There is a certain comfort in knowing that the very fast world that most of us live in today, slows down considerably in a city like Rome.
Yet so many first time visitors happily leave quickly for the more gentle and provincial streets of a Florence. Ah yes, Florence, that locks up its considerable treasures and then charges a small fortune to see them, even in their churches! Say what you like about Rome, but know that one of the greatest historical and artistic cities in the world often shares its treasures for free!
Some Roman locations require an entrance fee to be sure, like Palazzo Altemps, one of the museums that come under the title of Museo Nazionale Romano. But those four magnificent museums combined only cost 7 euros and that is the best bargain in town. By comparison Florence looks like daylight robbery! Inside Palazzo Altemps is an old friend; a statue that has made me smile for years. The Ludovisi Gaul in marble is a remarkable piece that shows a Gaul killing his wife then himself, rather than being taken prisoner. It’s a Roman copy, (perhaps commissioned by Julius Caesar himself who admired the bravery of this bitter enemy who went into battle naked save for their weapons), of the famous bronze war memorial that was commissioned by Greece around 230 BC.
Probably found in the gardens of the Villa Ludovisi around 1622, this piece influenced important art and artists immediately, including Nicolas Poussin who adapted the main figure to be used in his painting of the Rape of the Sabine Women. Great works abound in Rome with so much to see and enjoy in this one fine museum alone. And look, no crowds!