By Andrew Brookes
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Extra info for Air War over Italy 1943-1945
While we’re on the subject, it’s worth adding that a similar thing happened with the four Naiads Mario Rutelli cast in 1901 for the fountain in the Piazza della Repubblica (also called Piazza Esedra). It seems that the artist used a famous courtesan as his model for the florid opulence of their bodies. Here, too, the allusive realism of the figures fueled gossip and stirred desires. Since the Naiads couldn’t be covered, the seminarians who had to cross the piazza every day were told to divert their gaze from those wet, voluptuous forms.
The Via Appia also offered a myriad of fascinating detours, meandering paths, and the unexpected apparition of a funerary marker behind an elder tree, an inscription only a few words long that seemed to elude translation. It was the gravestones themselves, more than the surrounding landscape or even the engineering miracle of the Appia itself, that gave me the first keys to an understanding of the place where we were living. There was, for example, an inscription set into the wall of the portico of the tiny, Early Christian church of San Giovanni a Porta Latina.
One example is the church of San Giacomo in Settimiana on the Via della Lungara. This little building contains a curious work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini just to the right of the presbytery. It is the funerary monument of the jurist Ippolito Merenda, and is distinguished by a hovering winged skeleton holding a commemorative plaque between his hooked fingers and his teeth. Bernini inserted a similar bit of macabre realism in the tomb of Pope Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi) in Saint Peter’s. The pope is represented as humble and absorbed in prayer at the top of this elaborate, sumptuous creation.
Air War over Italy 1943-1945 by Andrew Brookes