Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pasquetta: in Villa Borghese:

Unlike most Americans, who go back to work on the Monday after Easter, Italians celebrate Pasquetta, or "Little Easter."  There's more eating to be done, of course, and most of the museums are open, which is unusual for a Monday.

But for Romans, anyway, the great pleasure of Pasquetta is spending the day at one of the city's enormous parks.  Most of the parks--Villa Ada, Villa Pamphili, Villa Borghese--were once owned by very wealthy families,usually families lucky enough to have royalty or a Pope  or two in their genealogy.  That all ended after 1871, when Italy became a nation and began to expropriate lands and buildings that had once belonged to the Catholic Church (in the case of Villa Ada's case, the land was purchased in 1872 by the Savoia family for their Royal residence in Rome).  One by one, the parks became public property, available for everyone to enjoy.

And enjoy them they do, especially on Pasquetta, as we discovered this past Monday on a walk through Villa Borghese, the massive and complex green space that lies north of Piazza di Spagna and
and northwest of Piazza del Popolo.

Very unusual--a table
The park has no picnic tables--at least we didn't see any--but Romans love to sit on the grass, with or without a blanket, and even if the grass has gone to high weeds, as it had in some areas of the park.

One family (out of hundreds) had brought a folding table on which to put food and drink, but by and large the eating had been done earlier.

Playing on the statue, or kicking a ball against it
Granddads and Dads (and now and then Moms) were everywhere kicking a ball with a kid or kids.

Three young men were throwing a regulation-size American football (though only one had any real sense of how to do it, and one of them gave up after a few wobbly throws and a dropped pass and retreated to a fountain bench to finish a beer--you can buy beer in the park, in glass bottles no less).

There was some tanning going on.  The Italians were/are late to quit smoking, and now, it seems, they're late to the recognition of skin cancer.

Bicycling was popular on the broad avenues that run through Villa Borghese.  You can rent a single bike or, for a healthy sum, a covered vehicle that can be pedaled by two or four.  Pedestrians watch out!

Line for the bathroom

Our goal was to see exhibits at two museums in the Villa, both of them free: the Carlo Bilotti Museum, named for the wealthy American who financed most of it, and the Museo Pietro Canonica Museum, home and working space to the sculptor (1869-1959) by that name.
Neither was crowded, and the long line at the Carlo Bilotti was for the restroom.
Notwithstanding beer sales, the police had little to do. 
We had a grand time watching the Romans have a grand time, en masse on Pasquetta.


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