Journal entry from Rome Trip – Nov. 5, 2017
Whew! Big day today!
First of all, I gotta say that I had a reeeeally good sleep last night! I was nodding off while I was writing my update email, and once it was done, I was pretty much asleep before my head hit the pillow! Slept a solid 10 hours and got up around 8 this morning. It was awesome. Really comfortable.
So this morning we had some breakfast and I walked down to the cafe bar and had a cappuccino. In Italy, a coffee shop is called a bar, so if I talk about “going down to the bar and having a drink”, I’m talking about coffee! The coffee is generally meant to be drank pretty quickly, standing at the bar. Anyway, it was a great cappuccino (espresso with lots of frothy milk). At the bar by our apartment, I can’t pay with a card. So it was interesting trying to look at my (very not-Canadian) change and try to figure out how to give the guy 1.10 euro! Finally I got a 2 euro piece and he said “You give me two, I give you ninety!” I’m sure they all love tourists here 😉
Anyway! We then went over to the Borghese Gallery for the day. We decided to take the bus, as it would have been a pretty long walk. We walked over to Termini station and figured out which bus to take. Hopped on, and held on! It was a pretty short trip on the bus. None of us have taken a lot of public transit, and on the busses in Rome (I think Halifax is similar) you need to push a button when your stop is coming up to request the driver to stop. Luckily, someone else did so for our stop, because we had no idea what we were doing! But we made it.
It was an amazing place! First we walked around the gardens outside. There were sculptures, a fountain, gardens, etc. We saw a bunch of lemon trees, with lemons on them! Unusual for us Canadians. We also saw interesting birds. The crows here are neat. Their size and shape is pretty similar to ours, but their color is different. They have more of a grey pattern in their feathers. Here is some more info and pictures – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooded_crow
We also saw wild parrots! We heard them first, and then Kim and Sarah thought they noticed something bright green flying. Sure enough, they were bright green parrots!
We also saw a guy busking, playing the accordion. It sounded very European!
So finally, we went into the Borghese gallery! It was confusing trying to get our tour sorted out, since we had reserved a guided tour. But eventually we got it figured out. We all had little wireless systems with earbuds, and our tour guide had a microphone, so we could wander around each room while he explained what we were seeing.
It was amazing. Just, absolutely amazing. The sculptures were my favorite. Most of them were by the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini (often referred to as just “Bernini”), from the early 1600’s (same era as Shakespeare and the King James Bible). We saw some sculptures of Greek myths (Pluto and Persephone, Apollo and Daphne, Aeneas and his family fleeing Troy), people of the time (Princess Borghese depicted as the goddess Venus), and biblical characters (my favorite of them all was one of David about to hurl the stone at Goliath, the featured photo for this post). The emotion, facial characteristics, and detail were unbelievable. In David for example, the expression on his face was a perfect look of determination and effort. You could see the veins in his arms popping a little bit as he lined up for the shot. He was pulling in his upper lip a bit as he strained. Brilliant work of art!
All of the rooms had paintings on the ceilings. All over them. And they had a bunch of statues, busts, etc. Lots of Roman Emperors. I liked the one of Julius Caesar (at least I think that’s who it was!)
Downstairs was mostly sculptures, but there were a lot of paintings too. Upstairs was all paintings. One really cool painting, with a neat story, was Caravaggio’s Madonna and Child with St. Anne. It was commissioned for Saint Peter’s Basilica, but was removed after only being there a short time. It was considered inappropriate for several reasons: Jesus does not have a halo, Jesus is naked (which would have been acceptable if he was a baby, but he is a toddler in this one), and the model that Caravaggio used for Mary was a prostitute that he had also used in another of his works. So the painting was removed from the church and placed in Borghese’s (the pope at the time) gallery.
There were so many other amazing things! I’ll show you my bazillion pictures when I get home, and I’ll tell you all the stories you have the patience to hear!
So by the time we got done, there was a huge thunderstorm raging! We went out with our umbrellas, and had to find the bus back to Termini. We got there after 3:00, and hadn’t had lunch yet, so we went into Il Mercato Centrale Roma (a great market right next to Termini) and had some authentic Italian pizza! I had some cafe at the bar, and got some milky coffee for Sarah and Kim. The guy at the bar gave me the glasses of milk and several glasses of espresso. When I asked him whether the milk had coffee in it, he gave me a look, and poured the espresso into the cups of milk. As in: “duh, you silly tourist!” I’m getting better at understanding Italian coffee culture, but I evidently have more to learn!
We had lunch, and wandered home. In the evening, we went down to a Manga exhibit which was neat. Manga generally has very little to do with Rome, but the exhibit was very cool. And in an amazing Roman building of course. Then we went and got some groceries, and came back to our apartment to eat supper. Fish, potatoes, and (really good) cheese.
Full day! But a good one. Time for bed now. Tomorrow we’re going to get up early and go to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the famous Colosseum!