Pilgrims in Rome!
I've had this blip in mind for at least the last two months, ever since we decided to revisit Rome. It shows Caravaggio's Madonna of Loreto, or Madonna of the Pilgrims, in a side chapel of the church of Sant'Agostino. (View it large.)The Virgin appears to the travelers in an ordinary doorway; one could imagine encountering the same scene in a street nearby the church--and I cannot imagine that Caravaggio did not have that in mind when he conceived the image. I find it incredibly moving.
This was our first stop this morning; another star in the church is Raphael's Prophet Isaiah. Nearby was San Luigi dei Francesi, with three other major Caravaggios depicting St Matthew--an overwhelming ensemble. Then on to the Galleria Doria Pamphili--a still-private palace with top quality old masters, including two more Caravaggios (really special is the early Rest on the Flight to Egypt).
After lunch we stopped at Maria Sopra Minerva, which features an entire large chapel frescoed by Filippino Lippi. Then to the Pantheon, one of the best-reserved Roman structures in the city. Returning to our hotel we stopped at Piazza Navona, a long piazza with a church by Borromini and Bernini's famous Fountain of the Four Rivers. Whew!