This is a post dedicated to the lemon flavour at Frigidarium.
Alyssa and I went to the opera tonight! We saw La Traviata, by Guiseppe Verdi, the opera upon which one of my favourite movies, Moulin Rouge, is based. The plot follows a courtesan, Violetta, and her relationship with Alfredo; the two fall in love during the first act, but then, in the second, are separated due to miscommunications. Finally, during the last act, the lovers reconcile, just in time for Violetta to die in Alfredo’s arms.
Although the particular showing that we attended was an awkward sort of bootleg version (there were only four characters and a piano, as opposed to the usual ensemble/orchestra combination), the talent of the lead soprano was undeniable, and the show itself was still enjoyable. I even recognized some of the music!
We also climbed the Sacred Steps, which Jesus climbed on his way to trial at the house of Pontius Pilate. Apparently, if you look through the cracks in the wood that now covers the original steps, you can see His blood stains. I didn’t see anything, but that doesn’t mean that the experience wasn’t still incredibly spiritual.
This morning was the earliest start of our entire trip so far. We met at the Galleria di Borghese at 8:30 a.m., which meant that I was out of bed at 6:30. Despite the early wake-up call, I was completely enthralled by the Gallery and its contents.
Our tour began with a brief history of Caravaggio, an artist with whom, until today, I had been unfamiliar with. His pieces, however, were pure genius. My favorite was his Madonna dei Palafrenieri, for which Caravaggio used a prostitute as his model for the Virgin Mary. I love what this says about society, and about the concept of redemption.
I was most enraptured with (of course) Bernini. Each of his four commissions for the Borghese family was based on mythology, which is another one of my passions, and so I was already familiar with the “plots” of his works. Bernini focused much of his efforts on capturing the intensity of both the physical and emotional heights of David (David and Goliath), Apollo and Daphne, Pluto and Persephone and Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius/Iulus. His technique for Apollo and Daphne was particularly impressive, as the leaves sprouting from Daphne’s fingers, although made of marble, looked thin and fragile enough to actually blow in the wind.
Ultimately, the Borghese Gallery was exceptional!
One of the things that I really appreciate about Rome, and I guess about the entire European Union, is its currency. The United States distributes one-dollar bills, which aren’t efficient because they’re made of paper and subsequently disintegrate; as a result, we have to mint more bills, which both decreases the value of our currency and kills trees. Contrastingly, the Europeans use both one- and two-Euro coins, which stay in circulation longer. I think that the idea of a one-dollar coin would benefit America, and that the U.S. should follow Europe’s economic example.
Today our scheduled tour was of the Jewish Museum of Rome. The Jewish population of Rome is about 14,000.
The synagogue that we visited is the largest of the sixteen synagogues of Rome. It was my first time inside of a synagogue, and I actually learned a lot. Synagogues are not allowed to have any images of humanity inside of them, contrary to the Christian tradition of having a massive Crucifix stapled onto the wall above or behind the altar; instead, synagogues are required to portray the Ten Commandments and to contain at least one Torah. Men are also required to wear yarmulkes inside of the synagogue, to symbolize their equality. Again, this directly conflicts with Christian doctrine, which requires men to remove their hats as they enter church, and for priests, cardinals, etc. to don theirs, thus establishing a sort of holy hierarchy. My favorite part of today’s synagogue was its ceiling, which is decorated with stained glass, rainbow-colored panels that are meant to symbolize God’s Covenant with his people.