It's a Matter of Perspective: Rome & Boston


Borromini's Perspective, Galleria Spada, Rome

I admit I hadn't heard the term 'Illusionism' in art terms until today when I was viewing Borromini's Perspective in the Galleria Spada, but this seems to be a current re-occurring theme in my travel.

Illusionism is when the artist creates a space within the painting that includes the viewer. An easier way to think about this is that the artist is playing tricks on us.

Perspective is a technique of developing depth and spatial relationships on a flat surface. Or in other words, using math to have our eyes play tricks on us. The first painting using perspective is 'The Tribute Money', by Fillepo Brunelleshi in 1415.

Galleria Spada is a great example of 17th Century nobility and their quest to collect art and artefacts, plus build and decorate homes to the most impressive standards of their day. Borromini's Perspective was commissioned by Cardinal Spada to grace his secret garden. It is now thought that the Cardinal wished to demonstrate the illusion of prosperity: from a distance it is aspirational, but in reality, it means nothing at all.

The forced perspective,build in 1653, has an arcaded courtyard that appears to be 37 meters long, but in actuality is 8 meters. The statue at the end of the courtyard appears to be life-sized, but is only 60 cm in height.

Last month, I toured around Boston following a list of weird things to do and came across the Scarlet O'Hara house on Beacon Hill. The house is of Greek Revivalist style and located at the end of Rollins Place, just off Revere Street...or is it? The O'Hara house is actually a detailed exercise in Illusionism and perspective, painted to obscure a brick wall over 30 years ago.

I imagine it is best not to compare these two as works of art, especially when traveling with a firey Italian, but the concept of space manipulation is still the same.

There are many examples if Illusionism or Perspective, forced or not, all over the place; from Constantine's Aula Palatina-Trier, to Potemkin's steps in Odessa, to anyone who had pretended to push over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This technique is used to create illusions of space, and sometimes delusions of grandeur. It is amazing what one can do with a little paint, or concrete, a photograph and a good dollop of math skills!

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Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.


I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 


 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!


 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 


So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.


When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 


From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 


Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!


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