This morning we set out from the Derby as a group on our first Baroque walking tour. The first stop on our list was the Piazza del Popolo, already an old friend of mine. Something new to my eyes was the interior of the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Popolo. The facade and nave sculptures were done by Bernini circa 1660 and the apse by Bramante between 1600-1609. I enjoyed the interior of this church because to me it felt pristine and not overly adorned with gold plating and gaudiness. The Cappella Cerasi within Santa Maria del Popolo also had two Canvases done by Caravaggio, one of Italy’s foremost Baroque painters.

Santa Maria del Popolo

The next stop on our list was the well known Piazza Navona. The main structure, St. Agnese was designed by Francesco Borromini while the center piece of the piazza, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiume was the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Despite the fact that the two designers may have had a bit of conflict back in the day, Piazza Navona has become an icon of Baroque architecture and art. It is difficult to simply pass through the piazza without taking time to observe the fountains or simply take in the spectacle of people just being people.

St. Agnesi

Following the Piazza Navona, we made our way over to Santa Maria della Pace. As the church was closed, we were only able to take in some of the details of the exterior facade. There was definitely something that struck me about this church and I knew I would be back another day. Perhaps it was the way that the church occupied its space at the end of a small street or the way the facade seemed to gently fold and draw people in?

Santa Maria della Pace

During the “intermission” of our walking tour, we grabbed lunch and stopped at the Pantheon. This is obviously a must see while in Rome and despite the swarms of tourists, I would say it was pretty incredible. The way the oculus allows light to enter the dome and the main drum was innovative for its time and to this day is experientially unparalleled.

Pantheon

 Our afternoon session was primarily focused on a visit to Bernini’s San Andrea al Quirnale. As a means of understanding Bernini’s intentions, we were asked to sketch a rough plan and section of the church. In doing so, it was hard not to notice the richness of material and attention to detail that are part of Bernini’s design. By sticking with the order of classic forms, he empasizes both the materiality and construction technique.

San Andrea al Quirnale

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