Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Spanish Steps

Here are a couple of the All Blacks, who trounced Italy I might add, preparing to go back home to New Zealand.  
We made a 3:00 reservation for the Villa Borghese and then took a taxi to the Spanish Steps, another Roman landmark.
I've forgotten how many steps...a lot.
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Successfully at the bottom and headed toward the Piazza del Popolo.

I love signs. 
Art comes in many people actually wear these shoes?
Posted by PicasaWe did make our 3:00 reservation at the Villa Borghese, which was right around the corner from our hotel.  What a taste of how the rich and famous lived around the 16th century.  We were not allowed to carry anything into the rooms--no purses, bags, cameras, nothing--strictly enforced.  While we were waiting to get in, I noticed a woman who had not checked her bag and I was wondering what would happen.  She was turned away.  I'm sure she got in, but not until the bag was checked and she went to the back of the line.  

So I have no pictures, but I would encourage you to Google the Villa Borghese to catch a glimpse of some of the most magnificent rooms, paintings and sculpture in the world.

A Day in Florence

Well, this is still Rome, but I wanted to show you. This is Rafael's famous painting The School of Athens, in the Vatican Museum.
Me, in front of the Roman Forum
THIS is Florence.  We took a high speed train from Rome to Florence to spend the day. I was amazed at this first glimpse of the Cathedral.  Truly magnificent.
And so many shops with artful decor.  This was a snack bar if you can believe it.
Florence after dark
And safely delivered back to Rome on this sleek bit of transportation engineering
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Monday, November 26, 2012

More Amazing Art in Rome

Avery, Tom and Sara in St. Peter's Square
Stefano, our Roman guide, and Avery
The Coliseum

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

St. Peter's and the Piazza

This is Rafael's fresco,The School of Athens. After the Rafael Room, we entered the Sistine Chapel but no pictures are allowed and in fact Stefano had to leave us and instruct us where to meet him after we spent fifteen minutes in the chapel.  They stopped allowing guides to accompany groups some time ago because of the irreverence caused by the talking, and also because people were lingering too long.  Logistics demands that people be encouraged to move along.  Silence was strictly enforced and absolutely no pictures were allowed.  It is of course very beautiful, but after all we had already seen I would have to be a Vatican scholar to see how it was better.  One simply has to drink it in.
This, and the following pictures are from inside St. Peter's, the largest church in the world. According to Stefano, one doesn't really "get" the immensity of the church because one loses all sense of scale inside.  I saw what he meant when we contemplated the actual size of certain aspects.
Michelangelo's Pieta is behind glass inside St. Peter's.

This altarpiece is the equivalent of a six-story building. Notice the letters inscribed on the gold  panels on either side--each letter is about six feet tall. 

Standing on the steps just outside the entrance to St. Peter's
Further down the steps.  The Dome of St. Peter's is not yet visible at the rear.
Avery, our friend from Cannes, France, joined us in Rome and here we are in front of St. Peter's, with the Dome now almost visible.

St. Peter's from the center of the Piazza with the Obelisk
Looking out to the other side of the Piazza.  A cute little family looking a bit exhausted to me.   Ah, the joys of traveling with children.
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Our day at the Vatican with Stefano, a wonderful guide

Stefano, a wonderful Roman guide recommended by Gwenna Brush, met us at the hotel and we went first to the Vatican Museum.  I can't possibly describe the wonders there--do Google it for better pictures.  This is one of the many "salas" or rooms, which are long galleries filled with marble statuary and ceilings embellished with scenes from the Bible or antiquity.  
I can only surmise that the ceilings were so elaborate because the noble Romans spent so much time reclining on couches whilst nibbling peeled grapes.
Yet another...

This is a huge basin made of porphyry a wonderful deep red marble but the main thing is the magnificent mosaic floor.  Note the size of the basin compared to the people.
Part of the  mosaic floor.  This one is cordoned off so that people can't walk on it but many of the mosaics are just part of the normal pathway.

And if you don't like mosaic, try marble--so many different types of marble inlay.
This corridor, or gallery, or sala, is composed of huge and magnificent tapestries mostly done in the 16th century.
The ceiling of the Tapestry Room

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rome in Pictures

The posh Via Veneto.   Our hotel, Parco dei Principi sits on the edge of the Borghese Gardens, so after a rest, we walked through the gardens and down the Via Veneto, one of the poshest streets in Rome.  This is a view of Via Veneto.

This is a picture of the All Blacks, New Zealand's renowned Rugby team who were in Rome to play Italy.  The story behind the name of the team is this:  A sportscaster some years ago was praising the team and said they ran like "all backs."  This was mis-printed in the paper as All-Blacks and the name stuck.  So funny since we had just come from New Zealand where we had heard that story and where the team is revered.  We saw them all over the hotel--big strapping athletes who seemed somewhat out of place in the very formal Baroque-style hotel.  They won the game which was on Saturday.  Revenge is sweet.
We took our usual bus tour the next day to get our bearings and this was our first view of the huge, and very white, Victoria Emanuel Monument, nicknamed by the American GIs "the wedding cake."  It's hard to convey how huge this building is but it dominates the area.
And the famous Trevi Fountain.  Can you believe we didn't throw a coin? We couldn't get close enough without lobbing it over hundreds of heads.