Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Continuing ......

So on the next day I decided that I would go walk into the City. But feeling a little tired I decided to take bus 60 on Via Nomentana and this took me all the way down to Piazza Venezia, the centre of the City. From the Piazza you have on the one side the Palazzo Venezia built in 1451which belonged to Pope Paul II and his family and then became with its church San Marco the Embassy of the Republic of Venice in 1564. Today it's a museum with various exhibits changing every few months. On the other corner is the Palazzo Bonaparte, owned by the family of Emperor Napoleon I, after his fall his family retired to Italy, they had many palaces in Rome. The Emperor's mother Madame Maria Letizia Ramorino Bonaparte use to sit on the little green balcony every day and she in fact died in the Palace in 1836.

Next to it is the enormous  900 room palace of Prince Jonathan Doria-Pamphilij, you can visit the state rooms and the painting gallery of the palace. The Prince and his partner and their 2 kids live in the Palace. Of course the Piazza Venezia is famous for the white marble monument, the Altar to the Italian Nation it stands on where use to be the hill of the ARX, the ancient citadel of Rome, next to the Forum of Emperor Trajan.

I climbed the steps of the Campidoglio, at the top of which are the statues of Castor and Pollux. The ancient hill of the Capitol of Rome where once stood the Temple of Jupiter Great and Best, today the City Hall of Rome is located on this spot with the equestrian bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the museum Capitolini where I saw this wonderful exhibits celebrating the 400 anniversary of the Foundation of the Vatican Library Secret Archives. The exhibit is called LUX IN ARCANA, the wealth of documents on show is nothing short of amazing, many rare and famous documents. The Secret Archives keeps everything, including books condemned to be burned are in fact kept in the library. Publicly one copy is burned but the original is kept safely tucked away in the Secret Archives. I was able to see the documents of trial of Galileo under the giant marble statue of Pope Urban VIII who thought nothing of having Galileo, an old man, tortured if need be to get a confession. The Vatican admits today that the trial was political, no one understood the theories of Galileo, it was more a question of his theories as a threat to the power of the Pope.  Also on display are the 27 Assertions on the Supremacy of the Pope by Gregory VII titled Dictatus Papae. The first paragraph estalishes in this document of 1075 that the Pope is the Supreme leader of the World and all other rulers must bow to him. This role given to him in the Donation of Emperor Constantine, the donation is a forgery but was used by the Popes until 1500 to establish their supremacy. This document will be the foundation stone of the Reformation movement under Martin Luther many centuries later against Papal supremacy. There was also a lovely letter from Mary Stuart written to Pope Sixtus V just after she learns of her being condemned to death, in it she says to the Pope that she forgives Elizabeth I and her ministers for this unjust sentence. Another letter full of New Year's wishes by Marie-Antoinette who is in prison in Paris, to her brother-in-law the future Charles X. The documents are very well preserved, in mint condition. Because of the beautiful penmanship, they are easy to read. There is also an electronic display which explains what the document is and the historical sequence. This is truly a must see exhibit in Rome. What was nice was the lack of crowds on this weekday.  Coming out of the Palace into the beautiful piazza of the Campidoglio stands the magnificient equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius looking over the City.

 I walked a little on Via dei Fori Imperiali to have a look at the Forum of Augustus and then off to lunch at Da Giovanni on Via Antonio Salandra 1, this is a very simple restaurant serving Roman cuisine to the neighborhood, I see that it gets excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. The decor wood panelling on the walls, the waiters like the owners have been there for decades and the food is always good. I had artichoke Roman style, this is the season, then a veal scaloppini, a little wine and a bottle of water, an espresso. I noted that the clients are the same as always, an elegant old lady having her lunch, a businessman, a famous lady journalist and her ancient father, the baron who is an old English gentleman who has been living in Rome of ever and a day. The funny thing about Roman restaurants where locals gather is that every one listens to everyone else's conversation and will pitch in or laugh at something you might say. No one is having a meal on their own, it's like a family affair.  

1 comment:

  1. Keep those posts coming Laurent. I'm guessing there will be at least 8-10 more.