Looking out the window at the constant stream of rain, you wouldn’t imagine that around this time two years ago, the famously mild Roman winter temperatures fell below zero and snow cascaded down on the capital. Unaccustomed to snowfall, Romans flitted about on the slushy sidewalks, shielding themselves under their umbrellas.
This week – and for the past few weeks – sidewalks crowd with the same clusters of open umbrellas, shrouding those below from the steady onslaught of rain, rain, rain. A nonstop pitter-patter, the rain has flooded some parts of Rome and ruptured the streets of others, carving out deep, muddy potholes. For those living in the northern outskirts of the city, it has meant displacement from flooded homes, while for tourists it has made sightseeing a soggy ordeal. Perhaps the only people to welcome the incessant rain are the men selling umbrellas on the street, calling out “brelli! brelli!” and preying on those optimistic enough to leave home without.
And so, what’s one to do on the days the rain refuses to let up? Rome is full of museums, housing a wide range of classic to contemporary art. Galleria Borghese is an excellent starting point, as the museum building is in itself a work of art. The gallery lies within a grandiose 17th century villa that boasts 20 rooms of gold and frescoed splendor. Its collection includes paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance and Baroque masters, Caravaggio and Bernini. It’s a must-see for art-lovers and art-curious alike. Visits are by reservation only, so be sure to plan and book in advance. Unlike the elbow-to-elbow packed Vatican Museums that open their doors to an unlimited number of visitors daily, Galleria Borghese allows only 360 visitors at a time. Your ticket buys you two hours of viewing time, and the lack of crowds makes the visit much more enjoyable. Other museums include the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica or the MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts. For a full list of the current exhibits in Rome, refer to http://www.inromenow.com/site%20templates/ArtsMuseums.html.
If delving into the culinary arts is more your thing, venture out to Eataly. Located a little off the beaten track, Eataly finds itself in the Ostiense district of Rome. A hybrid between restaurant and supermarket, it boasts four stories’ worth of Italian delicacies. It’s worth the trip to go and stock up on fresh buffalo mozzarella, Umbrian olive oil, homemade bread, and San Daniele prosciutto and bring them back to your apartment for the ultimate feast. Or even better, make the trip at dinner time and eat first and shop later. Eataly is made up of a series of small food stops, ranging from I Salumi (cold cuts) and I Fritti (fried foods) to La Pasta and La Carne (meat). You can walk around from station to station, wine glass in hand, having your share of different Italian specialties.
As for the rain, Rome isn’t known for its sunny climate for nothing. Soon, hopefully, we can put our umbrellas away and the “brelli” men can go back to selling pashminas and toys.
(Photo courtesy of selectitaly.com)
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