Saturday, August 8, 2009

italia, day 10, or what happened when I missed my flight

I must have said "ho mancato il volo" ten times today, not to mention once in English to an Australian tourist coming in on the Leonardo Express who's in Rome because he's just converted to Catholicism. Say wha?

La Casa di Amy was nice enough to tell me "maybe we can find you a room," and turns out they had no vacancy but referred me to another B&B in the same building, Hotel Malu. Not as chic as Amy, I must say; the decor seems to have never recovered from the seventies. Still, the room has a floor to ceiling window and a terrace that looks out on the courtyard, which means no traffic noise tonight. Also, the receptionist is kinda cute... (via Principe Amadeo, 85/A)

Well, since I now had a full day in Rome, what else to do but continue my research, no? So here's what I did during my extra day in Italia:

Visited Bernini's grave again; sat there for like 30 minutes. Luckily, the Capella Paolina was also open (not sure about this, but I know he designed one of the chapels, and this seemed like the most likely that he worked on). Also found out that the statue of Philip IV at the doorway was also his work.

Here is what's written on his grave: IOANNIS LAVRENTIVS BERNINI / DEVUS ARTIVM ET VRBIS / HIC HVMILITER QVIESCIT. Makes you wanna cry.

I also found my way to Sant' Andrea al Quirinale, the church that he designed. This is known as the Pearl of the Baroque era, and it's easy to see why. As soon as you walk in you're overwhelmed by the lavish magnificence of the place. Bernini kicked Michelangelo a notch by turning art three-dimensional, fusing painting, sculpture and architecture. Have I said he's the first multimedia artist? With Bernini, you don't just look at a flat surface, you see clouds and angels and metallic light bursting out of the walls. And when you look up at the cupola, it feels like the heavens raining down on you. Can't tell you what it feels like. You must be there to experience it, because Bernini is not just about looking at his work: you have to be there and experience it.

Passed by the Tritone fountain, one of his weird (and in my opinion, whimsical) works. Then, since I've run out of clothes to wear (unless I wore a really sweaty t-shirt tomorrow and stink up the plane), I got a Juventus polo shirt at the open market off Villa Borghese. It's so cheap it's probably fake, but who cares (it's made in Torino...does that mean anything?).

On to Villa Borghese, where I was able to book a 5PM ticket this morning. One more chance to look at all the Berninis there. Finally saw all the works in my catalogue, but of course I spent most of my time studying his David, the subject of my novel. Probably spent a good 45 minutes looking at the statue, until the staff started closing the windows (and looking suspiciously at me).

Next stop: dinner at Hostaria I Buoni Amici way down at the Mazzini stop of the metro. Got this info again from Let's Go. Had the spaghetti ala vongole and 2 glasses of wine, a little apprehensive because the owner wouldn't let me know what the price of the wine would be. In the end, the vongole was really good and the bill was a real bargain (2 euros for the wine!). Next table were a couple of African American ladies from Maryland and New Jersey, who I chatted up and who were thankful I told them which way to get to the Termini station from their hotel. (I Buoni Amici, via Aleandro Aleardi 4.)

Finally, a little walk around the Coloseo, where I decided to hop on the bus and check out one more Bernini: the Palazzo Montecitorio. With the help of some carabinieri, I did find the place at Chigi (kept mispronouncing this and giving the guys a hard time -- it's KEY-gee). Turns out I've been to this place the first time I was in Rome, way back in '92. Or was it '91? In fact, I've been inside it -- I interviewed the then labor minister during my apprenticeship at IPS.

Satisfied with my full day, I headed back to my neighborhood where I just had to have another Orso Bianco (sesame/miel, melone, orso bianco -- some kind of vanilla with lots of biscotti in it). And one last glimpse of Santa Maria Maggiore and its spooky belfry, where the love-crazed Gianlorenzo once chased his brother Luigi up and down with a sword -- the scandal of all Rome.

Good night, Gianlorenzo. Tomorrow I really, really have to go home. Pero credo che ritornaro subito, solo per ti, il mio amico pazzo. Ciao.

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