Tag Archives: Rome

Uncategorized  Elle.com: Emmylou Harris Is Ready to Do Something About the Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since World War II

Emmylou listens as JRS officials explain the plight of EU refugees. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Emmylou Harris listens as JRS official Jill Drzewiecki explains the plight of EU refugees. Photo by Justin Catanoso

My dear friend and editor Lisa Chase, a senior editor and writer at Elle, the glossy women’s fashion magazine out of New York City, opened the door for me for one last Emmylou Harris story. This one is very different, mostly a Q&A of a more personal nature for Elle.com. The link is here.

Excerpt: As we walk the Roman streets that tourists avoid, Emmylou shares with me her motivation to get involved, the wellspring of her humanitarianism, and her everlasting belief in the power of music to change the world.

Environment  Mongabay: Emmylou Harris links climate change to refugee crisis, lends her voice

Emmylou Harris, humanitarian.

Emmylou Harris, humanitarian. Photo by Jacquelyn Pavilon, courtesy JRS.

Glenn Scherer, my superlative editor at Mongabay.com, never wavered when I told him I could get him a story from my interview in Rome with Emmylou Harris that would work on the site. After all, the Americana music icon was in Rome to learn about the European refugee crisis and what she could do to help. Because it’s becoming increasingly clear that mass migration in Africa and the Middle East is being driven to some degree by drought, severe weather, and sea-level rise — all under the umbrella of climate change — Emmylou just needed to say a bit about the connection and I’d have my story. She did. Here’s the link.

 

Uncategorized  Global Post Magazine: Singer-songwriting legend Emmylou Harris puts ‘mercy in motion’ for EU refugees

 

Emmylou Harris, wringing her fingers as she learns more and more abou thte EU refugee ciris. Photo by Justin Catnoso

Emmylou Harris, wringing her fingers as she learns more and more abou thte EU refugee ciris. Photo by Justin Catnoso

This is a little outside my specialty of climate change, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend time with and interview Emmylou Harris, one of the greatest voices in American music. She’s also a great humanitarian, as my story tries to explain. Here’s the link.

I met her in Rome, Italy, on June 3 thanks for the herculean efforts of my good friend Jill Drzewiecki with the Jesuit Refugee Service. She organized the three-day visit, which included a private concert for about 60 invited guests at the residence of David Lane, US ambassador to UN Agencies.

Emmylou trying to take in all the information being tossed her way by members of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Emmylou trying to take in all the information being tossed her way by members of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Photo by Justin Catanoso

My good friend with JRS, Jill Drzewiecki, telling Emmylou about the discrimination encountered daily by refugees in Italy.

My good friend with JRS, Jill Drzewiecki, telling Emmylou about the discrimination encountered daily by refugees in Italy. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Emmylou Harris performing at at private concert on June 2 at the residence of David Lane, US ambassador to UN Agencies.

Emmylou Harris performing at at private concert on June 3 at the residence of David Lane, US ambassador to UN Agencies. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Travel  Roman Holiday: Three Spectacular Domes

The glorious ceiling inside St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome

The glorious ceiling inside St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome

In this travel story, printed in a Wells Fargo custom magazine, I write about three of my favorite domes in Rome. There are hundreds of them, of course, and favorites can shift from day to day. But these? They are always near the top, and always worth visiting again and again.

Roman Holiday: Three Spectacular Domes

By Justin Catanoso

It happens every time I visit Rome. My pulse quickens as I near the city’s historic center. It’s not the chaotic traffic that has my blood pressure rising, nor the anticipation of one marvelous meal after another. Like a lover separated from his partner for too long, my heart races at the first sight of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

There it is, tall and majestic, off in the distance, across the Tiber River, high on a hill. It dominates this ancient skyline and announces in no uncertain terms that you are entering a place of architectural wonders.

Rome is a city of domes. There are scores of them topping churches and cathedrals, baths and basilicas. They are visually arresting from street level. But with three domes in particular, a special experience awaits you if you get closer, if you look closely or if you’re there at the right time.

Take the steps. Resist the urge, after a long wait in line, to go directly into St. Peter’s cavernous interior. Instead, shell out 5 euros and ascend the 551 steps to the cupola atop the dome. Midway up, you will enter a walkway that circles the famous main alter of St. Peter’s far below. It feels a little bit like heaven there. Light streams in through 16 tall windows.

Unseen from the floor, but now at eye level, a ring of plump cherubs in gold and silver mosaics by Baroque artist Cavaliere D’Arpino surround you. Before reaching the top, wander the roof of the basilica. Only there can you see the carved coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V – lions roaring above garlands of pears and flowers – around the base of the dome. It’s an apt honor. Sixtus, who made sure Michelangelo’s design was strictly followed, died the year the dome was completed, 1590.

Don’t be fooled. When is a dome not exactly a dome? When it’s tromp l’oeil, or French for optical illusion. The grand Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the historic center of Rome, was supposed to have an imposing dome to crown its sanctuary. It was never built. The casual observer would never know it. Baroque artist Andrea Pozza, working in St. Ignatius in the late 1600s, was a master of tricking the eye. The nave ceiling fresco appears to open directly to the sky above.

Beyond the nave is what looks like the dimly lit vault of a dome. Eight marble ribs appear to arch upward to support a windowed cupola. It’s only when you walk in farther and stand beneath the “dome” that you realize you’ve been fooled. There’s no dome, only a huge round canvas stretched flat and painted to look like one.

Raining roses. It is quite natural, when standing inside the Pantheon in Rome, to stare transfixed at the nearly 2,000-year-old ceiling of the dome. It’s a marvel of advanced architectural achievement from an ancient world. I’m always astonished by its precise roundness, its honeycombed beauty, its unblinking oculus. I often think the sight is so powerful that it cannot be improved upon.

But on Pentecost Sunday, which comes seven weeks after Easter, it happens. During a long, elaborate Mass, Roman firemen clamor on top of the dome to the lip of the oculus with huge bags of red roses pedals. As the Mass ends and music swells, the firemen empty their bags to a collective gasp of excitement. When I was there in June, a thick shaft of light angled through the oculus. Rose pedals shimmered and fluttered through the light. People reached to grab as many pedals as they could.

All by itself, any day of the week, the Pantheon is one of Rome’s most incredible sights. But in one burst of color and magic that lasts a few minutes just once a year, the Pantheon and its glorious dome are rendered even more incredible.

Radio  Witnessing a young Pope John Paul II’s passion

While having lunch last spring with good friend David Ford of WFDD, I told him about the time my wife and I — during our honeymoon in 1984 — witnessed the charismatic aura of Pope John Paul II while visiting the Vatican. Ford liked the story so much that we headed straight back to the studio to record it, unscripted. It aired right around the time of the former pope’s canonization. You can hear the recording here.

Travel  AOL Travel: Popes John Paul II, John XXIII: A Saint’s Cousin on Being a Pilgrim in St. Peter’s Square for a Canonization

ITALY-VATICAN-CANONIZATION

On the occasion of Pope Francis canonizing two of his beloved predecessors in April 2014, Zach Everson at AOL Travel asked if I would write about story about the spectacle of canonization in Rome from the perspective of someone who had a good reason in 2005 to attend one. I was glad to do it. The story is here.

Excerpt: “On that memorable day, my family and I –- more than 60 of us from America, each of us bursting with pride –- crowded into St. Peter’s Square for what was Benedict’s first canonization ceremony. Rome goes crazy for these events. Stores and restaurants, not to mention buses and cars, are festooned with posters of the saints-to-be. Everywhere we looked in the vicinity of the Vatican, we saw our family name and cousin’s gentle smile. We felt like special guests at a giddy global block party.”