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May 27, 2016 11:04 AM CST
|It’s a rainy mid-May Saturday in Rome. The busses are packed like sardine cans with locals and tourists alike breathing down each other’s necks and hanging on for dear life as the vehicles accelerate and brake and jounce along the bumpy streets. Sidewalks are a fashion show of jaw-dropping designer togs on extraordinary bodies, contrasting with the shorts and tee-shirt crowd, and everyone is poking eyes out with their umbrella spokes.
Having exchanged wet clothes (see my blog about the Japanese Garden) for dry ones, and dumped a useless shower jacket in favor of an umbrella, I crossed the nightmare traffic circle of Piazza di Repubblica and sauntered down Via Nazionale. I was on my way to find the hidden park of Villa Aldobrandini.
This tiny public park is not to be confused with the huge Villa Aldobrandini property in the town of Frascati in the hills beyond the city of Rome. Nearly everyone has heard of the Frascati villa with its famous “theater” fountain, but the little park in Rome is off the radar.
While walking down Via Nazionale, I suddenly realized it was lunchtime (12:30 p.m.), so I made a sudden right turn onto Via Milano, in the direction of the traffic tunnel. I went up the steps on the side of the imposing Palazzo delle Esposizione building, entered a doorway about two-thirds of the way up, turned left and took the elevator up one floor, and found myself in the sky-lit Open Colonna restaurant. If it had been a fine day I would have sat out on the terrace, but since it was raining I took one of the indoor tables. The Saturday self-serve lunch buffet here is one of the best in Rome, and costs only 20 euros. Drinks are extra, and served to your table.
After a lovely lunch, I continued my walk, turning onto Via Mazzarino, the last road on the left before Via Nazionale widens into Largo Magnanapoli. On Via Mazzarino, behind the parked cars, a gate in a high fence gave access to the Parco Villa Aldobrandini. All I could see from ground level was brick walls, and so I climbed the steps, taking care not to slip on ripe oranges that had fallen from the trees above.
At the top of the steps I entered a small, triangular park containing all the necessary ingredients of parks in Rome: massive shade trees, gravel paths, palm trees, orange trees, burbling fountains, ancient statuary, lawns, seats, and a few ornamental bushes.
Off to my right, a balustrade overlooked teeming Via Nazionale, where drivers and pedestrians continued on their way oblivious to the park high above them. At the far end of the park, I had a view across Largo Magnanapoli, over the ancient walls of Trajan’s Market, to the chariots on top of the Vittoriano Monument, while to my left stood a church for which my map gave no name.
Completing my circuit of the park, I found that a steep bank at the top of the steps had been planted with Acanthus, now in full bloom.
Apart from a homeless person sleeping under a bush, I had the park all to myself.
May 28, 2016 12:21 AM CST
|A nice day spent and shared. When reading I tried to say the Italian names out loud as they often sound so neat, so flowing...I wonder how old that church is?
Thanks for thinking of us back here.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
May 31, 2016 8:09 AM CST
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
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