It is crazy tourist season here in Rome, and with a relatively strong US dollar there seem to be more crazy tourists than ever. The city is a little . . . . overwhelming? exhausting? The thought of joining the sweaty throngs waiting for entry to the Colosseum or St. Peter’s just doesn’t appeal right now. But there are places in Rome, quiet, hidden gems, where there are almost no tourists to be found. Where there are cool gardens with benches and room to breathe.
Villa Giulia, built by Pope Julius III as a retreat on the outskirts of Rome, now houses a collection of Etruscan artifacts. But the quiet gardens are worth the entry fees every bit as much as the museum itself.
After touring Villa Giulia, we headed back into the city center for a quick stop at a Matisse exhibition at the Quirinal. Lola Gray loved the exhibition. She was exhausted, but despite her exhaustion she seemed to be soaking everything in and was thrilled to see in real life a painting she studied in school.
As we walked, we passed the Church of San Carlo of the Four Fountains, a tiny church designed by Borromini, and popped in for a quick look. Once again, our girl seemed to be soaking it all up. As we walked in, she exclaimed in a hushed voice “Mommy, look up!” directing me to the incredibly intricate oval, coffered dome and immediately pulled out her sketchbook. It was getting late, and we couldn’t stay long, but we promised Lo we will return to the church before our time in Rome is up.