I don’t care what anyone says – Rome is the city of Light. Paris glitters at nighttime with cafes and is overseen by the Eifel Tower, making sure that all the lights dance in a harmonized balletic choreography. New York City’s lights are like a friend who can party all-night – pushing you to see more and do more. But while both cities are lovely at night, they don’t hold a candle to Rome. It is the loveliest I have ever seen.
Light. It could be a Roman tour guide. It would take you to see Caravaggios at the Chapel Luigi de Fancesi, which I did today. Caravaggio’s ability to use light and shadow to create drama and intimacy and anger and ecstasy and anger and trepidation all at the same time will take your breath away.
Light would take you to the Pantheon where one simple shape in the ceiling of a temple lets in the perfect amount of light. Through this shape the space is neither light nor dark, bright nor dim, harsh nor soft. It is just perfect. Architects for over a thousand years have tried to capture that same feeling – most without even getting close.
Light gazes at you while you are eating pizza and drinking cappuccino – telling you to be in the moment and enjoy and be thankful for what you have been given.
Next, Light would have you walk along Dei Fori to see the Coloseum – different colors penetrating the arches of the destroyed building.
Light would have you see St. Peter’s Square when the sun is almost completely down and then have you walk across the Tiber to see the lights glitter on the water.
Light would have you stand in the middle of Piazza Venezia where the columns and statues jut out in front of the sky, carving light around horses and warriors, casting shadows on staircases, fences and roads.
Light – in all her complexity – has been my guide these past three days.