Friday, June 24, 2016

Roman Holiday - Part Three

Saturday, June 24th The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Borghese Gallery
We enjoy our first generous and delicious breakfast in the charming dining room of our hotel . We are welcomed with strong coffee with milk, croissants, cured slices of ham and thick slices of cheese, yogurt and orange juice. 

Breakfast at Hotel Antica Locanda
Breakfast at Hotel Antica Locanda

The morning is brutally hot as we walk to the Roman Forum. Our Roma passes allow us to skip the lines and John rents an audio guide which isn’t well organized and we wander the extensive grounds of the Forum in a disorganized manner. We drink water constantly, refilling our water bottles from the stone water fountains throughout the vast Forum.

Arch of Titus, Roman Forum
Temple of Antonius, Pius & Faustian

Although I don’t know for sure, it feels like the temperature is over 100 and we try to keep to the shade. We climb the many stairways, wander the ruins, and when I am about to expire, we cool down in the museum. 

View of the Roman Forum
Looking up to Palatino Hill

View of the Roman Forum

View of the Temple of Vesta

Museum Murals

Palatino Hill Plaza

Palatino Hill Courtyard

Palatino Hill adjoins the Forum but it is high on the hillside above requiring the climbing of many stone steps. At the top there is another small museum and I rest gratefully and watch a short movie about Palatino Hill. For the first time I grasp the essence of the cultured and brutal civilization that inhabited these ruins and how the civilizations rose and fell and how this extensive city morphed throughout the ages. We spend five hours exploring the Forum and Palatino Hill and I am exhausted by the time we start the walk back towards our hotel. 

We have lunch at the same restaurant around the corner from our hotel and the air conditioning and food revives me. Art and I order excellent artichoke and chicken salads and John orders a squid cannelloni. After refreshing showers we set our alarms and sleep for two hours to be recharged for our 5:00 P.M. reservation to the Borghese Gallery.

Pauline Borghese as Venus
Bernini's David

One needs prior reservations to visit the Borghese Gallery with its renowned collection of Baroque sculpture by Bernini, and paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and Rubens. We take a taxi to the museum and use our Roma pass to pick up our reserved tickets downstairs. There are many disappointed people who didn’t know that reservations were required or who paid for online reservations but because they were traveling, were unable to print out their ticket vouchers. After collecting our tickets we have just enough time to grab a cappuccino at the museum cafĂ©; much needed to clear the cobwebs of our brains after our afternoon siesta. We are required to check all bags including my purse and the museum check provides a small clear plastic bag into which I may put just my wallet, passport and phone to carry inside. Precisely at 5:00 P.M. we are allowed entrance into this sumptuous jewel of a museum.  

Detail of the Rape of Proserpina
The Rape of Proserpina, Bernini

This 17th century museum was the Cardinal Scipione Borghese mansion and Cardinal Borghese collected much of the finest Renaissance art of the times.  Each room features a Baroque masterpiece and the intimate experience is awe inspiring. The breathtaking Carrera marble sculpture of Pauline Borghese as Venus, by Antonio Canova reclines scandalously in the first gallery. In another room, Bernini’s David puts a rock into his sling to slay Goliath but it is Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne that takes my breath away. Daphne’s fingers and toes morph into roots and leaves as she is magically transformed into a tree to escape the advances of Apollo. 
Apollo and Daphne, Bernini
Detail of Apollo and Daphne 

Bernini’s, The Rape of Proserpina, created when he was just 24 years, is masterful and he turns the marble into living flesh. The immense hands and fingers of her captor leave impressions on Proserpina’s voluptuous flesh and a single tear slips down her face.  The painting galleries are upstairs and there is an entire room devoted to the work of Caravaggio and Titian.


Each gallery showcases one exceptional piece but is also filled with other remarkable works and the walls and ceilings are sumptuously painted with frescos, rococo iced and gilded with gold leaf. 
Borghese Gallery fresco
Borghese Gallery ceiling fresco

We loose John somewhere in the museum and Art and I wander together through rooms filled with remarkable masterpieces. In the midst of all these masterpieces, a small painting by Jacopo Zucchi, the Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America, captures my eye. Water nymphs hold coral and rays and shells ripe with pearls. A jeweled treasure of shells and coral surrounds Neptune, crowned with coral. When we catch up with John later he remarks on this painting and tells me it his favorite painting in the museum.

Allegoria Della Scoperta dell' America

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