Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Yoo 648 - Jewish Ghetto and Galleria Borghese

The forecast for Wednesday was much better! On the schedule: walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto, Campo de' Fiori market, Galleria Borghese, Villa Borghese, Crypt of Capuchins, and whatever else tickled our fancy.

It involved a lot of walking. Everyday involved a lot of walking, but especially this day. I emailed my mom that night: "I'd bet that there isn't a street in Rome we haven't walked down." Of course that's not anywhere near true but it sure felt like it at the time. We traipsed everywhere! Buying the public transport pass was such a waste because we used it four times and only once was it really necessary.

Lesson learned.

Greg had to wear a kippah for the tour.

I learned a ton in the Jewish Ghetto. We started with a walking tour of the neighborhood but sidetracked into an official tour of the synagogues and museum. Worth. It. Rome has the oldest settlement of Jews in Europe so there's quite a bit of history. The good times and the bad.The synagogue was just gorgeous and peaceful. The pope has even visited it! And the audio tour at the museum explained a lot about Judaism I hadn't understood before. I could have spent twice as long there as we did.

The Campo de' Fiori market was cool but we didn't buy anything...those miniature Christmas trees were tempting though! I'm just not much of a souvenir person when I travel. We sampled some food but there was just nothing worth parting euros for.

Then we made the long trek up to Villa Borghese, pausing on the Spanish Steps to down granola bars. Walking thru the park is such a climate change from the streets of Rome. I actually loved the streets of Rome, but the park is a welcome oasis. 

We initially had to rush thru Villa Borghese to get to Galleria Borghese on time. You HAVE to have reservations no matter what and we were pushing our scheduled 1 o'clock time slot. But all the reviews and guidebooks I'd read said it was so worth it.

And it was. That's coming from a Teagan who had just spent the past two full days in museums and long ago blown thru her museum limits!

Art in motion! This was a special exhibit. It doesn't look like much until the lights turn off and the wheel starts to turn.

Then it looks like this, except cooler in person because the scene actually comes alive with movement. So. Cool.

I loved the colors on this ceiling mural (fresco?).


The Galleria Borghese is so ornate. Just look at all this marble! The whole place is basically 1000% made up of marble. 

And mosaics. Don't miss the mosaics.

Then, in between all of that are some of the best sculptures ever. It's a mind-blowing experience. In a good way. I stared at each of Bernini's pieces for ages, completely enthralled.

Also, this sculpture has a dog. And the painting gallery pushed my limits like all prior painting galleries but there were just enough dogs to keep me going. 

It's pathetic but these only make up half of the dog pictures I took...

And a parting shot. We were going to get kicked out at 3 and I think we got close. The gallery isn't big (unless you're walking up the stairs to the second floor, then it feels TALL) but it is jam-packed. Plus there were benches! It was a great afternoon.

After Galleria Borghese, we explored Villa Borghese, which is basically Rome's Central Park. I loved it. There were runners! And, best of all, an off-leash dog park!

This was the highlight of the day. We took an unplanned side trail just to walk thru it. Watching dogs play instantly makes me happy. Plus, one was on point, approaching a bird, and we couldn't believe how slow and methodical it was moving. Kind of awesome but he didn't catch the bird.

We found the lake but it was smaller than expected so we didn't rent boats to paddle around. Though, with a bit more wandering, we ended up in prime sunset-viewing territory. Pincio Terrace! There was still a good 45-minutes before sunset but we waited for a bench to open up and just enjoyed the view and watched the sky change.

There is little I enjoy more than a good sunrise/sunset.


The sun was down but our day still had some life left...ironically at the Crypt of Capuchins! They are really strict about no photography so I'm using a pic from Wikipedia.

This place was incredible and not as creepy as I thought it would be. We walked thru the museum that showcases the history of the Order of Capuchin Friars before getting to the six separate crypts decorated with human skeletons from over 3500 bodies. They're believed to be the bodies of deceased Capuchin friars. The story is that as one is buried, the oldest is dug up and added to the display. It's supposed to serve as a reminder of our fleeting mortality.

There are a lot of bones arranged in creative patterns covering the vast majority of six rooms. It's a sight to see.

We found the church with Bernini's "Ecstasy of Saint Teresa", which I only was on the lookout for because I remembered it from Angels and Demons. After that we somehow ended up in an opposite corner of Rome for a pizza dinner. More walking.

The dinner wasn't spectacular but it was filling. And then they charged us 2.50 for tap water.

This gelato experience made up for the lackluster supper. They filled the cones with chocolate! And it was still melty when we got to the base of the cone! All topped with real cream and perfection. Worth the hike to find this place.

Still walking. Still loving Rome's side streets.

More Bernini.

And the Colosseum at night. Had to.

Have a great day :-)

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