September 11th, 2016

wood cat

Rome, Wednesday

I haven't given up on blogging this June trip! (I wrote all the day reports on the plane coming home, it's just the pictures that needed sorting, and this one was daunting.)

On Wednesday we were meeting at the Galleria Borghese in the early afternoon, so I slept in a little and we meandered over in that direction mid-morning. We first walked around the adjacent park, just to get our bearings, and saw green parrots in the umbrella pines--we'd been told there were some in the park the day before, but hadn't seen any.

Then we went to the Piazza del Popolo, mostly to see the Basilica there. This was lovely: small enough that you could see the ceiling and the backs of the chapels, which were themselves remarkably varied, and all the beautiful decorative stonework that I've come to love in Rome. (We are contemplating renovating our kitchen, among other things, and picked out granite for countertops and tile for the floor so the contractors could price things out, and it was a really good thing that we did that before coming to Rome, or I might've got very ambitious in that regard.)

Then a quick light lunch and cutting through the Spagna subway station to get back to the Galleria--not only does it have lots of escalators so you can avoid climbing the giant hill, but it has a bunch of cool art, too!

The Galleria is amazing. You're strictly limited to a two-hour visit so I actually liked having a tour guide for this, because unless you plan to do multiple visits there is SO MUCH that it really helps to have someone filter stuff for you (and tell you anecdotes about painters being thrown in prison until they agree to hand over to the Cardinal, for free, the painting that someone else had commissioned, things like that). I still regret not being able to explore at my leisure, of course, but geez, Bernini was a flat-out genius, wasn't he? (Though I could wish that two of his masterpieces there weren't about rape (the Rape of Proserpine; Apollo and Daphne).) The paintings were less stunning to me, on the whole, but there were still a bunch of good ones and I took a ton of pictures (many of which didn't survive this cull; sadly there seem to be only a few pictures at the Galleria's website, under "masterpieces").

Then there was the wedding, which was lovely and also very fancy, being at the Palazzo Brancaccio. There's a picture of my outfit in the set; I wore those shoes for five whole hours and did not break a heel or an ankle on the cobblestones, which I think was pretty darn good, though I did not actually walk from our hotel to the venue in them. (I am so not cut out for high fashion.)

Here is the photo gallery for the day (click on the first photo, then click the little "i" in a circle at the top right, then hover over the right side of the photo to show the arrow that lets you move through the gallery in order).

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wood cat

Rome, Thursday

Oh hey, this post was basically ready to go--not many photos and for some reason I'd already captioned them.

I skipped morning tourism because despite being deliberately abstemious at the wedding, I woke up with a seriously unhappy stomach. So I slept for a while and then went on a quest for just plain bread--I think if I'd been in a French-speaking country I could've bought a loaf at any store with counter service, but instead the two deli-ish places I tried had pastries and sandwiches and big hunks of cured meats, but no big hunks of bread. I had to go into an actual grocery store for a loaf of bread (and it wasn't very tasty, though I may have grabbed the wrong kind). But I also found some crackers that were exactly like miniature dry toast, which sounds terrible but was just what I wanted. Also, to my surprise, antacids are behind-the-counter items in Italian pharmacies. (Having no data on my phone, I had thought to look up the word back on the hotel's wifi. It is, fortunately, "antiacido.")

I met up with our group for a tour of the Basilica of San Clemente, which was great, and the Colosseum. San Clemente is a three-fer: a Middle Ages church with a ceiling and walls that were later redecorated but original mosaics up front, which are very beautiful and of which I have no pictures because they aren't allowed; try Wikimedia and this representative picture of the glorious floor; a fourth-century church underneath that, with frescos dating somewhat later; and two first-century buildings, one a Mithraeum and the other something probably commercial, like a warehouse. You have to pay to go into the excavations, and I'm not sure how informative the signs would be without a guide, but the top level is definitely worth a look.

Then to the Colosseum, which is of course giant and impressive: capacity of 40-70 thousand people! Designed to let them all out in ten minutes! Elevators to get the animals, special effects, gladiators, etc., up from down below the stage! A retractable roof! The exterior has just been cleaned and the interior is in progress, which makes an impressive difference, as you'll see in the pictures. We'd heard about the history on the first day's tour, plus it was very very hot, so it wasn't the absolutely fascinating experience it could've been on first meeting, but it was still really interesting.

Then dinner on the roof of the Hotel Artemide, which had amazing gelato--I don't know if they make it in-house, but I had cream, strawberry, mixed berry, and chocolate, and while the mixed berry was maybe a little too berry for my own tastes, it was all good, and the chocolate was a standout: stunningly intense.

The photo set is only for the Colosseum and includes one picture of the exterior from earlier in the trip.

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