Dinner at the Hotel Forum with (clockwise from left) Sharif Said, Bob Weir,rnChris Check, Mary Kohler, Chilton Williamson, Jr., Ruth Besemer, ClydernWilson, and Anne Wilson.rnit. ‘I’lie great cathedral was—for nie, atrnleast — a disappointment. The visualrnmagnitude of its proportions having beenrndeliberately reduced by architecturalrntricks, the edifice simply does not appearrnas gigantic as it certainU is (size being thernonly thing that impressed Mark Twainrnabout the place), while the interior, exceptrnfor Bernini’s splendid baldachinrnabove the high altar, is strangely cold, almostrnto the point of grimness. And thernfour statues in the Piers of the Crossing—rnSS. Longinus, Veronica, Helena, andrnAndrew—also by Bernini looked to me asrnif thev had been carved from soap. Onrnthe other hand, the Crucifix Chapelrn(Bernini again) with its golden window isrnliving baroque, Michelangelo’s Picta inrnthe Picta Chapel is more alive than liferneven tiiough one of its two figures is dead,rnand I experienced an incommunicablernthrill, entirely unexpected, at standingrnupon the circular stone medallion, of anrnalmost imperial purple and only slightlyrncracked, where Charlemagne stood to receivernfrom the Pope the crown of HolyrnRoman Emperor. (The event took placernin the Basilica of Constantine on whosernsite St. Peter’s stands, the stone itself havingrnbeen removed to the new building.)rnStill, most moving for me finally was therngreat number of confessionals —carvedrnfrom mahogany or another dark woodrnand scattered about the marble flooringrnlike bathing machines on a beach, eachrnwith its sign designating one of a Babel ofrnlanguages — where people from allrnaround the world kneel to confess theirrnsins, each in his own sinful tongue. Thisrnwas the spectacle which caused the PuritanrnHawthorne, who found St. Peter “terribly”rndisappointing for “its want of effect,”rnto note afterward in his journal hisrnopinion that “a great deal of devout andrnreerentia] feeling is kept alive in people’srnhearts by the Catholic mode of worship.”rnWe were given a tour of the Scavi orrnNecropolis — mv party by a fresh-facedrnvoung seminarian from Omaha — overrnwhich Constantine’s basilica was builtrnand viewed, through a subterranean window,rndie Confcssio beneath the high altarrnwhere the bones of St. Peter rest. Itrnwas a solemn moment in a solemn, indeedrna hallowed, place—but again, notrnso poignant to m mind as the obeli.sk inrnthe Piazza S. Pictro, brought to Rome inrnA.D. -57 by Caligula, who set it up in hisrncircus. It is said to be the last thing Peter,rnhanging upside down on a cross, saw beforernhis martyrdom.rnThen it was mealtime again, as it alwaysrnseems to be in Italy, and my cosufferingrnspiritual nature was suppressedrnonce more by temptation in the fornr of arnsumptuous pranzo, I no longer rememberrnwhat or where.rnLike time put on fast-forward by increasingrnage, the tempo of our visit appearedrnto accelerate with the passing ofrnthe days, until the week collapsed into arnI blur of successive sensations and impres-rnJ sions from which I can recall Marcornorn^. Respinti arguing that the unification ofrng- Italy in reality was the most divisive eventrnin its histor’, making it necessary for Italiansrnto rediscover and revive their ownrnculture and tradition; and Tom Flemingrnconcluding, in his brilliant appreciationrnof E.M. Forster and Forster’s Italian novelsrn(A Room With a View and Where AngelsrnFear to Fread), thatrnThe communists and expatriatesrnare wrong: Loving Italy is not incompatiblernwith loving your ownrncountry, your own hometown.rnThis was something the ancientsrnunderstood . .. They could, likernDiocletian, govern the knownrnworld and never give up their longingrnfor their native province . . . Irnhope that you have learned some ofrnthese lessons from this week—allrntoo brief that it has been —in therngreatest city the vvorld has everrnknown.rnDinner at the Ristorante Vecchia Roma with (clockwise from left) AlbertornCarosa, Judith Bereczky, Rick and Linda JMHOCCO, Kathleen Pfeiffer, andrnPaul Oherbeck.rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn