Italian Drawing Class

We followed Rick Steve’s recommendation on a Vatican-area lunch spot, nothing memorable but decent food for a good price and nice service.  One our way to our drawing class through ContextRome at Castel Sant D’Angelo we wandered through the shopping district,which was much different than the fancy Via dei Condotti and had more practical clothing and objects for everyday use.  I started to feel like a real Roman roaming the streets on a typical Sat.  Cutting through St. Peters’ Square we saw our first fake Gladiator, talking on his cell phone (they’d taken shelter from the rain when we visited the colosseum so we hadn’t seen them in their more typical spot).

Traversing around obstacles, crowds and taxi stands, we made our way to the cafe and met our “artist” for our class.  Jack & Austin decided to skip this one, and spent the afternoon wandering around Rome.  Chandler and I decided to pick up some drawing tips and have something out of the ordinary for the afternoon.  I took painting classes in elementary school, and haven’t tried to draw since.  My daughter took an art class in 9th grade, and has always loved to draw on her own, so we did it mainly for her.  The teacher was an American who’d come over to Rome for school and had never left.

The plan was to draw from a terrace or balcony at Castel Sant D’Angelo; however, unbeknownst to us the castel was closed that day, so Plan B took us across the adjacent bridge and down the stairs to the waterfront.

Castel Sant D’Angelo was built by Hadrian as his burial site, but the cylindrical building went through many modifications and now looks more like a medieval castle.  It also houses (or housed) a passageway leading to St. Peter’s Basicila, for those times when the Pope needs to “get out of Dodge” quickly.  I just finished a book on Hadrian, after my return, so I would have loved to have seen the Castel, but we never made it back — next time.  Hadrian loved building structures and monuments and architecture generally, and my next trip to Rome will also include a trip out to his Villa about 20 miles from Rome, which is supposed to be amazing.  He didn’t spend much time there, however, preferring to travel across the empire, including a visit to Hadrian’s wall in Brittanica, much of which is still standing today.  He seems to have been the first emperor to realize that Rome couldn’t just keep continually expanding its empire AND managing their conquered lands, so he choose instead to create a border around the Empire — porous, allowing travelers and commerce in and out, and not necessarily meaning that Rome didn’t/couldn’t have control of some sort even in lands outside the wall, but he didn’t actively seek to expand beyond those borders.

Here’s a photo we took of Castel D’Angelo

He brought drawing paper and pencils and helped us find a subject, learn about perspective, and draw.  I learned that art was much more about math than I’d realized — really, if you do mathematics I think you can draw, by sketching in he proportions, relationships between objects, etc.  That was confirmed to me later during my Rome week when we spent some time at the Leonardi di Vinci exhibit… he calculated the proportions of every part of a horse, dissected animals, studied the human skeleton, etc. to figure out how many finger-widths each arm was, etc.  Of course he was an incredible talent in so many areas, but it truly brought home to me a relationship between math & art that I’d never considered previously.

Later that night we had a wonderful dinner with wine and pizza, then wondered around the center of the city, stopping for gelato and expresso, enjoying the fountains, and beginning to feel at home in Rome.  Jet lag was finally over and we were able to keep a more normal schedule, which was very nice.  We had learned our way around the central city by this time, and walked by the Pantheon several times each day/evening.  I wish San Diego could have more of of that ability to walk around the city, without needing a car, and having so many people out enjoying the evening, the fountains, the music, the food and wine, and enjoying life.  We have a little piece of that downtown but not so much in Poway.  Our here when we walk out at night there is very little human life to be seen, and no place open to grab a gelato within walking distance.  But you can see beautiful stars, hear lots of coyotes, and enjoy the peacefulness, so each has its good and bad points!

tomorrow, we head for a field visit outside of the City, to the former seaport of Ostia Antica… can’t wait to tell you all about it!



  1. i’m so dying to hear about ostia, that was my favorite new thing from the summer visit.

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