Saturday, 13 May 2017

Barberini Bees and Medici Balls

Today we are making an early morning visit to St Peters but first we drop by the new look Barberini for coffee and cornetti.

This classy bar is even classier now with much more room to sit and enjoy our morning pastries that are produced 'in house'.

The bus drops us at the bottom of Via Conciliazione where we walk towards the enveloping arms of Benini's glorious colonnade surrounding Piazza San Pietro.

Once inside the basilica we take time to enjoy the details. We think our little grandaughter would love spotting the family symbols of various popes such as the Barberini bees and Pamhilj dove.

In the niches above the statues at the base of each of the piers are the only remains of the original basilica, built by Emperor Constantine. These are the spiral marble columns that supported the canopy over the shrine of St Peter.

The four huge statues by Bernini and his pupils are of St.Veronica, St Andrew, Longinus and St Helena. They represent the relics that were displayed at Easter in the balconies above. The relics being Longinus's lance that was said to have pierced Christ's side on the cross, the head of St Andrew, a piece of the true cross discovered by St Helena and the veil that St Veronica used to wipe the blood and sweat off Christ on the way to Calvary and on which is said to be an imprint of his face.

The round mosaics above are huge in size, St Mark's pen being one and a half metres long.

Time for a post culture coffee at Pergamino Cafe before heading for the metro to Spagna.
At the Spanish Steps the azaleas are in full bloom.

We were making our way to the Villa Medici for the 11.00am tour in English. This has been on our radar for such a long time and for one reason or another we had never managed to make it on previous trips. So pleased we made it now as the tour was absolutely brilliant. Our guide explained the history of the villa, including the fact that part of the interior courtyard decoration was originally from the Ara Pacis.

We then toured the gardens which ended at a panoramic terrace with a fantastic view of the city.

In the grounds is a summer house decorated with frescoes of all kinds of birds.

The tour concludes with three rooms of the villa, the last of which includes a modern art work of butterflies on the ceiling which is enchanting.

Lunch back at the apartment is asparagus & lemon risotto, after which we chill out on the terrace.

Our early evening passeggiata starts in the Campo di Fiori area where we are tempted by the fried baccala at Il Filetto.

We continue on to Area Sacra.....

.....then across the road to Via Cestia where we check out what the best dressed priests are wearing this season in the shop windows.

This brings us to the magnificent Pantheon and of course we can't resist peeking in to see the oculus.

Aperitivo tonight is enjoyed on the roof top bar at the Eitch Borromini Hotel. This is a stunning spot the overlooks Piazza Navona on one side and the dome of St Peter's on the other.

Suitably refreshed we  make our way to the Ara Pacis where we have tickets for Com'Era, an augmented reality view of the monument. This was really well done with super helpful staff on hand to assist non Italian speakers. After a seated introduction we then moved around the monuments wth our VR headsets seeing clearly the original colours that would have been painted on the marble. 

The bus brings us back to Testaccio where we pick up a pizza from Da Remo to enjoy on the terrace,

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