Monday, 12 July 2010

The cardinal Scipione Borghese

The Young Sick Bacchus, Caravaggio
Scipione Borghese was the nephew of Paulus V, pope between 1605 and 1621. He is famous mostly because he built his palace Villa Borghese, and for having accumulated many art works. He was cardinal, maecenas and an art lover and he didn't only commission art works but sometimes he got them using also...other methods. So it was for the Young Sick Bacchus from Caravaggio. This was belonging to Cavalier d'Arpino, a painter who was one of his first masters. Since Scipione wanted to have that painting, he ordered his house to be searched and found some illegal weapons. So he arrested him and condemned to death. To get freedom the price to pay was just that Caravaggio's painting. Also for another painting, the Deposition of Raphael, the cardinal convinced the pope (his uncle) to help him in stealing it! The painting was inside the church of St. Francis in Perugia. It was taken away from the window of the church and brought to Rome. The people from Perugia started claiming that artwork back but the cardinal asked the pope to tell them that that painting was necessary to pray better in his private chapel. He then sent another version of the subject while the one from Raphael remained in his family possession.
The Deposition, Raphael

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The "grattachecca"

The "grattachecca" is a must for anybody who visits Rome, especially during the summer months. The word is tipically roman and comes from "checca" which, in the old roman dialect, meant ice and "gratta" meaning to scratch. Basically the ingredients are crushed ice with aromatic syrups or fruit juice. It shouldn't be confused with the sicilian granita which is done first combining the water with the syrups and then leaving everything freezing. In Rome there are several stands selling the grattachecca but maybe the best one (also in terms of waiting time for the long queues!) is the one situated in the Prati area (metro A - Ottaviano S.Pietro station) in Via Trionfale, at the corner with Via Telesio. The grattachecca here is sold since 1933 and the prices seem to be reasonably fair compared to the ones of other places in the center. Don't miss the specialities with pieces of fresh fruits.