Day 4 [San Pietro + Historical Mapping]

IMG_2812We met this morning at San Pietro, bright and early; spending the first part of the day in and around the Piazza and Basilica – taken in by Bernini’s arms. There are two spots in the piazza where each curving colonnade dissolves into an open field of single columns; a fact so seemingly obvious that it is often overlooked – and only serves to underscore Bernini’s genius, unifying the piazza with the obelisk and fountain (one by Maderno and the other crafted to balance the original).  We walked through St. Peter’s, trying to find where Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi and Sangallo’s plans were hybridized by Michelanglo, and how Maderno’s tried to honor Michelangelo’s unifying schemes with his shifts in the facade and orientation of the nave.  We saw Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta, Bernini’s sculptural genius at the Baldacchino, in the apse, and throughout the church (and particularly at the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament with it’s mini Tempietto). We were able to access the Papal tombs below and saw fragments of  Constantine’s basilica. [Above: The Piazza // Below: Students in San Pietro]IMG_2799

We bought tickets to get up to the Cupola and Lantern.  And then we climbed.  And climbed.  And climbed some more.  More than once, I heard the Italian family behind me say “Madonna!” as we duly filed up spiral staircases, sloping staircases, angled staircases and the occasional short landing before yet-even-more staircases, between the two layers of the dome itself – inspired by Brunelleschi’s Duomo and the Pantheon until the last short spiral and then up and out onto the platform at the base of the lantern.  The climb was worth it; the view was spectacular, and Rome was at our feet. [Images below: At the base of the dome // Dome Interior // On the Basilica roof // About to climb up to the lantern // The climb // Rome at the top] IMG_2718 IMG_2721   IMG_2803

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We met back in the afternoon for our lecture with Antonella on “Historical Mapping.”  Using the major routes of the city (the Via Papalis, Via Peregrinorium, Via Recta, Via Della Regola and Via Late) and their piazze (Navona, Campidoglio, Campo de Fiori, the Piazza Guidea, del Ponte and the Piazza Della Rotonda) we learned about the transformation of the image of Rome through early Iconic and Ichnographic maps, and how the mapping of Buffalini and Nolli radically altered how the city was known and understood. We learned about historical development of mapping – of how warfare and mobile artillery helped develop the tools and systems and mathematics that helped give rise to contemporary mapping techniques – and ultimately, how the conventions used in maps communicate, imbue meaning, attitude and purpose in our spaces and places.  It was a great lecture and helped set the stage and provide excellent context for the student work. [Below: A fragment of Buffalini’s 1551 map showing Trastevere]

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And now for something completely different:  students are going to make a giant pasta dinner, then are splitting off to watch some Italian street theatre.  A couple are also going out tonight to watch an A.S. Roma game at the Stadio Olimpico.  I tried to tell them it was designed by Nervi, but alas to to avail – they were already putting on their Italian football thuggery faces. [Below: A.S. Roma Fans]

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