Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Life and Death on the Tiber.

An early morning stroll north through the Piazza Della Repubblica and onto the Via Veneto, home of Harry's Bar and La Dolche Vita. There's little left of Fellini's neo-realism fifties fantasy now, just some posh hotels and a traffic jam. Still the street provides a tree-lined approach to the Villa Borghese the one genuine green lung in the whole city.

There are several ways to tour the park, pony and trap, golf buggy, bicycle. I chose to just stroll heading past the Galleria Borghese towards a small cafe by the lake where I lingered over my book and double espresso, before carrying onto the small Museo di Villa Giulia where some of Rome's oldest artistic treasures - including the amazing Etruscan 6th century BC Sarcophagus of the Spouses lives. It's an amazing sculpture - the couple reclining against each other, smiling softly. Their hands animated as though there lives together had been filled with continual conversation. This is a husband and wife who found continual delight in each other's company. Two and a half thousand years later they're still going.

I carried on through the park into the Flamino district and followed the Tiber as far as the Stadio Olimpico, surrounded by the ugly fascist architecture of the Mussolini years. It still comes as a bit of a shock that, unlike in Germany, these monuments to a discredited ideology are allowed not just to stand, but to maintain a sense of significance. How inhumane the heroic stances are. How chillingly clinical the cool marble, black lettering and unforgiving vertical lines are. What a contrast to the expressive beauty of the Spouses, who lie happy in each others arms barely a mile and a half away. Some things remain out of the hands of demagogues.

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