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Piazza della Rotonda, Italy

April 27, 2012

Another memorable site visit while in Italy was the Piazza della Rotonda, north of the world famous unforgettable Pantheon.

When Daphne and I visited the Piazza della Rotonda, we literally ran into the Pantheon anxious to be inside because we’ve read much about it during our university years. It is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings built in 126 AD. Inside the Rotunda the marvel of the architectural Renaissance period is built in all its glory. Elegant, tall, beautiful Corinthian columns stand guard adjacent to niches that houses significant sculptures in various tombs and chapels; and the most memorable event was to watch the gradual movement of the circular “sun-light beam” as it traces across the coffered dome and the podium niches.

As I exited the Pantheon making a sketch was on my mind. I did not think the exterior of the Pantheon would make an interesting sketch, so I wandered around the Piazza searching for an appropriate ‘frame’. I found the fountain with its obelisk interesting with the façade of the historic buildings beyond creating a textured backdrop. Unfortunately the station point I wanted to do my sketch from was occupied by outdoor restaurant seating. We took a seat and ordered lunch.

The fountain built circa 1575 is adorned with beautifully sculptured images of aquatic species and heads of mermaids, and according to the inscription the obelisk it was commission by Pope Clement XI in1711.

I used the fountain and the obelisk to set the scale and the start of my composition for my A4 sketchbook. The fountain is on a slightly higher plateau than the Pantheon due to the slope of the Piazza, and I strategically sketched it to the left in order to capture a glimpse of the Pantheon at the lower level.

It is an important and dominant edifice in the piazza. From the Pantheon it appears elevated which gives it a ‘floating’ appearance in the midst of the piazza thus enhancing its significance of the overall scale of the square. And as the obelisk ‘reaches’ for the sky, one becomes aware of the low heights of the surrounding buildings, which seem to give a ‘comfortable-feel’ to the overall spatial quality. Cafes and restaurants take advantage of this, lining the periphery with chairs, tables and umbrellas.  Indeed the piazza acts as a natural resting place after visiting the Pantheon.

  1. Daphne Yee Man permalink

    I learnt about Pantheon in my architectural history class more than 20 years ago, and I remembered my professor told us that it’s one of the most ‘perfect’ classical building, beautifully proportioned and at the same time creating drama.

    Experiencing Pantheon is surreal as it’s hard to imagine that this building with this tall dome was built so long ago. Its exterior does not quite prepare you for the awesome spacial interior. The light shaft through the oculus in this gigantic space makes every visitor spell-bound. What a human artistic and engineering marvel.

    The piazza outside Pantheon is another classic Italian civic space. The obelisk with the fountain makes a very nice landmark where people play with water in the summer heat. I was lucky to be able to enjoy a plate of delicious spaghetti and a cappuccino in one of the outdoor restaurants in the piazza savoring the moments while Errol immersed in his sketching.

  2. quirkyartist permalink

    I once lived quite close to here. I long to get back there to sketch, so it is nice to see that you were there. I very much like the way you have framed it.

    • Thanks, it was a great trip and very successful sketching and visiting the Venice Biennale architecture event.

  3. This is a lovely sketch, makes me want to visit there some day 🙂 Also, thank you for sending me your book of sketches, it took quite a long to get to Barbados but it was well worth it. Keep up the great work Errol, you are very talented. I look forward to many more from you.


    • Thanks Fairoza, Yes Italy is an interesting place to visit, historically and culturally it is a fascinating country to experience. This was my second visit there. Stayed a few days in Rome, Florence and Venice, I am sure you too will have a memorable experience. Happy to know you enjoy the sketchbook. I had to send you a copy since you are my very best Facebook friend.

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