Galleria Borghese minus some Caravaggios

Allie was a bit slow this morning. But we left before 11 a.m. to virtually go around the block to look at Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, a small church designed by Borromini. It’s only open Sunday mornings so we weren’t the only people going inside this church. It’s design is based on two circles and two equilateral triangles which is most apparent when looking at a floor plan but results in an interior at once very symmetrical but also unusual.The lantern of the dome is spiralled which if you notice it, tucked away and small as it is, is striking.

From there we walked to Piazza del Popolo and could see the obelisk from a long way down the street. We went into Santa Maria del Popolo just as mass was ending. We walked over to the Chigi Chapel where there’s a Raphael painting and a Bernini statue but almost the entire thing was covered for restoration. We went to the Cerasi Chapel to look at the Caravaggio paintings of the Crucifixion of St Peter and Conversion of St Paul with Caracci’s Annunciation ignored in between. There was quite a crowd.

We climbed from there up to Parco Borghese where we discovered the sixth obelisk we’ve viewed this trip. We wandered around for quite a while then decided to get some small bite to eat before going to Galleria Borghese. We went to a caffe that sold pizza, sandwiches, etc. near a children’s ride area. It was one of those systems where you pay then take your receipt to another area to get served. The place was packed with kids and their mothers trying to get them some food; it was quite a trial for patience. We eventually got our pizza romano which was cibatta filled with cheese and prosciutto and cooked in a panini press and two Cokes, because we couldn’t figure out what we could take away. The wine was served in wine glasses. We asked for “take away” — the Italian term and took our lunch to a monument for Umberto !. It was black and soaking up a lot of heat making it comfortably warm for sitting and picnicking. We watched some guys with fake designer sunglasses and jewellery try to do a sell job on four German women sitting near us. They didn’t ask us. Guess we didn’t look like buyers. About when we were leaving, a young guy with a rasta looking style of hat started smoking something that smelled a lot like the coffee shops in the Netherlands.

We wandered around the Borghese gardens. Like Robin in 2007, Allie purloined an orange from a tree and sampled it. It smelled great but was fairly bitter.

Most of the Caravaggios were missing from the Borghese (on loan to the exhibit at the Scuderie del Quirinale) but the Bernini statues were all there to be enjoyed. Allie was glad to have seen them. I found they remain amazing on a second view as well. I managed to find some fridge magnets of works I liked which I didn’t get in 2007.Yeah, more to add to the fridge door!

We managed to get a bit off track after we left the Borghese but the streets we were on were major in the area and despite getting farther south than we intended, it was easy to correct. We did a bit of window shopping as we walked towards the big shopping area near the Spanish Steps. I wanted to see another church with Borromini designed elements. On the way, Allie stopped at one of the Blue Ice gelateria where she bought a massive chocolate and Nutella cone and bought my small fragola (strawberry) cup of gelato. We walked to Santa Maria delle Fratte to look at the Borromini bell tower and dome, then crossed the street to look at Borromini’s facade at Collegio da Propaganda.


From there we walked to the Spanish Steps area, but turned on Borgonona before getting to the Piazza. Borgonona has a lot of big designer names, Gucci was open but being a Sunday most of the designer shops were closed. (Scott is breathing a sigh of relief.) But we turned onto Via del Corso which was crammed with bodies and lots of open shops. Allie found a dress! at a remarkably cheap price in a shop with a lot of 50% off items. ‘Course, now she’ll need stockings and shoes. But there’s some deals to be had here.

We made our way back to our hotel area but paused to poke our heads into San Luigi dei Francesi to see the three St Matthew paintings by Caravaggio. There was a significant crowd in front of the Contarelli Chapel where the paintings are hung so we had to look from a distance. Allie remarked that all the Caravaggio lovers must be in town. Tried to find a shop where I saw cheap wine glasses but after some wandering, we gave up in favour of giving our feet a break and returned to our hotel to drink wine from coffee mugs.

We had dinner at one of the restaurants in Piazza Navona with a view of Borromini’s Sant’Agnese in Agone. Still rather full from gelato, I just had pasta, penne amatriciana, while Allie had a chicken cacciatore and potatoes, and a Rosso di Montalcino.

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