Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rome again

Even though we didn't throw any coins in the Trevi fountain during our last visit, we nevertheless made it back for a repeat visit last weekend. This time, my parents were visiting the city, and so we joined them over the weekend. Friday evening, we took the fast Eurostar train to Rome, where we arrived in time for a nice dinner at a Tuscan grill restaurant. Saturday, we started out by going to the Vatican museums. Note the plural: apparently there are around 7 kilometers of hallways in there. We saw all the highlights, including the Pinacoteca, the Roman sculptures, the frescoes by Raphael, and of course the Sistine Chapel. Saving us 45 minutes of walking, we then took the secret door out of the Sistine Chapel and went over to St. Peter's basilica. Kristen and I waited in the square while my parents climbed to the cupola, then we all walked into the city together. We went in some churches near Piazza Navona, including the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, in which the first act of the opera "Tosca" takes place. Our attempt at going into the Pantheon was foiled -- yet again -- by a mass going on inside. After a brief rest at the hotel, we went back to the center to have another good dinner at a restaurant that Kristen and I had been to last time.
On Sunday, we all walked across the city to the Isola Tiberina, from which we took a bus to the Villa Borghese gardens, where Kristen and I had reserved tickets for the Borghese gallery. (actually, we had all wanted to go, and since the museum was included in the Roma Pass that my parents had bought, we tried to make a reservation on Saturday afternoon for the museum. Alas, this is Italy, and so even though the museum is open Saturday and Sunday, the call center for making the mandatory reservations is only open until 1pm on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. Kristen and I got tickets online, but it's not possible to apply the Roma Pass discount online) We were a bit disappointed by the museum, which was small, yet high quality. Several of the most famous works (about one or two per room) were on loan to other exhibitions, including Raphael's Lady with a Unicorn and some of the Caravaggio paintings. On the other hand, the decoration of the villa itself, including the Roman mosaics installed there, was spectacular. We then took a bus back into the city to finally make it into the Pantheon and then went back to the hotel, where we met my parents (who had gone to the Museum for Modern Art in the Villa Borghese gardens) and pick up our luggage for the train trip back to Florence.
I've added some pictures from this weekend to the album of Rome pictures on Picasa.

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