Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rome, Day 4: Palazzo Spada and Campo de' Fiori

After visiting Piazza Navona, we went to Palazzo Spada to see the famous optical illusion. JJ read about it, and he was very intrigued. It was a must for him to see it. 

The optical illusion produced by forced perspective in the arcade courtyard was Francesco Borromini's work. The diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor make the gallery look 37 meters long. In fact, it is only 8 meters. The sculpture is only 60cm but it looks like life-size.

Francesco Borromini committed suicide in the end. He was a tormented soul, but his works make him immortal. His other notable work is San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

There is a study facing the courtyard. The palazzo also houses an art collection, mostly 16th century and 17th century paintings.

There were not a lot of visitors here. Most of them were looking at the paintings in the gallery. Being the only two people checking out the optical illusion, we just kept posing for photos. That was fun. The only drawback was that we were not allowed to cross the red rope, no standing inside the structure for photo op. 

The palazzo was built in 1540. It was purchased by Cardinal Spada in 1632. He commissioned Borromini to revise it for him. In 1927, Palazzo Spada was purchased by the Italian State. The palazzo houses the Italian Council of State today.

Photo: Courtesy of Jay Hou /
After we left Palazzo Spada, we passed by Campo de' Fiori, which is one block away from Palazzo Spada. You probably have read about this open-air market in a guidebook. The real thing is just all right. It is neither photogenic nor pretty. I didn't find any interesting shops there either. 

Photo: Courtesy of Jay Hou /
It is said Caravaggio killed his opponent at Campo de' Fiori over some disagreement about a tennis match. I like his paintings but he was an idiot.

Visit Campo de' Fiori only if you are in the neighborhood. Don't make it a priority or go out of your way to come here. There's not much too see, really. It is just a market. It seems the market is a place for troublemakers to hang out at night, fights and assaults happen.

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