My steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee begins to awaken me as I gaze out the window of my living room in Oregon. Sunlight brightens a blue morning sky and spills down over the valley, bringing life to the tall evergreens and farms that dot the rolling landscape. I can see the coastal mountains at the end of the horizon, standing like guardians over the great Pacific Ocean beyond.
My thoughts gather around another Easter several years ago when I happened to be in Greece while Easter was being celebrated in Italy. Afterward, I took a ferry-boat to Italy. A few days later Easter was being celebrated in Greece! So I can honestly say that I ‘missed’ Easter that year. Read my post Our ‘Passed-Over’ Easter.
Today I am happy to anticipate an Easter celebration with family at home while I plan for my next exciting adventure to Italy. I think about all of you, scattered around different parts of the world. I am thankful for each one of you. I hope that your Easter day is, was or will be a time of renewal, a time to be grateful, and a time to enjoy those around you. No matter where you are, it is a day to be cherished.
While enjoying a refreshing glass of Frascati wine at a small outdoor table near the Piazza Navona last September, I couldn’t help but notice the tall and lush Hotel Raphael across the street. The entire facade was covered with ivy and purple wisteria. As my eyes traveled from the front door entrance up the building to the top, I noticed some large umbrellas and wondered if it had a rooftop restaurant. I questioned my waiter about it and was told that it did. It was then I decided to enter the hotel and make my way to the top. I could only imagine the views of the city from this vantage point.
Golden lamplight spilled through the entrance toward the street as I entered the Raphael. The impeccably dressed gentleman at the front desk took a copy of my identification and told me how to reach the elevator.
La Terrazza Bramante, the rooftop garden restaurant, was more exotic than I imagined it would be. I had stepped off the elevator and into a multi-level terrace that offered elegant dining among tall fan palms.
A handsome young waiter approached me and inquired if I would like a table. I accepted a menu from him and scanned the pages. A nice selection of gourmet organic, biodynamic vegetarian Mediterranean cuisine was on offer along with some of the best wines in Italy.
I wasn’t hungry for dinner yet, so I declined but asked if I could take a moment to enjoy the Roman skyline. He smiled and encouraged me to take my time.
The nearly 360 degree view of the eternal city at dusk was intoxicating. The restaurant faces the Bramante cloister in the church of Santa Maria della Pace. The terrace overlooks several architectural wonders of Rome, including the Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the National Monument of Victor Emanuel II.
The building of the Hotel Raphael itself seems to have been around for hundreds of years. Its believed that a fresco in the Vatican Museum clearly shows the building already in existence in the sixteenth century city. Florentine developer Spartacus Vannoni remodeled the interior into The Raphael, a luxury hotel with two lower level floors, seven upper floors, a multi-level rooftop terrace and a restaurant in 1963.
The 5 star luxury hotel is also a veritable museum of sorts. Artwork in the form of paintings, sculptures, antiques and a collection of Picasso ceramics are on public display throughout the building. American architect Richard Meier designed two of the executive floors which are of a modern decor.
The ambience of the Hotel Raphael and La Terrazza Bramante rooftop restaurant left me with a yearning to return. In addition, the waitstaff were exceptionally friendly and cheerful. The hotel is nicely located and within walking distance to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican.
“The Beauty of Music and the Beauty of the figurative arts belong together”
It’s Friday night in Rome and the Vatican beckons your presence. Come see the Pope’s Museums with displays of treasures from all over the world, serenaded by exquisite musical masterpieces performed by professional musicians. Let your senses be captivated by the lyrical charm of art in its purest form.
Meeting with great public success during the last few years, the Vatican at Nightwill run until the end of October (with the exception of the month of August). It happens every Friday night from 7pm to 11pm, with an option of being accompanied by licensed, professional tour guides. You will be taken through the main sections of the Vatican Museumsand the Sistine Chapel. The itinerary includes the Cortile della Pigna, the Pio Clementino museum, the upper floor galleries (Candelabri, Arazzi e Carte Geografiche), the Raphael Rooms, the Sistine Chapel, and the Library Galleries.
Step out underneath the stars and request that your guide take you outside to see St. Peter’s Basilica and Bernini’s Colonnade both gloriously illuminated against the night.
This summer, II Bello da Sentireis the rich and varied musical program offered by the finest pupils of the Turin Conservatory. You will hear the music of Brahms and Debussy, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and several others. A guided tour will be offered on the theme of musical iconography.
Inside Raphaels’s Room of the Segnatura, in the heart of the “Pope’s Museums,” a winged angel introduces us to the contemplation of Parnassus. Here Apollo, god of Poetry and Beauty, plays the zither surrounded by the Muses, representing all of the arts. The scroll held by the angel proclaims, in Latin, “Numine afflatur,” as if to say that Art in all its expressions is inspired by Divinity.
All musical performances will start at 8:30 and last for 60 minutes
Art in all its form is God’s shadow on earth
For more information, click on the Vatican Website below
Bones….a pile of bones. Discovered below St. Peters Victory Monument at his grave site deep underneath the main altar of the basilica by his own name. Could they be his actual bones? In a rush of excitement, world-famous anatomist from Sicily, Professor Venerando Correnti, was called in on the scene to analyze them. In three years time he had an answer.
The bones found in the Vatican hill underneath the victory monument were of a woman, two men, and some small animals. What a blow!
However, stories often bring about unexpected twists and turns, and this was no exception. In 1941, a buttressing wall supporting the tomb and built around 250 AD was discovered by excavators. This wall, covered by plaster, was inscribed with Christian graffiti, including references to Mary, Peter and Christ. But the most amazing find was a marble-lined repository the size of a safe deposit box, hidden within the wall. Figuring these possibly contained the bones of a pope, the workmen removed them for later analysis. They had assumed the pile of bones found underneath the victory monument were St. Peters.
Inside, she found a large piece of red plaster, which came from the repository that buttressed the red wall behind the tropian. On this fragment was a fourth-century inscription. Petr(os) eni. The word in Greek meant “Peter is here.”
The bones were analyzed by the same Professor Correnti. After eight years of careful analysis, he concluded that the bones found in the graffiti walls depository were of a man who died between the age of 65-70. This corresponds with the approximate age of Peter at his death.
The only bones missing were that of his feet. According to ancient writings, Peter was crucified upside down. The feet likely separated from the body in the process.
What I found very interesting is that the bones had been covered with royal purple and gold cloth. The purple had stained some of the bones, leading to the belief that they were wrapped after he had decomposed. Also, the bones themselves had dirt embedded in the pores, indicating that they had been in the earth a long time.
Pope XII announced to the public that the bones of St. Peter had indeed been found and rested in his tomb under his basilica. There seems little room for doubt….yet it does exist.
What kind of man could capture the hearts and devotion of millions throughout the centuries? Why would his tomb, since his death, be visited by throngs of pilgrims, embellished by the emperor Constantine, refined by three successive popes, and display Michelangelo‘s gloriously ornate dome?
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18 New International Bible