On the footsteps of Caravaggio: Rome tour
Caravaggio Rome tour
If you are looking for a private Caravaggio Rome Tour that includes the sights where you can admire Caravaggio’s masterpieces and where he lived, Tiber Limousine Service can arrange it for you. Just contact our customer service.
The Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome
Caravaggio was an artist much loved but also much hated and he made many religious works but often we wonder if he was religious or not. In his works, does Caravaggio respect the Catholic religion or makes fun of it? The doubt that Michelangelo Merisi was not a practicing Catholic stems from the fact that he frequented violent people and not ecclesiastical circles.
Perhaps not everyone knows that even today in Rome you can walk in some of the streets where Caravaggio used to walk, streets that remained almost as they were in the sixteenth century. In Via del Divino Amore you can literally walk on the footsteps of Caravaggio in Rome.
Another of these streets is very important in his life, namely the Via della Pallacorda where Caravaggio killed for trivial reasons Ranuccio Tomassoni, an episode well known to everybody. Via della Pallacorda is located in the heart of Rome, in the rion of Campo Marzio. What was the pallacorda? A very popular game at the time, we could call it a forerunner of the game of tennis and Caravaggio loved playing this game in the streets of Rome.
We do not know exactly why Caravaggio killed Ranuccio Tomassoni on May 20th, 1606 but we know that the murder occurred during a pallacorda match, exactly in the street that now bears the same name. We suggest you to take a walk there. You’ll feel the same atmosphere of the time, you’ll hear the sound of the ball hit by Caravaggio bouncing on the pavement, the screams for a point awarded to the opposing team. the struggle between Caravaggio and Tomassoni, running away from Rome when he realized he had killed him.
From Via della Pallacorda a pleasant walk along the Via di Ripetta will take us to the nearby Piazza del Popolo where you will find the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, famous for its two oil paintings on canvas in the Cerasi Chapel: The Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul.
The history of these two masterpieces by Caravaggio is very interesting and intricate. The two canvases we can admire today in the Cerasi Chapel are not the paintings that Caravaggio painted originally. Let’s tell the story from the beginning. In 1600, Caravaggio went to a notary to sign a contract with Tiberio Cerasi, treasurer of the Pope, for the realization of two paintings for the Cerasi chapel, which he had bought in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. Michelangelo Merisi in the contract is called “Egregius in Urbe Pictor, that is the best painter in Rome.
In the contract signed by the two men it is stated that the two paintings will be made on boards of cypress wood and not on canvas like the paintings we can admire in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Piazza del Popolo.
The following year, in 1601, Tiberio Cerasi dies and leaves his possessions to his heirs who must then also take charge of the paintings commissioned to Caravaggio. At this point the story gets complicated. Caravaggio painted the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul, on boards of cypress wood, but the heirs of the Cerasi refused to take possession. We do not know the exact reason, but many think that it was because of the cost: cypress wood boards were very expensive at the time and the heirs did not want to pay the amount requested. Other say that the motive was another, less venal, and that is was that the heirs did not like the paintings.
The two paintings on wooden planks of cypress came into the hands of Cardinal Sannasio and his heirs then sold them to the Duke of Medina and the paintings ended up in Spain and then the Conversion of St. Paul was sold to a nobleman in Genoa, Francesco Maria Balbi and finally became property of the Odescalchi family. It is now in Palazzo Odescalchi in Piazza Santi Apostoli in Rome.
The painting is very different from its twin made on canvas that can be admired today in the Cerasi Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. St. Paul was a Roman soldier, a persecutor of the Christians and he is on the ground, fell from his horse, and he covers his eyes to escape a blinding light as Christ descends on him to bring it to him. Everyone knows the story narrated in the Acts of the Apostles: Saul is riding on the road to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven dazzles him causing him to fall while a mighty voice shouts at him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”.
Where is the second painting on cypress wood board painted by Caravaggio, the Crucifixion of St. Peter? Unfortunately it has been lost.
To make the most of your time in Rome you can make a reservation of one of Tiber Limousine Service Rome tours and you can include a stop in Piazza del Popolo to visit the church of Santa Maria del Popolo and admire the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul in the Cerasi chapel.
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