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Let's Talk About Art

2005-04-29 3 min read Travel marco

Now that our stomachs are full, let’s stroll to the best art in town… And where would that be?

Too much art can be. And surely you’ll understand that once an enthusiastic travel companion drags you through all the sites in you guide book. Don’t let that happen to you: focus on something you particularly enjoy, and let the other stuff to the other guys.

And still, there are some jewels you just can’t do without. Let me enumerate what my ignorant self remembers, and do help me with more – email link on the homepage, anyone?

Rome is probably the richest place for art lovers. Ever since the pope moved in, almost two thousand years ago, the Church has been amassing art. The best of the best, one might say.

Whatever you do, two words: Vatican and Villa Borghese. Both are absurdly rich museums, the former proud of its two highlights, the Sixtine Chapel and the Raffael Chambers; the latter more secluded, less famous, but just astonishing with its richness.

Go to one of the wonderful medieval churches in town (and skip all the baroques, except for St. Peter’s) and follow the patterns of the Cosmatesque paving. See the model of ancient Rome in the museum of Roman Civilization.

And then, there’s the obvious: the Colosseum, the Imperial Fora, the Vatican, Castel St. Angelo, the ruins of Ostia… You can stone me if you want, but I would skip all of that for a quiet day in Villa Torlonia, or a haunting experience in the catacombs.

Florence, for some mysterious reason, has always been the favorite destination of my American friends. Sure, Florence is wonderful, with the cathedral and the piazza and the most amazing Uffizi. Florence IS the Renaissance, the place where Dante, Leonardo and Michelangelo lived, the place where half the painters and architects and poets of Italy ended up living and working. And it still is the place that is manageable, not as daunting as Rome, and yet about as full of art.

According to the metrics of Italy, Florence is a puppy of a city. It was founded when the Romans destroyed nearby Faesole (which is now a suburb), which means you won’t find much that is really old. Never mind that &qout;not really old” here means a thousand years old. Go to Florence for shopping, if for nothing else.

Venice is the perfect spot for newlyweds. There is absolutely nothing to do there, and after seeing the hundredth or so palazzo, you just don’t know where to go. There are no cinemas, no night clubs, nothing to have fun if you are nto the master of your amusement, anyway.

And yet, it’s worth it. It’s worth any length of any trip, because you’ll see something unlike any other town you’ll ever see.

Venice is a gem. Don’t let them tell you it smells bad (which it does, in the summer when nobody in their right mind would visit); that it is sinking in the sea (which is not true at all – it’s the tides that have a better chance at entering the bay). Besides, there are so many vistas in Venice you’ll already know from innumerable movies, you’ll feel at home immediately!

The South is less densely populated, but it is full of treasures, as well. Take the treasures of Palermo, say, or the riches of Naples. I wished I had spent more time in the South, and on the other hand I am happy I will be able to explore more and find things whose beauty will scare me.

Next: Enough already! Where is the boutique?