Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rome - modern city reminiscent of ancient times

Took a break from posting about Rome, and now I'm back at it again. For new readers to this blog, please look at category "Travel" for my travel posts relating to my 1st few days in Rome. Chronologically, the posts read from bottom up. =)

After St Peter's Basilica, other churches seemed to pale in comparison. The Basilica di St Maria Maggiore was the last stop for the day, and understandably, it seemed tiny and very simple, compared to St Peter's Basilica. Nevertheless, the church has its charms.

The interior may not be as im
pressive as St Peter's Basilica, but it's already bigger than most churches in S'pore.

Very pretty stained glass window

Last Day in Rome

The next morning, we set out to conquer Villa Borghese, having been highly recommended by our roomie, an affable American girl, who had already visited the villa and found it very lovely.

Nearest metro station was Stazione Flaminio, which was quite a distance away, i.e., 20 mins walk. We passed by these.

My guess is that this place used to be a cattle ranch.

Learnt some things about Mr Irish from the walk to Villa Borghese.

1. He hates being close to nature (reminds him of army duhhhh).
2. He is NOT a scenery person.

While Ms Rehau and I were enjoying a peaceful respite from the structural jungle, that was central Rome (for the past 3 days), Mr Irish was clearly not enjoying himself, while trudging grumpily through the parks and green patches that led to Villa Borghese.

The Museo e Galleria Borghese, within Villa Borghese, displays works by big names like Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio. Pre-booked tours are recommended, since a limited no. of people were allowed each time.

Unfortunately we were a little too late. The museum tour which typically lasted 2 hours had already commenced. We didn't have the time to wait for the next tour to commence (already bought train tics to Florence) and so we left. Bummer! I was SOOOOOO looking forward to it! :-(

The only takeaways from the villa were these pictures. *Wails*

We had a little time to check out Piazza del Popolo. We passed by a charming little children's carousel in a park.

View from the Pincio Gardens was lovely.

View across Piazza del Popolo

We wanted to go to San Maria del Popolo cathedral, a Raphael designed church with Bernini sculptures. I was thinking, nevermind about Villa Borghese, at least there is an alternative place to view Bernini's works. To my dismay, we CANNOT find the church! To the best of our combined map reading skills, the church is simply not at the position indicated on the map. Which goes to show that this is not our day.

Cheered ourselves up by walking around Piazza del Popolo instead.

The characteristic obelisk prevalent in ma
ny piazzas in Rome

Seeing double - 2 iden
tical looking churches at the piazza. Can't remember their names though.

We adjourned for lunch to this Chinese restaurant nearby. I must say, the food is damn oily.

Anyway I was still not willing to give up on seeing Bernini's works, so I suggested we head to Santa Maria della Vittoria, where the famous Bernini's carving of the Ecstasy of St Theresa of Avila was placed. St Theresa, was depicted to be pierced by an angel, her expression, in spiritual ecstasy. Once again, I had to credit my knowledge of this particular sculpture to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Critics had interpreted St Theresa's ecstasy to be of the carnal sort. Well, I simply could not resist not seeing and interpreting it for myself.

To my absolute disgust, this was what greeted us.

The church is boarded up, undergoing restoration! Arggggghhhhh!!!

Anyway, like I said, this is not my day. Maybe this is what it's all about, isn't it? An elaborate "divine" plan to induce me back to this city, to fulfil my regrets from this trip (Yes, I'm recalling the coin I tossed into fontana di trevi. See previous post here.).

Thus concludes my last day in Rome. Rome may be a modern city, with modern city trappings like metros and smart cars, mega chainstores and multi-national hotels, but its ancient city roots is evidential, and everywhere -- the baroque fountains that provide cool relief during the hot summer months, enchanting cathedrals at every corner, Roman sculptures and paintings that grace Rome's many churches and museums. The appealing mish-mash of old and new will continue to enthrall many. For I am one of them.

Bidding a fond farewell to this delightfully modern-ancient city.

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