So far, so good. Multiple little bumps smoothed out – bank card unblocked, SIM card not international – but no big deal. Milk is still latte, WhatsApp works like a boss, the sky is blue, and there’s a reason pizza is universally beloved. Robert and I walk like two dogs on one leash, but our intentions are benign.
Walked to Villa Farnesina, a sumptuous mansion/mini palace, built for Agostino Chigi who sincerely believed more is more. Every inch of wall and ceiling, shutter and door is richly painted, marble underfoot in every room. Everything the eye can see depicts love; the trials of Psyche (soul) for her Cupid (love). The mighty Cyclop Polyphemus, pining for the nymph Galatea. Roxane, bride of Alexander the great, on her wedding night. Raphael’s beloved, a baker’s daughter nicknamed La Fornarina, was (allegedly) kidnapped by Chigi and brought to the villa because Raphael wouldn’t paint without her. That’s her distinctly Roman face on Galatea.
The rooms empty completely, then fill to the brim with restless swarms of teenagers, herded by guides using headsets and speaking a both Italian (a priest) and French (a chic, strict professoressa). Two audio guide tidbits: the painting of a young man’s head in grisailles, was supposedly sketched by Michelangelo with a bit of charcoal, though another painter signed it.
In Chigi’s painted bedchamber, covered with scenes from the life of Alexander the Great, the painted mirror on the headboard of the conquerer’s curtained four poster bed appears to reflect Chigi’s bed. That artist knew which side his panini was buttered on.
I did a spit take when I saw my name scrawled across a landscape. Turns out it was graffiti left by 16th-century German mercenaries. It wasn’t me, your honor. My alibi – not yet born – is air-tight.
We left around two and had lunch at Osteria da ‘Zi Umberto. We were the only people inside, all the Romans (and tourists) were basking in the sun at the outdoor tables like sleepy lizards on a rock. We dined on excellent artichokes and pasta. Not tired of it yet.
Strolled down to the bridge along the Tiber, before heading back for a nap. I wrote this, Robert went out exploring and brought back three kinds of pastry and a Panini. The affable landlord came over and addressed the heating, (thermostat adjustment) the lighting (the bulbs are effectively bare as they are bigger than the shades) and produced a spare blanket from locked cupboard. Couldn’t fix the lights, but Robert did (I am married to the grip). They all sport cunningly crimped aluminum foil hoods now
We’ve had pizza, pasta, paninis and pastry. Instead of la dolce vita, it should be la pasta vita.