Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rome for the day.

It's been a hectic several weeks, and there isn't much relief in sight. I needed a refresh, and the opportunity presented itself with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.  Quinn had to get on the bus for a cross country meet at 5:45 a.m. which meant Lily and I would be up and operational to catch an early train to Rome.

So we did, arriving in the Eternal City just in time to catch a morning protest.  Here is Lily before the remnants of a rally in a piazza. Please don't ask me what it was about.  I suppose most European protests have to do with the current economic crisis, the austerity measures being taken, and the fact it seems the average folks are paying far more than those at the top for the profligacy that got everyone in this state. That seemed to fit with the signage I saw, but it's against the Status of Forces Agreement for us to have any involvement in politics here and I am happy to comply.

The plan was to do some fabric shopping based upon this blog post.  Enjoy a nice lunch.  And savor the treasures in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj.  Then wander back to the train station.  We did that and a little more.

It's about a three kilometer walk to the Fratelli Bassetti fabric shop.  So we got in a coffee moment and window shopping along Via Nazionale.  Then we arrived at what appeared to be a ho-hum linen shop around the corner from the Gesu Jesuit church.  Fortunately I knew that Fratelli Bassetti was a fabric shop or mercato di tessuti or I would have walked right by without a second glance.
You know they say the '80s are BACK! My scarf knows it.

 The meat of the matter was on the second floor and, oh, what delights were inside for fabric accumulators -- but at far less than delightful prices.  YIKES.  Stacks upon stacks of 75-100 euro/meter silks. I spent some fantasy moments looking at the Etro silks, the Versace silks, the Dolce & Gabbana silks, and many other names I've never heard of.  The set up is not customer friendly in the least.  The bolt ends face out and you have only the slimmest of indications of what the fabric might look like.  Though I imagine it minimizes grubby finger marks on precious silk yardage, one is not enticed to continue after three or four "meh" withdrawals from the stacks by an impatient gentleman -- a brother Bassetti perhaps?.

My sole aim was to get a piece of fine Italian wool, a bouclĂ©, in particular.  I want a Chanel jacket, v-neck, patch pockets, and trimmed with the type of lovely fringy braid cording made by the 70+-year-old lady in this fantastic Chanel documentary (which used to be available in its entirety on youtube . . . but, alas, is no longer).  After much sorting through the stacks of wool (less stringently guarded than the silks), I came across the one for me -- a light heathery purple and chocolate brown bouclĂ©, oh my.
I kept sorting through the stacks and returning to it several times.  Some negotiating brought the price down about 25%, but still it's the most I've paid per meter before.  No buyer's remorse, though: it's wool and silk and wonderful:

Next, I followed the Selfish Seamstress's itinerary to Fatucci Tessuti for some fabric acquisitions more in my normal price range.  A wonderful violet wool twill (with a healthy dollop of Lycra) and a contemporary floral silk voile which had the look of plant cell structures that I was assured was Dolce & Gabbana . . . not that it mattered.  After Bassetti's prices, these were complete bargains.  And another  silk, this time a charmeuse, with contemporary floral design with a kind of protozoa look.

Are all you nonsewists saying, "BASTA!"  Yeah, that's what Lily was saying, too.  So we found a little place around the corner from the Pantheon and ate a lovely lunch. Lily had roast chicken with artichokes, and I had cannolini with ricotta and spinach.  I didn't take any pictures -- so sue me.

Next we beelined for the Doria Pamphilj (the "j' is pronounced like a y -- go figure).   A treasure trove to be sure -- and with many of its masterpieces generously provided online at this link.  

Lily and I loved the Jan Brueghels -- packed full with beautifully rendered detail.  The three Caravaggios were lined up so you could see that the moving portrait of Mary Magdalene was based upon the same model used for the Virgin Mary in the Flight to Egypt.  A scandalous act of economy -- me likey. 

I'm not usually a big fan of audio guides which often are simply patronizing drones, but the Doria Pamphilj guide is provided by the Doria Pamphilj heir whose fluent, aristocratic cadences suit the setting and his insider asides are a fun accompaniment to the paintings.

We find out that all their good fortune dates back to this ancestor: Pope Innocent X.  Really.  And we also learn that he exclaimed, "It's too real!"  when Velasquez unveiled the portrait for him.  Hmmm, now where have I seen that expression before . . . ah, yes, this is the look the blind piano player's girlfriend gives to Larry David when she is introduced as a fashion model (and clearly is not) in Season 4 of Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Yes, I am innocent of everything, care to make something of it?

But all good did flow from that Papa for the Doria Pamphiljs as this lovely view and many others attest.  Apparently rollerskating occurred in these hallways within the last generation!

Lily has amazing art museum endurance for age 9.  She even outlasted me in some rooms. But then we deserved a treat and the Doria Pamphilj has its own tea room.  We were happy to top off our visit there.  

There were some further wanderings,  a long wait in the station in which several books were purchased in the large English section of the bookshop, and then the train trip home.  What?  You were expecting lots of photos of Roman street scenes and landmarks?  I'm sure the web will offer them up to you elsewhere. . . this is Lily's and my day-in-the-life.  But we will try to be more photo-illustrative of our next destination: Istanbul!