A Devil Or A Cardinal?
The only discordant voice was that of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili, the future Pope Innocent X, who had already reserved disapproving words for the artist in the past. The noble cardinal complained of the incredible similarity between the dying devil and him. Reni defended himself frankly:"I could not see the angel and I had to paint it according to my imagination. The demon, on the other hand, I met him several times, I looked at him carefully and I painted his features just as they are".
Who knows if Pope Innocent X learned the lesson: never speak bad of an artist, his revenge can be eternal ...
The Baptism Of The Knife
The Palombella tavern was the meeting point of Roman bullies. Here was born the so-called "cicciata", or "the baptism of the knife" for all the bad guys of the city. The cicciata was a real initiation for anyone who wanted to be respected and welcomed among the bullies.
The neophyte had to challenge an experienced bully with a knife. The target to hit was not a vital point, but the "ciccia", that is the belly of the rival: from there comes obviously the name "cicciata".
If the new arrived bully won the duel he was admitted in the bullies association and the initiation rite ended with a solemn drunkenness with all the members. When visiting the Pantheon have a look at Via Della Palombella and try to imagine what was going on there centuries ago!