i am now on a bus from ostia to Firenze (florence) italy. i have had many adventures and taken many pictures in rome. just when i was starting to get comfortable there i have to leave. i will go back. i have always loved being in big cities, especially big cities with subways. rome is probably the most beautiful city i have ever seen. it is like new york or chicago in its business and touristiness, but i think the locals walk slower and seem to enjoy life a little more. it would be hard not to when you are surrounded by such beauty and history. it is inescapable. you cannot walk more than a few blocks without stumbling upon something extraordinary.
i visited the Pantheon (pan- many, theos- god) the other day. i have been looking at pictures and drawing this building since i was fifteen but nothing can compare to the experience of being inside it. the scale is enormous! the building’s power transcends architecture and religion. it is almost geological in its force. i stood near the center and watched rain fall through the oculus in the dome, a secret portal to heaven. i caught raindrops with my eyes and my mouth.
for the first time i could really sympathize with the religion of the ancient Romans. to feel what it must have felt like to enter that space and be overcome or at the very least humbled. you don’t need to understand the details and intricacies of the roman myths or gods to feel the importance of the temple. it is simply a human ego check, a reminder that we are small, insignificant, and connected to something or someone (or a group of someone’s) that may be governing the heavens and the earth and having an effect on our fate. unfortunately, much of the original decor of the pantheon has been replaced with christian symbols and statues. the christian stuff seems incredibly out of place and in a way neutered by the intensity and sublimity of the “pagan” space.
although, as a bonus Raphael’s tomb is in the pantheon. why didn’t i know that? the other day i also accidentally found a castle. my best recent accidental find back in ohio was a styrofoam head at the Trenton Garage Sale Extravaganza.
i saw most of the major sights in Rome including the colosseum, which i sketched while i imagined gladiators fighting, real miniature sea battles, and early christians being savagely ripped apart and eaten by lions under a roaring pagan sun while dreaming of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the certainty of heaven. i saw the ruins of Ostia Antica, the original sea port of ancient rome. i explored miles of archeological excavations of the town, wandering freely in and out of the remains of old store fronts, apartments, and temples. i saw the capuchin crypts–piles of human bones laid out in intricate designs by monks. back in Ostia (the modern city, a suburb of Rome), i made friends with Lorenzo, an imposing but gentle guy about my age with a deep voice, an intense gaze, and a black stubbly square chin who works at a gellato shop a few blocks from the hostel. the last few nights i have walked along the beach to get gellato and hang out with Lorenzo on a bench just outside the store.
i also have assisted my compatriots with two sand sculptures on the beach, one of a hydra and one of a sphynx. we are all artists and it is natural to make art where we go. italian children gathered around and their parents took photographs. i met a very thin italian kid who proudly spoke some english. he told me his name was Eduardo, that he was eleven, and that our sculpture was “beeeeauuutiful!” as he gestured dramatically with his hands in a sincere Italian way.
i am hoping to carve out a few days this week to finish up a mix of a song from my new solo album. i have chosen a title and am close to finishing the cover art. i need to find a venue to do the album release in. i want to have a concert in the round and i want it to have elements of art installation and video. i don’t know how that is all possible but i am thinking about it a lot.
we are pulling into Florence now. i have just seen a sign with a black rooster, the symbol for the chianti wine region.
sadly, there is no internet at the hotel. i will find a cafe somewhere and be in touch.