Tuesday: By far the highlight of this day was the Borghese Museum, which may have the highest proportion of masterpieces per square foot of any museum I’ve been in. I was particularly moved by the Bernini sculpture of Apollo and Daphne. If you approach it from behind, you see just Apollo, then as you come around it, you see Daphne in his grasp. She had called on her river god father to help her by changing her form, so she is being transformed into a tree. The artistic rendering is astonishing — her toes becoming roots, her fingers sprouting leaves, and her body being emcompassed by bark. I cannot even understand how he accomplished this.


Just outside the Villa Borghese is the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, for 19th and 20th century art. The museum has some nice pieces by brand name artists in its collection: Van Gogh’s Gardner, Duchamp’s Roue de Bicyclette, Cezanne’s Le Cabanon de Jourdan, Klimpt’s The Three Ages of Humanity, Rodin, Pollock, Mondrian. But suffice to say that Italian artists haven’t take modern art by storm, and the museum largely evades the issue of Fascism. But it was a pleasant location to spend a couple of hours.

The second major highlight of the day was lunch at Osteria St. Ana near the Piazza del Poppolo. I went to this restaurant at the recommendation of one of my students at Wake Forest. It was later in the day, around 2:30p, so the restaurant was not crowded, but there were 3-4 tables of people, all Italians, and they were all clearly wondering what I was doing there. But my waiter was very friendly and helpful, and the food excellent. I had buffalo milk mozzerlla cheese, spagghetti alla carbonara, beef in wine sauce, salade primavera, half a bottle of red table wine, and a doppio espresso. It took about an hour and a half to eat, and another hour of walking around afterward to recover.

From the restaurant I walked down the Via del Corso to the Via del Condotti – the most famous high end shopping district in Rome. Brioni, Gucci, Bulgari, Max Mara, Valentino, etc. etc. I just kept my wallet in my pocket and kept walking to the Spanish Steps. Fortunately they were not crowded, so I was able to climb the steps and watch the sunset over the city.

From there I followed the signs to find the Trevi Fountain. I didn’t really know where it was, so it wasn’t until I hear the water that I rounded to corner and saw the fountain. The early winter darkness meant that I didn’t have to be out too late at night to see the Trevi Fountain lit up, which seems to be the best way to see it.

I’m sure some people consider the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain to be cliche tourist areas, but at this time of year at least, they were very beautiful and serene settings, a treat for the senses — sight, sounds, and smell.

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