Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Raphael!

Today marks another important date in Italian/Roman history as both the birth and death date of the painter Raphael. When I researched Raphael to see what works of his I could find in Rome, I was pleased to see I have already seen most of them.

One of the first things I saw in Rome, the Pantheon, houses the tomb of Raphael, who died in Rome in 1520.

The Villa Borghese houses a few portraits and the Palazzo Barberini houses "La Fornarina" (the bakers daughter), a portrait of Raphael's lover and a model for many of his portraits. Raphael was also the one to suggest the "Latin Cross" design for St. Peter's.

Still on my list of things to do in Rome is see the Vatican Museum, where one can walk through the Raphael Rooms and admire other paintings by Raphael. He also painted the frescoes in the Villa Farnesina.

It's just the beginning of an eventful week in Rome: yesterday was the start of Holy Week with Palm Sunday and the Pope's blessing in St. Peter's Square and today saw the biggest earthquake to hit Italy since 2002 plus the anniversary of Raphael's death and birth. Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday and continues on Thurdsday--and even though Rome is traditionally seen as Roman Catholic, there is an area called the Jewish ghetto and Jews are actually quite numerous in Rome. Holy Week festivities continue Thursday through Sunday, beginning with the Mass of the Chrism Thursday morning then the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the evening and going until the final event, mass on Easter Sunday.

It's all enough to keep me busy! Not to mention now I have to work my way through crowds of tourists just to get to school--and they will only become more and more numerous as the weather gets better and we find ourselves in the midst of high season.

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