I really had not much of an agenda coming to Rome except to spend time with my brother and his family but it's been that and more.
We visited the Ara Pacis at night so you can see the projected overlays on the various bas relief panels.
We walked home via Piazza Navona with its church and fountain.
And stopped for gelato (obviously).
On the way to a day of art, we walked past the cat sanctuary at Sant'Eustachio. Apparently there's an organization which cares for cats and they all seem to end up here in the ruins.
We saw the wonderful Renaissance collection at Villa Borghese although what I really liked were the ceilings and window-frames and other secondary decorations: the faux marble and faux-relief painting mimicking sculptural scrollwork and moulding was so artful, so effective and such a perfect setting for the actual paintings and other artwork.
And for lunch we had The Best Pizza Ever.
Oddly enough they're an international chain and I'd go back in any city. Perfectly pillowy, chewy and slightly crisp crust, just the right amount of toppings (mozzarella, Gorgonzola, dried figs and prosciutto) in just the right proportions. After lunch it was time for the National Gallery of Modern Art at which one of my nephews agreed to join us.
Gorgeous space with a really varied and interesting collection. Turns out I really like all the works by Alberto Burri. There were a few pieces I'd happily hang in my home.
Mostly I just love wandering around Rome - the neighborhood where my brother lives is utterly charming with picturesque alleyways that ate actually streets on which vehicles expect to drive. Small vehicles. Small cars and lots of scooters. Smart cars are everywhere slotted into the tiniest of spaces.
The pedestrians and drivers are equally respectful of and patient with each other. The sidewalks are nonexistent, small or are filled with parked scooters and car bumpers so you walk in the road. The drivers rarely use their horns so you turn and check for cars everyone and again and move over to let them pass when you see them. It's pretty civilized.
I've now been there long enough to recognize some of the neighborhood fixtures like the handyman swaddled with tookbelts and encrusted with piercings, always in shorts no matter how cold.
Yesterday we crossed the bridge on the way to the Vatican Museum, both nephews in tow, complaining vociferously (actually the seventeen year old was fine; it required all three adults to get the fourteen year old out of the house).
Honestly I could happily have spent more time staring at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The first time I saw it was before the 1980 restoration when it was still dark and almost monochromatic and the second time was partway through the restoration when some of those dull browns had given way to the sunlight-bright pastels and skin tones. Yesterday all was bright and colorful and gorgeous but I really did love seeing the contrast during the restoration.
And then we made the boys climb (with us) to the top of the dome of St. Peter's.
The first two hundred and forty-seven stairs take you up inside the cathedral where you can see that most of the paintings on the ceiling and the upper walls are actually exquisitely fine mosaics.
The last three hundred and four steps are in the walls of the dome so the walls in the stairwell are slanted; very disconcerting.
The view from the top is pretty magnificent though and for the most part the steps are shallow enough that your legs don't get sore or tired; it's just the lack of air that I found difficult trying to keep up with my very talk and very thin sister-in-law and nephews. Plus they're all a lot younger than me...
We had to have a look at "the dudes" on the way down. You can see their backs in the view from the top.
There are a few very small doors in the stairwell that leads back down into the cathedral. That's the fourteen year old. He's well under six feet. I think the doorway must be for gnomes who take care of the dome. Dome Gnomes.
The interior really is over-the-top impressive. In a bad way if you want to go that way but impressive nonetheless.
On the way out we had another view of the dudes.
The Tiber was perfectly still as we crossed the bridge at the end of the day.
Back home to the 'hood.