rose bushes. Arco di Tito is also amazing, especially the images depicting Titus’ victory over Jerusalem in 70AD, where the soldiers carry out the loot including a Jewish menorah. Walking down Via Sacra also gives one a peculiar feeling watching all the impressive remnants of the former impressive buildings now only fathomable through the fragmented ruins.
When we reached the Stadio on Palatino as the last monument on our tour, we were exhausted beyond expression. We, therefore, rested for a while in the shadow of some trees while we watched a very lovely pigeon sleeping.
But we had to pull ourselves together for there was still much to see that day. Next up was the Capitoline Museum. Another amazing place. But although the museum’s treasures awaited us, we started out by visiting the museums café for some lunch and a well deserved cold beer. You can use the café without buying a ticket. It is located on the right side of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
The Musei Capitolini, as the museum is called in English, is placed in two of the three palazzo on Piazza di Campidoglio. The piazza is beautiful in its own right with an equestrian statue of Marus Aurelius in the middle flanked by the three beautiful palazzo and the Cordonata staircase on the front leading down to Piazza d’Ara Coeli. The museum entrance is in Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right side when seen from the top of the staircase. A tunnel under the piazza then leads the museum visitors under the Piazza and over in Palazzo dei Nuovo on the left side of the piazza. Straight ahead is Palazzo Senatorio, which houses the Rome’s city council. On the day of our visit there was a demonstration in front of this Palazzo and the café was filled with tired protesters taking a rest and eagerly debating the issue, whatever it was.
The first thing you meet when you go into the museum is the remnants of the once 12m-high statue of Constantine scattered around the inner courtyard. A left hand here, a right foot there, then a knee and a head. You get a feeling of Constantine being an imperial version of Humpty Dumpty, who just needs to be put back together again.
Inside the museum is many great pieces of art, which are placed in some amazing surroundings. They had a special Michelangelo exhibition, which was fine, but it was the permanent exhibition that really amazed. The main event was of course Lupa Capitolina, the bronze statue of the Capitoline wolf with Romulus and Remus from the 5th century. The wolf is astonishing. Especially the way the hair is made. A piece of the statue on the back has broken off, which reveals how thin and crisp the bronze is, making the work even more enticing. The figures of Romulus and Remus, which were also first added in 1471, are less impressive in comparison. Another notable work was Spinario, another amazing bronze statue of a boy removing a thorn from his foot (also note the room it is in, beautiful). I was looking forward to seeing Bernini’s Medusa, but that was, unfortunately, not on display at the time.
In a rather beautiful modern wing with lots of light and air stands Esedra di Marco Aurelio, the original version of the equestrian statue from Piazza di Capidoglio. In this room we took a little break, and I made a quick sketch of the statue, as seen to the right.
After all had been viewed in Palazzo dei Conservatori, we went down into the tunnel that leads to the other building. Ancient tombs are on display in the tunnel, and it also gives you access to the Tabularium, where you have some of the best view over Forum Romanum.
In Palazzo Nuovo were more amazing items, with the main attraction being Galata Morente, the amazing bronze statue of a dying Gaul, and Venere Capitolina.
You can read more about day 7 and the rest of the trip in my next post …
After a day of relaxation and a long rest at the B&B, we went out into the streets of Rome in the evening. Our landlady had recommended that we go see the sunset over Rome from the Pincio Hill, so that was where we were heading. But when we came to Piazza del Popolo we were surprised to find out that the entire square had been transformed into a concert venue. At one end was a large platform and on the rest of the square there had been placed seats for the audience. So it had been the preparations for this show that had blocked our view over the famous piazza a few days before. Now it was filled to the brim with people and there was a spectacular light show, which among other used the surrounding buildings to make magnificent color tableaus – just imagine the twin churches colored all in blue and then changing to red. It was beautiful and very dramatic. The concert itself was in celebration of Bicentenario dell’Arma dei Carabinieri, that is the 200-year anniversary of the Italian national military police. The concert included a variety of performances of classical pieces and a few modern like Sinatra’s My Way mixed in between speeches.
We went up to Pincio Hill as planned and watched the sun go down, with this amazing concert as the backdrop. Quite a magical moment. And then we went down to observe the concert more closely.
But after a while our stomachs growled to loudly of hunger, so we had to leave the concert. We hoped to have the opportunity to revisit Al Gran Sasso, and we were in luck: they were open and had just one free table left. So we dived down in their delicious dishes one again. We started with some great calamari. Then Ole had apasta, and I went for both funghi and patata fritta. Uhmmmmmmm. Oh, how I wish I could eat there every night.
Afterwards, we could hardly stand; we were that full. Blissfully we tumbled back home and watched Spise med Price (a Danish cooking show) on the iPad until we fell into a deep sleep.
It was our last full day in Rome, and the plan was to hit the big 3 of ancient Rome: Forum Romanum/Palatino, the Capitoline Museum and the Colosseum. So we packed gallons of water, put on hat and sun lotion and went out for the last sightseeing conquest.
We headed for Forum Romanum first browsing shortly in Fori Imperiali on the way. You can read more about my visit to the Forum Romanum and the rest of day 7 in my next post …
It was late afternoon on our 5th day in Rome, and we were heading back into the center of Rome, after a busy day visiting both the catacombs, Via Appia Antica and Terme di Caracalla. Just a short walk from the ruins of the Roman baths the Palatine Hill came into view towering over Circo Massimo. In ancient time the hill had been the locations for wealthy Romans’s and emperors’ residences, with some having the view over the chariot racing stadium known as Circus Maximus (meaning the largest circus). In Italian, it is known as Circo Massimo. There is not much left of the old stadium, but its form is preserved, so you still get a clear feel of the size – truly maximus.
We jumped into Cristalli di Zucchero in Via di San Teodoro 88for a quick refreshment. They serve the most adorable, beautiful and tasteful mini pastries (just look at these mouthwatering pictures). It is a must if you are in the area.
Then it was back to our room at Maison D’art for a shower and dressing up for the night, for we had booked tickets for a classical piano concert. We started the evening with some relaxation time with a cool Peroni at a café in the Jewish Ghetto, followed by some kosher dishes at Nonna Betta. Then it was off to the concert. It was originally supposed to be held in the Teatro di Marcello, but the organizers had some issue with getting the licensing in order, so the concert was moved next door to Chiesa di San Nicola in Carcere. Before the concert, there was a small historical introduction about the theater, given on the church porch so we had a view over the ruin. Then the concert began with the pianist and composer Marco Lo Muscio playing Emerson, Satie, Debussy, Jarrett, Barber, Hackett as well as his own compositions. It was a beautiful concert. Although it was not in the theater as expected, the setting in the church was still perfect for creating a special atmosphere. I couldn’t stop myself from doodling a little bit during the concert to capture the moment as you can see below. And, as you can also see on the picture, I also got his autograph after the concert. While we talked to him, we also found out that he was actually playing an organ concert in a church right next to where we live in Copenhagen on July 30th. So maybe we will see him again soon.
After the concert, we went for more food in the Jewish Ghetto, visiting the lovely and very busy Sora Margherita. This place is great, so I’ll recommend going there for a taste of this areas special cooking. For a compare their version of the area’s famous dish carciofi alla guidia (fried artichoke) was a million times better than at Nonna Betta (But to be honest, when it comes to artichokes my favorite dish will always be alla Romana as served at Alfredo e Ada (you can read about that here)).
We spend the rest of the evening strolling through the lovely streets in Centro Storico, just breathing in the atmosphere. And when the legs started to fail after all these days marching all over Rome we dug into the soothing oasis called Barnum Cafe. It is one of those lovely places that feels hip and homey at the same time, and it instantly became our favorite café in Rome. We ordered some cocktails, and they were amazing. The waiter got my order wrong, but it did not matter a bit because he had chosen something that sounded more amazing than what I ordered. So what I got was a Corpse reviver. I have never tried that and don’t remember what was in it besides absinthe, but it was amazing. It also lived up to its name, for I was feeling rather worn and dead after all the sightseeing, and it made me live up again … at least for a few hours before I fell into deep sleep back at the B&B.
The only plan for Friday was to relax. The rest of our stay we were to live at the B&B’s other location on Via Giubbonari near Campo de’ Fiori, so in the morning we moved our luggage. The sweet lady from Maison d’Art helped walked with us to the new place. It was rather fun following a real Roman through the inner city traffic, seeing how she did not even blink when stepping out in front of a car and walking craze fully while Vespas were flying by from every direction. The new room was even nicer than the last one, so that was just great.
We then went for a walk along the Tiber River. There are quite a lot of not so sweet-smelling parts down by the river, but overall it was a very nice walk with some great views of the bridges and great street art.
For lunch we went Cul de Sac a long and narrow wine bar with a great wine list and some beautiful cold cuts and amazing cheese. Definitely worth a visit. It is right next to Piazza Navona, so it is a great place to go for an alternative instead of the Piazzas extremely pricey restaurants.
Afterwards, we spend a while on Piazza Navona, where I drew in my journal while Ole took photos. Then we went for a little snack at Chiostro del Bramante Caffè, which our landlady had recommended if we needed a break away from the busy Roman streets. The place is indeed perfect for a break being very dark and quiet. We had the most lovely torta al fragoline de bosco (cake with small wild strawberries) with our coffee. Ole also was brave enough to try out his coffee as caffè corretto, which is “a corrected coffee” in the sense that it is an espresso with liquor. It tasted awful to be honest, but maybe it was just because of their choice of liquor, which we could not identify. I have been told it can be better.
We then went back to the B&B for some more relaxation including a soak in the bathtub (with Pony Pop pop-corn and Peroni). We stayed there for a while building up new energy, and first went out again in the evening, but more of that in the next post …
We had lunch at Alfredo e Ada, the most adorable trattoria I think you can find in Centro Storico. There was no menu, the elderly waiter (Alfredo perhaps) instead sat down at out table and wrote down the day’s dishes on the tablecloth. I chose a carciofo alla romana, which was the most amazing version of an artichoke I have ever tried. Next time I’m in Rome I’m definitely going to drop by for another taste of that dish. I then had a chicken in lemon sauce, which again was outstanding. Great food and a great location if you want to feel an old-fashion stuck-in-time atmosphere.
We continued walking around in the streets and ended up at the Spada Palazzo where we saw their were nice museum and marveled over Francesco Borromini’s famous optical illusion of a passage that seems to be 25m long when it is, in fact, only 10m.
Then we revisited Trastevere and had a nice break at the Piazza Santa Maria. I sat on the base of the fountain drawing the below sketch while Ole took photographs of the fountains and the seagulls.
For dinner, we went to Pizzeria Da Remo in Testaccio, where we had the trips best pizza. You must go there for the food! But it is also worth noting that it is very interesting to visit Testaccio, which is a residential area, where you can get a feeling of how the modern Romans live.
On the evening stroll back to the hotel we passed by both Tempio di Ercole Vincitore, Tempio di Portunus and Teatro de Marcello. So just another stroll in Rome where you can’t walk ten feet without stumbling over some ancient treasure :)
It was Thursday, and we again had an early start (but thankfully not as early as Tuesday). We went to Piazza Venezia, where we took a bus out to the catacombs around Via Appia Antica. We visited Catacombe di Santa Domitilla, which was an amazing experience. We then had a stroll through the lovely gardens around Catacombe di San Callisto before we went out to explore Via Appia Antica.
We took the bus from Via Appia to go to Terme di Caracalla, the ruins of the Roman baths. This is an amazing place with an almost ridicules scale. The ruins are huge and give one the impression of a building that must have been as impressive to walk through as St. Peter’s Basilica. Here and there you can see mosaic floors or fragments from the walls which shows that it was not just impressive in size, but also in decoration. Oh, how I wish to see that building in its prime! And all the while the seagulls watched us from up high with all their small baby birds.
After that, we walked back into the center of Rome, but more of that in the next post …
On Wednesday morning, we wanted a more relaxed day after the whole ordeal of both Vatican City and Trastevere. Only one thing was a must that day, for we had to visit Pantheon, so we started the day out by going to this amazing place. I am totally in love with the ceiling and the oculus, which was so amazing that I hardly noticed the rest of the place. The morning sun came in through the oculus in just as an amazing fashion as I have hoped, and I gaped in wonder the entire visit.
We then strolled around in Centro Storico’s charming streets. We visited Campo de’ Fiori, where the statue of Giordano Bruno (who was burned on the stake on the piazza in 1600 for heresy) towered over the busy market place with its colorful stalls with vegetables, flasks of lemoncello and mountains of cheese.
Later in the afternoon we also visited Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere again, where I made the above sketch, but that was much later, which you can read about in the next post from my travel journal …
We were two exhausted travelers when we stumbled out of the Vatican around noon on Tuesday. We headed for Pizzarium at Via della Meloria 43, which is a little gem of a pizzeria hidden away in the residential area north-west of the Vatican City. We had some lovely pizza slices and tried out their supplì, which is so divine. A supplì is a Roman snack that consist of a rice ball filled with something – we had them with meat – it is then soaked in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried. The crust is beautifully crunchy while the stuffing is moist and delicate. Try them out, you’ll love em! Pizzarium also hit the spot with its great selection of micro brewery beer. The meal was enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk, because there are only a few seatings available there, but for such a meal I would sit anywhere.
After that, we felt more like human beings again, but we still felt the craving for some refreshments. So we walked north-east until we came to the gelateriaFatamorgana on Via Bettolo, where we snacked on their lovely gelato. For me the most memorable flavor was a special chocolate with beer, it was the best chocolate ice cream! (Note, it is a chain so similar places can be found in other parts of Rome).
We then went up on Gianicolo to take a break in a more tranquil surroundings. On the hill, you get a superb view over Rome, and there is numerous areas to settle down in under the soothing shadows of the trees. It is also a good place to muse over the battles that were fought there in 1849 between Giuseppe Garibaldi’s makeshift army and the French troops. We bought some beers and chips at Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi and enjoyed them on the grass with a view to the monument of the Italian hero as backdrop. It was nice to have a real break to digest all that we had experienced in the Vatican City and find some more energy to keep on sightseeing.
Beneath the Gianicolo Hill lies Trastevere, where we went to after our well deserved rest. We found this to be one of the most endearing parts of Rome, especially because it so distinctly has its own unique vibe that’s not at all like the other parts. It feels like a little town in the big city. The prices are lower than on the other side of the Tiber River, and there is a great number of distinctive and innovative restaurants and bars. It also helps that they have my absolute favorite Roman Basilica: Basilica di Santa Maria, which is decorated with the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics both on the facade and inside. Just a few steps from the Piazza with the Basilica we found Bar San Calisto. The guidebook sums up this place’s vibe very well: “… stuck-in-time atmosphere and cheap prices. It attracts everyone from drug dealers, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals to keeping-it-real Romans, alcoholics and American students.” It became one of our favorite spots in Rome.
We used the rest of the afternoon and evening strolling around Trastevere. Drank coffee and apple succo at Antico Caffè dell’Isola on the small island Isola Tiberina in the Tiber River. Visited a small, attractive and intriguing book shop called Open Door Bookshop in Via della Lungaretta, where I bought my first book in Italian (Umberto Eco Il pendolo di Foucault, I know it is a bit presumptuous to buy such a title after just a few weeks of learning Italian by using Duolingo, but I swear that I will have read that book before I die). Dinner at Fish Market, where we had the most lovely seafood dishes like small fried fish and fish shish-kebab – it is a must visit place in this area and represent the new kind of Roman concept restaurants (they also have other locations in Rome). We finished the night with cocktails at Freni e Frizioni, where I enjoyed a “Moscow mule” while Ole drank a “Pint Break” (ingredients including a 10-year-old Talisker). Then a beautiful evening stroll back home to the hotel over the river and through the charming streets of Centro Storico.
I will shortly post pages from my Roman travel journal …
As a rule of thumb the human body can be measured as 7 1/2 head high (the 1/2 being the feet). When drawing a stick version of a human I prefer to remove the neck and thus giving the body cleaner look. A stick person’s height can therefore be measured as 7 heads high. The upper part of the arm is 1 1/2 head long, and the same applies to the lower part. The “navel” is placed 2 1/2 head from the top. The legs start at 3 1/2 head from the top. Each leg is 3 head long. The feet are 1/2 head high.
Hamlet: O! I die, Horatio ;
The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit :
I cannot live to hear the news from England ;
But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras : he has my dying voice ;
So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. – The rest is silence.
Horatio: How cracks a noble heart.
– Good night, sweet prince ;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest !
Gravedigger: A whoreson mad fellow’s it was : whose do you think it was?
Hamlet: Nay, I know not.
Gravedigger: A pestilence on him for a mad rogue ! ‘a poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, this same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.
Gravedigger: E’en that.
Hamlet: Let me see [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick ! –I knew him, Horatio : a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy : he hath borne me on his back a thousand times ; and now, now abhorred my imagination is ! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips, that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes nor? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? Now, get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thich, to this favour she must come ; make her laugh at that.
Queen: One woe doth tread upon another’s heel
So fast they follow. – Your sister’s drown’s, Laertes.
Laertes: Drown’d! – O, where?
Queen: There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream:
There with fantastic garlands did she come.
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them;
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies, and herself,
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, a while they bore her up :
Which time, she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indu’d
Unto that element : but long it could not be,
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Laertes: Alas! then, is she drown’d?
Queen: Drown’d, drown’d.
Laertes: Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
and therefore I forbid my tears.