Posts from the ‘churches’ category

Comparing Churches

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

During our trip, we visited several churches that I had been to a few times before. I already have more than a few photographs of these beautiful places, so I decided to try something new this time. At every church we visited, I stood in the exact center of the main aisle, with my back to the front door, and tried to take a perfectly centered shot looking straight down the aisle towards the altar. The unique character, grace and immense beauty of each church is crystal clear from this spot.

Day 10 – Palermo, Sicily

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

We had signed up for a guided tour that would take us all over Palermo, and up in to the hills to a town called Monreale. The only good thing about having to get up early on vacation is being able to enjoy the sunrise, and it was a pretty incredible sunrise.

Here’s one of my favorite photos from our trip – the sunrise as we arrived in Sicily


The story of our morning in Palermo is an easy story to tell: two towns (Palermo and Monreale), two cathedrals, an incredible view, shopping and gelato. Our tour guide was great – she filled us in on lots of fascinating details about Palermo and Sicily while pointing out beautiful buildings left and right. We arrived with several other tour buses in Monreale, and climbed up many steps to the piazza and the cathedral. The Cathedral of Monreale is a masterpiece of mosaics that depict the biblical stories, with a massive mosaic of Christ above the altar. Absolutely spectacular.

After we visited the cathedral, we had about an hour before we had to be back on the bus. That was plenty of time to buy four gifts, and take in an incredible view of Palermo. Back on the bus, and back down the hill for a drive-by of a few more gorgeous buildings and piazzas. Our last stop was the cathedral, which is far more ornate on the outside than the inside. We started our trip with a church that has massive sculptures of the 12 apostles lining the nave, and Palermo’s cathedral has statues of female saints lining the nave. Very beautiful.

Then, we returned to the ship to spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the view before heading back to our cabin to pack our two massive suitcases.

Day 7 – Barcelona

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve had opportunities to go to Spain not once but twice in the past eighteen months, although this time we had to do without our fantastic tour guide (my mom).  We arrived at 10am so we got to sleep in and take it slow — at this point, we had been traveling for almost a week, we had been blown away by three cities so far and we’ve been keeping a pretty active pace, so we were still half-asleep when we got off the boat and found our way to one of Barcelona’s double-decker open-air headphone-narrated hop-on/hop-off busses. It was touristy but perfect — Barcelona is all about architecture, and the bus gave us the chance to look at so many buildings that we wouldn’t have seen from the sidewalks without walking with our eyes up and walking in to people.

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

We got off the bus in Placa Catalunya and walked around to see the fountains, the shops and street market of artists. Then, we wandered through the Gothic Quarter and made our way to Barcelona’s cathedral. You might think that after seeing so many churches, it’s hard to be wowed by yet another one, but that’s really not the case. We saw two spectacular, very different churches in Barcelona, and both blew me away. Barcelona’s cathedral reminded me of the Gothic cathedrals in France — impossibly tall columns, graceful arches, vaulted ceilings, dark stone and spectacular stained glass windows. Very different from all of the marlbed Roman Baroque churches we saw a few days ago. We wandered in to the cathedral’s adjacent courtyard, which had several lovely chapels, and for some reason, a little pool with several geese.

Then, back to Placa Catalunya and back on the bus. Barcelona is full of buildings designed by Modernista architect Gaudi, and most of the rest of our afternoon was spent exploring Gaudi buildings. First, the bus took us by Casa Mila, which is one of the few Gaudi buildings I could recognize before I started cramming for this trip. Then we got our first view of Sagrada Famiglia (Gaudi’s finest, and THE thing to see in Barcelona), then got off the bus and walked up to Park Guell. Park Guell is an unfinished park designed by Gaudi, full of that characteristic colorful fragmented broken tiles. It was worth the walk up the hill and the many stairs just to see the view of Barcelona (despite the fog).

Sagrada Famiglia

Sagrada Famiglia

Back down the stairs, then a cab back to Sagrada Famiglia — it was finally time to see this masterpiece for ourselves. I will say this for the record. I was wrong, and I stand corrected. I had thought that I wouldn’t care for this modern architecture stuff, but Sagrada Familia blew me away. The exterior is not really my thing – the sculptures on the facade are so blocky and it made me miss the impressively elaborate drapery of so many marble sculptures in Rome. But the interior of the church took my breath away. Sagrada Familigia is so new that it is still being built, but Gaudi’s vision is crystal clear. He paid homage to thousands of years of church architecture while completely redefining and inventing his own architectural language. The stained glass windows were the most beautiful thing I saw that day.

It was around 5pm at this point and we stopped at a little sidewalk cafe for a late-lunch/early-dinner, then back on the bus! The sun was starting to set, and I love seeing buildings lit up at night, so we spent the rest of our time in Barcelona (2 more hours) riding the upper-deck of the tourist bus. We saw Casa Mila again, and neighborhoods I should probably learn more about, then up to Montjuic, the section of Barcelona that includes the Olympic stadium (from the 1992 Olympics), and the Royal Palace. It was really breathtaking to see this neighborhood lit up at night, with skyline views of Barcelona, and we even got to glimpse inside the Olympic stadium as we drove past.

With 20 minutes to spare, we got back on the ship and decided to spoil ourselves with some late-night room service. The following day (today, as I write this) is our full day at sea, and we were very much in need of some extra sleep, some sitting around, and a day without a schedule.

Day 6 – Monaco

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Day 5 – Florence

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

dsc03503 Our first port of call is Livorno. The cruise offered several opportunities to explore various Tuscan towns such as Pisa, Lucca and Siena, but for us, it was a no-brainer. We signed up for the bus ride to Florence, an hour and a half inland. We only had five hours of free time to wander Florence before we had to get back on the bus, but there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to introduce my husband to the city where I lived for my junior year. Florence is a beautiful dreamworld, and it was simply mind-blowing to take this five-hour journey to my past. This is my handsome husband in front of il Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

Brian was not completely unfamiliar with Florence – three of my paintings in our house are of three of my favorite things to see in Florence, including one that we saw a copy of in Williamstown, MA (see photo). Plus, we had been to an exhibit on the Gates of Paradise in NYC a few years ago, so he had become familiar with those gorgeous gilded panels before seeing them in person.

We had an incredible lunch before making a dangerous but inevitable venture in the nearby  mercato nuovo. Can’t go to Florence without buying leather, so we did.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

We wandered and explored some more, then all too soon, it was time to go. I knew it would be hard to leave, but it was harder than I thought. Fortunately, our tour guide read my mind, and added a little extra treat to our visit. We got back on the bus, then drove up a nearby hill to Piazzale Michelangelo – the best place to get an incredible view of the whole city, and especially its spectacular cathedral. Not enough time for us to go up there on our own, although I had really wanted to, but I was extremely happy that the bus took us up there on our way our of town.

We got back on the boat just in time to enjoy a spectacular sunset before dinner.


The sunset as we left Livorno

Day 4 – Rome & Civitavecchia

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Some of my favorite churches in Rome are right near our hotel, so before leaving Rome, we visited five more churches. The first three all have something in common, and they’re all very different from so many other churches: they’re round.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

First we visited San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, better known as San Carlino because it is tiny … tiny but gorgeous. Designed by the Baroque architect Borromini, San Carlino is a masterpiece of geometry and curves and it makes incredible use of a small space.

Next, Sant’Andrea al Quirinale — beautiful gilded dome — and then San Bernardo. This one is much easier on the eyes after seeing so many overwhelmingly ornate churches. San Bernardo is a plain round room of gray stone, with pale yellow walls and large sculptures in niches all around. Perhaps one of the quietest places in Rome.

The last two were Santa Maria della Vittoria, famous for Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, and a rather violent scene in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Warm golden brown tones all around, and a gorgeous ceiling. Last stop was Santa Susanna, the American Catholic Church of Rome, and the only Roman church covered in frescos. One of my favorites because it’s like walking in to a book – you can walk around and ‘read’ the story of Santa Susanna.


The view of Civitavecchia from the Noordam

And then our trip to Rome was over. It was around 1pm, and it was time to catch a train to Civitavecchia and board the Noordam. We got settled in to our cabin fairly quickly, and then spent the afternoon exploring the ship. Ten decks of dining options, entertainment, pools, bars, comfortable chairs and incredible views. Hands down the biggest boat I’ve ever been on: three laps around the promenade deck is one mile.

We had an incredible four-course dinner with some lovely people, then continued exploring the ship. The shops were a bit distracting, and we were eager to sign up for internet access so we could let our parents know we had set sail!

Day 3 – Rome

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Day 2 – Churches of Rome

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

The view of the ancient Roman Forum

The view of the ancient Roman Forum

First full day in Rome, and we covered A LOT of ground. Rome is full of piazzas, fountains, museums, cafes and churches, and (maybe not a surprise?) I tend to focus on the churches. We went in to eight churches on our first day in Rome, five on our second day, and we finished off with six churches on our last morning in Rome.

That said, one of my favorite pictures from this day is of the forum. After a long day of walking around, we picked up the pace once we noticed that the sun was setting because of I know of a great spot to catch a view. We climbed up to Piazza del Campidoglio on the top of the Capitoline Hill, and viewed the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum (including the Colosseum a block away) just after the sun finished setting.

Day 1 – Vatican City

Friday, October 12th, 2012

As I’m writing this on October 15th, we are aboard the Noordam somewhere in the Mediterranean.

St. Peter's Square

Brian in St. Peter's Square. As we made our way down Via della Conciliazione towards St. Peter's cathedral, it started to rain heavily. Fortunately, we were able to buy umbrellas from the ever-present street vendors, but we still got a bit wet. But St. Peter's Square is pretty impressive even in the rain.

We arrived in Rome on Friday, October 12th around lunchtime, settled in, napped off the jet lag, and made our way over to Vatican City. The Vatican Museums offers the option to the tour the museum at night on certain Fridays in the Fall, and since it fit in perfectly with our itinerary, we jumped at the opportunity. First, we visited St. Peter’s Cathedral – we got a pretty wet (see photo) because it started pouring, but still completely worth it. There is absolutely nothing more amazing in the world.

Then, to the Vatican Museums. I’ve been to there a few times before, and it was AMAZING to see the galleries at night. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the Raphael Rooms, especially the room that has the School of Athens, so it was pretty incredible to be able to share that with Brian. I’ve been in that room 6 times before, and it still floors me to see it in person. Brian was really awestruck by the Map Room, and of course, the Sistine Chapel Ceiling is a must see.

Sidewalk cafe for a very late dinner, back to St. Peter’s Square to see the dome lit up at night, then back to the hotel to pass out.


Us (just before the rain started), just moments in to our Roman adventure, jetlagged and failing to take a photo of ourselves that includes the largest cathedral in the world right behind us.

Us (just before the rain started), just moments in to our Roman adventure, jetlagged and failing to take a photo of ourselves that includes the largest cathedral in the world right behind us.

Luna da Miele

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Today is Day 1 of our 10-day honeymoon!
We are in Rome until Monday, then we board the ms Noordam for a 7-day Mediterranean cruise to Livorno (near Florence), Monaco, Barcelona, Tunisia and Palermo.

Check out our google map  ‘BD Luna da Miele 2012’, which marks the places we expect to visit.

View BD Luna da Miele 2012 in a larger map

Stay tuned for lots of pictures!!

Fitzgerald Park

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

imag0481 There’s a mysterious park next to my supermarket. Above it is more like it. Melissa ‘discovered’ this park when we first moved here, and she told me I would love it. It’s not that I didn’t believe her, but the park is at the top of a hill (Mission Hill), and it always looked like a pretty steep climb. They recently built a staircase in to the side of the hill (not that stairs are any easier for me than hills) so I finally decided to check it out before buying my groceries.

Worth it.

Just as I figured, this hill-top park has an amazing view of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, better known as Mission Church, better known as the church where Ted Kennedy’s funeral was held. It was pretty amazing to be eye-level with the bell tower of a cathedral, and it was incredibly quiet and peaceful up there in the middle of a busy neighborhood. So many hidden gems in Boston!

Kevin W. Fitzgerald Park:

Click here to see more of my photos of Mission Church

Boothbay Harbor

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Boothbay Harbor

Moments after arriving in Boothbay Harbor, we took in the spectacular view from the porch of the Greenleaf Inn

Maine is a treasure, and the Greenleaf Inn in Boothbay Harbor is a gem. Five DiMattias spent a lovely New Englandy weekend wandering in and out of shops, eating incredible meals, sitting on shady porches and watching the sailboats.

King’s Chapel

Friday, August 10th, 2012

King's Chapel

King's Chapel

Another groupon, another important item checked off my list. To honor the national holiday that is Mel’s birthday, we had afternoon tea and scones at a fancy cafe on Newbury Street (using a groupon).

Before that, we played tourists in our own city and crossed yet another item off my list — we visited a Boston landmark: King’s Chapel. Mel used to work at King’s Chapel, one of Boston’s oldest churches, so she knew the inside scoop, but she had never been on an ‘official’ tour. Only recently, they have started offering a special tour called ‘Bells and Bones’ — up to the bell tower and down to the crypt. I probably should have asked a few more questions to get a better idea of what I was in for, but instead I decide to follow along. First we went down to what is possibly the creepiest basement in Boston. Dead Bostonians in bricked-up vaults partially blocked by filing cabinets, rubbermaid bins of office supplies, clothing racks with Christmas pageant costumes and stacks of broken antique chairs. Also, it was extremely warm. Then, up a few flights of steep stairs to yet another flight of steeper darker dirtier stairs to the refreshing cool breeze of the belltower and a 2437 lbs. bell cast in 1860 by King’s Chapel parishioner Paul Revere.

Then we sat down for a nice cup of tea.

London Cafe

High Tea, with scones and other delicious treats, at the Royalton Suites' London Cafe on Newbury Street

London Cafe

London Cafe

Old South Church

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Finished another painting!

I started a handful of paintings in 2010, then a few things came up in 2011 – a few painting commissions and several months of wedding planning kept me away from other projects. So now I’m putting the finishing touches on paintings that were about 80% finished two years ago.

I take a lot of pictures for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that some photos eventually turn in to paintings. In September 2009, my dear friend Maureen and I went out to lunch on Boylston Street — two photos from that day would eventually become paintings (one’s not done yet).

Old South Church

Old South Church
Copley Square, Boston
oil on 12x20" canvas

Old South Church
Copley Square, Boston
oil on 12×20″ canvas

Old South Church

Old South Church, Fall 2009

This is a painting of Old South Church — a gorgeous church in a city full of gorgeous churches. In September 2009, I snapped a photo (on the right) that contrasted the colorful early-Fall leaves in the church’s award-winning garden with the sun-lit stone work of the church. The following winter, when I decided to begin a painting of this scene, I realized that I needed more pictures because I wanted to include the church’s beautiful bell-tower. So I grabbed this photo, hopped on the T, found the exact spot that I had been standing and re-framed my shot to include the tower.

Then, I heard the most beautiful music coming from inside the church, and suddenly it dawned on me — it was December 24th!  I stepped in to the church, which is gorgeous on any day, and absolutely stunning when it’s decked out for Christmas (photo on the right). I sat down and enjoyed a magical, beautiful, peaceful organ rehearsal, then headed home to start a new painting.

The church’s founders chose an incredible location for their church. Old South Church was built in 1875, next to the Boston Public Library (built in 1848), and across Copley Square from Trinity Church (built 1872-1877). The finish line of the Boston Marathon, established in 1897, is steps away from Old South Church. In 1914, the Copley T station was built right next to Old South Church, and now thousands of commuters and tourists pass it each day. The John Hancock Tower, New England’s tallest building, was built across from Old South Church in 1976.

Old South Church, interior

Old South Church, interior
Christmas, 2010


Taking a day off

Monday, June 11th, 2012

imag0265One of my favorite ways to spend a day off is visiting some of my favorite spots in Boston

This is why I love Boston

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012


Old meets new in Boston’s South End (corner of W. Newton and Columbus)

Wall Street

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

After touring Ground Zero, we walked through Lower Manhattan, past Trinity Church and Wall Street, to an incredible  after-wedding brunch before hitting the road and heading back to Boston.

Fifth Avenue

Saturday, April 28th, 2012


We spent the day wandering around New York City before my cousin’s wedding. After driving to Lower Manhattan, we then took the subway to the Frick Collection – one of my favorite museums, which I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years.

Mission Church

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


From the Longwood T stop on Huntington Ave, there’s an incredible view of Mission Church (The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). It catches the light of the setting sun just as I’m getting out of the gym and heading home.

Gift shopping downtown

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Wandering around my favorite area of Boston, doing a little Christmas shopping 🙂
Boston Public Library (left) and Old South Church (middle)

The steeple of Old South Church lining up nicely with the Hancock Tower



Corner of Mass Ave and Comm Ave

Gorgeous little shop on Newbury Street with fabulous tin clocks

Christian Science Plaza

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Met up with an old friend for dinner at the Prussia, and wandered around Christian Science Plaza before and after dinner. This is the Mother Church of Christian Science reflected in the pool. I love this area of Boston!

Best way to beat the heat

Best way to catch up with an old friend: take laps around a gorgeous reflecting pool as the sun sets, then head to Newbury St for ice cream. Thanks for a lovely evening, my dear!

I love my new camera. And this church. This is the First Church of Christian Science  (or the Mother Church), with the old church (the tower in front), lining up quite nicely with the new church (the dome and the bigger building in back). I highly recommend checking out the interior of both, and wandering around this Plaza at night. 

See what I mean? This is the Mother Church on the left, the Sheraton  (in red in the background), the Prudential Tower (with the yellow lights at the top) and the 101 Huntington tower 

Christian Science Center

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

These are other photos that I’ve taken of the Christian Science center complex in the last few years.

Libraries and Churches

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Newbury Street

Saturday, January 19th, 2008