Popolo, Barberini & Rinascenze

Oops, forgot to put an alarm. Even so, we’re up at half past seven and out just after eight. We take a general aim east and start walking, keeping an eye out for a good spot for breakfast. It’s cloudy, but not actually raining, though most people have rain jackets on or carry umbrella’s. It’s not very cold though, so we sit outside in a t-shirt on a terrace to have our quick breakfast. On towards Piazza del Popolo. Lots of people walking around here, again lots of runners with numbers pinned to their shirts too. There is another ancient obelisk on this huge piazza, surround by a beautiful view of the old town gate to the north, a few churches and the treeline of Pincio hill. While looking up the history of the obelisk, we notice that one of the churches here is famous for its Carravagio paintings. There is no mass in the church at the moment, so we spend some time looking at all the paintings and marble statues dotted around church interior. Entrance is free, but if you want to put on the lights in the chapel with the Carravagios you must drop 2 Euros in a little machine nearby. We share the cost with a young lady who also doesn’t have enough coins and enjoy the beautiful art work for five minutes until the light goes out.

We take the scenic route to our next destination, climbing up the endless stairs to the viewpoint overlooking the Piazza del Popolo from Pincio hill, from where we have a beautiful view of the square and Saint Peter’s basilica in the distance.

This neighbourhood seems to be a bit fancier, with many palazzo’s now occupied by expensive hotels. The entrance of Palazzo Barberini is a bit difficult to find, but it’s worth the trouble. It was definitely worth the money, as entrance was free for all due to it being the first Sunday of the month. The palazzo houses Rome’s biggest collection of old paintings – some of them quite well-known – but the building and rooms themselves are also impressive. A beautiful stair case by Bernini, a great hall with a colorful and lyrically painted ceiling and many beautiful details. The art work includes some sketches by Michelangelo, paintings by Carravagio, Holbein, Quinten Matsys (he’s Flemish!), El Greco and Raphael. Beautiful.

The palace garden is unfortunately closed, I would have liked to see it. There’s plenty of them in Rome, but they’re completely walled in and only accessible from the palace. We walk all the way around Giardini del Quirinale, only to find out that the palace (and garden) is the residence of the Italian prime minister. We give up. Back to our favorite department store Rinascenze. First lunch on the famed rooftop terrace – we missed it last time, indeed the view is great – then all the way to the basement to see the Virgo Aqueduct and back up to browse the perfume department. We walk home around three, taking a more or less direct route: a small deviation for Palazzo Borghese – huge, but not accessible – and the Museo dell’Ara Pacis, we’re sure it’s very interesting but we have an overload of roman remains and decide to be lazy.

an educational light show explains the history of the aqueduct, by projecting the information onto the aqueduct wall. Here you see how parts of it date to Roman times and others to more recent times, due to renovations

We enjoy a bit of piece and quiet in the hotel, tonight we have a reservation at a gourmet vegetarian/organic restaurant.

  • Total distance today (so far): 9,6
  • Total steps today: 15577
  • Flights climbed: 19 floors

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