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Posts tagged ‘Roma’

Roman Holiday

There was something intrinsically Roman about the place we briefly called home in Rome. We were staying in the Relais Leone, not so much a hotel as a converted apartment, whose reception was open only a few hours a day, and which otherwise bore all the appearance of a series of private apartments. This, together with an entrance through a very grand (and extremely heavy) great gilded door and up three flights of marble stairs, made the whole adventure feel all very colloquial, as though we were residents of that great Italian city. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, or so the great adage goes, and in our little corner apartment, we felt Roman to the core.

While we immediately fell in love with a bedroom decorated in a simple yet instantaneously lavish baroque design, together with the kind of free-standing bath which makes frequent languishing appearances in my dreams, the highlight of the room was its views. Not the most spectacular – here we did not exactly have Diocletian’s palace as in Split – but whose grace was founded in the simple expanse of the terracotta building ahead, elegant in its embellishment of pale blue shutters. And if the building itself were not enticing enough, beneath it, the bustling Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina spread out before us, two cafes spilling onto its cobbled pavement, and a little press-pergola crowning its centre.

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Roman Holiday (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

One year ago, at about this time, I completed a collection of small gouache views onto the various bedrooms, or honeymoon suites, we had enjoyed after our marriage. A year later, it felt only appropriate that I should capture this Roman bedroom in gouache on paper, with the various dimensions of the room, its view, and of course that all important free standing bath included. It’s a scene which for me sums up both our experience and the elegance of this Spagna region of the city – lined with boutiques and posing Romans sipping Aperol Spritz in the shade, it felt iconically Roman, and us very comfortable guests within it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

From Illyria to Italy, Part 5: The Colours of Rome

Campo dè Fiori, Piazza della Rotonda, the Via del Corso and the Lungotevere. The names of Rome’s russet coloured streets resonate with the same romantic euphony which make the city unique. Uniquely ancient, with the potency of history bleeding from every crack and cobble; uniquely passionate, its tempers flared by the heat and its vivacity for living played out in its food, its art, and in its attitude. Roma. Even the name’s mellifluous voyage across the tongue recalls a thousand stories of Emperors and Popes, Michelangelo and Bernini, pomp and glory, ascent and fall.

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Rome has an energy which infects and conquers. It’s tiring for sure, manic in places, rammed full of tourists and trying to cross its roads is frankly a deathly pursuit. But who cannot be seduced by the smell of freshly ground coffee wafting through the streets; by the fashionista ragazzi slowly wafting through the strada of Spagna with their newest accessories on show; by the slowly melting gelati, the magnificent marble fountains and the restaurants spilling out onto Piazzas with their red Vichy tablecloths and mountains of spaghetti.

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But perhaps above all things, Rome is a city of art. On every corner, at the centre of every square, and in even the smallest of chapels, there sits a masterpiece whose magnitude marks out an entire chapter in the pages of art history. Rome is for art what Manhattan is for skyscrapers. A living museum with an astonishing collection at every turn.

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So when we eventually made it from Croatia to Italy, from Split to Rome, we drunk in the infectious atmosphere of Rome like someone devoid of water after a week in the desert. We went to galleries, we went to cafes, we even endured the coach-party crush of the Vatican Museum. But our favourite pursuit was simply to be in Rome. To wander the streets and let the city wash over us, tantalising each of the senses in turn. Smell: a rich creamy coffee propped up at the bar of the Tazza d’Oro or outside the illustrious Caffe Greco. Taste: dinner by candlelight on the Via Condotti. And for our eyes, the simple feast of colour which adorns every street and building. It is this palette of colour, the terracottas and ochres, deep sanguine red and golden custard, which is the focus of this post. A collection of photos which need say nothing more than narrate the story of a city whose heart is worn so explicitly on its multi-coloured sleeve.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Natale Italiano | Rome – Day 1: Arrival by sunset

We arrived in Rome as the sun was setting behind Vatican city; the golden yellow and deepening tangerine skies casting a stunning glow behind the silhouette of St Peter’s and the domes and cupolas of ancient Rome. Our arrival to the city amongst the sun’s warm luminescence which gilded all of Rome with a hopeful uplifting lustre, was the happy ending to a transit as smooth as journeys can be – starting out by boat from the Rialto Bridge in Venice, out across a misty lagoon to the Marco Polo airport and onwards onto a swift flight down to Rome Fiumicino and a train into Stazione Termini – the happiest of starts to the second chapter of our festive Italian adventure.

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Thrilled to be so swiftly and comfortably installed into the perfectly located Hotel Babuino 181, only minutes from the Spanish Steps, we left unpacking for later in our eagerness to run out onto the cobbled streets of Rome to enjoy the last rays of sun that the day was providing. After all, we had been three days in Venice with not a ray of sun to be seen, such was the density of mist which shrouded the city. But in Rome, all seemed alive under the vibrant blue skies of a winter’s afternoon sundown – hard to believe that this was Christmas Eve. For us it felt like the dying hours of a Spring day, a thought which could not escape us as we sat, but minutes later, upon the terrace of a ritzy hotel bar adjacent to the top of the Spanish steps, watching the seemingly odd combination of sunshine and vibrant mediterranean colours, with the Christmas tree which was installed onto the centre of the steps.

Dying hours of Roman sunshine

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People watching on the sun-drenched Spanish steps

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After indulging in the ultimate exercise of people watching in this, the classiest of Roman quarters, with a glass of prosecco in hand and a camera in the other, we headed down into the bustling streets of a Rome but hours before the feast of Christmas. In the chic shopping streets off the Via del Corso, the excitement of Christmas Eve as families and friends scuttered energetically from shop to shop was tangible, and in the nearby Piazza del Popolo, crowds hung around the grand obelisk at its centre, full of the spirit of the holiday season. For us, having a few hours spare before a dinner reservation, we headed across the square to Santa Maria del Popolo to accomplish something which I had intended to carry out when I was last in the city in 2010 but had been thwarted by renovations – to see the two stunning works by Caravaggio which can be found in a small side chapel in this otherwise innocuous church.

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Like most of Caravaggio’s works, these two: the Conversion of St Paul and the Crucifixion of St Peter are utterly stunning works; Caravaggio’s exercise of chiaroscuro as dramatic as ever, while the skillful foreshortening of St Paul falling out towards us and St Peter shown foreshortened on the cross allowing audiences to become utterly absorbed in the paintings – that is at least when we could see them – for this being Rome, we had to insert a coin in a light box in order to have the otherwise shadowed works lit for all of a minute (and us being us, we had no coins on us – meaning that we had to wait for some other earnest Caravaggio fan to come along and supply lighting on our behalf…).

Caravaggio’s Popolo masterpieces

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The Daily Sketch ITALIA – Norms in Rome

Travelling southwards, down the Mediterranean coast of Tuscany and taking a sharp inland turn from Civitavecchia, the Norms have finally found themselves in the renowned capital city of Italy, the one and only Roma. And what a city it is. Crammed full of antiquity, artistic and cultural heritage from centuries of history played out within its seven famous hills. From the great Roman Empire which once ruled the western world, and the remnants of which still litter the city unapologetically, to the great Religious heritage flowing from the foundation of the Catholic Church in the nearby Vatican City, and the catholic fervour and religious architectural splendour which has no doubt resulted. With its chic café culture near the Spanish Steps, the romantic brilliance of the Trevi Fountain, and the grandeur of the “wedding cake” Altare della Patria building, Rome is a city offering everything.

For the Norms, the centre of their visit (being that Gladiator is by far their favourite film) has to be Rome’s most famous symbol, the Coliseum, the spectacular amphitheatre straight out of Ancient Rome. Not so directly linked to Rome, but inspired, nonetheless by that great age, are the tourist-touting “centurion” dressed Norms who collect outside the great arena, posing for photos for a few extra coins in their purse. This less than soldierly activity has nonetheless attracted the attention of these tourist Norms who have their photo taken with one said Centurion with the great Coliseum providing the perfect Roman backdrop, alongside a sculpture of the founders of the great city, Romulus and Remus (Norms) suckling upon their mother wolf as tradition demands. You’ve gotta love it.

Norms in Rome (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

ITALIA Season – Rome: My Photographs

Rome: City of passion, where waves of heat flow ruggedly through bustling streets, where raised Italian voices and sustained hooting from haphazardly driven cars are the harmony and the melody, where painted church ceilings bring heaven to its closest interaction with the earth, and the Roman ruins all around remind the current thriving generation that on this same soil, a grand imperial history is sewn deep into the rich tapestry of Rome’s foundations. In Rome you can take a coffee in the shade of the Borghese gardens, or a people-watching cocktail by the Spanish steps. You can join the throng of tourists strolling around the Piazza Navona and the Coliseum, and you can tread the steps of Emperors as you gaze upwards to an almost fully intact Pantheon temple. Rome is living history – a city struggling to move forward while treading on the cherished egg shells of its past, but one which prioritises the Joie de Vivre, the good times, the passion of life. Rome: city of art, of colour, of culture, of style, of religious fervour, of architectural heritage, or pure Italian gastronomic brilliance. Rome – a city so unique that words alone will not suffice, and only photos, now, will do.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.