© Roberto Alborghetti Photos

© Roberto Alborghetti Photos

In this beautiful basilica in the very heart of Rome will be held next Friday, January 13, 2017 (6 pm) the official launch of my new book, published by Velar, entitled “Come Chicchi in Una Spiga di Grano” (it’s my fourth book about Pope Francis). The basilica is dedicated to Sant’Andrea della Valle and it is officiated by the Teatini Fathers founded by San Gaetano Thiene. With me will be: Father Salvador Rodea González, General Superior of Theatines and Father Carlos Gomez-Ruiz, Rector of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle. Paolo Sandini and Anna Scaglione ( Velar Publishing) will take care of the informations and sales service.

When visitors step into this soaring Baroque church, many of them are struck by the light; the whole interior seems to glow a magical greenish-gold. Others are stunned by the height of the dome, which in Rome is second only to St. Peter’s. Still others are drawn in by the large frescoes in the apse, particularly the crucifixion of St. Andrew (painted by Mattia Preti).

Sant’Andrea della Valle dates back to 1650 and is the burial site of two popes, Pius II and Pius III. Another distinction: it’s the setting of the opening act of Puccini’s opera “Tosca.” The church is just a few blocks from the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori and the palaces of Italian Government and Parliament (it is located at the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Rinascimento, in Piazza Vidoni 6).



The angel of Sant’Andrea della Valle church, realized by the architect Carlo Rainaldi in the years 1655 to 1665, fulfilling the designs of Carlo Maderno, is a special case of Rome’s lonely angel. Looking at the Baroque facade of the church,  one notices an angel suspended on the left cornice. While on the opposite side to the right, there is an empty space, proving to be quite asymmetric. The angel’s sculptor seems to be Ercole Ferrata, also the author of some statues of saints on the façade, (although it must be said that other scholars attribute it to Fancelli). The angel is carved into a particular pose, with one wing stretched up that seems to lean (some say support) the wall, and the other wing kept behind his back, as if he were injured or suffered from human frailty. Some believe that the statue is an allegory of the winged goddess of Fame. It would seem that even Pope Alexander VII did not like that angel and denied funding for the completion of the non-existent second one.





© Roberto Alborghetti Photos

Okay, we agree. We live in the world of advertising and smartphones (which day by day are unnecessarily more powerful). But it is not the most aesthetically pleasing the large billboard (about a smartphone) that in Rome is obscuring the focal point of St. Peter’s Basilica from Umberto Primo Bridge, along Tevere River. But have the City and the Mayor of Rome noticed it? Apparently not … So we list it in the avoidable ugliness album.


Ok, siamo d’accordo. Viviamo nel mondo della pubblicità e degli smartphones (che di giorno in giorno sono inutilmente sempre più potenti). Ma non è il massimo dell’estetica  il grande cartellone (su un nuovo smartphone) che a Roma sta oscurando il punto focale della Basilica di San Pietro da Ponte Umberto Primo, lungo il Tevere. Ma il Comune e il Sindaco di Roma lo hanno notato? Pare di no … Così lo elenchiamo nell’album delle brutture evitabili… Speriamo se ne accorgano…




I recently had the honour to meet Pope Francis for the presention of the biography I wrote about him. The private encounter took place in Casa Santa Marta, an unpretencious house where he usually lives. Before the encounter I had a very special gift: the possibility to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. I been also in the enchanting Cappella Paolina (the Pauline Chapel) to admire the incredible fresco paintings by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti : The Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1546–1550) and The Conversion of Saul (c. 1542–1545).

Being a sacred space, Pauline Chapel is a limited accessibility area. Despite the efforts of contemporary scholars to illustrate the genius behind these two works, they remain relatively obscure. This is due primarily to the fact that tourists are not permitted to enter the Pauline chapel because it’s a worship space. Most of those who do know of these works will never have the opportunity to see them in person. According to Williams no other work by Michelangelo has ever been so grossly misrepresented in reproductions. The only way to view these works as the artist intended them to be seen is to see them in situ.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter is the last fresco executed by Michelangelo. The artist portrayed St. Peter in the moment in which he was raised by the Roman soldiers to the cross. Michelangelo concentrated the attention on the depiction of pain and suffering. Pope Paul commissioned this fresco by Michelangelo in 1541 and unveiled it in his Cappella Paolina. Restoration of the fresco completed in 2009 revealed an image believed to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself. Vasari states about the fresco: “There are no landscapes to be seen in these scenes, nor any trees, buildings or other embellishments and variation”.

The positioning of St. Peter himself is often noted as the most interesting innovation Michelangelo implemented in this piece. He defied convention by positioning Peter’s upper body so that it cranes upward and twists his neck around so that his eyes make contact with the viewer.

The Conversion of St. Saul or St. Paul  is often discussed in conjunction with The Crucifixion of St. Peter. As its title suggests, the fresco represents the conversion of a lawyer from Tarsus named Saul (a man who prosecuted Christians) into a follower of Christ. In the book of Acts, Paul states that he saw an impossibly bright light and heard the voice of Christ himself. The blindingly bright light is the Apex of this story. The style is more mannerist than his earlier Sistine Chapel frescoes, and was not as well received by contemporaries.

Giuseppe Frangi (30 Giorni) writes: “On 25 January 1540, the Feastday of the Conversion of St Paul, until then celebrated in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Paul III Farnese consecrated to the saint whose name he had taken, the new parva (small) chapel, commissioned from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and built in just three years in the heart of the Papal Palace. The chapel – parva as opposed to the chapel magna, the functions of which had been taken over by the Sistine – was the chapel intended for the conclave. And above all it was the place where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, for which purpose it had been fitted with both an altar and a tabernacle. When Paul III consecrated it, the chapel had no decorations, but it was clear who would climb the scaffolding: it was again up to Michelangelo, just down from the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel, where he completed the great toil of the Last Judgment”.

 The reconstruction of the work – Frangi states – done day by day, made possible by modern restoration techniques, shows Michelangelo was capable of getting through a large amount of work in a day. Eventually there were 172 working days (85 for the Conversion of St Paul and 87 for the Crucifixion of St Peter), spread over seven years, with the break in 1544, when he was halted by health problems. These frescoes were largely ignored for centuries and incurred a great deal of damage due to neglect. In the early twentieth century there were some scholars who came to reconsider the frescoes under the new light of expressionism and abstraction.

William Wallace proposed an entirely new perspective on the subject claiming that the disproportionate quality of the figures is not a failing on the part of Michelangelo, but rather another instance of his genius. According to Wallace, the real innovation in this piece comes from the incorporation of time and space in the overall composition of the frescos. In addition to conceiving of these frescoes in terms of perspective, Michelangelo also took into consideration the architectural and environmental context they were to be set in.

After the last restoration Pope Benedict XVI said: “The two faces are opposite each other. One might therefore imagine that Peter’s face is actually turned towards the face of Paul, who, in turn, does not see, but bears within him the light of the Risen Christ. It is as though Peter, in the hour of supreme trial, were seeking that light which gave true faith to Paul”.

(2 – To be continued)







© Roberto Alborghetti

During a recent visit to Rome I was captured by a sort of “open air art installation” which showed a stunning colors palette… Really incredible colors and abstract for my “Lacer/actions” research about torn posters and urban signs.

As you may see now, that “thing” where I took my images from ( see my previous post: Pure abstract in Rome from an astonishing open air art installation ) was a disfigured traffic sign. It was located in Rome centre, along Via Cavour.

When I saw it, I was really struck by the way rain, sun, pollution, flyers, glue, paper residuals, spray paint , stickers and even some chewing gums grasped at it. It seemed that everything and everyone – intentionally or carelessly –  attacked it ruthlessly…

Yes, that defaced traffic sign may be considered as an example of urban vandalism, a proof of the urban degrade or a sign of some human uneasiness (and the fact that passers-by didn’t noticed it at all, confirms my thoughts). Anyway, it was a rare expression of a big City life. So, enjoy some other images from this spontaneous and public art installation in which it’s possible to trace colors and shapes reminding us some modern art streams and artists… They are natural, realistic and not manipulated images (as all the 40.000 pics I took so far for my project). Sorry, but I like to “unmask” contemporary art…. 

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Ecco l’incredibile “cosa” da cui ho realizzato la serie di immagini astratte per il mio progetto “Lacer/azioni”. E’ un segnale stradale deturpato, che ho scoperto nel pieno centro di Roma. Tutto e tutti  vi si sono accaniti – sole, pioggia, smog, spray, carte e perfino cicche di gomma americana – fino a trasformarne i contenuti e la sua ragione di essere. Sicuramente è lo specchio di una città. Si potrà anche dire che è il segno del degrado urbano e dei vandalismi. E’ comunque il riflesso di uno stato (e magari di un disagio). Ed è sicuramente una  incredibile ed anomala installazione fatta di immagini casuali di puro stile astratto.


© Roberto Alborghetti

Rome is a surprising city also for my Lacer/actions project concerning torn posters and urban signs… I’ve already posted about the colourful and random “UNDERGROUND POP ART” AT TIBURTINA SUBWAY STATION .

During another recent rush-visit to the Italian Capital, I was captured by a sort of “open air art installation” which showed a stunning colors palette… Really incredible colors flowing from the City of Art and History.

It was a pure abstract mashed-up, located in the centre of Rome, exactly along Via Cavour. Together with AMSTERDAM “ART INSTALLATION” NEAR THE ROYAL PALACE, I think it was one of the most incredible things I had the way to document in these months. So, enjoy some images. Realistic images, not manipulated or digitally enhanced, as all my 40.000 pics I “captured” so far during my research…  In the next days I will reveal where they come from…   



Roma è una città sorprendente anche per quanto concerne il mio progetto “Lacer/aazioni”  relativo alla (pubbli)città strappata ed ai segni metropolitani. Ho già postato sulla curiosa “pop art” presso la stazione della metropolitana di Tiburtina. Ora ecco altre immagini che ho colto su una sorta di incredibile installazione che ho visto in pieno centro. Sono immagini di puro stile astratto, con incredibile colori che sembrano sgorgare dalla Città dell’Arte e della Storia. Intanto…buona visione; nei prossimi giorni rivelerò da dove le ho “catturate”….