Thursday, July 18, 2013


DAY 4, JULY 11, 2013
We're always on the verge of getting our act together but the verge rarely appears and with all our good intentions of getting an early start we never made it out the door until an hour after they had stopped serving breakfast at the hotel and an hour away from the noontime hunger pangs that would attack us all as soon as our stomachs found out about the missing meal.
Famished as we were we still trudged off to MAXXI, the Museo Nazionale della Arte del XXI Secolo, built in 2010 by the now famous architect, Zaha Hadid. There is nothing as rewarding as dragging a teenager to a cultural event with the intention of broadening their views of art and the world when all they'd rather be doing is sitting and swapping Vine videos on their IPhones of themselves making stupid faces or imitation fart noises.
The Museo Naxionale consists of massive almost brutalistic enclosures with threads of lyrical staircases
and dots of sculptural stationary pieces that breakup the coldness of all the concrete.
What you end up with is a maze of walkways leading you on a journey that at times has you wondering if you are going up or down. These walkways finally emerge into great open galleries that form the perfect backdrop for the exhibits held within.
We had gone specifically to see the photography of Luigi Ghirri. It ended up being the last exhibit we saw as we got lost trying to find the staircase leading to his exhibit hall. It also turned out to be the most disappointing exhibit of the day. He tends to work in faded C prints of static objects and people in very ordinary settings. He admits to rejecting any technical virtuosity in lieu of a more direct and thoughtful approach to discovering the world through his lens.
An unexpected exhibit was the work of Alighiero Boetti, a combination of collage and textile melding Eastern and Western philosophies into some extraordinary pieces. A stand out was a series of fifty-one panels of intricately woven squares overlaid in Farsi and Italian script hiding the writings Eastern poetry.
Each two-inch square created by Mid-eastern refugees in a blaze of color.
This is where Emmy finally decided that a trip to a museum might not be as boring as she had assumed.
The final exhibit we took in was by far the most controversial and the one where it was best for us as a family to view on our own. The work of Francesco Vezzoli is provocative, intoxicating and extremely erotic. Best not to be seen while standing next to your seventeen-year-old daughter who immediately got a case of the giggles. Homoerotic sculptures combined antiquarian statuary with contemporary pieces making man on man innuendo out of the innocence of the ancient pieces contrasted with the leering eye of the newer sculptures.
As if this wasn't enough, videos played at either end of the exhibition space: one showing a TV show where the audience selected a couple to marry and then consummate their marriage on stage behind a diaphanous curtain while the audience sat watching and at the other end a naked man bent over his testicles swinging back and forth and back and forth. It did kind of blur the line between art and porn.
That night we decided to make our pilgrimage to the Piazza Navona to pay homage to the tourist in us. It was back to Tre Scalini for dinner. The Piazzi is noted for its abundance of street entertainers and fake portrait artists. We had held hopes of seeing the finger puppet man that had fascinated Emmy the last time we were here. He was old when we last saw him making his fingers into Michael Jackson and moon walking them across his tiny stage.
He never showed up and we couldn't find any shrine to his demise but we did catch an amazing juggler who we christened his son carrying on the tradition of street entertainment in the Piazza where our finger puppet man had brought so much joy to so many of us camera toting Bermuda short wearing guests.
We also saw this amazing duo of levitating monks. We tried very hard to figure this one out even thinking of staying there until they had to leave to see how the heck they were able to create this gravity defying act but after ten minutes our hunger forced us to leave for the restaurant we'd eaten at every time we came to Rome.
The greeter at Tre Scalini was out front beckoning us to come sit. It was after nine but true to Roman eating etiquette the point of full capacity was still a half-hour away. We were given a prime outside table right on the edge of all the action where you could see hordes of Japanese tourists following a guide with a multi-colored umbrella leading them round and round the Piazza.
We ordered our usual prosciutto and melon as a starter along with all three kinds of bruschetta: the standard pomodoro,
the one with olive paste,
and the third with an artichoke spread.
For main courses Rick had a frutti di mare
and Emmy and I both had the house specialty, Fettuccini Alfredo. The pasta came served in a baked Parmesan nest; a cheese lovers dream, a heart attack in the making. She's young enough not to have to worry. I, on the other hand, need to think twice about all the cream sauces that I find it so hard to refuse.
To top off the evening we stumbled by the very end of a policeman's band concert on our way to the taxi stand and a ride back to the hotel. We left the Piazza Navona in blaze of trumpets, tubas and timpani

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