That Tuesday night our class had the privilege of attending a classical concert by the renowned pianist Martha Argerich and director Yuri Temirkanov. All fancied up, our class got to indulge in an artistic aspect of Italian culture many miss out on. Suppressing the somewhat still bitter seven year old being forced to play the piano ( love you mom), the composition of the music and talent of the performance left a memorable mark as my first classical concert. I don’t really think Rome has a bad side and the Garden of Oranges or Giardini degli Aranci is just another spot to add to the list of amazing views of Rome. Just like the name says, past the famed Mouth of Truth follow the “street” up a hill where you can find a quaint garden of orange trees and a gorgeous view from the outskirts of the city. Just a glimpse of the vast nature spread throughout Rome and you’ll not want to miss the Villa Doria Pamphilj. As Rome’s largest landscaped park going back to the seventeenth century, here you can find lakes, waterfalls, a maze of gardens and palace for a most magical and relaxing afternoon.
For our weekly class tour, we got to tour the The Borghese Gallery which dates back to Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection and houses an array of classical antiquities and sculptures including Raphael’s Deposition and my personal favorite, Bernini’s David. Among the many other masterpieces, I can’t help but admire the jaw-dropping detail and life-like sculpture of David which I think is worth the visit alone. The Borghese Gallery, with its incredible collection, allows a limited number of people in a day so it is crucial to book tickets weeks or even months advance.
After the Museo Borghese, Grace and I ventured farther north to another garden called Villa Ada. Full of nature and plants, Villa Ada is the second largest park after Villa Doria Pamphilj and reminds me of home with its woodsy ambiance, walking trails and serene setting. Whether for an afternoon jog or just to explore, Villa Ada is the perfect break from the city and place to enjoy nature. While in Rome, there is certainly no shortage of pizza and while I must admit I have never been much of a pizza person, Taverna Rossini has my heart for the best pizza. Watching first hand my freshly made pizza come out of the open wood-fired oven, a perfectly thin crust and combination of toppings came into absolute harmony both on my plate and in my mouth.
As part of our program, our class has a few weekend trips together and our first was to Venice. A magnificent city not to be missed, who gets to say it was not their first, but third time in Venice? But like they say, third times a charm and there is always something new to learn! We stayed in the Hotel al Vagon which was decorated in a beautiful antique style and lucky for our room, even had a canal view! We celebrated our first lunch in Venice at a hidden gem called Osteria La Bottega ai Promessi Spossi that locals and tourists rave about for good reason. My order of the sea bream with slivered potatoes were cooked delicately for a light yet tasty lunch.
For dinner, Rainy and I indulged in a “fancy” meal at La Porta D’Acqua. Beautifully presented plates, exquisite tastes and great service, this is a place for a very special dinner.
Led by our sweetheart of a tour guide Rita, Sunday we explored the Jewish Ghetto and Cannaregio region, a neighborhood that in its stillness showcases a city rich with history and culture. One activity I am glad I was able to partake in was touring the Palazzo Ducale. The Palazzo Ducale, also known as the Doge’s Palace, was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice and then opened as a museum in 1923. Inside you can find all the institutional chambers of the highest government, the armory and prisons so make sure you allow yourself ample time to tour it all. My favorite was the institutional chambers where each following room upstaged the next in an increasing adornment of ornate and marvelous works by Venetian artists like Francesco Bello and Tintoretto. Sgorppino, dancing waiters and a fun group dinner ended the night on a good note.
Our last day, we traveled to my favorite islands, Burano. Due to my very recent trip to Burano, most of my time was spent strolling around the island, picture- taking and a nice lunch at Riva Rosa before heading back home.
Now enough about Italy, up next on the blog (and hopefully soon)… France!