Thursday, 19 November 2009

Rome Part 2

We also passed by the Pantheon (I’ll talk about the inside on a different day’s summary) and then to Trevi Fountain. Beautiful at night (I’ll post some pictures). Interesting enough, there are some UV lasers at most of these sights that supposedly keep the pigeons away. They seem to do the job. It’s UV though so you can’t see it. However, when you are looking though the image viewer on your digital camera you can see them.

We started at the Borghese Gallery. Borghese was the nephew of a Pope, therefore due to politics, a Cardinal (he supposedly wasn’t very religious). He was however a good politician. The villa was stocked with paintings, old (done by the “hot” painters at the time ~1600’s) and older, and sculptures. He would then have the VIPs over. The kids really seemed to enjoy the paintings. They asked questions and came up with some interpretations of their own. I am more of sculpture guy… Here is where you can see Bernini’s The Rape of Proserpine. No actual raping going on. This was the one I was talking about though were you can see the imprints of Pluto’s hands as he is carrying the girl away. You can see the tears rolling down her face. In another room Napolean’s sister had a Kate Windslett Titanic moment where she posed on a bed for a sculpture (done by Canova). The mattress is so polished and smooth the crinkles look soft, you can see the indentation of her weight on the mattress and you can almost make out threads of the pattern sown into the sheets. It’s marble!!
After the gallery we walked through the park back towards the city center. We stopped for lunch at… The Hard Rock. After 4 months away from the states we really wanted an American burger. Sorry Tony and Stephanie… That was the best 20 dollar burger and fries! We did get the 15% off military discount though so it was definitely not the most expensive meal we had.
We then re-walked most our previous nights walk but with the kids this time. The inside of the Pantheon was pretty neat. It was originally a “one stop shopping” place for you to worship any of the Roman gods. Later it was turned into another church. The dome though is awesome. A hole in the center still lets in light and rain. The Romans were incredible engineer’s 2000 years ago. The Dome starts out with a heavy 20 ft thick concrete and tapers off to 5 ft thick lighter concrete. So 1) perfectly round, 2) 142 ft high 3) different types and thicknesses of a material they invented (concrete). The tombs of Raphael, and two of some of the last Italian royalties are in the Pantheon.
That night we left the kids, again, and had dinner around the corner. It was again very good. Four courses, wine, café,... Again, not real close to any attractions so it was great quality and a good price. The waiter we had was an older gentleman who knew a little broken English, had a great sense of humor and went out of his way for us (Carey wanted hot chocolate, the restaurant didn’t have any so he told the manager Carey was pregnant (SHE IS NOT and she doesn’t look it) so he could go next door to get some…).

Thursday: Rome overload…
We started off with some Catacombs. There was 4000 friars worth of bones here. They took the bones and decorated (made alter type areas, designs, symbols etc.). A little creepy but interesting.
We also went to Piazza del Popolo. This was the northern entrance to Rome. It was redesigned in the 1500- 1600’s. This was the time that Rome was being brought back to life. After the fall of the empire in about 500 AD all of Europe went into the dark ages for about 1000 years (how’s that for a recession…). So about that time the Popes put time and energy and money into rebuilding. The plaza is wide open and the three major roads that run through the city start here.
That night we took the kids to the previous night’s restaurant. Again a good meal with great service. This waiter took it upon himself to get us some roasted chestnuts after we were done and the bill had been paid.

All in all, a good trip. Exhausting. Lots of walking, lots of eating, lots of wine… The thing is, there is still more to see… Pictures to follow. We still need to transfer them to a computer and sort through them.

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