I finally came to my senses and decided to take a cab instead of walking to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna….and what happened? The driver took me to the wrong museum and it was the first time a lack of Italian really gave me a problem. Of course, I forgot my handy little dictionary and could only point at my map showing the driver that the museum is located north of Borghese Gardens. Regardless of the indirect route, it was well worth the effort. I saw art connected to, and inspired by art I’ve seen other places such as the Vatican. I saw some of my favorite artists such as Cy Twombly, Francesco Clemente, Van Gogh, Alberto Giacometti, and Gustav Klimt.
One component that was especially eye opening, is the similarity in art themes, styles and materials used worldwide during certain periods of time throughout history. Though not all, much of the museum showcases Italian art through history as well as contemporary time and an incredible collection purchased at the Venice Biennial.
After a coffee at the museum’s Cafe Di Artistes, I walked through the park, regretting my neglect to reserve a ticket in advance for the Borghese Museum. Never the less, the park was beautiful and must have been quite a retreat from the city for the Borghese family. It is located high on a hill just north of the ancient city border, and the ancient fortifying walls still stand in an imposing manner. I ended the morning with a walk down to Piazza Popolo and down Via del Corso with a great lunch and break at a restaurant called Gusto.
It probably would have been wise to take a bus or cab, but once again, I couldn’t resist walking and headed toward the Coloseeum. For some reason, I feel like I’ve avoided this part of Rome…maybe a fear of the extreme crowds…once I arrived, I was SO THANKFUL that I’d read a tip about purchasing your ticket in the Forum entrance instead of the Colosseum entrance line, which must have had over a thousand people in it. There was NO ONE in the Forum entrance line and the ticket works for both sites. An additional bonus at the ticket counter was learning that entrance was free due to the date, the first Sunday of the month.
The sites were amazing but very steamy. I felt like a true tourist with my umbrella for shade, my camera on shoulder and a map in hand. Again, I’m a tad ashamed for admitting a reliance on Hollywood for historical reference, but seeing the movie Gladiator made my visions more complete while trying to take in the vast architectural and engineering feats of Ancient Rome.
I continued on, though the heat was almost unbearable (and that’s coming from an Arkansan), past the Palantino Architectural Park, Circo Massimo and then toward the Tiber River and the Campidoglio. At this point, I began entering what was starting to feel like my neighborhood, and I did some gift shopping in Campo Di Fiori. To cool down and clean up, I visited the Museo Napoleonico, which is just south of Piazza Navona. The Palazzo turned Museo is very formal and full of furniture, drawings and portraits. For my taste, the highlight was a beautifully displayed modern fashion exhibit.
Despite all the churches I’ve visited and the fact that they blur in my mind, I couldn’t resist the St. Charles, particularly when I spotted a sign that read, “Have you prayed to the heart of St. Charles?” I need to do a little more research, but my guess is the container holds the preserved actual heart of Charles.
Afterward, for my last night in Rome, and in Italy, I had a nice dinner at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, Cul-de-Sac, where I tried the escargot, and had the best Mista Salad thus far, followed by tiramisu. The escargot was so pretty, that the English family next to me threatened to steal it off my table! I’ve never been a big tiramisu fan, but my friend Ellis suggested trying it in Italy…which was good advice, it was SO GOOD. Of course, it was hard to head back to the hotel and I decided to go on one more walk to the Pantheon, which is magical around sunset. On the way back, I did a little souvenir shopping for my family and went to Bar Eustacia which reportedly has the best coffee in Rome. I can’t remember the name of what I’d ordered, something that starts with an M…metopanne, or some thing like that. It was a decaf espresso with chocolate and whipped cream and was HEAVENLY. So on this final night, I went all out and splurged, and it was worth it. It was all so very worth it.