Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Rome Journal III: The Janiculum Hill
View from the Gianicolo (photograph by Hallie Cohen)
Janus Films was the company that originally produced the
Ingmar Bergman movies you watched in the 60’s (now Bergman
films are distributed by Criterion). There was a famous Janus film logo that
created a frisson whenever you saw it since you knew that it was going to
introduce say the famous trilogyWinter
Lights, Through a Glass Darkly
and The Silence. Janus, the two faced
God, after which the company was named is also the provenance of Rome’s Janiculum
Hill or Gianicolo (as it's called in Italian) on which can be found several other kinds of cultural institutions
including the Spanish Academy in Rome and the American Academy in Rome, which
occupies the auspicious McKim, Mead, neo Renaissance building near the top. Toward
the very summit, cars zigzag wildly around an arch which contains the Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina.
There are many other cultural wonders on the Janiculum including San Pietro in
Montorio which contains the Templetto, the tomb designed by the Italian
Renaissance architect Donato Bramante, at the purported location of the martyrdom of St. Peter. The Janiculum is not one of the seven
hills of Rome (though it's the second highest, it lies outside the borders of the city proper) but from the gardens of the Villa Aurelia which is now also part
of the American Academy you can see all of Rome. In 1849 the Janiculum was the site from which Garibaldi successfully fought of the invading French army. One of the streets leading to the top is the Via Garibaldi. The Janiculum descends right
into Trastevere, the artistic and bohemian neighborhood full of winding streets that
contain its own set of wonders including Saint Cecilia in Trastevere, with Stefano Maderno’s famous and highly realistic sculpture of the writhing martyr replete with axe marks on her neck.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.