9/16/10 (Day 15)
Only one week left. It feels like a million years ago that we had just arrived in Geneva, but it also doesn’t feel like we only have a week left of vacation. We slept in this morning and there was not much on the schedule for today.
Breakfast in the hotel was the usual bread basket with nutella and soon we had checked out of the hotel, leaving the luggage in storage. We had made reservations at the Gallerie Borghese which is a very large and popular private collection of art. The walk to Borghese took us past the Spanish Steps and eventually we ended up in the Villa Borghese park area. Finally, the bustle of Rome was left on the other side of the trees and we could stroll quietly and easily through the park.
Our reservations only allowed us 2 hours in the museum. Only about 200 or 250 (I can’t remember) are allowed for each 2 hour interval. I was impressed to find out that the day was all ready sold out by the time we arrived at 12:30 for our 1p-3p block of time. There was a 9a, a 11a, 1p, 3p, and 5p slot available for each day. No bags or cameras were allowed in the gallery of course. We did purchase an audio guide that filled our 2 hours quite perfectly showing us the main works. The Borghese family has been collecting art for this mansion that was eventually turned into a gallery. Before it was a gallery, though, they lived here.
The art work did not only consist of the paintings hung on the walls, but also sculptures, decorative floors, painted and decorated ceilings, and most impressive was the decorative walls. Each room was given a theme and painters were brought in to decorate the room to the theme of the artwork that would be held inside. Going back home to white walls will be very boring after visiting here!
We were especially amazed by a sculpture depicting the story of the nymph Diana running from Apollo. She was in the process of transforming into a tree. The marble had been sculpted showing the fine details of leaves and branches. It was very impressive work indeed.
Once our time slot had finished and we were shooed out of the museum, we started walking towards a gelato place recommended in an article sent to me by my friend Christy. On our way, we found a place to sit and eat lunch (after 3pm again). Mark had a tomato mozzarella, tomato olive pizza, and I had the house risotto. We were both happy with our choices.
Then it was off to get gelato at Ciampini. Their house specialty was marron glacé (candied chestnut). We both tried it, but while interesting, would not order it again. The most hilarious part of the experience was the fact that we had eaten at a restaurant just next door the other night! (It took me a couple days to get the information on my iPhone so we could view it while out.) We could tell that this was a place popular with the locals because we saw many Italian business men ordering their gelato here as well.
By now we had just about run out of things we wanted to do in Rome. So, we headed back to the Piazza Navona area so Mark could get his haircut, the Italian way. He ended up with a blow dry and style that straightened his hair. He will certainly have the range in haircuts. An Italian cut is just the first. Later we’ll have an Egyptian cut, an Irish cut, and even a Kenya or Tanzinia cut.
We relaxed in the Piazza Navona and were happy to hear some of the street performers playing Italian music instead of all the American stuff we’d been hearing. I’m not sure if the street performers think we want to hear American music or if the bulk of tourists actually do prefer American music. I would have been much happier in Rome with a more Italian cultural experience.
Happy with everything we covered in Rome and with a couple hours to spare before our 9:30p train to Naples, we decided to pick up our bags and stroll to a metro stop, rather than calling a cab. The stroll took us past the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and several obelisks in each piazza. I am still amused seeing all the pillaged Egyptian obelisks crowned with crosses on top after the Catholics invaded Egypt.
Soon, we arrived at the closest metro stop and took a series of subways to the Rome Tiburtina station. The Tiburtina station was pretty much deserted this late at night and our late train to Naples is almost empty.
We arrived in Naples late enough that we were a little concerned about the neighborhood we were walking through at night, but all was fine and we figured out where the hotel was. The hotel was really hard to find! Basically the only signage was a note next to a doorbell on a big wooden door. Luckily, they were expecting us and we went to collapse in our room.
We walked in, and I immediately had to pull out my tripod and camera for photos. This was not a hotel, but more of a boutique. The door squeaked open similar to the doors in a haunted house and we turned on the light to view a high fresco-ed ceiling, 2 beds, wall art, and an enormous bookcase full of books.
And now it is time for bed. Good night.