Day 41: Tuesday, October 10, 2006
the Galleria Borghese
We slept in until
9:00 am and had another great complementary breakfast in
the hotel. We decide to revisit Trevi Fountain and the
Spanish Steps in daylight. Along the way we passed by
Piazza Carlo Alberto, a beautiful little park dedicated to the
father of Victor Emmanuel. It featured a statue of Carlo Alberto
with an incredible bas relief scene of his death below.
When we arrived at Trevi Fountain, it was packed with tourists
and people taking wedding photos. It was even more
spectacular in the bright sunlight.
We then proceeded
down Via Corso and saw the Column of Marcus Aurelius, a
Doric column, with a spiral relief, built in honour of Roman
Emperor Marcus Aurelius and modeled on Trajan's Column. It still
stands on its original site in Rome, in the modern Piazza
Colonna The spiral picture relief tells the story of
Marcus Aurelius’ Marcomannic wars, waged by him from 166
to his death. Further along we turned and once more walked
down the exclusive shopping street Via del Condotti (the
Fifth Avenue of Rome). Some of the shops on the Via
Condotti include: Yves St. Laurent , Bruno Magli, Giorgio
Armani, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Modigliani, Swatch
watches, Christian Dior, Gucci and many others. Luckily
Ken was able to keep Kathryn moving.
At the end of Via
Condotti, we arrived at the Spanish Steps. 138
steps climb steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base
and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, with the church under the
patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, Trinità dei Monti,
above. The church - like much of Rome - was under repair.
Happily for wonky old Ken, we found an elevator that took us
almost to the top. We walked north along the elevated Via
Triniti dei Monti and the view of Rome was spectacular. We
continued on to the end to Pincio
View of Spanish
Steps from the top
Terrace which overlooks
a huge square. We had to walk down several stepsto the
Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous places, especially
for foreigners, in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally
means "piazza of the people", but historically it derives from
the poplars after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in
the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name. An
Egyptian obelisk of Rameses II from Heliopolis stands in the
centre of the Piazza. There was a giant PlayStation screen
in the square for some tournament. By now it was after 2:00 pm
and we discovered for the first time that most restaurants in
Rome close down from early afternoon until the evening. We
managed to find a pub just off of Popolo Square and had a
delicious panini (and beer) for lunch and, of course, a gelato
View of Piazza
del Popolo from the Pincio Terrace
now had to climb back up the steps to the Terrace.
Ken's knees were in bad shape and this took awhile. We then walked
across Villa Borghese Park to the Galleria Borghese.
The Borghese is so popular that you have to reserve tickets
a couple of days in advance. Luckily we knew this and
had our hotel clerk book us tickets for 5:00 pm when we
arrived in Rome. The Vatican Museum and the Louvre are
bigger and more famous but the art in the Borghese is
absolute magnificent. We had to check our cameras
before we could enter the museum. I found the photo at
right on the Internet. It depicts Proserpina being
seized and taken to the underworld by Pluto.
Bernini's statues are brilliant. Kathryn was
especially taken by the indentations of Pluto's fingers in
Prosepina's skin. For more on the Borghese, see
Rape of Proserpina
had a leisurely long stroll back to the hotel. We went
out to another restaurant near our hotel. We ordered a
pizza, salad and a glass of wine. We nearly killed
ourselves laughing when our "four-topping" pizza came with
four separate piles of ham, mushrooms, artichokes, and
olives. We were sitting at a four-seat outdoor table
and the restaurant was full so we were joined by a couple of
young American men. One was going to school in England
and the other was visiting him and they were on a brief
holiday in Rome. They got a good laugh about our
pizza. We went back to the hotel for a good sleep on
our last night in Rome.
topping" pizza in Rome
Some things we noticed while we were in Rome:
- Street vendors: everywhere we went, the
vendors would be set up on the sidewalks. Their wares
seemed to break down by race: black Africans were selling
purses; middle Easterners were selling sunglasses and Asians
were selling small camera tripods and remote control cars.
- Old women were begging in the streets.
- We never saw (nor felt) any pickpockets all
the time we were in Rome in spite of all the hoopla
- Smart cars were everywhere and parked
sideways in small parking spots. We even saw a
convertible Smart car.
- Rome would be a much nicer place to visit
if it didn't have all those tourists.
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