Paul and I used to harbor a fantasy that we could be contestants on The Amazing Race, that TV reality show that pits two-person teams against each other in a race around the world. It only took one day in Rome to convince us that we would not fare well because a) we’re too old, b) we’re too slow, and c) we’re directionally challenged. We managed to find the right train from the airport, and we found our hotel after a circuitous but scenic trek in the rain, but our big challenge was to find the Borghese Gallery.
The Borghese Gallery is home to the spectacular Bernini sculptures and we had a reservation for a tour at 2:45. Finding it turned out to be a challenge. We decided not to use our cellular data on our phones to avoid huge charges, so we didn’t have Google to guide us, and our analog GPS (map) was not very good. We soon learned that most people in Rome really like tourists and are willing to help. Yes, we know to look out for pick pockets and we were very careful, but each time we stopped and asked for directions, everyone was polite and helpful.
The Borghese Gallery is amazing, but the Bernini exhibit is so popular that you have to make a reservation in advance and are only allowed two hours to view it. We were exhausted from an overnight flight, a lot of walking, and the time change, so we really weren’t able to give it its due.
Interestingly, this museum posts a lot of rules that they do not enforce. When you enter you are told to check and bags, cameras, and recording equipment because no photography of any kind is allowed. I dutifully did that, but as we entered the exhibit, we saw people with huge cameras or phones (often on a selfie stick) and they were taking pictures everywhere. There were few security guards and they tended to look the other way. I even saw a mother place her three children inside a security rope so they could pose with a statue for a picture! This emboldened Paul to take out his phone and snap a few pics. No photography, however, can do it justice. One of the most famous works is the statue of the Rape of Proserpina (see Paul’s excellent photo on the left.)
We were especially fond of a bust of Cardinal Richelieu. No one laughed when I said he looked marblous, not even Paul whose major responsibility is to laugh at all my jokes.