White Light

January 13, 2011 / Local Interest
Rome, Italy
It’s one of those small things that you don’t even think about the rest of the year really. “Nothing to write home about,” as they say. But on those occasions that it does happen, for those 15 minutes that it catches you off-guard while you’re on your way to appointments or running errands, you certainly do tend slow down a notch, kind of dazed like you’ve been knocked on the head, and you just settle in for the marvels that each twist in the road reserves for you.

The phenomenon is simply Rome’s mid-day, early winter light. It tends to happen only on the sunniest of days that lie within two to three weeks to either side of solstice, at the time of year when the noon sun is at it lowest in the sky. Depth is completely cancelled out… everything appears to be squashed onto the same plane. Shadows are pretty much horizontal, and most everything from the ground to a height of about 10-15 feet minimum seems to have sunk into the darkest of shadows. From that level on up, however, the most intense white light floods the city, crashing into the buildings and monuments, bouncing off one and into another, sloshing around with every reflection, refracting as its luminosity grows in amplitude. If you had to describe the “color” of this light, it would be white gold.

GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

36 Responses to “White Light”

  1. beautiful photos!! in fact, these days are my favorite. i blend in with all of the tourists, clicking away!!

    Reply
  2. graceann beamish

    Thank you for all the beautiful e-mails I receive from you. this was just how wonderful Italy is. I just came home from this beautiful place and I miss it already.

    graceann beamish

    Reply
  3. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    Certamente,
    ..it is not a thing of which you would at first think. Yet an event occurring without conscious thought that makes you feel alive as you experience the moment. Thank you for focusing our attention to what we have enjoyed as a breath of life.

    Reply
  4. Patricia Cardellio

    Architecture is one of the assets that makes Rome such a spectacular city. These photos are breathtaking and such an example of bringing attention to this magnificent architecture. Thank you for your great web page.

    Reply
  5. GB – scrumptious! Congratulations once again on superb photos and equally compelling commentary. These fleeting, enthralling scenes are themselves worth a trip!

    Reply
  6. How wonderful to be aware of this natural phenomena painting Rome in its distinct light. How wonderful that you shared it. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Edward A. McCabe

    Right! Just left there. Still semi blind. Now in Sicily. Similar light here. But here you wake up happier because you are here and not there.

    Reply
  8. The pictures are amazing but I really love the descriptions! Love Italian notebook!

    Reply
  9. This is so stunning and I really long to be there. Missed it when I was there, but appreciated all the rest of my dad’s native country.
    I enjoy each day’s experiences from you. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. trionfale

    fabulous! and we can thank the crystalline sky and the travertine for participating in the conspiracy of beauty….we are lucky!

    Reply
  11. Agnes Esposito

    Beautiful pictures.Wonderful commentary. I can’t wait to be in Rome once more, later this year. Grazie

    Reply
  12. Nov.30,2010 Marie

    Thank you so much for the beautiful photos, I so enjoy Italian Notebook and look forward to it every day.

    Reply
  13. Me too Carol! GB – you are a poet! Beautifully written and described. With the photos and your eloquent words I felt as if I were right there with you. Mille Grazie il mio amico.

    Reply
  14. hebegb

    Thank you all for your kind comments, that’s great that you so enjoyed the note!! Rome writes itself, really. Especially on days like the one above.
    Warm regards to all,
    GB

    Reply
  15. Taube Ponce

    Beautiful photos – but then what photos of Rome (or Italy) aren’t beautiful?

    The phenomenon you discuss is quite well known in Manhattan – I used to read about it decades ago. I believe that architects have even given it a name – “the golden hour.” Even a city like Manhattan that can be so ugly at times would become unearthily beautiful when this beatific light would highlight the tops of the skyscrapers, drawing our eyes to the skies and heaven.

    Reply
  16. This white light symbolizes protection.Places of great spirituality are often bathed in it.
    Lovely article and fotos of the eternal city.

    Reply
  17. Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    What could be nicer than the gifting of these images!
    For some- memories of those experiences and perhaps for others promises to come for those who have not yet had the experience. thanks to our editor!

    Reply
  18. Yes it is simple breathtaking. Wonderful winters in Rome can be spectacular as was last weekend.

    Reply
  19. Stanley Crabb

    Oh, how true how true. Thank you for this. You again hit the nail on the head! All who have seen and witnessed these pictures and light contrasts, know them well, even if we didn’t know how to express it and couldn’t have put into words this beauty. Sooo true. Thanks so much, GB. Please keep up the great work. We who lived in Rome for years, in particular, enjoyed reading the impressions — yours and the commenters — so articulately expressed here. It is one of the ah-haa moments that make one say, YES! That’s another thing I loved about living in Italy. The light truly is phenomenal. Having lived here in the US and in Switzerland (also beautiful) and in northern Germany, we will still take Italy, particularly ROME, at this time of the year. Special!!! SC

    Reply
  20. Evanne

    How lyrically you capture the sights of bella Italia, dear one. We are so fortunate to have you in our lives. Long live Italian Notebook! Many thanks and hugs…

    Reply
  21. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures…love the notebook. Came back the end of Sept. from a wonderful 11 day guided tour and loved every minute of it. My heart aches to be back there. It is surely a beautiful country and I know I will return. God willing.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Norma

Click here to cancel reply.