Friday, May 06, 2011

Rome, day 6 - Borghese Park

We decided to have a flop day and headed for the Borghese Park. Took the quick route straight down the hill from Santa Maria Maggiore to Trinità, taking in the Quattro Fontane on the way.

The four fountains are located at the Quirinale crossroads and were commissioned by Pope Sixtus V. They represent:

The River Arno – the symbol of Florence.

The River Tiber – the symbol of Rome.

The goddess Diana – the symbol of chastity.

The goddess Juno – the symbol of strength.

Further down the hill. we passed the Palazzo Barberini.

It was built in the early 17th century (Bernini again, with Borromini) and is an art gallery (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica) so unfortunately I didn’t get to visit it… But it’s a gorgeous building and I really liked the gates.

The park is Rome's largest open space; it was originally laid out 1613-6 as the grounds for the Borghese family's summer home but was redesigned in the 18th century. The park was busy but blissfully quiet - no traffic! The Villa Medici (now the French Academy) is on the corner; Galileo was imprisoned here in the 1630s for saying that the earth revolved around the sun. There are gorgeous views over the city from this spot.

The lilacs were all in bloom.

And this pool looked really inviting...

And there was even a replica of the Globe Theatre there.

In the park, there were people on Segways and also on 2- or 4-person bike carts (known as Riscio or Riscio max). Squeaks from i ragazzi, so we hired one for an hour.

The brakes and steering were on the driver's side (left) at the front, but there was also a steering wheel on the passenger's side. Negotiating an Italian roundabout (with buses and a road train) was, um, interesting. And I turned out to be a major back-seat driver – cue much ribbing and exasperated mutterings of, ‘Your steering wheel doesn’t work, so will you please STOP trying to steer?’

We spied a lovely fountain – the Fontana dei Cavalli Marini, dating from 1791.

And we liked this little temple, too.

We had a snack (aka pizza bought from one of the stalls), then walked back to Trinità, where the children had their portrait drawn by one of the artists. (Yes, that is indeed a picture of Antonio Banderas next to my daughter.)

We stopped for a late lunch, then spied a Pandora stockist - how could I resist a bead in the shape of my favourite building in Rome? And then we spotted a road sign that rather amused us...

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