Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Museum Day in Rome

The Palazzo dei Conservatori - one of the world's oldest museums, founded in 1471

View of Rome's skyline domineered by church domes, including St. Peter's in the centre  (taken from the terrace at the top of the museum).
Bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius - erected in 175

Our new Italian friends: Massimo, Biancamaria, Delfina and her recently acquired puppy Aquamarine (in bag)-owners of the apartment where we are staying.

Grand staircase in the Museum di Roma
We decided to devote our last full day in Rome to Museums: the Palazzo dei Conservatori (one of Italy's largest museums which lays claim to being the oldest museum in the world, a claim I'm in no position to dispute) and Museo di Roma (a former palace build by the nephew of a pope who couldn't say no to his nephew's demands for money).
The Conservatori is a magnificent building (although a bit confusingly laid out) housing pre-Christian sculpture, paintings and artifacts from Rome's history. As you enter the courtyard, great chunks of a statue of Emperor Constantine are seen: a foot, a hand, and his head that must be ten feet tall. The statue formerly occupied the Basilica of Constantine, but the years have not been kind to dear old Con and consequently his quest for eternal glory (at least represented by the statue) lie in pieces. Still, even the enormous fragments that remain are impressive.
The famous statue of Romulus and Remus is dwarfed by the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius which has been moved into a massive glass room to protect it from the elements. The July temperature in Rome, I swear, would melt bronze.
The view of the Roman skyline from the top floor cafeteria of the museum is interesting. At street level one doesn't really grasp the importance of the Catholic Church to the life of the city (at least until the present time). From the roof top viewpoint, the domes of many churches dominate the skyline. The museum has some great paintings as well.
We arranged to meet our gracious Rome landlords Massimo and Biancamaria, and their daughter Delfina, for lunch. They are warm, friendly people who live interesting lives. Massimo is a professor of music at Malta University (therefore they do not live in Rome for much of the year , and rent out their apartment in the historic and interesting Campo de Fiori district of Rome. Biancamaria is an actress who is currently involved in a project she created. She has created a dramatic presentation of Saint Caterina set to the music of John Coltrane. Saint Caterina was a strong advocate for human rights, including those of women, centuries before her time. Delfina had saved her money since she was four to buy a puppy, and the newly purchased and very sweet puppy accompanied her and her parents to Rome. Even though we only met the family for a couple of hours, we feel that we know them. They are so kind and thoughtful. Massimo even accompanied me to a bank machine to walk me through the intricacies of Italian banks.
With one possible exception, all the restaurants we've eaten at in Rome have been very good. Tonight we went to Ciccia Bomba near Piazza Navona where we had very good pizza (with Parma ham sliced thin as paper and zucchini flowers with the usual cheese; and Pasta alla Norma (excellent tomato sauce with grilled eggplant).
Off to Florence tomorrow morning.  Arrividerci!


  1. Interesting travelogue. We look forward to reading it every day. Makes us wish we were your travelling companions, except for the heat. However, it has been 30 degrees here all week! Bathroom renos are heating up the place,too!

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