Friday, August 24, 2007

Spoiled for choice in Rome

I'm in the mid-stages of planning my upcoming trip to Rome. I'm officially under 10 weeks away, and given what's going on in the interim (potential job change and family commitments), I am using this time to both distract myself from the ugliness of day to day as well as get as much planning done now while I can still breathe. September and October are looking kinda hectic.

So, what to do with seven full days in Rome? Here is what I am thinking so far:

The first day is kind of a wash. I'll be jetlagged and just waiting to sleep for the 14 hours before I allow myself to do so. So probably this is best spent outside in fresh air and (hopefully) sunlight. My hotel is located between the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, so I am thinking I'll walk to see those, the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona, merrily taking pictures the whole way (oh, I know you can't wait for that!) I'll also start the requisite gelato sampling and jewelry shopping. No sense in putting off the inevitable!

I have booked a private after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums (thank you, Beth!) so that is 4 hours on one day. I have my eye on guided tours of the Forum and Colosseum and separate tours of Bernini and Caravaggio sites. I also need to book a time at the Borghese Gallery. I will need to visit St. Peter's Basilica on my own and climb the dome, of course. I also want to spend some time in Trastevere, exploring the neighborhood and its many churches.

Churches...there's the rub. See, initially this trip was meant to complete my Quest for Michelangelo (see my earlier Quest for Vermeer post...I'm doing the same for Michelangelo). I had been to Rome once before, but only for a day, so I didn't really have the time to explore it properly, and certainly not see all of the Michelangelos I wanted to. Then I started watching the series Power of Art and this then became a trip in search of Bernini and Caravaggio as well. I mean, really, how could it not?

To fuel the fire, I bought a book called Holy Rome, which is a guide to all Christian sites in Rome written in anticipation of the Jubilee in 2000. For me, this is when the wheels started to fall off the bus. There are over 900 churches in Rome. Yes, I wrote 900. And once I started reading about each one, I started to find reasons to go to more than just those housing works by Michelangelo, Bernini or Caravaggio. Does it have outstanding mosaics? I'm there. Priceless frescoes? Count me in. Reported relics? Add me to the list. And if there's a picture of a church, interior or exterior, that just looks cool, the church gets bumped to the top of my list. I started circling all the churches I am interested in on a map so I could visit them as I encountered them geographically. I now have a map of circles. While I am apparently not circularly-challenged,


So now, 7 days is not enough, of course. Fellow traveler Beth tells me that she and her Mom started popping into churches whenever their fancy struck, but found it overwhelming. "Sometimes there are four on one square," she reports. Oy, the pressure! I'm seeing my potential day trip to Orvieto and Assisi vanish before my very eyes due to my overindulgence in churches. Ah yes, this is supposed to be enjoyable, right? For me, 90% of this is in the planning. I don't script every minute, but I always leave home with a formidable list of things I consider "must sees"...and I have to say, more often than not, I return home with most ticked off.

That is, until I re-read Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling which resulted in my adding Raphael to my list of artists I plan to pursue in the Eternal City.

Suggestions are welcome, as long as they don't include living there until I've visited all 900!

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