Angie Shanahan, well known Cork artist, talks about her love of Rome
Even if I’m going somewhere else in Italy, I always spend a night or two in Rome. As well as the old, there is always some new place to explore, a quarter I haven’t been before.
Amemory of Rome
Recently I flew in on New Year’s Eve. Fireworks exploding created a great buzz around the place. Surrounded by cheering and shouting Romans we brought in the New Year in Piazza della Repubblica. I have a great memory of champagne corks bobbing up and down in the waters of the fountain in the early hours. New Year’s Day morning, we walked along the Via del Corso, to enter between the beautiful paired churches into Piazza del Popolo. All of Rome seemed to be gathered there, sitting at the cafes, chatting, basking in the warm winter sunshine. Others stood around the steps of the obelisk and fountain posing with fashionable dogs. Kids cycled round and round on their Christmas present bikes and scooters or lined up to watch the puppet shows in the red and white stripped tents. It’s a great spot.
At end of the Christmas holidays, Befana on January 6th is almost a bigger celebration. Piazza Navona is the place to be, with a huge fun fair for kids. Sweets shaped like pieces of coal are the speciality. Befana, a wizen old woman, gives naughty children the real thing instead.
And your favourite restaurant?
Cul de Sac, an enoteca off Piazza Navona and near the statue of Pasquino. Quite often I go there after the afternoon flight from Cork.Take the 64 bus from Termini and get off for Piazza Navona. Just one word of warning, keep your eyes open for quick fingers on the way down. The enoteca has an extensive range of wines by the glass. I’d recommend a light supper, and particularly the house pates. Unfortunately the Cork to Rome flight is stopping from the end of October until March. So this treat will be denied me, sadly.
Cul de Sac, Piazza Pasquino 73
The Via Appia is no more than a twenty five minute bus ride from the centre. Go on Sunday when traffic is banned, it’s a great place to bring a picnic. As well as the experience of walking on an ancient road that spans back to the Roman Republic, it is the perfect antidote to the crowds and heat of the tourist traps in the city centre. Funeral monuments line the road, so it’s very peaceful, and wandering by them you can feel a great connection with the people who lived here over two thousand years ago.
What’s your favourite piece of Art?
Apart from ‘Supper at Emmaus’ in the National Gallery of Ireland,I saw my next two Caravaggios in Italy in Santa Maria del Popolo. Well, that is, the first time I saw ones in the setting for which they were commissioned, rather than a museum. Both very dramatic works,’The Conversion of St Paul’ and the ‘Crucifixion of St Peter’ were considered very risque in their time. I admire him for his gritty realism, and great use of light and shade or in other words, chiaroscuro.We all know that Rome is a fabulous place for art, ancient and modern. It’s more than a museum, it’s also a great place for catching up on visiting exhibitions, Italian or foreign.
Last summer I queued with huge excitement to visit the Caravaggio exhibition – 400 years after his death- in the Scuderie del Quirinale. This building, now a fabulous exhibition space was once the royal stables. The Caravaggios were stunningly displayed, with many coming from America and our own ‘Supper at Emmaus’ also included. A once in a lifetime opportunity. And at the same time the city hosted a De Chirico – he died in 1978 and its possible to visit his house near the Spanish steps.Also I was thrilled to visit a big Edward Hopper show, the American artists first retrospective in Italy. Amazing to see so much great art in one place over the space of a few days in between eating wonderful food and sampling the Italian vino. Ah Roma!
Angie is currently exhibiting her work, a selection of paintings
entitled ‘Towards the Edge’ as part of the
upcoming ‘Engage Bandon Arts festival.23rd-26th Sept. Viewing in Bandon Townhall Kilbrogan Hill between 11-5pm-Fri to Sunday.