Friday, April 22, 2016

Europe by Train: Rome: These Roman Streets

This is our second time traveling Europe by train. We go light, one carry-on each. In previous years I had a Red Oxx backpack, but after a shoulder injury I bought a four-wheel Bric spinner. I filled it with black and navy separates, ready for almost everything except tea with the Queen.

Two years ago we visited Italy last, Rome last of all. This time it would be first. After all, I had never strolled the Tiber River.

I needed to test just how fickle I am. I've lived in Paris and visited often; it has always been my great love. So I was shocked by my visceral reaction to Italy, especially Rome. I remembered the magnificent Bernini sculptures at the Borghese Gallery (for which I could not get tickets this year. If you wish to go, plan way ahead!) Bernini works marble like no other. This is a detail from the Rape of Persephone.

Our Hotel San Francesco is welcoming, calm and elegant, in the old Trastevere neighborhood, with its time-aged walls of terracotta, ochre, and gold. The San Francesco a Ripa church is next door. Here is our view.

 Our neighborhood.

The first evening we arrived late but in time for a glass of (organic) wine at an outdoor neighborhood bar/cafĂ©. The server was gracious and warm...the night was warm! 

Warmth continued to surround us. Although much of Italian art is about reaching for the heavens, life here is cheerfully grounded in the earth. This earth. This life. Our first morning we walked to the famous Testaccio Market.

It's artichoke season!

Look who greeted us outside the market, made of bottlecaps!

Sunday we had lunch on a cobbled lane behind the Spanish steps.

Across the way a vine-draped courtyard called to me with its artist's studio and Red Valentino boutique. I loved this muslin horse. 

My friend Annamaria Alfieri said not to miss the Vatican Museum, especially the Map Room. My first sight of the immense narrow gallery sent my jaw dropping.

Italia Antiqua, and below modern Italy.

There is a color I call Vatican blue, so pure and celestial. 

The same skies we see in Rome, as here behind the Pantheon.

Another day we walked to the Capitoline Museums, on one of the seven hills of Rome...behind the Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue and the Vittorio monument.

And above the Forum ruins.

The setting is stupendous, the collection astonishing.

Afterward we ate at Tre Scalini in the Monti neighbohood under a curtain of vines. 

Art is everywhere in Rome: the magnificent churches! I followed Bernini through several of them. Here, at Santa Maria della Vittoria is St. Theresa in Ecstasy, as an angel pierces her heart with a dart of divine love, causing her both immense joy and pain.

Bernini is a Baroque artist; his work is passionate and theatrical, sensual even in the sacred space. A similar work is next door to our hotel at San Francesco a Ripa, Beata Ludovica in Ecstacy.

And at Santa Maria soprano Minerva, I fell in love with Bernini's whimsical elephant.

The museums and churches have serious competition with the art in the street. I keep going back to Piazza Navona, an over-the-top space centered by Bernini's wondrous Fountain of Four Rivers. 

The art of the streets. The art of life.

Everyday Rome.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ode to Home Sweet Home

From Voler, Voguez, Voyager Louis Vuiton Exhibit, Grand Palais, Paris
Why is it every time I’m getting ready to leave town―even for more Europe by Train!my home tugs me to stay? The weather is beautiful; the wisteria is in bloom,

the roses are providing yummy buds for the dear deer,

and the spring bulbs are popping.

My sweet Daisy looks at me with those big brown eyes

and Marco The Menace is adorable.

The two even seem to be reconciling (unless theyre plotting a coup while were gone). 

My former therapist called it separation anxiety. I hate to leave where I’m at, and then when I’m *there* I hate to come home. (My dirty little secret, why I struggle with being late.)

Jimmy Durante said it best in the 1942 black and white comedy, The Man Who Came to Dinner:

“Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still had the feeling that you wanted to stay,
You knew it was right, wasnt wrong.
Still you knew you wouldnt be very long.
Go or stay, stay or go,
Start to go again and change your mind again.
Its hard to have the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still have the feeling that you wanted to stay.
Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si, do.
Ill go.
Ill stay.” Jimmy Durante

From Voler, Voguez, Voyager Louis Vuiton Exhibit, Grand Palais, Paris
The above Vuitton trunk holds a mattress for the intrepid explorer of yore whose effects were transported by bearer or mighty beast. As a more minimalist traveler, I must now confront my new 22" x 18" x 10" carryon.  

Next stop: Rome!