Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Alone At Musei Capitolini

In a city of 2.9 million people living within 495 square miles, traveling within a tour group of 90 people including 50 boisterous teenagers, the word alone didn't exist. Wanting to enjoy and treasure the experience, I put alone on the back burner and loved every minute of my company and the people-packed ancient city.

Alone was waiting for me back home.

Or so I thought.

With one and a half hours left in Rome, assuming I would never return (because I didn't toss a coin in Trevi this time), I over-contemplated what to do. Within a small group of students and adults, there were several options: returning to Trevi fountain, exploring the streets, shopping, or visiting the Capitolini-a prized museum known for several famous statues.

My heart said museum, but I was hesitant to spend my last minutes among a museum crowd of people waiting their turn for a close-up. Fortunately, Susannah swayed us towards the Capitolini. Knowing time was a premium, I suggested we split up, and...

my unknown Roman dream came true: time alone in the museum.


It was 6:00 p.m. and perhaps the dark night, the cold, and a too-soon closing time, kept the crowd unexpectedly small. As I moved from room to room, I was alone. I chose a sculpture or painting and moved close, imagining its artist, its original purpose,  or the person for whom the work was commissioned. Within the inner bowels of the museum, I gloried in the space of the Palazzo de Conservatori apartments filled with 18th century frescoes, one of which depicted a favorite ancient story: Hanibal riding an elephant, driving his army to conquer the Roman Empire.

Oh if these walls could talk; but they actually did!

 Romulus and Remus, the fathers of Rome, raised by the she-wolf. The sculpture was first thought to have been cast by the Etruscans in the fifth century BC, but carbon dating has since proved it is a piece from the first century AD.
 I took the time to peruse this ancient stella and made an amusing discovery.
 This room was big enough for the four of us. The Burial of Saint Petronella, by Guercino. This painting was once requisitioned by French troops and hung in the Louvre but reclaimed and brought home in early 1800s.
 Jesus teaching in the temple.
Part of the small Egyptian collection. 359 BC from the temple of Isis

Indescribable artist abilities.

My alone time was such a treasure, but every time I overly-treasure a tangible good, or a measurable commodity, I think of a dear friend's theory about hell. She hypothesized that earthly possessions, hobbies, and habits we loved could become our hell. She used the example of golf or running--in healthy doses they each bring us joy, heath and vitality. If overdone, if we had to run or play golf 24 hours a day,  the sports would become a personal hell.

Mary's theory becomes a warning for balance. I try to imagine the entire trip all alone. 

After an hour and a half in the museum, I'm happy to greet my crowd of travelers, my friends, my students.