Saturday, February 18, 2012

Roma Holiday Part I

02/16, Thursday
Our train to Rome departs at 11:00, not at 9:00 as we thought. That means we will have 2 hours less of getting our fill of art and history. Little did we know at that time that we would appreciate less time there! We didn't get on the siesta plan and went at such an exhausting pace another couple hours would have probably killed us. We will just have to go back ! We really did lots, had great sunny weather and of course enjoyed the wonderful, vibrant city.

Trenitalia provides good service. We arrived on time at 1:00pm at Termini. Thankfully, Sandy checked on our return because we didn't understand the schedule, and found we needed extra payment and reservations for the 4:36pm IC train (compartments). That could have caused us to be late in Chuisi on Friday evening.

Our B&B is only 15 minutes walk from Termini, for which I had done a Map app. It would have been tough to find otherwise. Our host, Talik, had not received notification from, but he had a room available. We left our backpacks and started off immediately for the Borghese Galleria. Sergio had suggested this as one of his best places. We had not been there in our two previous Rome visits, so it seemed a good place to start. And, we were not disappointed. One usually needs a reservation days ahead but again being the low season we got right in and in many rooms we were the only two people.

Each visit is limited to two hours, and must be scheduled ahead of time which during peak season keeps visitors moving along. This is when we began to realize that our older feet and legs could only handle limited standing and walking, especially on the hard marble.

Borghese was a wealthy art collector in the 16th century. He had to build a large villa to contain all of his collection of sculpture, many of which were produced by Bernini. A large villa requires a large estate which today consists of 25 acres of park land. It's spectacular as is the art collection! Unfortunately, photos are not permitted so we can't show you any of the pieces. It is even more difficult to describe them.

Many of them equalled or surpassed Michaelangelo's Pieta at St Peter's Basilica. Each magnificent room held one main piece and then many more surrounding the room. The reclining naked Pauline Bonaparte looked like she could just stand up and walk away. Some of the marble pieces had a wax sheen on them.

Walking up to Bernini's David was quite something. The detail is spectacular.

A very large Apollo chasing Daphne took two years just to repair and clean. The fable is Daphne implores her father to save her from Apollo and she slowly turns into an olive tree. The statue showed the start of roots on the toes of her feet and bark on her body. How the slim leaves are chiseled is amazing.

A painting of the Last Supper done by Bassano in 1600 was really superb. It is very vibrant and action filled rather than formal. It showed the emotions of the apostles right after Jesus says someone would be a traitor. Peter is holding a knife. Judas is hiding a bag of gold under the table and wine is spilling on the table portending Jesus' death. Jesus' favorite John, pictured as quite young, is leaning on the table just in front of Jesus, looking down at the table in a pensive mood. Very touching.

After two hours, we were overloaded and foot weary. It's the kind of exhibit you need to visit numerous times.

Walking through the park, we headed toward the Spanish Steps asking directions of passersby. We emerged at Flaminio Piazza which, unknown to us, is across the street from the Piazza del Popolo. What good luck! This is Carnivale season during which Italians celebrate the coming of spring. Rome produces a major show in this Piazza, and it just began as we walked into the square.

This year's production features horses, entitled "Arrivano i Nostri - lo Spettacolo". Sounds a little boring, but not this show. There are numerous vignettes, some fancy horseback riding, prancing horses, dramatic horses, marching horses; all performed to recorded music, with actors and dancers interplaying with the horses, and projected images on the wall and gate. Even had a segment done to "Over the Rainbow" (two versions: Judy Garland and James Taylor) with Dorothy and the Straw man and a talented "work horse".

We continued to enjoy the show while sitting at an outdoor restaurant, Angelo, right on the Piazza del Popolo, watching images projected on screens with music. Really had good timing on all that.

The main street, Del Corso, was decorated with red, white and green (Italy's flag) draped small, lights from the Piazza all the way to the Vittorrio Emanuel, over a mile. We walked as far as the Trevi Fountain about 3/4s. Wow, they sure knew how to build fountains! I had a big gelato there and toasted my friend Sherri since we did Rome through the tastes of gelato years ago. Also threw in a coin, which means you will return. Heck, I'm only 72 !

Then, on to the Spanish Steps, which I climbed while Dick figured out how to get home. He is worn out and very quiet. We both need to rest feet and body. Take the Metro home and asleep in minutes. The end of a very good day.

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