Sunday, 5 October 2008

papal pleasure palace

Seeing as how I haven't the time to sit down and write a complete travelogue, what follows over the coming days will be a few edited highlights of the Roman holiday.

The Galleria Borghese is located within the Villa Borghese gardens, a public park described in 1644 by John Evelyn as an "an Elysium of delight". It housed ostriches, peacocks, swans and cranes "and diverse strange Beasts", a suitable spot for this extravagant party villa. Owing to modern customs, a visit today is maybe not quite so debauched as the Roman scene. Still the experience is intense, quite unlike any conventional museum visit, with galleries housing an incredible collection (Caravaggio, Titian, Bernini, you name it) all competing for attention with the most amazing trompe-l'œil decorations all over the walls and ceiling. Intricately patterned mosaics cover the floor as the tourists troop around struggling to cram so much sensory delight into their alloted 2-hour visiting time. Any appreciation of Boy with a Basket of Fruit becomes a challenge, the poor lad being squeezed up against all the encroaching opulence.

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