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things to do in Rome on Sundays

Old Oct 6th, 2009, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,480
Well, having JUST returned yesterday from a trip to Italy, and spending this last Sunday at the Villa Borghese, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. They JUST began (4 days ago) a fabulous Caravaggio/Bacon temporary exhibit there (goes until June 24, 2010) which makes it even MORE worthwhile an adventure, if you love Caravaggio as we do.

You MUST indeed reserve tickets beforehand, but that is easy on line at their web site. They are not cheap, 13.50 Euros each, but worth it IMHO. The amounts of works by Caravaggio, and their breathtaking beauty, moved us greatly. We have never seen so many of them in one place.

I wholeheartedly agree with you Thin, regarding the Pamphili Gallery. We were there a few years ago and could not BELIEVE the way we could hardly see ANY of the paintings properly because of the stupid way they had the lights displayed!!!! How does no one say anything to rectify this? How do they not see it themselves?? LOVE THOSE ITALIANS!! (and I really do too!!!). That said, there was one beautiful Caravaggio at the Borghese now that also suffered from a lighting display problem but I was not brazen enough to report it to anyone. Maybe someone else will and it will be corrected.

In any event, GO GO GO !!!!!
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 03:27 AM
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flame -

thanks for the info re the Borghese Caravaggio exhibition.

I'm adding it to my [growing] list. is it extra to the normal exhibition, or do you ahve to include it in the ttwo hours I understand that they limit you to?

regards, ann
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 03:37 AM
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hi again, flame,

i just went to look at the galleria borghese website and I'm a bit confused. the tickets are in three categories - full price [€14] reduced [€11] and complimentary ie free. [€8] ????

is that because of the Caravaggio exhibition? or because "gratuiti" now has a new definition?

any ideas?
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 05:04 AM
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ann - The price with the special exhibition would be 13.50€ and the online version would tack on 1€ reservation fee (14.50 total).
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 05:37 AM
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Ann - we paid 13.50 each. It includes the Caravaggio exhibit and you can't not go to it, it is intertwined within their regular halls. Our B&B host made the reservations for us by phone and then gave us a reservation number which we then brought to the counter at the museum. There we paid for 2 tickets at 13.50 Euros each. Don't know why there was no additional fee.
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 05:45 AM
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I wouldn't assume for a moment the Chiesa Nuova is going to have decent music at Sunday Mass.

None of the times given on its website are long enough for a decent Mass setting, an Oratorian sermon and communion (for all of which you need at least 75 minutes). As a general rule, Italian church music is dire (three women singing Italian hymns badly is about as far as most churches go), and if a church does make an effort and gets a semi-professional or rigorously trained amateur choir singing plainsong or proper classsical settings to English or American standards, it'll usually spell the fact out on its website.

Can't advise on the Campo dei Fiori - Piazza del Popoplo area. But there is proper music at these Roman churches at at least one Sunday Mass (check their sites), usually the one starting at 1030-1100 - though the other Sunday Masses might well involve little more than four women singing those hymmns badly:

St Peter's
St John Lateran
Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Sabina (around 0830)
Sant'Anselmo (definitely 0830)

I'm no expert (except on going into beautiful Italian churches and hearing bad music performed to a level that most English suburban churches would be ashamed of), and greater Romanophiles might be able to give you more specific suggestions
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 08:15 AM
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It were at St John Lateran that i heard a wondrous rendition of Silent Night on Jan 6, a holy day, a few years back - a large choir and organ, etc.

If in Termini train station in the cafeteria on the east end there are parts of the old Roman wall - you can sit and eat or drink right by them. La Piazza i think is the name of it and they have down-home Italian food at great prices. Nice if waiting for a train.
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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flanner - thank you for those tips.

I agree in general about music in continental churches - perhaps they go for reasons other than a good sing! Even the music in San marco on Easter sunday wasn't brilliant. I will spend some time looking round the websites of those churches that you list.

kyb/Flame - you have confirmed what I had guessed. I just liked the "free" tickets costing €8 - very italian.

actually it's not so much things to do on a Sunday, as on a Monday - so many more things are closed. we will have "THE MATCH" to go to on the sunday pm [hopefully, 1st time using seatwave to buy tickets, fingers crossed] so I am looking for sunday morning and Monday activities.

sorry to hijack your thread, happy.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 04:47 AM
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I have been to Rome over 75 times since 1970. Over the last ten years or so I have never missed the Sunday High Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore (at 10:00 or 10:30 - call, they speak English). It is a magnificent pageantry with all the basic Mass sung in Latin, in which the congregation, at least those of us who still remember the Gloria and Credo sing alternately with the magnificent choir. I took a atheist friend with me once who was most impressed. I told him to think of it as a concert. It is always a high point of my many visits to Rome.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 05:18 AM
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annhig, the funeral music was indeed quite beautiful. We just felt very guilty afterwards when we found out. We were sitting in the pews, resting our feet and videotaping because the church is so beautiful. When we got outside and saw the hearse we were shocked. Although we had no idea what was going on, the whole situation felt rather inappropriate. I couldn't imagine having tourists in the church videotaping and taking pictures during a loved one's funeral. I just assumed that the churches would temporarily close for such an event but apparently not.

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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 05:20 AM
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"those of us who still remember the Gloria and Credo "

We're not that few.

In my smallish village, the priest struggles to get the congregation to sing the new-fangled Glory To God, Holy, holy, holy and Lamb of God. When he gives up and lets us sing the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Missa de Angelis, we make almost as loud a noise as the Anglican church next door.

I'm working on him to reinstate Credo III. Otherwise, it's a 15 mile drive to the nearest Oratorian church for my regular fix.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 05:35 AM
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"I just assumed that the churches would temporarily close for such an event"

You can't close an ordinary parish church (and that's what S Maria in Trastevere is) for a Requiem, because they're almost always part of a regular scheduled Mass. At every Flannerclan Requiem I've been to, some of the congregation were there for the funeral, others were neighbours who went to Mass at a time they wouldn't normally because they knew the Flanner being buried, and others people who'd normally be at that Mass anyway. I've always assumed that's the point of Requiems: the dead person is being prayed for by the whole community and not just his friends and family.

Decades on, I'm still vaguely shocked to attend non-Catholic funerals that are attended only by the funeral party.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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check the ron in rome web site:
he is lucky enough to have moved to rome with his wife and plan to live there for awhile. i travel to italy yearly but Ron has found things i have still to discover.

his villa B article and train articles are great.

there are sunday markets in rome for people watching.
plan on luch at piz narvone: artists, entertainment and great food in an outdoor plaza.
some of the shops at the bottom of the S. steps, in the pedestrian only area will be open. i visit a small jewlery store every year, where the owner (a young woman) opened her own shop about 5 years ago and her business continues to grow. it is like visiting family to drop in each year.

check In Rome for a schedule of events. they may be a concert, opera etc on your sunday.
perhaps move one of your tours to Sunday so you can do other activities on friday or saturday.

if i had a choice i would take a privat tour of the vatican museums on an off day.

there are cooking classes, language classes, archiolgical tours, i think of rome like NYC (just not open 24/7) so much to do, so little time.

day tripss to frascatti, tivoli, the beach, it is endless.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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Creative suggestions for activities in ROMA on the expat site:
The Romans base their Sunday around the family meal at noon (at home or out in the nearby Frascati hills), followed by a long walk in the center, Via del Corso and onwards to the Colosseum where there is pedistrian traffic only on Sundays. A walk through the Palatine hill ruins overlooking the city and the Forum is another very pleasurable Sunday activity.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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For non-walkers the double decker open air buses (110)are perfect as you get the entire city in, can hop on and off wherever, and you can even choose a specific theme: ancient rome, Christian Rome, or general.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 08:30 AM
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The Borghese Gallery is not to be missed. If you have a day to fill that's the place to go. You are already going to the Vatican and Collesium, so visit the Borghese. Do make reservations from home before you get there. I especially loved the sculptures.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 08:42 AM
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Others have recommended attending mass. Whenever we are in Rome we attend at least one mass at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four great, papal basilicas in Rome. It is my favorite church in the world! The music at the high masses is always magnificant as is the ceremony. But people have not mentioned the most extraordinary thing about mass at Maria Maggiore -- they turn on the lights! The first time we were there was on the last leg of a tour. Our guide had pointed out all the amazing art, including what is believed to be the oldest picture of Mary and Jesus in Rome (over one thousand years old). They were readying the church for evening serices and turned on the lights. The mosiacs which had seemed lovely in the shadows were now full-illuminated and literally eye-popping. We were transfixed! The tour left and we stayed on for mass. The ancient mosaics were jewel-like, the peacock simply astonishing! We have returned many times and have learned that the church has many more treasures. Below the high alter is a crypt with relics of Christ's manger. To the left side are many large and ornate chapels. Through one you can visit the small, but wonderful museum beneath the church. The mosaics outside the basilica are also spectacular -- but inside they are treasures! Maria Maggiore is located right next to a stop for the hop on hop off bus. A block away from the front of the church is the church of Santa Prassede with more exquisite, early mosaics. About a block and a half from the side of Maria Maggiore nearest the bus stop is Santa Pudenziana with more lovely, early mosaics in the Chapel San Zeno. Both are often missed by tourists and are wonderful. Remember, Rome's churches were where art was original installed and displayed. Don't miss Santa Maria di Papollo near the bottom of the Spanish Steps with its Caravaggios. Turn right at the bottom of the Steps and walk down the pedestrian street with the fine shops. The plaza next to the church has always had a good share of talented street artist when we were there. Other things to do: take a horse and buggy ride around the heart of Rome -- it will get you great pictures, above the heads of the crowds, at most locations and is a slow way to get a great feel for the city. If you face the Parthenon from the square in front, to your left is a great gelato place. Walk up the street on the left of the Parthenon about a block and visit the church with the sculpture of the elephant with an oblesk on its back -- a Bernini, I think, in the courtyard. The church has great art inside. Continue up that street and take your time looking in the windows of the shops where the Pope's clothes are made. It is window shopping the likes of which you will never see anywhere else--the windows are filled with clerical vestments. But most of all, slow down, enjoy, stop often, and just take things in!
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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thank you all for the varied responses, I am very excited to go to Rome!
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 11:11 PM
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Cries_van_notebook- so you work at at an American auction house ! How does that make your opinion any better that mine?
It's just that -your opinion-and what does sweetie/darling have to do with it?????
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Old Oct 10th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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I was in Rome a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday. Several of us attended an early Mass, then headed to Sant Eustace (sp?) for refreshments/pastry. After wandering the Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiore area we split up. I spent my afternoon relaxing in the sunshine in the Villa Borghese and very much enjoyed seeing Roman families spending time with their little ones. Some were learning to walk, others to ride a bicycle but all were having a lovely afternoon together. As I headed back in the direction of the Spanish Steps, I stopped at Harry's Bar to have a Bellini at one of the sidewalk tables. I sat facing the Aurelian Wall so that I could enjoy the view, which included some interesting people watching as folks came up from the subway and headed down the Via Veneto.
If you need a little down time during a busy trip - this worked very well for me. Buon viaggio!
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