Monday, 28 June 2010

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The Great Caravaggio Hunt My love of Caravaggio should be no secret—I did have the entire history of painting to choose from and went with that—but apparently I've never shared the story of Scott's Great Caravaggio Hunt. It starts like this: Scott and his wife were staying with friends of hers outside of Rome. Scott's Italian was laughably poor, but because he had been in Italian-speaking parts for a while, it approached passable-for-a-tourist. Still, when venturing about in Rome, he allowed his wife—who speaks it, among many other languages, fluently—to do all the talking. On the day he and had wife had dedicated to seeing the Caravaggios, their last in Rome, his wife took ill. "Now I'll never get to see the Caravaggios!" he moaned. "Pish-posh," she replied. "Go on your own." "On my own?" "You have the map. There's no reason for you to stay cooped up in this apartment with me on our last day in Rome," she replied. She was correct. He did have a map of Rome on which he'd marked all the Italian museums and churches that contained Caravaggios. He wouldn't even have to use any Italian because everything he needed was on the map. So he packed up his backpack and had their friend drive him to the train. "Remember, the 4:30 p.m. train from Rome is that last one that stops here," their friend told him as he exited the car. He waved and did the math: it was 9:00 a.m. now. Forty minutes on the train gets him there at 9:40. Half an hour to walk to the first museum; twenty from there to the second, and so on. "I should be fine," he told himself as he boarded the train. "After all, I have the map." He did not have the map. The map was on his bed, where it had been placed to make certain it would be remembered. "No matter," he told himself. "I was going to start with 'The Deposition of the Christ,' which is at the Vatican, and surely I can find the Vatican." He could not find the Vatican. After nearly an hour of wandering around with his newly purchased map, he decided to brave mockery and ask someone where the Vatican was. The very first person he asked—a tiny, gentle-looking older lady—pointed at his head. "No sono the Vatican," he replied. She gestured him to the side and pointed again, so that despite her tiny stature, he would realize that she meant, not his head, but the giant building behind him, which was the Vatican. Which he and his wife had already been through. Which meant that the Caravaggio there must have been in one of the many corridors and wings then being renovated. "Nerds!" he said to himself. He knew the next place he wanted to visit was the Church Santa Luigi dei Francesci, as it not only housed his favorite painting, but he thought he remembered how to get there. He did not. When he did eventually...

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