* Just a note before I go into all these pictures: The morning after I posted about my friend Jesse, she sent me the news that she was in the clear--a 24 hour kidney stone. As far as those things go, those are the best kind. Thanks so much if you sent her good wishes from afar! *
On this particular day, we had a reservation for the Borghese Museum--the best museum in the city (in my opinion). Bernini and Caravaggio fans can't miss it. It's basically a former mansion filled with paintings and sculptures that were snatched up (in extremely questionable exchanges) by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. If you go here for no other reason, go for Bernini's "David" (so much better than Michelangelo's in Florence) and "Apollo and Daphne." This entire trip was worth seeing these two pieces again. I love how David's anxiety is made obvious by the way he's biting on his lips. When I think about it, it's odd that no one has pointed to the story of David as a metaphor for these trying economic times. His story is always relevant. (ie, What is your Goliath?)
Oh, but "Apollo and Daphne": It's just achingly beautiful. Sometimes when I squinted at it, I swore you could see the leaves on Daphne's fingertips extend into the air and the roots sprouting from her toes sinking further into the ground. The details of her hair are simply astounding. And, I noted that Apollo's gladiator sandals are extremely fashionable right now. Who would think that an early 17th century shoe would be fashionable in 2013? There's a two hour limit for each reservation, and Ron and I spent at least twenty of those minutes on these two pieces.
Keep that in mind: If you want to go to the Borghese, reservations are REQUIRED and they are closed on Mondays. Once your scheduled time begins, you have two hours to see the whole collection and then you are told to leave so the next group can begin. The fee for the audio tour is money well spent--we didn't regret paying for this at all. Also, you are required to check all bags/purses/cameras, etc. No exceptions. So wear something with pockets so you can keep your passport, etc on you. (Maybe others feel differently, but we keep our passports with us at all times. I would never just leave it behind in the hotel.) I really hate this checked bag policy, but if the staff were stealing from visitors it would be widespread news on the internet by now. We've never had an issue (*knock wood*).
Once you are done, go take a long walk around Villa Borghese.
|2004--my college boyfriend|
|2013--my husband. Ron, I hate this awful jacket. It's too casual. I'm going to find you a new one. Look how nice your old one is in the first picture. See?|
Villa Borghese is in the northeast part of town, but it's also uphill. I wanted to find Via Margutta 51 (Joe Bradley's address in Roman Holiday). It was in a nearby neighborhood, so we made our way there via the Spanish Steps.
|So much greenery on top of the buildings. How many churches do you see?|
|Detail of the Trinita' dei Monti--the church at the top of the famous steps.|
|Gucci, Prada, Dior, and Bulgari are all just yards away. Every time I come here, a part of my brain is always looking for Audrey Hepburn, and then I remember, "Oh right: That's not possible. Stop looking!"|
|It's hard to see (I'm really cropped in here), but the mannequins in the Dior window wear the same blue rhinestone eye makeup that their runway models recently wore. See a picture of Dior's models here--totally outrageous, but I love it.|
|Louis Vuitton--I think Target has knock-offs of those shoes.|
|hmmm ... this might have been Alberta Ferretti? or maybe Valentino or Hermes. Don't remember. I'm going with Hermes judging by the handbag over the red coat's shoulder.|
|Love the outfit on the left--very California.|
|I saw these in the window at Grilli on Via del Corso. I thought they were so pretty so I took this picture. The next day, I went back to the photo and thought, "Damn, I love those tassels." On our last day, I went back and bought all three. I kept the green one for myself, the taupe one went to Leslie, and the chocolate brown to my mom. The people who worked here were so nice. I insisted on using Italian for most of the transaction and eventually gave up when the owner tried describing to me how I could fill out paper work to get the 11% sales tax back from customs. He was like, "I KNEW you were Americans! You have the accent! Now let me tell you how to get some money back!" That made me laugh.|
By this point, it was late in the day and we were exhausted. We decided to take a break back at the hotel before heading out for sunset at Piazzale Garibaldi and dinner in Trastevere. About two blocks from our hotel, we saw our local Philly reporter again. This time, we went up and said hi. And before we knew it, I had a mike in my face (with me going, "Hold up now: I need some lipstick") and he was filming us as we talked to him. He asked about our thoughts on conclave, what kind of pope we wanted to see in Benedict's place--stuff like that. During our conversation, we told him our hotel was right next to Gammarelli--the store that makes the Pope's formal clothing. The reporter was like, "umm, so where's your hotel?" We told him where to find it, and we were on our way. Fifteen minutes later, we were back in our room. Ron was catching up with email and I was writing postcards. (btw--it costs TWO EURO to mail a postcard to the U. S. Yes, you read that correctly. Highway robbery, that's what that is.) Our window was open, and we heard a distinctly American voice floating up into our room. Ron caught it and goes, "Hey--that's the reporter!" We both stuck our heads out the window, and there he was reporting on Gammarelli below.
|The Philly team is all the way at the bottom here.|
Not long after, we began the killer killer killer uphill trek to Piazzale Garibaldi. Oh God, I remember it being a challenging walk last time, but it was SO BAD this time. I have terrible, terrible, AWFUL feet and they hurt really badly by this point. It might've been worse than anything in San Francisco.
We made it up there around 530pm so that we could watch the lights come on in the city. I was really disappointed that the path through the Janiculum (more pretty gardens) was closed: I promised myself I would walk through the Janiculum on this trip, but we didn't feel right ignoring the police tape that blocked the entrance.
It was pretty quiet all the way up at the top--very few people.
|Same view as the last one|
As the lights come on, you can see the lights waaaaaay out of town in the mountains far away. I thought to myself at one point, "Those flickering lights are so far away. I wonder who lives out there?" My heart skipped a beat when I realized that my own house was 4,500 miles away ... so much further than those twinkling lights. And it made me remember how far away the Fluffs were.
|Looking further south.|
|Looking further north|
We hung around for at least an hour before making the downhill trek (just as painful as uphill--dealing with a bunion is such a drag). The walk was really pleasant since it's through the most residential of residential neighborhoods in the city. I think I just felt a like a real person walking through, not some ghost of a tourist.
|View of Castel Sant'Angelo. I love Paris, but I think the Tiber is more magical than the Seine.|
Shrine time (again, can't follow my own rule of just five):
|This blue glazed ceramic is in the style of Andrea della Robbia--you see this everywhere, but especially in Florence.|
|An artist was painting in her studio underneath this shrine. I like to think she switches out this shrine's light when it burns out.|
In a day or two: What to do in Rome on a rainy and windy day.