I started my last day in Rome with a visit to the Gallerie Borghese. I wanted to take a cab to make it for my reserved time to enter the museum (reservations are mandatory). Of course the taxi stand near our hotel was empty – damn Italians and their lax work ethic! Luckily, I eventually caught a cab.
Seeing some of Bernini’s masterpiece sculptures at the museum really solidified my appreciation for sculptures. I loved his two main pieces:
- Pluto and Persephone: as Pluto grips Persephone’s thigh you can actually see the pressure of his fingers against her skin
- Apollo and Daphne: in this myth, Daphne turns into a tree to escape Apollo’s pursuit – this sculpture shows the beginning of her transformation
While the gallery features paintings as well, the sculptures were really the main attraction for me. Afterwards, I walked through the Borghese Gardens all the way to Piazza del Popolo.
Then I decided to give the Pantheon another chance. This time, the Pantheon was actually open, so I went inside. While still not what I had pictured in my mind, it was a nice basilica with elegant, not overstated, memorials. Plus, there were lilies at several of the memorials, so the entire space had this understated aroma of lilies, which I love.
Next, I went on a failed scavenger hunt around the Pantheon. I found Via della Gatta but couldn’t spot the cat statue that overlooks it. I went down Via de Pie but couldn’t find the huge stone foot that inspired the street name. Oh, well!
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by Capitoline Hill. I climbed up the stairs guarded by Egyptian lion statues, and the hill is a great vantage point from which to look down on the ruins. There’s also a copy of the famous Romulus and Remus she-wolf statue (not sure where the original stands).
Really impressive in their simplicity are the stairs next to the entrance to Capitoline Hill that lead up to Santa Maria Aracoeli church – but I didn’t have it in me to climb up those.