There have been so many great things happening in and around the country, it’s almost as if the entire country of Italy were trying to hide the fact that the government’s been in meltdown since August. Cultural events, free museums, better (almost) everything – that doesn’t have to do with governing. As a wise man once remarked, “Italy functions despite its government.”
In terms of travel, Italy’s train company announced (along with its October special discounts released on the 30th, that you have to book 1 month in advance to get – ahem) that you can now take a train straight to Milan's Malpensa Airport from Rome – without changing trains.
Rome's Palazzo Barberini - National Gallery of Art finally reopened after years of restoration – in its entirety – after the Ministry of Culture spent (well spent) years of wrangling away half the palace that was given over to the Defense Ministry’s clubhouse (or something like that). It opened to great fanfare, day-long lines just to get in the door; and with artworks by all the masters, worth a trip for sure.
Not only did Sept bring free events in the museums and evening visits to the Vatican Museums, but we could now visit a host of other places opened by night for concerts, events, all kinds of entertainments. So much so, people were once again remarking, "Give 'em pane et circences" - bread & circuses."
It was also a great month for having rooftop drinks on terraces around Rome – and if you don’t have a friend with one, I enjoyed the sips & sights on the Hotel47 roof (next to Bocca della Verità), Hotel San Giorgio (on via Giulia), and no summer can end without dinner or a drink on the fabulous terrace of the Galleria di Arte Moderna.
Mr. Tanzi, responsible for the biggest accounting fraud in history – the Parmalat scandal (if you don’t count the Madoff-Ponzi scheme) had his Knighthood revoked (Cavaliere); although his freedom still hasn’t been. Citing age (he’s 70), they're trying to get him to avoid jail so he can enjoy the fruits of his labours…Madoff got 150 years, but it’s not like the judge & jury thought he’d live them out.
And, in a country where things are still being unearthed (mostly by monied tombaroli tomb raiders), 500 – yes, 500 cases filled with artifacts from the Roman Forum was found. Not really lost, they had gone into hiding during the war – and then lost in storage. They think it’ll take years to account for each of the pieces, but, little by little we’ll get to see the finds at one of my favorite museums, Museo di Civiltà Romana in nearby EUR.
But, my highlight of the month came when visiting Naples – Trevor & I went to the excellent Città della Scienza – “the only dog-friendly museum on earth”. Aside from the installations, activities, and wealth of ideas, friendliness and professionalism (not to mention the yumbo gnocchi alla sorrentina and caponata served at their cafeteria), we found out that the following Sunday was ‘dog day afternoon’ – and families could visit with their pets in tow. Wouldn’t I have liked to see Trev’s hair standing on end at the electric current generator…