Observations On Rome

This is a mishmash of observations, with no attempt to categorise them. Just read them and take what you need from them.

Cloakrooms in museums are free, at least in the ones we went to – the Borghese Gallery, the Pamphilj, and the Etruscan Museum.

From the evidence of one Uber ride and about a dozen taxi rides, taxis are much cheaper than Uber. Why take taxis when there are buses and the metro? It’s because the time spent negotiating public transport is better spent on the places one wants to get to. That said, we walked a lot because Rome is an outdoor city and the centre is compact.

We stayed in a hotel on Piazza Navona, with a room that looked out over the Piazza, and even the Colosseum is not so far away. Villa Borghese isn’t that far either, but Rome is built on seven hills, and the Villa is up an elevation – so we went by taxi.

People dress stylishly, and it is in obvious contrast to England.

Gallery Borghese is not a home of world class art. There are a lot of uninspiring statues. The pinacoteca (picture gallery) in the gallery is better with paintings by Caravaggio and Bernini.

You can hear parrots overhead, and catch sight of them if you are quick. We asked at the Terme de Caracalla and by chance one of the men at the desk is an ornithologist. The birds are escapes, and there are two kinds. There are the South American escapes (escaped from private houses or zoos) and there are parrots with a red beak that are from Asia Minor/

Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus became known as Caracalla because he often wore a military cloak called a caracallus after a Gallic hooded tunic that he habitually wore and made fashionable, wearing it during his campaigns on the Rhine and Danube.

He was by all accounts horrible. But he built the Terme de Caracalla where thousands of people at one time could bathe and hang out. It is of course a ruin now, but the scale is huge. Walking around dwarves the human visitors. Look at the tiny people in this photo.

Well worth seeing, but don’t get too hung about seeing it all. It is big, and it is worth seeing but one does not have to become an expert in Roman bathing habits.

You see signs for Osterias, which are plainly, obviously, cafes. But exactly what is an osteria? The official description is that unlike trattorias they usually have no menu, just one offering that changes daily, according to what’s available in the market. Whether the name has hung on and osterias and trattorias have morphed into one new 21st century cafe-restaurant, I do not know.

Trastervere is on the other bank of the river Tiber. We had thought of getting a hotel there, but decided against it. I am glad we did that because it is a mess, with graffiti and an unappealing surly and different mood to the area where we were. Of course, the Vatican is on the same bank – a bit further north beyond a bend in the river, and that is different again.

We were somewhere in Rome, I think it was near the Colosseum, and we flagged down a taxi and asked for Trastervere, which we pronounced TRA STA VER EH. The taxi driver explained how to pronounce it. It is Tras-TI-ver-i with the stress on the ti – means across the Tivere – the river Tiber.

Because I like to photograph, I notice cameras. I noticed a lot of people with ‘real’ cameras with longer zoom lenses than I saw in other places we have visited.

Doria Pamphilj is a villa right in the city at Via del Corso 305. Pamphilj is pronounced PAMFILLY, as I found out when I asked one of the people at the desk.

Doria Pamphilj houses a gallery and it is devoid (almost) of any good art. Or rather, there might be some good or even wonderful paintings there, but some are so high up on the walls that one would need binoculars and a spotlight. Instead, one is left with looking at the hallways and corridors – like this one:

1 Comment

  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    Love your observations. I doubt the average tourist would muse about so many details. The ceilings and corridors would be enough for me! That last one rivals the Sistine Chapel. Wonder who painted that?


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