Friday, November 10, 2006

On Sunday it poured intermittently all morning. In the midst of wondering whether we should just call a cab to the train station rather than risk the possibility of a drenching, there was a break in the weather long enough for us to check out of the B&B and hustle over to the station. We took the slow ride back to Naples, then on to Rome. It was pretty uneventful except for the fact that we got on the train to Rome with less than a minute to spare, and had we hesitated further we would have missed it. (The train was listed only by its final destination of Milan, so all we had to go on was the departure time.)

It was blissfully clear once we arrived in Rome, allowing us to make our way to the hotel on foot. Gulliver's is a small place with only 4 rooms in a large apartment building. We got the cheery Gold Room, which included a bath tiled in soothing green and blue that was roughly equal to the size of our room. Shortly after arriving it began raining again.

During a break in the weather, we went out for a quick lunch and then visited a church that had been designed by Michelangelo on top of some ancient Roman baths. It was huge and seemed to be more a house of looking at stuff than a house of worship. There was some kind of solar calendar built into the floor that was one of those crafty Renaissance-type things you always hear about, but due to the cloudy skies it was impossible to see it in operation. A small room to the side presented the history of the church through text and photos, and the lights were coin-operated. When they shut off after 20 minutes, everyone in there was too cheap to start them up again so we all squinted at the print in the moody half light entering from an open door.

Once we left it began to sprinkle, so we decided to break down and pay the admission to the nearby museum of antiquities. Shortly after arriving it started pouring, so we congratulated ourselves on a good choice. The museum was uncrowded, and we took our time wandering around looking at all the statues, mosaics, and murals they had hauled there from archaeology sites around the country. It was nice, but after seeing some beautiful stuff in its original location, it was hard to be blown away by it. There were two larger-than-life bronze statues that were highlights of the collection, judging by the fact that they had alarms that went off if anyone got inside the two foot perimeter around them. Two feet is excessively distant, so people were constantly leaning in for a better look and setting it off. It sounded like a two-tone electronic chime that would be go off if you entered a store, except much louder. After someone would unintentionally set it off half a dozen or so times, they would envision the perimeter and then set it off a couple more times just to fill in any blank spots in the mental image. It became a farce pretty quickly, especially since the place seemed to be staffed mostly by matronly volunteers who wouldn't be able to chase you even if you were carrying a very heavy, very large statue clutched to your chest.

There was an interior courtyard so that we could keep an eye on the weather as it continued to shower on and off. On the top floor, they were showing a full-length opera in a tiny theater, a perfect way to pass a rainy day. I would have been in there napping if they weren't playing it at such an outrageously high volume. In the basement there was a mummy and some of the things she had been buried with, the only ordinary personal items displayed in the whole museum, and some of the most interesting things they had.

The museum was open until 7 so we stayed nearly till the bitter end so we could progress right into dinner. We had scoped out some spots earlier in the day, but when we went back to take a closer look they were all unsatisfactory. After a fashion we ended up in another basement restaurant and enjoyed our last Italian meal accompanied by a liter of the house red. We turned in early so we could be well-rested for our journey home.


No comments: