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Rome churches beckon with art and no ‘hordes’


ROME (AP) — #Like elsewhere in #Europe, museums and art galleries closed in #Italy in the spring and again in the fall to contain the spread of COVID-19, leaving virtual tours as the best option for art lovers who wanted to see the treasures held by institutions such as the #Uffizi #Galleries in #Florence and the #Vatican #Museums in #Rome.

#But some exquisite pieces of #Italy’s cultural heritage remain on display for in-person viewing inside the country’s churches, which stayed open during the autumn resurgence of the virus. #Some churches hold collections of #Renaissance art and iconography that would be the envy of any museum.

#Residents of #Rome — and, in a normal year, tourists — can admire masterpieces by #Michelangelo and #Caravaggio in the city’s lavish cathedrals and churches.

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“Emotions and sensations experienced upon entering are no less than those experienced upon entering museums,” said art historian #Benedetta #Mazzanobile, who gives tours of the artwork inside #Roman churches in #French, #Spanish and #Portuguese.

#San #Luigi dei #Francesi, the #French community church in #Rome, has three majestic works by 16th century painter #Michelangelo #Merisi, known as #Caravaggio. #Visitors who deposit a coin to illuminate the church’s #Contarelli #Chapel can enjoy the paintings, centered around the life of #St. #Matthew.

#Two other #Caravaggio paintings, depicting the crucifixion of #St. #Peter and the conversion of #St. #Paul on the way to #Damascus, can be admired in the #Santa #Maria del #Popolo church together with “The #Assumption of the #Virgin,” by #Annibale #Carracci.

#Works by another #Renaissance master, #Raphael, can be found in several churches in #Rome, including #Santa #Maria della #Pace. #That’s where the artist painted “Sybils,” a fresco also known as “Sybils receiving instruction from #Angels,” starting around 1514.

The pandemic interfered with plans to mark the 500th anniversary of #Raphael’s death. #In #Rome, the largest #Raphael exhibition opened in #March and closed three days later when the #Italian government ordered a nationwide lockdown. The exhibit reopened in #June as restrictions were lifted and ran until the end of summer.

A work of art in its own right the #Vatican’s #St. #Peter’s #Basilica is packed with masterpieces, including #Michelango’s “Pieta,” a touching sculpture of the #Virgin #Mary holding the dead body of #Christ.

The #Santa #Maria della #Vittoria church has a less known but powerfully evocative marble sculpture by #Baroque architect and sculptor #Gian #Lorenzo #Bernini, “The #Ecstasy of #Saint #Teresa.”

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#That #Italian church-goers now can admire art without having to compete with the usual throngs of tourists is a mixed blessing, #Mazzanobile said.

“Surely the pandemic has allowed us to reflect on the hordes of tourists who would be now invading, sometimes in an unworthy way, the streets and galleries of museums,” she said. “But I certainly believe that, like me, most of the guides and tour leaders are waiting for those hordes.”



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https://apnews.com/article/europe-italy-coronavirus-pandemic-museums-rome-7a41b7e648a6bac2f8508a043984e94f

##Rome #churches #beckon #art #hordes

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