Weekend In Florence

 Florence, Italy is one of my favourite European cities. I love it because it has everything from the religious, art, culture, culinary, lots of vino, fashion, leather, shoes and shopping in a compact city. Florence is easy to explore and discover as it is a walking city. It is a one and a half hour travel from Rome via the speed train then take the bus to either the famous Duomo or start the day with a visit to the Accademia Gallery to see the majestic David by Michelangelo plus his unfinished work, the Prisoners.  Florence is also an Art City as one can discover art all over the city from the artworks in the cathedrals like the Duomo and the Santa Croce to the famous Uffizi Gallery. There are also many statues on display at my favourite Piazza della Signoria. Florence is also a city of leather as there are many leather shops all around the city that we even smelled the leather as we walked along its narrow streets. Before my trip, I read Dan Brown's  Inferno which was set in Florence. In the action, mystery and thrilling book, Dan Brown wrote so many secrets and stories about the city of Florence. I learnt about the Vasari corridor, Boboli Gardens, the art works of Italian painter Vasari and secrets about the Medici family. I can't wait for the movie to come out. 

Gelato Tour In Rome

During my vacation my Rome I promised to myself that I will try different flavours of gelato instead of just eating my favourite flavours of pistachio and cappuccino. People have asked me which are the gelato places that I visited? I don't really remember because I just bought these gelato when I felt like it. Luckily, during that time in Rome, it was so hot so eating gelato almost everyday was a necessity  rather than a guilty pleasure. The different flavours that I tried were pistachio, cappuccino, cioccolato, fragola, limone, banana and hazelnut. The hazelnut flavour was recommended to me by one of my instagram friends as one of the best flavours to try. See, what the Instagram and the power of social media now have in our world. This summer is a heat wave that having an ice cream is such a rewarding pleasure to beat the summer heat. Believe it or not, last Sunday was even National Ice Cream Day! 

In Search Of Caravaggio In Rome

 One may not know, that there are many Churches around Rome where one can view  many masterpieces completed by the Italian masters of art for free. Only caveat, is that it involves lots of walking, just like a treasure hunt, lots of research and a map to discover all of these masterpieces. When I was in Rome, I decided to search for Caravaggio's painting all around the Eternal City as much as I can. I plotted my course in an efficient way in one day. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is one of my favourite artists. Commonly known as Caravaggio is the name of his hometown, Caravaggio, a small town near Milan. He was born in 29 September 1571 and died on 18 July 1610. He lived a very controversial life filled with lots of painting of these masterpieces, notorious for brawlings, committed a crime, was exiled in Malta then was allegedly murdered through lead poisoning. But he definitely left the world with his masterpieces which he painted using the chiaroscuro style of painting which is contrasting dark, even black areas of deep shadow with planes of colourful light. This style of painting showed his painting with dramatic effects highlighting the faces, the clothing and shapes of his subjects. The best part is that most of his masterpieces are displayed in churches around Rome for free. Here are some places that I managed to visit and discovered Caravaggio's great paintings. 
At the Santa Maria del Popolo, Caravaggio's painting depicting the Crucifixion of St. Peter. 
The Conversion of Saint Paul depicted the saint when he fell from his horse on his way to Damascus and became blind. 
 The dome of Santa Maria del Popolo. 
Inside the San Luigi dei Francesi which is the French National Church in Rome, near the Piazza Navona. This church is dedicated to the Saint King Louis IX of France.
The ceiling, the main altar and the organ. 
Caravaggio painted St, Matthew and the Angel. 
The Calling of St Matthew depicted here when St Matthew a known tax collector was chosen by Jesus to be his disciple. 
 The Martyrdom of St. Matthew. 

Entrance to the Galleria Borghese are based on timed ticketing and can be purchased on-line. 
Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath shows here a perfect example of his chiaroscuro style of painting - dark background with his subjects painted in light using different paint colours.  
Caravaggio's Self Portrait (left) and St. John The Baptist (right).
St. Jerome
Madonna of the Serpent. 

Another place in Rome worthy to see Caravaggio paintings for free is at the Basilica Sant' Agostino (Madonna del Loreto) and for an entrance fee at the Capitoline Museum, Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Doria Pamphilj. 

Exploring At The Galleria Borghese

 There is so much to see and explore in Rome. One of the best places to see art in Rome is in the Galleria Borghese, the elegant mansion of the Borghese family inside the huge Borghese Gardens. I enjoy learning about art, particularly sculptures and paintings. In the Galleria Borghese, there are exhibits of  classical antiquities, Roman and Italian Art. There are sculptures completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titan among others. It is also the best place to view these masterpieces intimately as the gallery is never crowded. Their ticketing is based on timed visits. Buy your tickets in advance and you will never be disappointed. We also have to leave our bags in the secured lockers in the basement for security reasons. Make sure not to forget to bring your camera for taking photos inside. Afterwards,  we ventured outside to explore the elegant gardens. 
Fresco ceiling on the Entrance Hall depicting the God, Jupiter. 
This is one of my favourite sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini of David, looking so tense and determined to throw the rock. Bernini's sculpture are so expressive. Behind is the painting by Battistello Carracciolo depicts David holding the head of Goliath. 
G. L. Bernini's Apollo and Daphne which is so romantic shows the emotion of gaiety and ecstasy. 
G.L. Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina. 
The fresco ceiling on the Room of the Emperors depicts the Triumph of Galatea and signs of the Zodiac around it. 
A view of the elegant Borghese gardens. 

Jubilee Year Of Mercy In Rome

 One of my objectives in visiting Rome this year was to visit the four major Papal Basilicas in the Vatican City and around Rome to pass through the Holy Doors which are opened during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This was declared by Pope Francis during the Pope's papal bull in April 2015 and occurs from the feast of the Immaculate Concepcion on 8 December 2015 to the feast of Christ the King on 20 November 2016. During this time, the Holy Doors, known as porta santa, are open in designated Roman Catholic churches around the world. The opening of the Holy Doors occur every 25 years. The pilgrim and the faithful gain some mercy and indulgences by passing through the door, by performing some prayers and confession of sins. This whole experience is free and involves the willingness and determination of the faithful to obtain mercy and to practice mercy towards others. 
I was only able to visit 3 Papal Basilicas. One of them is the Basilica di San Pietro at the Vatican. 
I was not able to visit the other Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls because it was quite far from the historic centre of Rome. 
 Finally, I was able to visit the tomb of St. Pope John Paul II now moved inside the Basilica di San Pietro. 
Another Papal Basilica I visited was the St. John the Lateran. 
This is the first Christian church in Christiandom built by Emperor Constantine.
Porta Santa at the Basilica of  St John the Lateran. 
Above the altar is the relic of the table used by Jesus during the last supper. 
St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, obtained major relics from Jerusalem and moved them around Rome to save them from destruction. 

One of my favourite church to visit in Rome is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. 
Porta santa at the Basilica. 
The Holy Doors is declared open by the Pope only and occurs every 25 yrs. For the faithful, they will be lucky to pass through the Holy Doors once in their lifetime to earn indulgences and mercy. 

Merciful Like The Father
- Jubilee Year of Mercy

Pamela lives in Toronto. I work in Banking in the field of Credit and Finance. The Style and Travel Journals blog has evolved into an on-line magazine blog about my experiences and inspirations on style, travel, people, lifestyle and current events. My blog features are not sponsored posts. The photographs and stories featured here are all from my own resources and experiences. [Pamela RG] (