Do all roads lead out of Rome as well?
Day 105: At this point, I am considering taking the train from Rome’s Termini to Albano Laziale (about 45 minutes) and then renting a car for my next leg of the trip. With an international driver’s license and a little convertible to take me down the coast, maybe? It will take twice as long as the express route but …
… but first: Ariccia. The most famous sight in Ariccia is the northern entrance from the famous Ponte di Ariccia which leads to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Baroque square and his domed circular church of the Assent. While the work of Bernini is impressive, I am here to see Artemisia Gentileschi‘s Judith, the Head of Holofernes and the Servant at the The Museum of the Baroque in Bernini’s Palazzo Chigi. Within the Collezione Lemme of 128 paintings are paintings by Cavalier d’Arpino, Mattia Preti, Carlo Maratta, among many others. The Palazzo Chigi is also the home of the Campus Studio of Auburn University. How do you say hey, y’all! in Italian?
every day: (Apr-Sept) 10 am -1 pm and 3.30 pm – 6.30 pm, (Oct-Mar) 10 am -1 pm and 3 pm – 6 pm
If I don’t linger in Ariccia to eat the famous Porchetta (roast pork), I can take the scenic route along the coast – stopping in Terracina for the night at the highly recommended Hotel Casa Yvorio. No Judith is here, but if it is as hospitable as the reviews and the weather warms the sand between my toes, I may have to stay a little longer.
Day 106: If I can get my arse back in the car, the trip to Naples is 2 hours or so. There are at least 3 Judith’s in Naples, starting with the Museo di Capodimonte as I enter the city. Artemesia Gentileschi was once a resident of Naples and left behind an intense Judith slaying Holofernes, plus the museum holds a sketch of Giuditta by Rembrandt. There is supposed to be a Cavallino around here somewhere, but I can’t find it in this grand Bourbon palazzo that used to be a hunting lodge.
Wed – closed; Thu-Tue 8.30 am – 7.30 pm
The next destination is the most visible landmark of the city, perched atop the Vomero hill that commands the gulf: Certosa di San Martino (St. Martin’s Charterhouse) aka the National Museum of San Martino. I am looking for the ceiling fresco Judith Triumphant by Luca Giordano in the Cappella del Tesoro of this former monastery. In addition to the breathtaking views, this museum complex also houses two other artworks of interest. First, a collection of Neapolitan nativity scenes including the Presepe Cuciniello (Cuciniello’s crib), which consists of 162 people, 80 animals, 28 angels, and about 450 miniature items – among the finest nativity scenes in the world. I am such a sucker for a great nativity scene. Second, a cloister decorated with marble skulls. Yep, that fits with Judith.
Wed – closed; Thu-Tue 8.30 am – 7.30 pm
Those two stops will probably qualify me for a nice dinner and a bed at Hotel Il Convento. Where I can dump the car and sleep like a nun.
Day 107: The first destination today is two blocks from my hotel: the Gallery of Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano – the location of the collection of the Collezione Banca Commerciale Italiana. It is still a little iffy about whether or not the art work of Judith is there and, if it is, if this is (insert trumpets here) Caraviggio or a copy by Finson. The only way to answer the questions is to look for myself. One thing I do know: the last (insert trumpets here) Caraviggio is here.
From the gallery, a straight 10 minute walk down the Via Toledo will end up at the Palozzo Reale (Royal Palace) – the location of Judith by Pietro Novelli. aka il Monrealese. (Does that translate to Real World??) The Royal Apartment occupies half of the palace, and is furnished with the original furniture plus masterpieces from Neapolitan churches that closed and the Presepio del Banco di Napoli (Nativity Scene of the Bank of Naples). The other half is a library of 32,950 manuscripts, 4,563 incunabula, and 1,752 papyrus manuscripts from Herculaneum. That’s a lot of reading.
Sun-Mon – closed; Tues-Sat: 9 am – 7 pm
And assuming there is a flight, it is time to leave for Malta.
Day 108: I never really thought about Malta – a speck in the Mediterranean Sea. I was not even sure where it was located. But when you learn about Malta, well, it is no surprise that three Judith’s ended up here. From the 16th century onwards, Malta was ruled by of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller, founded around 1023 to provide care for poor, sick or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. In the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, there are works by insert trumpets here) Caraviggio – who took refuge here and tried to be a Knight but ended up being ejected for bad behavior. I am in search of Mattio Preti and Valetin de Boulogne.
Preti was a Knight of Grace in the Order of St John and he spent most of the remainder of his life there after 1659, transforming the interior of St. John’s Co-Cathedral with a huge series of paintings on the life and martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (1661-1666). The museum houses his Judith showing the Head of Holophernes to the Betulians. I am not sure how de Boulogne’s sweet Judith beheading Holoferenes ended up here. Lost it in a bet during vacation maybe?
every day: 9 am – 5 pm
And maybe so should I … vacation, that is. Wonder how long the Hotel Phoenicia will let me stay before I fly to Bologne?
Day 109: After one more stop: the gallery of Daniel Azzopardi Antiques and Fine Arts a few blocks from the hotel. Where they are selling Eradi’s Judith. Unless I am too late.