Post-Tour Day 3
We spend our last morning in Italy at the National Museum of Rome, and it is one of the highlights of our trip. The museum focuses on early history, especially archaeological discoveries of ancient Rome. We visit the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the main site of the museum, located near Termini Station. Here, a dramatically lit collection of ancient Roman sculptures grace the first floor, but we concentrate on the second floor mosaics and frescoes, removed from the ruins of Roman villas. We are enthralled by the intricacy of the mosaics. Some were discovered underneath Termini Station when the area was excavated. Rooms from the Villa of the Farnesina, built during the time of Augustus, and discovered in the 19th century, are reconstructed using their original floor plan and frescoes–a fine lesson in ancient interior design.
Most impressive is the Painted Garden of the Villa of Livia, the wife of Augustus. This garden chamber was painted around 20 B.C. Trees, fruit plants, shrubs, flowers, ivy, ferns, and birds are rendered naturalistically, all on a cool blue background. The effect is stunning. We have the gallery to ourselves, and cannot tear ourselves away from the room. It reminds of us of seeing the large panels of Monet’s Waterlilies at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but on a more intimate scale. We feel connected to the Romans here. We can picture their homes, not in the imposing government structures, but spaces where they lived and worked and played.
We decide to spend time in a real garden, and head for the Villa Borghese Gardens. The Villa itself houses a wonderful art collection, but we are not able to get tickets. It is hard to imagine that the magnificent site was once someone’s party villa. The gardens are lovely, green, and cool on a hot day. On the way, we pass by the imposing American Embassy in Rome. We feel a connection to home. Across from the garden, we find the Harley Davidson Store of Roma, and my traveling companion purchases a tee shirt for his brother’s collection.
For lunch, we find Mandaloun, a Lebanese restaurant. It is so not pasta. We feast on humus, tabouli, taziki, spinach pies, and lentil soup—all delicious. Already we are leaving Italy.
Back at our hotel room, we begin to pack for our early flight the next morning. In the evening, we are too full for another meal. We finish our Frascati wine, and nibble on crackers and cheese. I play Mario Lanza songs on my iPhone, and wipe a tear from my eye. Arreviderci Roma. We go out for one last walk around Rome, and one last bottle of Prosecco.
“Be my love, for no one else can end this yearning …”
Post-Tour Day 4
We troop downstairs with our backpacks at 6 am. The night clerk at the Hotel San Carlo is gracious, and we have a good conversation about travel and the world. The taxi arrives. We ride to Fumicino Airport in the dark, but I catch a glimpse of the Forum, and the Baths of Caracalla, as we whiz past. Maybe it is better that it is dark. I miss Italy already.
We fly from Rome to Washington, D.C. and Cleveland with no problems, no lines, and no one being dragged off the plane.
We will never forget these fifteen day of sunshine and blue skies in Italy:
“This was the best trip ever!”
The Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice; the Renaissance, David, and the Duomo in Florence; Cyprus and Olive Trees dotting the Umbrian Countryside; Ancient Rome, Christian Rome, and Modern Rome; Vineyards in Frascati. And wine, so much wine!