Have Duck, Will Travel

Italian Wandering
Bartholomew

Bartholomew enjoys gelato.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bartholomew the Acrophobic and Aquaphobic Pirate Duck.

My friend Holmes and I are in Italy for our spring break, so we decided to bring along our rubber duckies, Bartholomew (mine) and Ferdinand (hers). The ducks are greatly enjoying their vacation, and we are enjoying photographing them.

It’s a funny little pet project of ours, shooting the ducks throughout our travels. The airport is particularly amusing, as who expects to see two college students setting up ducks and shooting them?

Eventually, we hope to write a children’s book about our traveling ducks. Holmes will photograph them (our illustrations) and I will write the story!

I took this photo in Lucca, after a day of bike riding and riding a carousel (an ostrich, naturally; it was the most ridiculous animal there). We needed the gelato!

Bartholomew would like to say that anyone who tries to eat his gelato (coco e cioccolate) will suffer the consequences. He’s serious. He has a gun.

Decaying Elegance

Italian Wandering

I find ruins infinitely more fascinating than whole buildings. There’s a romantic wondering in what the finished edifice, square, town, looked like and felt like.

Italy certainly is the place to think of such things.

The other day, my friend K and I went on a day trip to Pompei. This was a dream come true for me–Pompei was my first historical interest, back when I was a wee kid of four or so.

Well, even trudging through the impending (and rapidly incessent) rain, I couldn’t help but feel transported. My imagination roamed over rocks, buildings stripped of their decorative frescoes, roofs, walls, floors. I delighted in slipping through the delapidated houses, some excellently preserved and others little more than a corner.

I just don’t get the same feeling with entire villages, even if they are ancient. Walking through Florence’s medieval section doesn’t awaken quite the same sense of wonder–but when I pass the store with the glass floor (where you can see the ancient remains of previous Florentine buildings), that feeling wakes up in my chest. Passing newer buildings, destroyed by bombs during WWII and never repaired, brings it about, too.

And there’s the romantic in me, crafting worlds and stories around a few old rocks.

On an unrelated note–I’ve been in Italy for two months! My, how time flies. I hope to make a few more posts in the near future. I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t written a new post in twenty days.

Master of Light

Italian Wandering

I can’t believe its been a week. One week ago I saw a spectacular exhibition of Caravaggio’s works in Rome. It was at the Scuderie del Quirinale, organized to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death. The exhibit was entirely Caravaggio. I was in heaven! He’s my favorite artist (together with Gustav Klimt). The way Caravaggio plays with light and shadow is just fantastic.

I aspire to be as fantastic as he, in whatever media I end up pursuing. His paintings are like screen shots from a movie—a moment caught eternally in oil. I stared at I Bari for what felt like hours, admiring the delicate brocades, feathering and colors. To see one of my favorite paintings, mere feet from my nose—outstanding.

Though seeing I Bari in person was astounding, the painting I found most beautiful was an arresting painting of John the Baptist. He’s caught in painstaking introspection, or perhaps a nap in the sun. The light is, characteristically, dramatic; his body glows whilst his face remains shadowed.

The light truly makes the mood of the painting. My two favorite paintings, I Bari (The Cardsharps) and San Giovanni Battista (St John the Baptist), illustrate this. I Bari is bathed in light. You can clearly make out the individual characters’ faces, their expressions, their hands. Everything is perfectly clear. As for San Giovanni Battista, this picture is dark, obscure, contemplative. It draws you in, makes you wonder, think. I was unfamiliar with this work, but seeing it in front of me—a painting never moved me so much. St. John looks so lifelike, it’s astonishing.

Leaving the exhibit broke my heart. I wanted to stay for hours more, but stomachs growled and food a-waited. I don’t think I shall ever forget this. Seeing one work by Caravaggio is enough to make you stop and admire, but nearly 30 of his works, without other artists’ interruption? Truly a breathtaking experience.