I have been privileged to be among the thousands of people who have followed closely behind Enrico Bruschini as he walked through the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of Saint Peter. President and Mrs. Bush, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton and Cokie Roberts, who wrote the foreword to this book, are also among them. Enrico's breadth of knowledge, his finely tuned artistic eye, and his deep desire to teach make him the consummate guide. And as a curator and a Roman history scholar, he has unprecedented access to areas of the Vatican that are rarely open to the public. With In the Footsteps of Popes: A Spirited Guide to the Treasures of the Vatican (Published by William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; December 10, 2001; ISBN 0-688-17756-5), Enrico now commits his lively tour to paper. Complete with maps and a full color insert of photographs, this book becomes the ultimate source for learning about the rich secrets and countless treasures of the Vatican.
Italians often say that to know Rome, a lifetime is not enough. For those who cannot devote their lives to study of the Vatican, Enrico selects the works of greatest significance. He explains each one thoroughly and thoughtfully in passages that are clearly marked with keys or stars, making the book as easy to navigate while on-site as in the comfort of home. Depending on the amount of time available, there are different maps and tours that address the works of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, as well as countless other artisans. His extensive insights into Italian history, politics, scholarship, and culture through the ages -- as well as art -- explore the deeper levels of significance of each work. And Enrico never forgets to have fun, so the colorful personalities of the artists come to life. Michelangelo, for instance, upon overhearing someone who mistakenly attributed his Pieta, now in St. Peter's Basilica, to another artist, crept into the gallery at night and carved his name across the front of the Virgin in grand letters, the only sculpture he ever signed.
In the Footsteps of Popes: A Spirited Guide to the Treasures of the Vatican will bring back wonderful memories for those who have already been to Rome, provide detail for those who are here, and offer inspiration for those who are a planning on visiting. The extensive black-and-white photographs from the archives and the full-color reproductions of important works and rooms, along with Enrico Bruschiniís flair for description, deliver a book that is equal parts a political overview of Western civilization, a vivid cultural commentary, and thorough art history text.
About Enrico Bruschini: Enrico was named the Official Guide of Rome in 1989 and art historian of the American embassy in 1984. Subsequently, he was appointed Fine Art Curator at the Embassy until his retirement in 1998. His scholarship might be best known for his discovery of a virtually unknown masterpiece that is displayed in the center of the Grand Staircase of the American Embassy in Rome. For years, the sculpture of Venus was believed to be a very adept copy of a Giambologna. However, in 1984, through painstaking research, Bruschini searched the Vatican archives and was able to prove this sculpture to be a true work of the master Giambologna, a discovery that made headlines in both Italy and the United States. He has also written for numerous publications on the art of Rome and has lectured extensively for various universities and cultural organizations.
The book is already available in Rome Bookstores of can be ordered from online booksellers.
Links to some online booksellers for this book:
P.S. 1: June Hager, another distinguished US Embassy Rome alumna has a Rome book that remains one of my Favorites. It is Pilgrimage : A Chronicle of Christianity Through the Churches of Rome, and, like Enrico's book, it is available locally and through online booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/104-3669443-9287947 or
P.S. 2: If the above review looks familiar, it may be that you have already seen the official publication press release, from which I cadged whole paragraphs of text. Why did I do this? Because the work was already well done, and because I don't believe in re-doing work that's already done well.