All roads lead to Rome.
Day 100: I don’t even know where to start. A train ticket would be a good place – about 3 hours by high speed rail from Perugia. Gives me time to find a cab to Hotel Artemide and memorize the map of the Eternal City. And the Metro and the trams before I start out to multiple destinations. Ha.
Day 101: The nearest station to the hotel is the Teatro dell’Opera (3 min) but the Metro does not appear to run near my first destination. (sigh) Guess I will have to take a 20 min walk through the vibrant streets. Will actually will take me by my second destination – so why not stop by? Via Vittorio Veneto, 119 is the address of Banco Nationale del Lavoro – where Lotto‘s Judith with the Head of Holofernes is displayed, according to two outside sources. I will cross my fingers that she is looking over the teller’s cage as I breeze in the bank.
Mon-Fri: 8.30 am – 1.30 pm and 3 pm – 4 pm
Then I can continue the walk through the Pincian Hill to the Galleria Borghese in the midst of Borghese Gardens. I am here to see the Baglinone Judith, but among the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese are numerous amazing antiquities. And some underhanded collecting: the Pope gave the Cardinal 107 paintings which had been confiscated from the painter Giuseppe Cesari in 1607, and the following year, Raphael’s Deposition was secretely removed from the church of S.Francesco in Perugia and given to the Cardinal through a papal motu proprio. Sneaky, sneaky.
Mon – closed; Tues–Sun: 8:30 am – 7:30 pm
I could probably spend a day in the 148 acres of gardens but i will move on past the Trevi Fountain to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica at the Palazzo Barberini. A treasure trove of Judith‘s is here: (insert trumpets here) Caravaggio, Furini, and two Massys. Plus three more noteworthy paintings by (insert trumpets here) Caravaggio as well as Titian, Tiepolo, Tintoretto and Tiziano. I will have to lie down after this sublime experience, so it is a good thing I chose a hotel that is close by – and serves wine.
Mon – closed; Tues-–Sun: 8:30 am – 7 pm
Day 102: Putting on my walking shoes, I need to head south on the via Nationale – past Trajan’s Market – with a few turns to Capitoline Hill, the Piazza del Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo) and the Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori. looking for Carlo Maratta‘s penitent Judith. Seriously? Among a collection of three buildings designed by Michelangelo? Apparently the egg-shaped oval of the piazza springs slightly in the center, giving a sensation of standing on an exposed segment of a gigantic egg buried in the middle of the city that is the center of the world. An interlaced twelve-pointed star references the constellations, revolving around this space called Caput mundi (“head of the world”) – completed by Mussolini in 1940 because the popes detected a less-than-Christian subtext. I feel a Dan Brown novel in that springy step.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 9 am – 8 pm
A 6 minute walk up Via del Teatro Marcello and the Piazza Venezia will deposit me at Palazzo Venezia – some of the first Renaissance architecture in Rome, although the overall aspect is of a massive, defensible medieval structure. Museo del Palazzo di Venezia houses a Piazzetta of Judith along with Byzantine and early Renaissance paintings and an eclectic collection of jewellery, tapestries, ceramics, bronze figurines, arms and armour.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 8.30am to 7.30pm
Next stop is a 4 minute walk up Via della Gatta to Via del Corso, 305. Galleria Doria Pamphilj. This is the largest private collection of paintings, furniture and statuary assembled since the 16th century by the Doria, Pamphilj, Landi and Aldobrandini families now united through marriage and descent under the simplified surname Doria Pamphilj. Featured is Velazquez’s portrait of Innocent X, who rose to papacy as cardinal Giovan Battista Pamphilj in 1644 (and I know the story behind it!). But I am looking for possibly two depictions of Judith: Titan‘s ambiguous Judith or Salome (in the Saletta del Cinquecento), and maybe Andrea del Brescianino‘s Judith and the head of Holofernes. It is well worth the trip even if the latter painting is not there.
Every day: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
3 minutes walk up Via del Corso to Via del Caravita bring me to Sant´Ignazio. Home to Jesuit brother Andrea Pozzo‘s cupola pendentive of Judith, amidst the grandiose fresco that stretches across the nave ceiling and creates the illusion of a huge and lofty cupola, open to the sky and filled with floating figures. A marble disk set into the middle of the nave floor marks the ideal spot to fully experience the illusion, and a second marker further east provides the ideal vantage for the trompe l’oeil painting of the tall, ribbed and coffered dome – with the pendentives in the crossing decorating each with an Old Testament figures of Judith, David, Samson, and Jaele.
Every day: 7.30 am – 12.20 pm and 3.00 pm – 7.20 pm
Day 103: Magic numbers to the Vatican: 49, 32, 81, 982, 492, 990. These are the buses that will get you within a 5 minute walk. I need to study the routes to be ab-so-lute-ly-sure but it appears i can take bus 492 from either Termini or Piazza Barberini (both nearby) and end at Piazza Risorgimento outside the Vatican Museum.
There are three Judith from two entirely different perspectives in the Vatican. The most famous is Judith as depicted by the architect of the Renaissance, Michelangelo,on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Also a ceiling fresco is the Judith on the vault of the Room of the Immaculate Conception by Podesti from the mid 19th century. The less famous is a bronze statue by an 20th century American Jew, Leonard Baskin. And with that, boys and girls, I need a well-informed guide to school me in the rest of the history and treasures of this overwhelming collection.
Sun – closed; Mon-Sat: 9 am – 6 pm
One more thing while I’m on this side of town: the Galleria Corsini. Part of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, this museum is located about a 20 minute walk along Via della Lungara from Vatican City. My goal is Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Seghers. The most famous painting in the collection is (insert trumpets here) Caravaggio’s John the Baptist, but I am more interested in Reni’s portrait of Beatrice Cenci — a symbol of resistance against the arrogant aristocracy who annually on September 10th (the night before her death) carries her severed head back to the Sant’Angelo Bridge where she was executed.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sat: 9 am – 7:30 pm; Sun: 9 am – 1:30 pm
According to Goggle maps, I can walk over the bridge and wind my way back to my hotel in 20 minutes – but I don’t believe them. I think I’ll look for a nice Italian gigolo with a vespa.
Day 104: One more day in the city. A 15 minute walk up Via delle Quattro Fontane, a few turns to Via della Mercede to Via 24 Maggio and San Silvestro al Quirinal. In the Bandini Chapel is a fresco by Domenichino depicting Judith Triumphant. Odd: the Quirinale Hill is the tallest hill in Rome – the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, after the king, after the pope, after the convent, after Constantine’s baths, after a temple to Mars, after the temple to Sancus, after the altars to the Sabine god Qbirinus. That’s what happens when you have been around since the beginning of civilization.
Daily 10am to 6pm
It is then a 15 minute walk to Museo Di Roma Palazzo Braschi — “tangible evidence of Papal nepotism.” Most impressive is the monumental staircase with its eighteen red granite columns which came from Emperor Caligula’s gallery on the banks of the River Tiber. I can wander the opulence looking for Judith by Chiari. Probably have time for the sequence of portraits (1667-1669) of a young member of the Rospigliosi family, dressed up in a range of costumes: a dancer, Cupid, a Swiss Guard and even a lady — with more than a trace of exasperation on the poor boy’s face.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10am to 8pm
Taking a path of twists and turns toward the Tiber for 15 minutes will take me to San Carlo al Corso Basilica, where there is a lovely statue of Judith by an unknown artist in chapel dedicated to Mary, Aid of Christians (Maria Auxilium Christianorum). This church also has a chapel dedicated to the martyr king, St Olav of Norway, on the 50th anniversary of the first Mass celebrated legally in Norway since the Reformation.
Mon-Fri: 7:30am to 6:30pm Sat-Sun: 7am to 7pm
Which gives me an almost straight walk 20 minutes up the Via Sistina to my hotel. Veni, vidi, vici.