A ROMAN HOLIDAY
These photos were taken in the summer of 2022 on a long-delayed family trip to the city. It was August and swelteringly hot but the city was as alluring as ever. I’d filmed in Rome many times, most recently with Jonathan Meades on a film about Mussolini’s architecture, but I could go back time and time again – it’s a city that reveals something new on each visit. I love nothing more than aimlessly wandering around its backstreets, happening on some grand baroque facade or a broken column from an ancient Roman temple.
THE EYES OF TRASTEVERE
We stayed in Trastevere which used to be a working class district of Rome – a warren of narrow streets and alleyways. Now it’s full of restaurants and bars – and in the summer packed with tourists.
STATUE OF LUDOVICA ALBERTONI BY BERNINI
One of the joys of Rome is wandering off the beaten track and discovering a church in the backstreets that just happens to contain a masterpiece. One such place in Trastevere is the Church of St Francis of Assisi which, in a side chapel, has a gorgeous statue by Bernini. I love the way the putti seem to float above the the main figure.
Chiesa di San Francesco a Ripa
THE PINES OF ROME
On the hill above Trastevere is the Botanical Garden of Rome, which provides stunning views over the city. It features my favourite Roman tree, the distinctive Umbrella Pine. The composer Respighi was so enamoured of them that he composed a tone poem ‘The Pines of Rome’ in 1924.
ALTARPIECE – Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli
Rome has a surfeit of amazing church interiors, especially the baroque ones. It’s a bit of a shock to the system if you are used to the austerity of Northern European churches. This one, Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli, designed by Carlo Rainaldi, looks as if the altar is on fire.
Probably my favourite building in Rome – a Roman temple re-purposed as a church. The church elements aren’t that impressive, especially as Rome has so many beautiful church interiors to offer. What stands out is its incredible concrete dome – you can tell it is the most awe-inspiring feature of the building by the fact that every visitor just stands gazing upwards.
CHIESA DI SANTA CATERINA DEI FUNARI
HEAD OF CONSTANTINE, CAPITOLINE MUSEUM
This is the head of Roman Emperor Constantine from what must have been a colossal statue. It’s located in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum. His equally huge foot and hand lie nearby. They featured briefly in the Peter Greenaway film ‘The Belly of an Architect’.
PORTICO OF OCTAVIA
Skies and Walls
PIAZZA DELLA CONSOLAZIONE
VIA DEI FORAGGI
Our Last Day
On our last day we had a late morning flight to catch but there was still one place we wanted to visit so we got up early and headed out on foot to what used to be named the Protestant Cemetery. Now it goes under the title of the Non-Catholic Cemetery in recognition that it’s home to the dead of many faiths. We’d come to see the grave of English poet John Keats – ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water.’ Other famous inhabitants are fellow poet Shelley & Italian Communist writer and philosopher, Antonio Gramsci.
KEATS’S GRAVE, THE PROTESTANT CEMETERY
All Photos (c) Francis Hanly