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venerdì 17 marzo 2017

In the bliss of Filippo

bennibag the colour of a spring Roman sky, to buy it (15 euros) send me a mail!
On march the 16th, every year that God sends to us in this strange world in its topsy turvy ways, in rain or shine, the beautiful Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, masterpiece of Baldassarre Peruzzi, that looks on the savoiard street of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, opens its doors, with valets dressed up, to the Romans who want to visit the baroque chapel dedicated to the great Roman Saint Filippo Neri. He, Filippo (Pippo for us Romans…) was the darlingest and loveliest of saints, simple, beloved, loving, he lived in the XVI century and dedicated his whole life to the young children that roamed the Sacred Eternal City in dire poverty. But all the little ones, abandoned and unloved, found in Pippo a friend and a father. Also Paolo Massimo, the little prince who lived in the beautiful Palazzo alle Colonne…

One sad day, one very sad day, on the 16th of march of 1584, the little prince laid in his deathbed. Pippo was summoned, but could not come in time. The child, a fourteen year old, died and when the dear priest arrived, it was too late… Yes, but not too late for a man of God. Pippo sat beside the little dead boy and asked him to come back to him. And Paolo did! He talked to the priest, received his Sacraments and eventually said that he rather be in Paradise with his dead mother and went away again. So the story goes. The room where this wondrous facts took place is now a beautiful baroque chapel. And this year, walking through the dark rooms of the Palace and up the stairs to reach the second floor and the chapel, I was there too, to remember the miracle of a great Saint, to pray where it took place and to live an ancient Roman tradition that I brought back home tied to my heart, together with Filippo's bliss.

domenica 7 agosto 2016

Like a Barbie doll

My brave ibiscus in prayer...
Rome, in august, is a lady in prayer, empty of men and full of charms. I like to roam, in the first hours of the morning when the sun is still in his pijamas, in the streets that are silver and white, in the absence of people, through the deep silence of thought. I like to roam, here and there, nd slip in one of the church that I love. This morning, just for the joy of bare facts, I was  in Santa Prassede, a beautiful church that stands, deep in solitude, behind Santa Maria Maggiore and that keeps in its holy womb so many beauties that I can hardly talk about them in this short note. All the angels of Paradise gather on its sidewalls and they are so solemn and tall and beautiful that if you listen carefully you might hear the flapping of their wings or the whispers of heaven…

There is a masterpiece bust of Gian Lorenzo Bernini that looks at you through his marble, empty eyes. But of all, in glory of gold, the Chapel of Saint Zenone where the loveliest Madonna, a Barbie doll of the Middle ages, smiles at you from up above, with her dear eyes twinkling in joy and the lovely veil the colour of zapphires. And peace, in the sprinkling of waters, is all around while the heart melts and dances in the cosmos regained.

sabato 11 giugno 2016

Power in Rome

Wherever you live, whoever you are, one day or other, you are called to visit the Eternal City. Not only because of the beauty it contains, in the mash of different cultures and lives, but also – and most of all – because it is in Rome, in between these seven hills, the she wolf and the twins, that our western world was born and bloomed in centuries; here and nowhere else, the language of law (not the one of philosophy, which always belonged to the greeks) was spoken since the start. The Romans had four words to eplain power but only one word, the “imperium” was the real power, the power to rule and to punish put together. The power that Augusts avoked to himself to save the Romans and Rome from the decline and fall that was yet to come…

All this and more in my tours for you. I am here, feel free to contact me!

A message from Chris and Angela who walked with me last sunday, a lovely day!: Hello Benedetta.....I just wanted to say thank you again for the wonderful tour you took us on.  Your stories were so interesting. Yesterday we went to The Vatican and also had the tour of St. Peter's Tomb.  The guide was telling us various stories and Angela and I smiled at each other on more than three occasions remembering the lessons we had from you.  We knew the stories and the history because of you.  Thank you again, I will report back to Phil the lovely day spent with you.  Lots of love Chris and Angela xxx



venerdì 3 giugno 2016

Many tours, Roman walking tours for you

This is me under a greek moon, with my very first bennibag (see shop!)...
I am a journalist, a writer, a blogger, deep in Roman culture and history and art, and everyday life.
Spiritual tour: 4 hours together (from the Trajan Column to Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza) to see and understand with new eyes the silent flow of life that is hidden and obscure to all that run around with blind eyes and closed ears. Join me, have a unique experience in Rome!
I organize many other tours: food tours in the Esquilino, Church tours in the Monti area, shopping tours and whatever suits you best. I will be more than happy to make you happy, please give me a call, see you in Rome
Benedetta

martedì 24 maggio 2016

Today, yesterday, always in Rome

Flowers in Sardinia
In the Suburra, where I live (being the first Rione of Rome)0, once upon a time Julius Caesar lived. Yes, the great general the dictator, the man who changed everything in the Eternal City used to live in the middle of the Rome of the people. Not in the Palatine (where August will later build his palace), not in the Aventine (Remo’s hill, the hill of the birds, which is nowadays one of the best places to live in Rome…). No: Caesar, being of a simple equestrian family (not a senatorial one) lived in the Suburra, meaning Sub (under) and Urbs (the City), a place where the crowds lived, where mishaps happened and everyday life just lingered in dark corners…

I happened to guide some people in the Suburra, just a few days and, oh, so many things to see that, living there, I had never,  so to speak, noticed!The Suburra, the Rione Monti, is home of the last Roman artisans, mostly carpenters and, on the 19th of march, day of Saint Joseph, the ancient spirit of Catholicism rises and the Rione is crossed by a procession of people devoted to the earthly father of Christ. A little piece of tradition that starts its way through the Rione from the Chuurch of San Lorenzo in Fonte, a church so small a cosy one would like to live in it... A church that was nothing more than the house of the centurion who arrested Lorenzo and then became converted and a Christian…After the mass, at eleven o’clock, the snake of people following the holy statue of Joseph and the Child, twists and twirls through the little streets of the ancient Rione. Something a visitor should not miss: today, like yesterday and always.
Please contact me if you happen to come to Rome an would like a very special tour guide! Feel free to write to me t this address: mbennidv@gmail.com I will be happy to answer and very happy to make the best for your stay in Rome...

venerdì 15 aprile 2016

Paradise regained

Bennibags of my heart, send a mail if you want one!
I do not know why,and it is – believe me - sheer mistery to me, people think that the Middle Ages are a dark period of history and something that altogether scares deep inside, leaving the shadows of the devil somewhere hidden in the bush... But no, no, absolutely not! During the Middle Ages, the great, luminous saints of Catholicism were born and bread: Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Saint Dominic and many many more that can replenish a big book. So many are the saints and martyrs of the Cathedra of Saint Peter that a huge book (that I am reading right now and that belonged to my grandmother)does not tell the story of everyone of them. Today, for instance, is Saint Anastasia (Anastasis meaning in greek resurrection), but many othe saints are cherished today: Saint Paterno, Saint Leonida and other ones that I do not know. And not only saints but great artists worked and dwelled in those long lost days: Giotto, Pietro Cavallini, Arnolfo di Cambio andnd witers like Dante and Boccaccio and Petrarca and Cecco Angiolieri...
In Rome, the Middle Ages, breathe and prosper in every secluded angle, in every church and in the deepest deep of everyday life. They smile, just to mention one thing, from the beautiful mosaiques of the Christ Pantocrator in many churches (Saint Clement, Saint Mark, Saints Cosma and Damian and on and on in a neverending line), but there is a place, a sacred, golden place where the Middle Ages are so very much alive and palpitating that one could stand in all that beauty for hours on end and the place is the Zenone Chapel in Santa Prassede. Up above, the angels, in golden silent, pray for us on earth, a deer drinks the water of life (the Word of the Father) from a happy spring, Mary is as beautiful as a beautiful doll and all around us is gold like gold is paradise, Paradise regained.
If you want to walk with me for a unique Roman tour, send me a mail: mbennidv@gmail.com

mercoledì 12 agosto 2015

Numa, the great

All throughout its long, long history Rome had its heart divided into two. On the one side: gates open to the east, the Greeks and its Gods and Goddesses and philosophers (how far from Romans were these theorethical fellows from the lawful, practical Romans…), and Egypt with its mysterious and mistycal charms; on the other side, the culture of the Sabins, where the true roots of the Roman seed came: grain and sheep and olive groves and vinyards in the rich countryside that stretches inland, toward the Adriatic sea. It is there in the lands of the Sabins (Sabo meaning sacred) that I spent some of this long, hot, sunny summer. It is there, in the silver hills that I could trace back on the flight of thought where everything began.

It is there that I met, let’s say it in a methaphorical way, the great king Numa, who came after Romulus, and was consacrated to the Gods of his silver lands. He was the one to organize the priesthoods in Rome, he put together Romans and Sabins (after the famous rape of the beautiful sabin girl) to build the future grandness of the Roman venture. He used to talk, for counseling, with the Nymph Egeria, who helped him in the difficult art of ruling his people. He listened to her wise words and ruled in wisdom for many, many years. As I read about him, I could see him come alive in the lands where he always lived, even as the King of Rome. There are no Numas, now in Italy, but the memory of this great King still lives in Plutarch and sometimes, in my sabin nights, I could just hear him wisper in my ear the true story of the forgotten sabin roots of the Roman Empire…