I’m pretty sure it’s Sunday – and the last two days have been absolutely packed. I don’t think I have the strength to go into too great a detail of the last 48 hours – other than to say it’s been pretty amazing. At any rate, some random points and images…
Friday evening’s dinner was at Al Ceppo. The highlight of the evening was risotto with white truffles… And the zabaione with fruit was a pretty darn good, too…
Saturday morning we slept in – first time this trip and what a delight. Didn’t get going until 11 AM. Walked up to Termini and bought tickets for one of those double-decker tour buses. Very fun actually – drove around through the historic center, up around the Vatican and then we jumped off at Via Veneto. Spent the rest of the afternoon wandering, with stops at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.
Much as we hated to admit it, one of the highlights of the day was our celebrity encounter. Just below the Spanish Steps, there were mobs of people and some papparazzi surrounding the entrance to a some kind of shop. We thought perhaps Angelina Jolie was in town – when in fact it was Valeria Marini! Can you believe it?
Of course, I have no idea who she is, but it was still great. Later that night at dinner, we asked the young woman waiting on us what Valeria’s claim to fame is. Is she an actress? A singer? A multi-talented tour-de-force? Her response – “Nothing. She’s on reality TV and goes nude a lot. She is sort of an embarrassment.” So, apparently, we had a brush with the Pamela Anderson of Italy – what could be better?
Had a quick bite to eat across from the Mausoleo di Agosto before meeting our tour guide, Lindsay Harris, who would be giving us a lesson in Roman architecture – starting at 5:30 as dusk was approaching, making for a marvelous transition from light to dark as we progressed. It was just Chris and me plus one other gentleman (from San Francisco of all places), so it was wonderfully personal experience. And Lindsay was a superb guide – sharing not only her knowledge but her passion for architecture and it’s language within the city of Rome.
We started at the Ara Pacis, and continued on to the Palazzo Borghese, the Trevi Fountain (a completely different experience at night) and several other piazze and campi. We stopped in at the glorious Pantheon – breathtaking both esthetically and structurally – and then ended our evening at the Piazza Navona.
Had dinner at Trattoria. First rate “nuovo Siciliano” cuisine, especially the pasta – though, sadly, the cannoli we had for dessert were as dull as dishwater. We were planning big night out at the gay disco after dinner, but we were both too tired, so off we went to our apartment.
Up early again this morning for our visit to the Galleria Borghese. As always, a bit more difficult to find than we’d anticipated, but we found our way eventually. Things started off fantastically when Chris lost his ticket (which I’d had to buy three months ago, since they sell out the limited number of tickets far in advance) – turned out he’d left it at the coat check and the per-usual adorable giovanotto at the counter had set it aside when he found it… Crisis averted – though just barely.
I’m the first to point out that I’m something of a Philistine when it comes to art. But Chris and I had similar responses to Bernini’s three masterpieces – Pluto and Proserpina; Apollo and Daphne; and David – namely that we were nearly moved to tears. I can’t even come close to describing the experience, let alone the works themselves – though one aspect that jumped out at me immediately was the way that Pluto’s hand is impressed into Persephone’s torso as he spirits her away; the marble is almost literally transformed into flesh before one’s eyes.
Then there is Apollo’s cape – one nearly hears it fluttering in the wind, the marble carved so skillfully as to be translucent. And David, his weight bearing down on his front leg while his other leg extends behind him, balance on the tip of his toe, bites down on his lip as he concentrates on making sure his slingshot’s aim is true. An afternoon that I shall never forget…
From here, on to Trastevere. Stumbled around a bit, then stopped for a late lunch. A lovely antipasto of grilled vegetables; pizza for me and spaghetti for Chris; and rounding things out, some tiramisu, biscotti and vin santo. And our waitress was something of character – started off a bit surly, but turned out to be great fun… At one point, shouting at me across the tables to verify for some other clients that the tiramisu was, in fact, buonissimo (which it was…).
A long walk home, with a little shopping on the way. Looks like we may make an early night of it – we’re both still stuffed and our Ancient Rome tour starts at 8:45 tomorrow morning. It’s funny – on the one hand, I feel like we’ve already done so much (and that we’ve been here for such a long time) but on the other, I’m realizing more than ever how much we won’t have time to do… But we did toss our coins into the Trevi Fountain, so we can be assured of returning to Rome.