Day 59 – Rome

Today I head to the Palace of the Quirinale, seat of the President of the Italian Republic. On the street in front of the palace, I’m surprised by a procession of men on horses.

They are called corazzieri, or Cuirassiers, and are part of the President’s guard. I love the little animals that hang over their heads like ferocious ferrets. I’m feeling the heat. They must be too.

I’m told the occasion is a state visit. A fancy wiper machine comes right after them to clean up any poop. If only the rest of Rome were so well cleaned.

Inside the Quirinale, the security guards carefully check documents. Nothing gets passed them. The Italians on the tour (everyone) are anxious to see what the big deal is about the visit, but we can’t see much.

The tour starts with a room containing vintage copper cooking items, some of which were brought by Queen Margherita of Savoia when she moved there with King Umberto in 1878. After the visiting the copper workshop in Agnone, I understand why so many of these implements were made of copper. I wonder if any of them were made in Agnone.

The display shows some interesting vintage implements, including this candy maker.

I have no idea of what to expect from this tour. Certainly not room after room of place settings. Each place setting is displayed in its entirety, each incredibly beautiful from all over the world.

At one time, Popes lived at the Quirinale. This massive room served as a reception area. Around the room are images of delegates from far off countries to Rome, and coat of arms from major cities around Italy.

The long hall.

In the Paola Chapel, modeled on the Sistine Chapel, a free concert is held every Sunday morning open to the public.

Will these spiral steps every stop?

Our guide stands with a lion.


I decide to visit the Palazzo Barberini, now the National Gallery of Art, as it is in the same neighborhood as the Quirinale. But first I have lunch at a place in its gardens. Refreshed, I head DOWN into the Palazzo.

Lots to see here, without any kind of audio guide or map to the collections. I happen to visit during a period where 50 art pieces have been taken from the Villa Borghese to the Palazzo Barberini to create a combined exhibition.

Aside from the masterpieces, I was taken back by an exhibition of work entitled Effetto Notte: New American Realism. I didn’t think much at all of most of the wall pieces, but I was disturbed by this man sitting in the middle of the room. My first reaction was that he was in a wheelchair, and I didn’t want to stare at him, so I avoided looking at him. He seemed in a meditative state. Then I had to ask the docent

( in whispers): He’s not real, yes? And surely he’s not. And only now I see it’s not a wheelchair, but a John Deere tractor. And maybe the art on the wall is part of it all? Or not.

Tonight I meet Melinda again and her friend Mara for dinner. After a quick look at a place recommended by my landlady packed with tourists, we return to the beautiful little place by the church. So thankful these places still exist in Rome.

Tomorrow I’m off to Naples.

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