I walked across the threshold into the sparkling grand foyer strewn with precious sculptures and breathed a sigh of relief. I was in the door. At long last, I was going to see the Galleria Borghese. This was not something to be taken lightly. I had tried and failed on three attempts to visit this famed repository of beautiful art.
On our first trip to Rome our hotel was located in the vicinity of the Villa Borghese. The gallery was not yet reopened after years of renovation; it would be another month before reservations would be taken and my parents were among those lucky enough to enter the villa after years of closure. I would have to wait until another trip a year later secure reservations, which we duly obtained. The day arrived, we high-tailed it through the vast park and up the steps of the villa only to be told that the galleria was, that day, chiuso. There was some kind of strike going on involving museum personnel. At least that is what we think he said; it didn’t really matter why, we only knew the museum was closed despite our reservations made months in advance.
Another year, another trip, another reservation secured. The only day available during our stay in Rome was the first thing in the morning on the day after our arrival. If you have suffered jet-lag you will understand why we slept soundly right through our appointed hour. We were told all other reservations for that day were firmly held and we’d not be able to enter unless we wanted to spend the better part of the day waiting around hoping for a no-show. We opted to see other sights.
Another year, another trip, another reservation. We hopped a bus from the Trastevere area, allowing ourselves ample time. Except that we didn’t know there was a huge anti-war demonstration in the heart of the city, causing everything to come to a screeching halt, including our bus which tried to navigate around the mess but was left at a standstill until the driver finally turned the vehicle off and ordered everyone out. We ran and tried to make it, but of course by this time we were a half-hour late and were not admitted.
I gave up hope of ever seeing the wondrous beauties within the 18th century villa. Until Thursday. Francesca made reservations several weeks ago for a small group to see the special exhibition of Raphael works. I guess when I am not the one reserving, things go smoothly. We entered without a glitch (except that Francesca was ordered to check her purse; mine was allowed in, though I’m not sure why). An audio guide helped us understand the background of the museum and the precious contents within, though it didn’t cover any of the Raphael exhibit. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous! Bernini! Caravaggio! Canova! My favorites, accompanied by the lovely Madonnas of Raphael and we were completely enchanted.
At long last I admitted to the gallery. It was worth the wait.
copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider