romALIVE 17: “Once upon a time. . . “

The holy father really got people out of their seats.

I am not a religious person, nor ever been mistaken as one. I don’t like dogma in any dish it comes in. I don’t like the meanness religiousness can sometimes take on. But I am not against religiosity, nor people who profess and show real religious conviction.

He is a resourceful and interesting man, in some ways worldly and cloistered.

This is my third time at St. Peters, and I finally am able to put it into words. I know about the pomp and ceremony, the tradition as well. This is a modern man, compared to some earlier popes. He is not one of position and power. Which is what makes him so attractive. And it is so different from how I feel about St. Peter’s church.

The one piece of art for me there that has a beautiful feeling.

There are many beautiful churches throughout the world. There are many beautiful churches in Rome, but this is not one of them. Bernini and anyone else who worked on this thing got so carried away, they lost the religiosity. There are signs of real feeling but they are few and far in between. Yes, it is a beautiful dome. Yes, the altar is exquisite. There is a ton of gold leaf. Raphael’s Transfiguration is there, a copy, eaten up by the overbearing scale. But it is all pomp. And perhaps no pope.

This is another one of those rare pieces.

Ancient Rome via Cinecittà

Set from The Borgias

What I am saying is make-believe should take on a different level. That afternoon of the same day, we travelled to the Cinecittà studios for a tour of another kind. Mussolini was instrumental in devising a modern movie studio, where he could deliver “his” message like a genie in a bottle. After the period of the white telephone films, and neo-realist discontent and defeat of Il Duce, Cinecittà went on to be the place for Americans to go for big extravaganza productions. Followed by Fellini, and modern Italian film.

Remember Anita’s Vatican dress?

It was great being at that studio for a tour, great seeing that it is alive and kicking today, a place where Americans, like Scorsese, go to deliver extravaganza’s like the Gangs of New York. If I need to be in make believe, this one makes me happier.


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