I have spent a fair amount of time in Rome over the last month, but it is not until today that I realize what I may have been passing on the street. Behind closed windows and plain facades, some of these buildings house ornate rooms with invaluable art collections.
Today, we tour the Palazzo Colonna and Villa Medici with Filippo, a fabulous guide introduced to me by Gabe. The Palazzo Colonna is in central Rome and has belonged to the Colonna family for about 900 years. In that long history, the Colonna family had a Pope (Martin V) as well as many distinguished family members. Every generation, the family picks four individuals to reside in the house and monitor its upkeep, and to their credit, the current condition of the palace is immaculate.
We walk through the Colonna Art Gallery, which is a series of rooms that grow in grandness as the tour progresses. The last room can only be described as overwhelming. The art, the furniture, the marble statues, the frescoed ceilings, and the chandeliers all create this masterpiece that is the final room of the art gallery. This gallery is considered one of the largest private art collections in Rome.
After a short walk through the streets of Rome, we arrive at Villa Medici. The Villa Medici is now property of the French State and houses the French Academy in Rome, which is used as a home for winners of a prestigious art prize. The villa’s gardens and especially the view they provide of Rome will be my lasting memory from this visit. Standing literally on the edge of the city, all of Rome is presented before us and we start to piece together all the different sites we had thus far seen. Not only is today’s tour beautiful in its own right, Filippo and the sites we walk through help provide a context for the rest of our adventures in this historied city.
I also cannot forget to at least quickly mention that Charlotte decided to join us for today’s adventures. At the young age of only 10 months, she also seemed to enjoy herself when she wasn’t hungry or tired. Italians love their bambinos (babies), and this was made obvious on several occasions by how the rest of us were treated when accompanied by our newest family member. Navigating through the supermarket was easier, finding places to sit was easier, getting attention in almost every endeavor was easier. Charlotte, after all, is pretty cute with all her waving, clapping, humming along cobblestones, and giggling.