Monday, 27 May 2013

Elephants, octopus and cellists

After waking up at noon today (I kid you not), we only had time for a PM stroll, so chose to wander the historic centre of Rome. We picked that in part because I love the Pantheon.

I think it is an architectural and engineering marvel. Built (re-built, actually) in 126 AD, it's just a remarkable place.
The imposing facade
The glorious roof 
The hole in the roof. Just once, I'd like to come here in a rainstorm
The light from the hole in the roof. Dramatic 
The awesome interior 
They have columns. I like columns. 
Beautiful Corinthian caps 
Remnants of the columns outside, too
43 m tall, 43 m across, with a 9 m hole in the ceiling. Brilliant.

There's a bunch of other famous stuff in that neighbourhood, one of which is an elephant.
Yep, and he's holding an Egyptian obelisk 
He's cute
He's not just an elephant. He's a Bernini elephant. Bernini sculpted all sorts of things around Rome, including two of the fountains in Piazza Navona.
The rather large piazza 
Not a Bernini fountain. There's 3 
Not Bernini, but a dude fighting an octopus 
The famous shot of Bernini's famous fountain 
More of Bernini's
Done by Bernini and his students
Piazza Navona was the host to the first of the street performers we have seen here, including a dude dressed as a cowboy statue.
How "Roman"
Based on my observation, that's a tough gig. The dude took several 10 min sit down breaks while we were there. You get to spend your day in makeup, too. Plus posed. Stationary. No wonder he needed breaks. And how Roman is a gunfighter from the USA ole' west? There was another dude beside him dressed like an Egyptian mummy.
Mummy getting ready. Cowboy taking break.
There were magicians, and a jazz band that wasn't bad. Plus spray paint artists. I like spray paint artists. I first saw them years ago in Victoria.
He had quite the crowd
There were two of them doing similar styles of work, but this guy was better, and was selling well.

After the piazza, we wandered, as we are wont to do. We saw some interesting things, as is wont to happen in Rome.
A narrow building on a corner 
A pretty place to park your scooter 
A grocery store, downtown Rome style
Horrible rooftop apartment 
Yep, it's a birdcage 
Distressed building + restaurant
Near our bus stop, we ran across a very cool street performer: a cellist in an alcove next to a gelateria.
He plays on a landing 
What a great setting
Intense playing
We stood there listening, enjoying our gelato, and he was good. As in I heard him make one mistake in three tunes good. In his cello case (at the bottom of the stairs where you could throw coins) was a paper with tabs you could "rip off" because he offered private lessons good. But...

I'm a big fan of using my zoom lens. And this is what I saw when I got home:
Um, what's that in his ears and across his face?
He's wearing headphones. And sitting on an amplifier/speaker combo. I'd like to think he was listening to music to play along with -- but if so, why does he need a music stand? Maybe he was waiting for a phone call from the Italian Philharmonic. But the cynic in me thinks perhaps his gig was the "rip off", and he was, in fact, doing an "air cello" routine (though he did stop to tune between tunes. But you can fake that, too). I did some searching on YouTube and found he plays elsewhere, too. I'm hopeful that I'm wrong and in fact he's just a good cellist, and not a street scammer. Either way, he earned an euro from KC.

Right next to our bus stop, we saw a depressing sight.
These people have no business here
Tomorrow: Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, the Colli Albani and Castelli Romani. Anyone who drank a LOT of cheap wine 20 years ago knows the latter two.

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