Roma: third day: Caravaggio and rainy shopping day

This is my 36th post that has included something about Caravaggio. Obviously, it never gets old for me. I think some of my family might think otherwise.  Nevertheless, Scott was willing to return to look at Caravaggio again.

We walked straight to San Luigi dei Francesi, which was good because it was raining. I wanted to see the Matthew paintings in the Contarelli Chapel–for the fifth time. I wish I lived somewhere that I could see some art like this any time I wanted.

I have an earlier post about the Calling of Matthew. The trio also includes Matthew writing the gospel and The Martyrdom of St Matthew. The last depicts his death.  He was ordered executed by a king in Ethiopia, who could not get married because Matthew converted the intended bride to Christianity.

This was Caravaggio’s first large scale narrative. X rays show he had a different arrangement originally sketched out–one that was more classical and balanced in its arrangement of figures. But the final result eliminates most of the architectural delimitation of the space and strongly emphasizes the figures by bringing them to the foreground.

The arrangement is more innovative as it is not symmetrical; instead figures radiate out from the central group of murderer and Matthew.  The gestures are dramatic and emotional. The chiaroscuro additionally heightens the sense of chaos.

An interesting detail is the onlooker just off the upper arm of the murderer looking back on the impending carnage but running away. It is believed to be a self portrait of Caravaggio.

He does this in other paintings. In the St Ursula in Naples, looking over the back of her head, Caravaggio observes the king shooting an arrow into Ursula’s chest.

That was our bit of culture for the morning. Because this was going to be a rainy day, we pursued indoor activities–mainly shopping.

This trip was planned to include Rome because of my laundry error. Somehow, I tossed a wool sweater Scott bought from the Davide Cenci store in Rome in 2007 into the washing machine. The sweater now fits me.  So I promised to replace it with another Davide Cenci sweater.  The store is not far from the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Below, my plastic umbrella from the apartment hanging out at Davide Cenci. They provide bags so you don’t drip on the carpet. We successfully bought two sweaters.

Walking around to look at sights was hampered by some serious rain.

We stood in store doorways just to avoid getting soaked. Discovered that jewellery stores have the biggest covered door areas because you have to buzz to get into them.

Scott finished his only book that he brought with him. Thanks to Google, we found an English language bookstore, Anglo American Books.. What a great bookstore! Not only did Scott find the latest Jo Nesbo he wanted, I spent at least a half hour looking at all the art history books, and some time looking at the history and travel books.  I could have stayed longer, but at least, found a Caravaggio book that I don’t already have. When we pack up, I’m probably going to regret how much it weighs, but I got it anyways.

We had lunch at Nino, near the Spanish Steps. It’s an old classic Rome restaurant. We started with carciofi al Romana, stewed artichokes.

Osso bucco:

Roasted lamb:

We took a quick look at the Spanish Steps:

Since we  were so close, we went to Etro, where we did some buying:

The bag comes with its own raincoat.

Scott also did some more ring shopping:

Walked past another Borrromini facade:

Saw a piazza we had never been in, San Silvestro:

We returned to our apartment via a small detour to check the Trevi Fountain again:

We managed not to get lost once and without Google or other maps! After unloading, I went off in search of wine. The Enoteca I went to was closed.

I talked to a guy who was opening up the place–all in Italian! He took pity on me and let me buy some wine before they opened. Maybe he wanted to stop listening to me mangle Italian. But I  bought wine:

The rain finally quit so we had some wine on our balcony while reading our new books.

I have an app called Eat Italy. It provides food related recommendations and information for Italian cities, including Rome. It was written by Elizabeth Minchilli, who gave us a food tour of Rome in 2014. The app has been gold, especially since I’ve made only one reservation for the entire time we are here.  We have been following her recommendations. For this night, we were worried about rain. She recommended a place in our piazza, Osteria dell’Ingegno, so we went there. Another recommendation that worked for us:

Salad with poached egg:

Burratta on tomato and bread “pappa”:

Scott was a bit disappointed with his carbonara; would have preferred spaghetti instead of rigatoni:

I enjoyed my risotto with carciofi:

A soft panna cotta:


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