Santa Maria

Virtual Europe – Rome
With the pandemic the way it is, I don’t see us getting back to Europe any time too quickly, even though Canadians are welcome now. It got me thinking about our European adventures of the past, and I realized that the new blog, begun in 2017, was as a direct result of losing my earlier blog writing (I have triple backups of all photos) 8 years ago to a crash at my former ISP’s servers.
I thought it would be fun then to re-create the blog for the trip in 2012 which was to Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. I’ll post a blog featuring images of Europe every once in a while, and use one image I found particularly memorable to re-kindle the trip.
The first stop on our trip was Rome, Italy. We flew from Canada to Rome and stayed 4 days there before hopping on a cruise to see the other places we had as destinations. The young woman at the front desk of our hotel was amazing. She was born to an Italian Dad and an American mother, so she was perfectly fluent in English (as are many Europeans), and she helped us with what we wanted to see and how to best to see it.
Our hotel was just outside the city centre of Rome – adjacent to the Piazza del Popolo. This large square is “the people’s square” and has some absolutely amazing sights. There is an Egyptian oblisk brought there before 10 BC and raised by Sety, a pair of historic churches at the opposite end, with one roadway leading to the Spanish Steps and another toward the Coliseum and other sights. Incredible to just wander around and look at the sculptures, the fountains and the hundreds of folks just soaking it all in.
As we entered the square from where we were staying, though, we walked every day past this statue and the church it was in front of. On our last day in Rome we decided to go in and have a look – and it was amazing. The statue is of Santa Maria (del Popolo), just outside the church named for her which was built originally in about 1250 AD. The church as one enters is absolutely breathtaking as the architecture was by Bernini, as what you are looking at is the reconstructed part of the church, built in the mid-1400’s, but re-designed and added to by Bernini in the early to mid 1600s. The artwork ranges from a painting supposedly done by Saint Luke to wonderful statues and other pieces done by artists like Raphael, Caravaggio, Raggi, Paracca and Bernini himself. It’s a mini art museum all unto itself, with moving portraits and pieces depicting Christian history and thought.
It was one of those things we hadn’t even been looking for, but once inside, we were just in awe. You may have seen pictures of the church – it appeared in the hit movie “Angels and Demons” as one of the places a Cardinal is killed.
Rome is an incredible city, the Vatican is beyond words for its beauty and art treasures, the city has history in every corner, and the ability to wander around where so much has taken place is something very worthwhile. But to me one of the most interesting aspects is just wandering around and then finding a magical place like the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo.
I hope I can wander there again someday!