(click on pictures to enlarge)
I arrived in Rome a week ago to be greeted by temperatures similar to Toronto. The water in all the fountains had frozen and long icicles were to be seen hanging off the edges. Icy weather had hit Europe and even Rome was was affected. Normally it is around 12-15C during the day and between 5 – 10C during the night at this time of year so to see ice is an unusual event. Everywhere I go, people are talking about how cold it is and I have to say that it’s the first time I’ve ever had to wear a hat and gloves here.
Other parts of Italy are even worse affected. A friend sent me this picture of Capitigano in Abruzzo where we had once gone for the village feast day a couple of years ago. It looks more like it could be in the Alps.
It’s been nice being back in Rome but with stay-at-home weather, no job and nobody to share life with, there’s no routine imposed upon me. Sounds great but in reality, I have to impose my own discipline for fear that I might turn into a lazy slob. So everyday, I exercise, cook fresh food from scratch, revise my Italian grammar and then plan some outing that doesn’t necessarily include a companion. Luckily, there are lots of art exhibitions and music events so one can keep oneself busy.
During the week, I saw an exhibition of the works of Artemisia Gentilischi, a little-known female early-Baroque painter who painted in the style of Caravaggio. She had a difficult life but did not let this stand in the way of her work which is magnificent for the most part. Much of the painting of that time was done for churches and has a religious theme. Her work in particular, features a number of powerful biblical woman. This painting of Judith beheading Holofernes is especially striking. Made more so by the fact that Judith is a representation of Artemisia herself while Holofernes is a portrait of Antonio Tassi by whom she was raped at the age of 18. It’s interesting seeing the force and strength portrayed by the women. I was in the Capitoline museum before Christmas where I saw Caravaggio’s version in which Judith looks like she’s slicing through a slab of butter! I was lucky to get a picture of Artemisia’s painting as no sooner had I taken the shot when a guard came by and stopped someone else doing the same thing. Apparently, taking photos was forbidden though there were no obvious signs saying so.
The exhibition is being held in the Palazzo Braschi which is a fine building constructed by the family of Pope Pius VI towards the end of the 1700s. The upper rooms have a wonderful view overlooking Piazza Navona and looking out over the Piazza was a beautiful sight in the setting sun. I feel lucky to be surrounded by so much beauty as there’s always something to enjoy cold weather not withstanding.