Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Our European Adventure: Day 34 - Rome, National Museum of Rome

I had read that the National Museum of Rome had a fine collection of marbles from ancient Greece and Rome so we booked tickets for it before we left home. Perhaps I should have had a clue when no one seemed ever to have seen such pre-booked tickets. This exhibit is not worth your time unless you have a great deal of time to spare. Most of the marbles were vastly “restored” during the 1600’s and later. One was even changed into a different goddess when its owner wanted an Athena. One interesting piece was “restored” by Bernini. It is by far the best piece in the museum. There are some interesting cases of Bronze Age and Etruscan pottery and ornaments. However, even the Palazzo in which the pieces are displayed has lost all of its antique character. If your time is limited, spend it in the Doria Pamphilj instead. 

On leaving the museum we walked a couple of short blocks to the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. This small church, built in 1589, houses three great Caravaggio paintings, the first of his religious works. All depict St. Mathew. And in each, there is one face that to the untrained eye (mine) looks remarkably like the face in the Bacchus said to be a self-portrait. I learned something new today. Wonderful paintings are often housed in dark dreary corners of ancient churches. Lights go on and you can see the paintings briefly. Then the lights go off. Annoying. Today I discovered why. You must put a coin in a slot for the light. Coin in, light on. When the light goes off you must put another coin in the slot. In this way the church pays its electric bill. Fair enough. 

Sitting in a square having lunch later, I noticed a group of eight boys, ranging in age from perhaps nine to fourteen, having a lunch of pizzas and cokes. Among them were three who could have been the models for any of the young boys in Caravaggio’s paintings. Straight roman noses, rosy cheeks, dark eyebrows over luminous dark eyes, curly hair falling over foreheads. 

Albergo Cesari Hotel Rooftop, Rome Italy
Rooftop of the Albergo Cesari
Nothing like a little excitement to enliven the day. Walking back to our hotel from San Luigi dei Francesi we became aware of helicopters hovering overhead and a rather massive police presence on the ground. Both Carabinieri and Polizia di Stato had their cars blocking off the entrances to the usual tourist pedestrian-only walkways between the Via del Corso and the Pantheon and Piazza Navona areas. We were quite tired after our museum and church morning, so had decided to rest for a bit. The noise of the helicopters seemed to be right over our hotel so JP went up to the roof to see what she could discover. Nothing. Just helicopters flying in circles.  Our hotel is bordered on one side by the Temple of Hadrian built in 145 A.D. which currently houses the stock exchange, and is near the Parliament buildings on the Corso, so we figured some dignitary was coming or going by helicopter. About an hour after we got back to our room we heard the unmistakable sounds of a large crowd chanting slogans. Right down our laneway, past our hotel, a huge crowd of demonstrators, several hundred, a solid block of humanity moving from the Corso toward the Pantheon, some bearing banners held by three or four people
Temple di Adriano, Rome, Italy
Temple di Adriano (Temple of Hadrian), today's Stock Exchange
across, some waving red flags with slogans written on them. We couldn’t read any of the words from the safety of our third floor room. The helicopters buzzed overhead.

The crowd has moved on or dispersed now, but still the helicopters circle. One thing we noticed about the demonstrators was their ethnic diversity. Every shade of human and every kind of clothing was there among them. I think this is the new face of Italy, a natural consequence of their very open immigration policy.

From our vantage point it was interesting, but I should not have liked to be at street level, even though it seemed to be a completely peaceful demonstration. If anyone were to light the fuse, demonstrator or police, there would be no such thing as an “innocent bystander.” This brings home as nothing else on this trip has done, the really desperate times we live in, where money is tight and young people have little hope of finding jobs. The unemployment rate in Italy at the moment is 25 percent. The surprise is that we haven’t seen more evidence of unrest. 

JP asked the concierge what the demonstration was about. “Housing. There are great numbers of empty apartments in Rome and a great many people who need a place to live. They want the government to do something.” 

Again it’s a familiar story. Inadequate affordable housing seems to be a universal problem. 


Following are my published novels. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviews.  

To purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and select the vendor of your choice.

The Memory of Roses, Blair McDowell
 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality


Delighting In Your Company, Blair McDowell
 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews


Sonata, Blair McDowell
 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews


Abigail's Christmas, Blair McDowell
 • Abigail's Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?


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Blair McDowell