Mae Travels

Brilliant Baroque at Galleria Borghese

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“A picture is a poem without words.” ― Horace

In the center of Rome and in the center of a beautiful park, a collection of artistic treasures swelled up to rest …with zest!  Paintings with dramatic faces and scenes… and statues screaming their emotions! Each seemed to convey “I am alive”! And whilst the spectators are intellectually stimulated by the vitality of the masterpieces, there was that sense of awe, admiration and respect for such a creative power. Read More

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Golden Moments in Piazza Navona

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“La vita e un sino!” Life is but a dream! I was totally enamored by this surrealistic scene!

It’s an afternoon delight strolling about the beautiful Piazza Navona. Whilst enjoying a cool afternoon with the exquisite rays of the sun, I gazed with pleasure upon the effervescent breadth of the piazza, tainted with an old-world charm and tinged with a golden light!

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Steps Around Piazza di Spagna

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“No house could keep out the city’s noise, day and night”, a Roman satirist from the early 2nd century once said. It has remained true to this day. Rome is full of piazze or squares and this is its most famous piazza… Piazza di Spagna!

 

 

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Crowded but captivating, you can first sit cheek-to-cheek with your companions or strangers on a bench around the fountain and capture the movement of the water and look at its intriguing design – a half-sunken ship which was a tribute to the flood of the River Tiber in 1598. This Fontana della Barcaccia was built in 1627–29 by Pietro, the father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

It is better to step back and take one step at a time which might lead you to a stairway called the Spanish Steps.

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Trevi Fountain

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“Three coins in the fountain…Each one seeking happiness…Thrown by three hopeful lovers…Which one will the fountain bless? “  ♫ *♥*♪

This beautiful song resonates to millions of people around the world. Like the fountain, Frank Sinatra’s smooth euphonious voice, the song’s dreamy melody and lyrics have been flowing sweetly…and will continue to flow for years to come.

According to the famous legend, if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, tossing it with your right hand over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome. The second coin thrown, and this came from the 1954 famous Hollywood film Three Coins in the Fountain, will ensure a new romance and the third coin will ensure marriage.

Such an amusing and bizarre fountain of thought but not a useless deed…Around three thousand euros worth of coins which are thrown into this fountain each day are collected every night and are donated to Caritas, the Roman Catholic charity which helps the needy in 200  countries around the world.

 

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Yonder were the fountains of Rome…beautiful ornaments in the middle of handsome squares, sweet murmurs in the middle of quiet gardens, a rhythmic pitter-patter in the middle of the joyful chatter!

Rome is the city with the most number of fountains in the world! More than 2,000 spraying and flowing water dot the ancient metropolis! Oh, how cheerfully they flow, upward or downward with a gentle splash, splashing for thousands of years…and will continue on, for more thousands of years!

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The Pantheon

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“The architect must not only understand drawing, but music.”

A beautiful rhythm flowed into the design of one of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces, the Pantheon, as it harmoniously juxtaposes creativity with building skills.

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Splendor on Top of a Hill

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Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.”

My mind takes me to a quiet, charming and opulent place on top of a hill. I could picture Cicero, deep in thought, perhaps contemplating on the issues of the State or simply gathering his thoughts into literary forms in the middle of his garden bathed in beautiful sunlight…or Augustus, as he takes refuge in his tablinum, looking out at his lovely courtyard while reclining on a lectus medius, feeling tired at the end of the day from going around his realm and meeting with his men…or Tiberius, in his lavishly furnished triclinium, while looking with pleasure at a large table set with gold plates and full of exotic dishes like roast parrot and boiled flamingo, would think: “I deserve a sumptuous feast after a stressful day of discourse with the Senate and Sejanus!”. Read More

Forum Romanum

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“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.”

It was here in the Roman Forum, Rome’s oldest public square, where Cicero delivered his ringing speeches, perhaps with Catiline’s face flashed before his closed eyes and words spoken with such vehemence, echoing through the ages… It was here where Marc Antony delivered his famous funeral speech…It was here where Augustus was named the first emperor of the Roman Empire…It was here where the Senate met and the most powerful men of the ancient world cast their bold visions or theatrical illusions while planning to transform the world in Rome’s image, which seemed to be their natural yearning of the time. Read More

The Colossal Colosseum

 

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While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.” – Venerable Bede

After almost 2,000 years… after all the earthquakes, storms, lightnings, plunderers, wars (including the bombings of WWII),  and all the other destructions brought about by forces of nature and humans, the gigantic Colosseum today firmly stands in the center of Rome… it is still the world’s most famous sports arena and the most famous structure in Rome. It’s a physical reminder of Rome’s imperial power, which it was originally designed to demonstrate. Read More

The Might of the Roman Army

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“Barritus!” The Roman soldiers’ battlecry, dramatically uttered, as dramatic as their movements in battle…like when the Roman soldiers dropped down to one knee and held their shields out as a defensive barrier, protecting themselves by positioning their shields in a formation called the “testudo” or “tortoise”, which was first used by Mark Antony during his invasion of Parthia in 36 BC. Read More

The End of the Roman Republic and the Beginning of the Roman Empire

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“Veni, vidi, vici!” Julius Caesar must have uttered these words with such passion and intensity after crushing a rebellion.

Born in July 12, 100 BC, this brilliant Roman general, politician, speaker, and writer hailed from a notable lineage. His father, Gaius Julius Caesar, was a senator, quaestor, praetor, and governor in Asia. His mother, Aurelia Cotta, was a daughter of a senator, consul and military commander.

Certainly, his father, who died when Caesar was only 15, must have presented to him a series of political allusions…and coming from one of the oldest aristocratic families engaged in politics, he embarked on a compelling political adventure…He held several government posts such as consul, governor of the Roman province of Spain, and fought several wars…before ultimately becoming the most powerful man in the Roman Republic. Read More