Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Relaxing and Enjoying the City

August 27, 2008

Today was perfect; after feeling the effects of information overload from all the amazing tours of this past week, we got to relax and enjoy the Borghese gallery, in which we learned such a great amount about Caravaggio and Bernini and Raphael. We then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city, trying to find our way to some famous sites before we have to head back home.

My favorite part of the experience at the Galleria Borghese was our docent. She was absolutely marvelous at explaining all the history behind the famous sculptures by Bernini, and I was sort of laughing to myself at all the folks walking around with a headset listening to an automated explanation of the artwork. We then got to sit down with our docent, who is an art conservationist, to learn all about her fascinating career. I didn’t realize it was as much dedicated schooling as becoming a doctor or lawyer. Not only must you know your art history, but you have to excel in chemistry and the fine arts and technique and so much more. It was fascinating to hear her stories of what its like to work here in Italy, one of the art capitals of the world.
After exploring the lovely grounds of the Borghese Villa we set out to explore. We briefly visited Santa Maria del Popolo in hopes to see the famous “Conversion of St. Paul” by Caravaggio, but we went at 2pm when the church was taking its afternoon break. Like I mentioned awhile back, things just work differently here in Italy. From there we did something extremely exciting to me—we visited the Spanish Steps. The reason that I love them so much is because I know them from “Roman Holiday” starring Gregory Peck, and my favorite, Audrey Hepburn. It’s interesting to me how things become so much more personal when we recognize them, relating it back to prior experiences that touched us in some form or another. It’s a great emotional connection. I also got to film the introduction to the documentary of my trip here on the Spanish Steps, with all the tourists staring, probably wondering who I was.

Finally, in the evening we had a wonderful dinner party with all the docents and myself and my chaperone on the terrace above our apartment. I was so blessed to be around such great minds. All of them are the top of the line in their fields of study but then they are such down to earth and personable people. It was a great way to finish up the week. And, I also realized how much I am going to miss the incredible Italian cuisine!

Katie Estabrook (Hagstrom)


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