Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rick’s Roadshow: Rome Makes Me Want to Roam

Welcome back to Rick’s Roadshow: Rome Makes Me Want to Roam

I started the day with an early morning swim in the hotel’s fabulous pool. I ordered coffee poolside and figured I could do my laps and then relax in my fluffy bathrobe. It was still quite early so I had the pool to myself. After a mere four laps I was completely out of breath and thoroughly exhausted. I swear the pool must be an Olympic size pool. I was huffing, puffing and heaving so I clawed my way out of the pool and sat on the side trying to catch my breath. The coffee sure tasted good at that point.

For our second full day in Rome, we planned an itinerary that had us doing some serious walking. It started at an eerie church Santa Maria della Concezione. I say eerie because the inside walls of the chapel was decorated with the bones of over 4,000 monks dating back to the 1500’s. Talk about creepy. These poor monks bodies were dug up after having long decomposed, and then assembled on walls as the décor. There were alcoves with piles and piles of carefully placed skulls all to make patterns. Let’s just say it was one of the strangest things I have ever seen.  

From there we went to visit the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, which remains today the private home of the Doria Pamphilj family. Part of their Palazzo is open to the public, with multiple rooms on exhibit with a stunning array of art on exhibit. This noble Italian royal family dates back over 500 years, with important historical connections throughout the Mediterranean. Andrea Doria led independence from Genoa, and Giovanni Doria Andrea  fought a famous battle against the Turks in the battle of Lepanto in 1571. 

But it was later in 1644 when the Doria family’s own Cardinal Giovanni Battista was elected as Pope and became known as Pope Innocent X. Without question, having a pope in the family during this era brought enormous power and prestige to the Doria Pamphilj family. Photo left: the colonnade entrance to the Palazzo. Photo below: the bathroom salon at the Palazzo. Photo below the bathroom salon: a lovely iron grate outside the windows of the Palazzo.

The princes and princesses who followed Innocent X maintained their family passion for art, assembling an enormous private collection that continues to be open to the public here in Rome. Being received at the Palazzo was quite an exciting opportunity, it is on the level of The Vatican, Windsor Castle of Buckingham Palace. Exquisite paintings, incredible tapestries, beautiful sculptures and marble everywhere. 

Having toured many of the great palaces and art museums across Europe, what struck me as we visited this Palazzo was the abundance of talent and culture that emanated from Western Europe over the past 600 years. Clearly a passionate people inspired by a wide array of historical events, and public figures. One could argue that at times, the inspiration may have been driven by flawed individuals, egomaniacs or even conquerors of holy wars. Regardless of why, what resulted was an unprecedented outpouring of talent that translated onto canvas, stone, jewelry, fabric and much more. Modern art collectors such as The Smithsonian continue to acquire art from the past and the present, seeking to preserve culture for future generations to appreciate and hopefully inspire. I never profess to be an art historian, but over the years I have come to appreciate art- in its various forms as an important part of our shared society. The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a delightful way to spend an afternoon in Rome, even if you aren’t visiting a member of the family. I highly recommend visiting its public galleries, they are open to the public for a small entrance fee. 

Our day of walking continued with a brief visit to the Castel of San Angelo, adjacent to The Vatican at the foot of Piazza San Pietro (St Peter’s Square).  We checked out the site of the tomb of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. It was under substantial renovation and excavation so we couldn’t really see much. I would have thought that this would have had a more grand memorial, considering the importance of Augustus to the Roman Empire. Perhaps that is what they are working on restoring-even if it is over 2,000 years later! The square around the tomb has some interesting buildings, including some Fascist-era buildings (see photo above) built by Mussolini complete with art deco style décor. And in stark contrast also adjacent are contemporary modern structures with glass and steel, as well as a Papal monument and Renaissance era church. So in just one city square you can see four great representations of Roman history. It is a simple, yet remarkable site, which goes unnoticed by most passers-by. It was further evidence to me, that Rome truly is The Eternal City.

Please join me again tomorrow for a fresh edition of Rick’s Roadshow, as we begin our fabulous Aegean Sea cruise. We set sail from Rome and head south to Capri and Naples and then journey to some exotic sites…it should be a memorable trip. Thanks for following along.
-Ricardo Rockhillo


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

lucky ducks!!! i'll be there in spirit rick!

i get to bring sarge home later today. finally! thanks for the prayers my friend...

smiles, bee

KathyA said...

Picturing you clawing your way out of the pool made me chuckle. I'm sure you were exaggerating!
Thank you for the wonderful tour. Where will you be dining tonight? Could you possibly have some type of pasta for me? Grazie, caro!

kenju said...

Great photos. I sure do like that bathroom.Looks like mine. (not)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I did this ALL backwards...starting with your most recent post and working my way back...It is ALL just wonderful, Rick. I knew nothing of the History of that Family, but I remember a ship called The Andria Dorea went down at Sea sometime in the 1950's....I knew it was an Italian ship, but had no idea that it was named after such an important family. Very very interesting!


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