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Trip Report Bellissimo Rome, Amalfi Coast, Florence and Caserta: Our wonderful trip

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We spent a fabulous 11 days exploring Italy. We started in my favorite city of them all:

ROME

The Tourist Stuff

We walked past the typical tourist haunts: Trevi Fountain (which was packed with people every single time we walked through (which was often since our apartment was near here – fabulous location), Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Popolo Square, and the Pantheon. We already toured the Forum and Colosseum on a prior visit, but did walk around this area.

I just love walking around Rome, and we walked a LOT.

The Palaces

Rome has so many of these, and they are wonderful.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj – wow, what a great art collection. Three Caravaggios, Bernini, Velazquez, etc. And what an amazing palace – the hall of mirrors was spectacular, as were many of the rooms. The chapel had mummified remains of the family’s saint.

Palazzo Colonna – I have wanted to see this palace for a while, as it looked so ornate and amazing, and it was. Its Sala Grand is indeed very grand, with its ceiling fresco and many windows. There is also an art collection here, but not as impressive as the one at the Doria Pamphilj.

Palazzo Barberini – A visiting conference blocked off entrance to the room with Coronto’s amazing ceiling fresco, “Allegory of Divine Providence”. Thankfully, I had already seen that on a prior trip. I took in the art collection – there are some Caravaggios and Raphael’s “La Fornarina” here.

The Museums

National Museum of Rome – we wandered around here a bit, admiring the mosaics and frescoes from the walls of ancient Roman villas. The most amazing fresco covered 4 walls of a large room: the garden fresco from Livia’s villa. There are also seemingly 1000s of statues here at this museum, too.

Palazzo Altemps - This museum admission was included with the National Museum of Rome. There was a great garden ceiling fresco here, and lots more statues. The interior courtyard was very attractive.

Ancient Rome

The Domus Aurea – Nero’s Palace. We booked a tour here, which was fascinating. This palace must have been incredibly spectacular in its heyday – and it’s huge! Sadly, many of the ancient frescoes and wall paintings have faded over the years, but what has been restored looks amazing. This palace was buried (!) and rediscovered.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on that part of its history:

<<When a young Roman inadvertently fell through a cleft in the Esquiline hillside at the end of the 15th century, he found himself in a strange cave or grotta filled with painted figures. Soon the young artists of Rome were having themselves let down on boards knotted to ropes to see for themselves. The fourth style frescoes that were uncovered then have faded to pale gray stains on the plaster now, but the effect of these freshly rediscovered grottesche[16] decorations was electrifying in the early Renaissance, which was just arriving in Rome. When Pinturicchio, Raphael and Michelangelo crawled underground and were let down shafts to study them, carving their names on the walls to let the world know they had been there, the paintings were a revelation of the true world of antiquity.

It is amazing to think of Raphael lowering himself down to explore! I have wanted to see the Domus Aurea since seeing Raphael’s Loggia in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

The Churches

I visited so many I don’t even know all their names. I read somewhere that whenever you pass a church in Europe, you should look inside. That advice is very good for Italy! We walked into a *lot* of churches. There's the ones I remember the names of:

St. Agostino - here I wanted to see Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto. So amazing to see Caravaggio’s work in its original location. Just like in:

San Luigi dei Francesi – my favorite Caravaggio, “The Calling of St. Matthew” is here.

Santa Maria del Popolo – Bernini, Caravaggio: Wow. We walked around the Popolo Square in the evening, and up around the adjacent Pincio park.

Santa Maria della Vittoria – Bernini’s amazing Ecstasy of St. Teresa is here – what theatre, and how he depicted clothing, skin and clouds in marble. Looking up, there are more clouds and flying putti.

Sant Ignazio – Andrea Pozzo’s soaring ceiling fresco is incredible – and his painted dome! There is spot on the floor to stand to best see the illusion.

Other Stuff:

The Caravaggio Experience – We passed a building, and I’m not sure what it was, that had a banner advertising this. It was billed as a video installation with a ‘movie” of Caravaggio’s works. His paintings were projected on a large scale on the walls throughout several rooms. It was described as a “sensoral journey” with fragrances. It was pretty interesting, but I only noticed one fragrance at one point and it smelled like the Abercrombie and Fitch store (which isn’t a great thing).

Giolitti gelato – as good as they said it was!

I had an older guidebook and we did look for Canova’s studio. Apparently, you used to be able to go inside – it wasn’t open when I tried the door. I also went looking for Palazzo Lancellotti and we never found it. A waiter pointed me to a building, I tried the door, it was locked. A man came to the door, and told me it was “private”. From what I could glimpse inside, the space looked impressive – all I was able to see was niches with statues in them, but the room looked sizable. There must be so many incredible places like that in Rome. Sigh.

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