Friday, September 27, 2013

Il Gesù

where: Piazza del Gesù/Via degli Astalli
hours: 7:00-12:30 & 16:00-19:45
best time to visit: after 16:00 or after the 10:00 morning mass

Not far from Piazza Venezia is the 16th century Chiesa del Gesù, the mother church of the Jesuits. 
It is said to be one of the first churches to introduce the Baroque style into architecture and art and has served as a model for Jesuit churches all over the world.
Although the church's interior was designed originally to be plain and unadorned, in the 17th century patrons of the church commissioned many artists to add to the decorations inside the church to indicate their wealth and status.
Today the church is visited for its beautiful, illusionistic ceiling fresco by the Baroque artist il Baciccio, a large mirror on the floor allows you to look at the ceiling to see the detail without straining your neck.

The church also holds Bernini's bust of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine from 1623 in the right of the sacristy.

The altarpiece at the high altar is a Circumcision by Alessandro Capalti from the 19th century.

The third chapel on the right is decorated with ceiling, wall frescoes and the altarpiece of the Archangel Michael and the Angels by Federico Zuccari

The chapel next, dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier, was designed by Pietro da Cortona with the altarpiece of Saint Francis Xavier by Carlo Maratta

On the left side of the nave, opposite the chapel to Saint Francis Xavier is the Cappella di Sant' Ignazio. It holds the marble and bronze tomb of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. It was designed by Andrea Pozzo, who was also responsible for most of the decorations and the fantastic ceiling fresco in the church of Sant'Ignazio da Loyola.  

The third chapel on the left is the Cappella della SS Trinità decorated by Durante Alberti with the altarpiece by Francesco Bassano the Younger of the The Most Holy Trinity.

The left side's second chapel vault frescoes are by Niccolò Circignani, known as il Pomarancio.

Also worthy of a visit are the Rooms of Saint Ignatius. Built in 1543 for the saint and creator of the Society of Jesus, these original rooms were where the saint lived for the twelve years before his death.
The entrance corridor is richly decorated with frecoes by il Borgognone (Guilliame Courtois), and not to be missed is the stunning illusionistic fresco by Andrea Pozzo.
Entry to the rooms is located on the outside of the church – follow the signs. Entry is free but donations are accepted.
entrance: on the front facade of the church
cost: free/donation welcome
open: Monday to Saturday 16:00-18:00 and Sunday 10:00-12:00

il Baciccio
Carlo Maratta

Artists in il Gesù
Agostino Ciampelli
Alessandro Capalti
Andrea Pozzo
Durante Alberti
Francesco Bassano the Younger
Niccolò Circignani

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Getting Around

I found walking Rome was the best way to see everything.

The metro, trams and buses are also an easy and cheap option.

Buses and the metro can get crowded. Tickets must be bought before boarding and validated.

Beware of pickpockets.

Buses 40 (express) and 64 start at Termini and end near Saint Peter's, traveling past places of interest, returning the same way.

Some stops along the 64 route are:


Piazza Venezia

Via Nazionale

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Bus 75 takes you past the Colosseum to Trastevere

Bus 910 takes you to Villa Borghese

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These are a few of my favourite books about Rome

The Cardinal's Hat by Mary Hollingsworth
This book tells the story of one of the sons of Lucrezia Borgia who became a cardinal during the 16th century.

The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev
I love this book telling the story of Caterina Sforza who was fighting against the Borgia pope to retain the rights of her land and her freedom.

The Popes by John Julius Norwich
A detailed but easy and enjoyable book to read about the history of the papacy and the popes.

The Pope's Daughter by Caroline P Murphy
This book describes in beautiful detail, the life and times of Pope Julius II daughter, Felice della Rovere.

The Families Who Made Rome by Anthony Majanlahti
I love this Book! It explains the families who made Rome what it is as we see it today and also looks at their triumphs, scandals and failures.

Rome by Robert Hughes
This book explains Rome from its beginning and expands on the Renaissance and Baroque until present times.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Another of my favourite reads about a lost Caravaggio painting and the search for its provenance.

other sites I trust for information on Rome are:
Rome Art Lover
Churches of Rome wiki