La Notte dei Musei

Bronze of Romolus and Remus, Palazzo SenatorioLast Saturday evening was Museum Night here in Rome. Most of the museums, as well as some other spaces not usually open to the public, were open until 2am and  were free. Last year, the event had been cancelled at the last minute (Saturday night at the Campidoglio) because of a bomb blast in Brindisi so this was our first time. We decided to start at the Piazza di Campidoglio and visit the Palazzo Senatorio (Rome’s City Hall) which is not generally open to the public. On the way there, it was strange to see people in spaces that are usually closed like the little Roman ruin at the base of the Roman pines in the picture below.1369392571061
It was good that we got to the Campidoglio early as they were only admitting about 20 people at a time on a guided tour. The Piazza di Campidoglio sits on the Capitoline Hill where the Tabularium built in the 1st cent BC once stood, to house Roman state records. The Piazza and surrounding buildings, now museums, were designed by Michaelangelo in 1536 at the behest of the Farnese Pope Paul III. Consequently, the main entrance and facade face away from the Foro Romano and towards St. Peter’s, paying homage to Papal supremacy during the Renaissance. The everyday entrance is at the side and needless to say, the dominant feature of the lobby here is a large bronze statue of the she-wolf with Romulus and Remus.

1369393136691What sumptious offices these bureaucrats work in. This ceiling in one of the offices was stunning not to mention the collection of paintings, tapestries and sculptures everywhere. The balcony at the back overlooks the Foro Romano, a spectacular view and I could imagine the staff standing there enjoying the view when they took their breaks. Its no wonder that everything takes so long to get done here!
The Council Chamber is overlooked by a gigantic statue of Julius Caesar dating back to the 2nd cent BC and lined with flags representing the different ‘Rioni’ or neighbourhoods of Rome. One feels the sense of history while standing in these lofty rooms.

1369393412691Our next museum stop did not happen as we met some friends who wanted to get something to eat so we walked to a wine bar nearby. Our stop here became longer than intended due to sampling  of the delicious mozarella and prosciutto they specialize in, not to mention the wine. By the time we left, the line-ups to get into places were absurd and we were tired, so we went home. Our philosophy is that museums will always be there but opportunities to enjoy food and wine with friends should not be curtailed!

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