Villa d'Este

11/28/2012

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   "Villa d'Este at Tivoli, with its palace and garden, is one of the most significant and complete examples of the culture of the Renaissance in its most refined expression. Its innovative concept, the creativity and ingenuity of its architectural works constitutes an incomparable example of the Italian Garden of the 16th century." That's the intro the guidebook I purchased. I couldn't find a way to describe the gardens, so I "borrowed" from the book. To think this was created in the mid 16th century boggles the mind.  The avenue is flanked by the streams of the Hundred Fountains, although in reality there are more than three times that number of spouts. It was difficult to get them all in!

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Villa d'Este is a palace, as well as the gardens. The palace is phenomenal (of course) and had beautiful frescoes in every room.
There  are explanations of the story told by each room, so it was really quite interesting. This was in the center of the ceiling in the first room and depicts God appearing to Noah.


More pictures of the water features. The sound of the water flowing was quite soothing. I can't even tell you how many fountains were in the garden area. They were all unique in their own way.
This is up and beside the top area of the main fountain.
The day actually began quite disappointing. I got up early, made it to Tivoli without incident, found a parking spot (thank you, God) and entered the Villa only to be told that the water wasn't working and they weren't sure when (if) it would be repaired that day. I chose to enter anyway, and soon realized that the villa isn't a garden with a few fountains in it............ it's fountains placed in a garden setting. It looked incomplete and that, coupled with the workers using power tools to cut branches and having equipment spread around, made for a rather unpleasant experience. 
 
When in doubt, shop. The town of Tivoli is beautiful and I had already paid for parking, so I explored the town. I found it very enjoyable and it had some unique shops to explore. After a few hours I headed back to the Villa d'Este and was thrilled to find that the water was working again! Yea!!! They allowed me back in without re-paying and I really enjoyed it the second time. The weather was beautiful -- sunny and pleasant --- as opposed to really, really cold in the morning. I skipped the palace since I had already explored that in the morning and headed straight for the gardens. There were only a few people there, so it was very peaceful. I was able to sit and read for an hour or so while listening to the water and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  I'm glad I was flexible to work around the unplanned circumstances because it turned out to be a fabulous day.  
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 I was in the Monti district yesterday and saw these two beautiful children playing while their mother sat nearby outside a bar awaiting their orders to be filled. Aren't they sweet? I could tell they were American because I could read the girl's lips and tell she was counting in english. Piazzas are perfect places for children to play. Children are so loved here by everyone that passes by.          The forecast for today was accurate - down to the time the rain would arrive.  I headed out early to Trastevere to hit the HUGE market at Porta Portense which sets up every Sunday and I rarely miss when I'm here. I was headed home and felt the first drop of rain just as I stepped on the tram.  Great timing.  I took the tram until the rain slowed down then opted to walk for a bit in the drizzle.  I noticed more than one dog wearing a raincoat that had a hood.  A hood.  Did you get that?  Strange.  It was peaceful walking and I enjoyed the absence of large tour groups.  Most of the people out and about were Romans.                   Conversation heard while on the bus home (one sided, of course):  "Pronto.  Si!  ........eh .......................eh .............................eh (Romans say "eh" like we say "uh huh").................... eh ...................... va bene.......................... va bene ........................   ciao........... ciao................ va bene ..................ciao ..................ciao, bella."   I think it's a rule that italians must say "ciao" at least 3 times before actually ending a conversation.  
These are lemons.  I think.  They are not the largest ones I saw here, either - some just looked too unreal. Though, if they are lemons, they are definitely larger than average.  You would have to be careful if you're making a recipe calling for the juice of one lemon, or the zest of one lemon.  Some alterations would have to be made.  They were in beautiful herb/flower gardens beside the Villa Borghese.  It was fun walking through there yesterday because, being Saturday, there were lots of families with children on bicycles, roller blades, scooters, etc.  The weather was perfect and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Of course, the Borghese Gardens are sooooo beautiful that's it's difficult not to enjoy yourself while walking through them.  I can enter them near the Spanish Steps and, if I walk all the way through (about 20-25 minutes), I come out about 10 minutes from my apartment.  It's taken me awhile to figure out how not to get lost and wander around endlessly, but it's nice to "cut through" sometimes instead of walking on the road. 
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I had an unexpected surprise one night and found out that a friend would be in Rome the next day. Julie and her friend Jennifer arrived from the states in the morning and had to leave first thing the next morning to catch a train to Florence. They didn't want to rest, but decided to see as much of Rome as they could in one day. That's a pretty big task. I served as their guide  -- which is pretty scary as we all know how lost I get. My motto...... I'm lost,  but I'm in Rome, so what's the problem? So, fasten your seatbelts and come along  for a whirlwind.  We met up sometime between 11 and 11:30 at St. Peter's Basillica. As far as I could tell it was the closest main attraction to their hotel. We were all excited to actually be able to find eachother in the crowds. We decided to see the Basillica since we were there and skip the Vatican  because the line there was, as usual, very long.   

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I just love the church. It is huge inside and there is beauty all around. It doesn't seem to matter how many people crowd in, it doesn't feel claustrophobic
to me. I took the first picture of the outside of  the
church while waiting for the girls. We all entered together and spent time oohing and aahing over everything. Jennifer was thrilled to see things she had only studied and dreamed about before. This picture is the center area and, of course, the crowds of people.

After exploring St. Peter's we headed into  the center of town. We stopped for gelato and to buy a bus ticket for each of  them. We found a majorly -- I mean majorly -- crowded bus to take us closer to  the town center. I'm going to tattle here. When you buy a bus ticket, it's good for any time. You validate it by sticking it in a machine that's located on the bus. The first bus we got on was soooo crowded that there was no way to get near the machine or even pass the ticket through the crowd to allow someone else to  do it. SO..... they stole a bus ride. I have a month pass, so mine didn't need validated. I didn't steal, just they did. I'm joking.
There truly was no way to validate their ticket. No one checked for tickets, so it wasn't a problem.  Although they DID check for tickets on our next bus ride.

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On with the day. As we headed toward Trevi fountain (thanks to a beautiful elderly italian woman who walked with us and explained the directions to me until she was sure we couldn't get lost) we decided to stop for lunch. We shared our own little buffet at a very nice restaurant with helpful waiters. We shared bruchetta, pizza, and proscuitto with melon. Yum! It was difficult to get up and keep moving. But, we had to keep going. We went to the Trevi and took pictures of both ladies tossing their coins to ensure their return. I was frustrated when I couldn't find those pictures tonight, then remembered I took them on
Julie's camera. You'll have to trust me.

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Then we headed to the Pantheon, whose outside is being restored. We went in and looked around for a bit. And, because I am such a good photographer, this last photo is of a bread shop across the piazza from the Pantheon. I forgot to take a  picture of the actual building! Then we headed over to the Piazza Navona, which I made them visit since we were so close. They enjoyed it and were glad I encouraged them to experience it. I stopped taking pictures here because there was too much
to keep up with. After Navona, we hopped a bus and headed to the Roman Forum and Colosseum (they're sort of across the street from one another). We basically waved as we went past  -- actually got out of the bus so they could photograph them -- then
headed off  to the main terminal so they could buy their train tickets form tomorrow's trip  to Florence. They bought the tickets and I made sure theyunderstood where they  had to be in the morning. Then we took the metropolitana (subway) and got off at the Piazza Barberini where they were to meet the shuttle for the hotel. 6pm was the last shuttle for
the night and we  got there about 10 minutes until 6. We saw the shuttle pull in, we all ran across the street (not as easy in Rome as it sounds), gave quick hugs, and they were gone. How's that for a full day???

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Wandering aimlessly around Trastevere has become a favorite pastime. It is such a lovely, old part of Rome. It can be a little touristy, but is still so authentic a neighborhood that it feels like home. Doesn't the term "wander aimlessly" sound so much better than "being lost"? I don't have to worry exactly  where I am because I'm on vacation, right?


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Sunday is flea market day at Porta Portese, which is just a couple of tram stops from me. You can, quite literally, walk for 2 hours and not come to the end of it. Clothes, shoes, household goods, antiques, etc., etc. The photos I took are from the sidelines because you can see nothing if you actually get in the thick of it. My favorite part is this: there are tables here and there with piles of clothes for 1€. That's about $1.30. Too fun. I keep saying that one time when I come I will bring only one change of clothes and hit the market for all the things I will need for my stay. Seriously! It's too fun. Crazy, but fun. Some things are new and some are used. You can get heavy coats for 3€ or 5€. I got a really cool pair of  dress shoes (used) for 3€. I always have to be really creative when I pack  to return home because, though I have plenty of room, my luggage is usually close to the weight limit. Hmmmm. My carry-on backpack ends up being mighty  heavy.

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I got cussed out in italian for the first at this flea market. I'm not exactly sure what he said, but it was clearly dramatic. I was walking between two tables and knocked over 2 shoe boxes. I was picking them up and this older gentleman came screaming at me and motioning for me to just  leave. Now, I was totally boxed in and would have been happy to leave, but couldn't get past people. I just smiled and said, "I'm sorry, I don't speak italian. I don't understand what you're saying." He was not happy. I also got to briefly (pun intended) meet my upstairs neighbor when I knocked on her door to  return her panties that had fallen from her clothesline onto my porch. She was  sweet.... just laughed and said thank you, thank you.   Love this area.

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Look at this picture of one of the many, many pastry shops I have to walk past every day. It's just not fair. Everything looks  so good and, trust me, it tastes even better. Between pizza, gelato, and pastry  every block, I may have to be one of those fliers that has to purchase an extra  seat due to the fact that I won't fit in just one. Goodness. 

Thankfully, because of walking so much everyday, no matter what I eat while I'm here, I seem to lose 2 pounds everytime I visit.  It doesn't matter if I visit for 2 weeks or 2 months - I go home 2 pounds lighter than when I arrived.  I certainly am not going to complain about that.

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As I was  walking past the bookstore recently, I happened upon this cool group of kids playing on the corner. There is always someone painting, playing accordian, singing, playing guitar,  etc., on various spots in exchange for coins. There are also beggers at every  church, on the trains, some busses, etc. This group was very good....... talented, colorful, energetic. Their instrument case was filling up quite
  rapidly as there was always a crowd around watching them.  When I walked back toward home about one and a half hours later they were still going  at it. Dancing, clapping, singing, and playing. I loved it.

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My brother sent me this article and it made me laugh.  I emailed Daniela - my lovely landlord/friend in Rome and she confirmed that, yes, there is new provision prohibiting eating or drinking near the sites.  The Spanish Steps have always been no-eating-drinking as have some of the monuments, but if this is accurate and you can't even stand nearby while eating ---- it'll be interesting to see.  Where will I eat my gelato???
Here's the article:
By Claudio Lavanga, NBC News
ROME -- It’s one of the highlights of any trip to Rome: Sitting on the Spanish Steps eating a real Italian gelato. But on Oct. 1, it became a potentially costly vacation memory.  The mayor of the "eternal city" has made it illegal to eat snacks and junk food on or around its monuments.Tourists will still be allowed to eat while they walk, but stop with a bag of chips in your hands or sit down while chewing on your panino, and you are eligible for a fine of 25 to 500 euros ($32 to $650). An Italian daily newspaper dubbed it the “War on the Sandwich.”
Dressed in their white and blue uniforms, local police officers Alessio Valentini and Magdi Adib were on patrol Thursday looking for anyone daring to flout the new law.   They shoved away a group of young Dutch tourists who sat next to the Colosseum to enjoy their pizzas. “Go, go,” Adib told the bemused boys, who didn’t know which crime they had committed.

'Out of control'
The officers told NBC News they had fined seven tourists -- all foreigners -- since the morning. The standard penalty was 50 euros ($65).    “We could have given tickets to many more, but you have to apply some
reason,” Adib said. “If they drink a bottle of water it’s OK, but if they camp out, we fine them.”
“Eating on monuments can really get out of control,” he added. “Once I caught a group of tourists who set a table on the Spanish Steps, with table cloth and cutlery! This has to stop.”


I do find it interesting that they used the Spanish Steps as their example because, unless I'm mistaken, people weren't allowed to eat while sitting there.  That was my understanding, anyway.   I'll let you know in a few weeks when I'm there to experience it first-hand how it works.  What do you think??   Will it change the feel of roaming Rome? 

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