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Report 1396: Roman Holiday

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2007

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Page 7 of 16: Thursday September 6 – Galleria Borghese

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Galleria Borghese

A couple of weeks before leaving Canada I reserved tickets for entry to the Galleria Borghese at 9:00am. Becoming experts at the bus system, shortly after 7:30am we took the tram over to Largo Argentina and then searched for a few minutes until we found the small 116 bus that wended its way among the narrow streets until it reached to top of Via Venuto. From there we had a short walk to the Galleria and time for a relaxing cafι inside before our timed visit started.

We used the Roma Pass to pay the entry fee (€10.50) and decided to take a guided tour (€5). This proved to be an excellent choice as our guide, Isabella, brought life to the Bernini and Canova sculptures and the paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and Corregio. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who had the building constructed and was its first occupant, was apparently an unpleasant and unscrupulous character, but the collection he began atones for a lot of misdeeds. At exactly 11:00am we were ushered out the door. The number of visitors is limited to 360 in each two-hour period, which requires a bit of pre-planning but means that the Galleria is never overcrowded like many other attractions in Rome. Our visit to the Galleria Borghese was one of the highlights of our time in Rome. Highly recommended.

After leaving the Galleria we walked through the Borghese Gardens over to the Piazza del Poppolo where there was a large crowd, including several TV cameras, gathered outside one of the churches. As the well-dressed and apparently well-known people filed out of the church, we realized the occasion was a funeral.

We continued down Via Babuino, took a detour over to Via Margutta to try to visit the site of Gregory Peck’s apartment in Roman Holiday at Via Margutta, 51. The door to the passageway into the courtyard was open, but a young female concierge quite understandably stopped me from entering the courtyard. I took a couple of photos from the passageway, then returned to Via Margutta and Via Banbuino and continued along to the area of the Spanish Steps where we paused for lunch on Via della Croce. In 1976, BW & I had dinner at a small restaurant in the area. I have always remembered the most appealing setting along a short passageway into a courtyard awash in greenery. I never thought of trying to find it on this trip, but as soon as I saw the entrance I recognized the location from over 30 years ago. It’s at Via della Croce, 81 – and is now a pizzeria.

Following lunch, we climbed to the top of the Spanish Steps and enjoyed the views of the city. Our sons lingered in the area while BW & I walked along Via dei Condotti with its row of exclusive and expensive stores. We paused at the Fendi store to take a couple of photos for the benefit of one of our daughters. We turned left at Via Ripetta and walked over to Piazza Navona and then on to Campo dei Fiori to check on the location of a recommended restaurant. Then back across the Tiber to our apartment.

Dinner in the apartment with a gelato run over to Via di Trastevere for dessert.

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