Rome Pt. 4

“This mark of apostasy, over all others, applies to the Roman Pontiff. Nor is the required burden of proof difficult to establish. For the Pope, as the head and founder of this catholic apostasy, has verily defected from the faith of Christ: partly through errors and innumerable heresies introduced in dogma; partly through superstitions ordained in rites; partly through idolatry firmly established in cult worship.”

-Francis Turretin, Whether it can be proven that the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist

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Rome Pt. 3

“I fairly egged him on, as far as my powers in Italian permitted, so keen was I to see with my novelist’s curiosity how far he would go. The tenant had to be an American, he said. I was a Scot, I informed him, and I doubted that he would find an American to pour capital into his property with a tenure of only one year. He replied that the apartment was in a famous 15th-century building in which many famous lords had lived, which was true enough. So he went on, while I looked out the window, watching the baroque fountain playing in the fine October light of Rome. The theatrical figure representing the Nile, his great hand held up as if to ward off some falling masonry, seemed apt to my situation. ”Speak to me,” Michelangelo is said to have challenged his Roman statue of Moses; and indeed, the sculptures of Rome do speak.”

-Muriel Spark, The New York Times

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Rome Pt. 1

“He looked at Ervin, full of expectation; then, when he said nothing, asked:
‘Have you thought about what I should do?’
‘Yes, Mihály,’ Ervin said quietly. ‘I think you should go to Rome.’
‘To Rome?’ he blurted out in astonishment. ‘Why? How did you arrive at that?’
‘Last night in the choir… I can’t really explain this to you, you’re not familiar with this type of meditation… I do know that you must go to Rome.’
‘But why, Ervin, why?’
‘So many pilgrims, exiles, refugees have gone to Rome, over the course of centuries, and so much has happened there… really, everything has always happened in Rome. That’s why they say, “All roads lead to Rome”. Go to Rome, Mihály, and you’ll see. I can’t say anything more at present.’
‘But what shall I do in Rome?’
‘What you do doesn’t matter. Perhaps visit the four great basilicas of Christendom. Go to the catacombs. Whatever you feel like. It’s impossible to be bored in Rome. And above all, do nothing. Trust yourself to chance. Surrender yourself completely, don’t plan things… can you do that?’
‘Yes, Ervin, if you say so.’
‘Then go immediately. Today you don’t have that hunted look on your face that you had yesterday. Use this auspicious day for setting forth. Go. God be with you.’
Without waiting for a reply he embraced Mihály, offered the priestly left cheek and right cheek, and hurried away. Mihály stood for a while in astonishment, then gathered up his pilgrim’s bundle and set off down the mountain.”

-Antal Szerb, Journey in Moonlight

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Florence II: The Pimping of Venus

This is Part II: containing the Uffizi, Brancacci, Ognissanti, Santa Maria Novella, and San Marco. Part I, with Orsanmichele, San Miniato al Monte, Santa Croce, La Specola and Santa Trinita is here.

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Siena: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso

With so much of the core of Italian cities preceding the creation of Italy by several centuries, it is perhaps inevitable that for all their cosmetic similarities, every one has a rather unique look and feel. Siena, however, perennially identified as the archetypal Gothic city, still struck me as a particularly singular place. Plague and foreign invasion meant that an important capital city of 100,000 was reduced within a few years to an insignificant market town of 8,000, giving the city the San Gimignano effect a thousandfold. Walk in from the bus terminus and you will begin to sense it right away; spend any length of time in the town and you will probably come to think that the unusual layout of the town, as much as the Assassin’s Creed look of the buildings, marks Siena out as extraordinary. Think of the famous, distinctively shell-shaped Piazza del Campo as a spider, and the rest of Siena is its web. The streets shoot out in rays from this magnificent centre, and it feels as if the whole of Siena consists of horseshoe-shaped corsos reflecting the shape of the Campo, like outward ripples; a sort of Gothic Amsterdam. The streets incline slightly downhill towards the Campo and if you go for an aimless stroll you will inevitably gravitate there as if the town were a giant pinball board (with the Campo’s tourist-trap pavement cafés perhaps acting as the flippers sending you rushing back out). Because of this, Siena might just have been the perfect place for us to endure a Dantean odyssey and be taught a salutary lesson…

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