One of the reasons I love Rome is the unexpected beauty you find almost anywhere you look. A hidden park, a frescoed wall, crumbling ruins, and the way light catches on the glass bubble curve of a wine glass. It’s the contrast between the graffiti, the overflowing dumpsters, and psychotic drivers and these pockets, these wells of beauty that tug at my heart and refuse to let me leave.
Last week Flavia and I had the pleasure of being invited by Italian art and lifestyle magazine Italian Ways to visit one of Rome’s treasure troves: the rarely opened Palazzo Sacchetti which was featured in a number of scenes from the Oscar winning film La Grande Bellezza.
What Jep, the main character, said about life, I think can be said about Rome: “There is life, hidden beneath the blah, blah, blah… It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise: silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty.”
Here are some flashes of Palazzo Sacchetti (info in the captions) that give you an idea of the wealth and luxury that has resided in these walls for centuries.
The Bellezza of Palazzo Sacchetti: A photo tour
View from the garden. The palazzo was designed in 1542 by the architect Antonio Sangallo to be his private home.
The Florentine Sacchetti family purchased the beautiful palazzo in 1648. The family still resides there today which is one of the reasons it is rarely opened to the public.
First rule of Rome, always remember to look UP!…
…to either side…. (the family crest on a stain glass window and candlesticks in front of some wallpaper my mother would kill for!)
The locations of two scenes from La Grande Bellezza. Left: A quick shot of Jep’s friend who had just lost her son, her face blank and staring, completely unaware of her lavish surroundings. Right: where the nuns and children chased each other in the garden…the picture of innocence and childhood happiness.
Got to get me a unicorn head for my apartment entryway.
The ceiling of a little chapel. The light in the center is from a small window.
I’ll conclude with the quote that opens La Grande Bellezza. It not only belongs with the map room but is for me another insight into why I must travel: to imagine and therefore to tell myself my own story.
“To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength.”