Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The perspective gallery of Borromini

One of the masterpieces of Borromini can be admired in Palazzo Spada, in Piazza Capo di Ferro, close to Campo de' Fiori. The palace which hosts the Council of State, was changed by Borromini who created in the space in front of the access to the courtyard an extraordinary perspective effect. The gallery is long just 9 meters but thanks to the row of columns built at a slight decreasing height and the pavement slowly going up, it seems to be illusionistically 37 meters long. The statue at the end of the gallery representing Mars seems to be as high as a man but it is just 60 centimeters.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The "big noses"

The "big noses" are the small fountains which distribute water for free, 24/7, throughout the whole city of Rome. They are called big noses for the shape of the small circular tube from which the water gushes out. There are approximately 2500 in the whole city, 280 of which just within the historic walls of the center. The water which comes out is drinkable and always fresh. The idea of building such small fointains came to the first mayor of the city, Luigi Pianciani, to supply with water the city after its reunification to the italian state in 1870. These small fountains are relatively new. In the centre there are many "historical" ones and from some of them drinking was forbidden to animals such as donkeys, horses or goats. To drink water from these fountains like a real roman does, just block the gush of water with a finger, and it will come out from a small hole in the circular tube.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The church of Holy Cross in Jerusalem

The church of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, founded in IV century A.D. by St. Helen, mother of the roman emperor Costantine, takes its name from the relics of the holy cross brought here by Helen herself. The church preserves as well many other relics (nobody knows of course whether they are true or not). They are: three pieces from the holy cross, one nail, the inscription placed on top of the cross (I.N.R.I., Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum - Jesus from Nazareth, king of the Jewish people), two nails from the crown of thorns, the finger of St. Thomas who touched the chest of Jesus, fragments of the column of the flagellation, one of the thirty coins used by Judas to betray Jesus, the sponge soaked with vinegar to quench Jesus's thirst and the rock where he was sitting when he was forgiving Mary Magdalene. There is as well a part of the cross of the thief crucified beside Jesus. All these relics have been preserved for 1610 years in a chapel below the actual church and today they are shown in another chapel built in 1930.