Hello again! After a long silence this post comes to you from the elegant little town of Syracusa on the Eastern coast of Sicily. It has taken me this long to find an internet connection where I could use my own computer. It’s been an adventure in itself, and I may share the story one day soon.
‘Is possible….’, as they say here.
But let’s just back up a bit to Saturday evening a week and a half ago when we were still in Rome and dined with friends who are fortunate enough to live in an apartment in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij. They overlook this beautiful courtyard.
Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilij owns this very elegant Palazzo, right in the historic centre of Rome, and opens part of it to the public, no doubt to help defray the enormous costs involved in keeping such a building in good repair. We went back the next day to see more than the mere glimpse we’d had from our friends’ window.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the rooms, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say the paintings on the walls are amazing. The Lonely Planet “Italy” guide calls it ‘a mini-Versailles’, probably because of the splendid mirrored galleries.
The collection has remained intact in the safe-keeping of the Doria Pamphilij family for many centuries, largely because of a decree by the Pamphilij pope, Innocent X, that none of the works was ever to be sold. Wonderful for us – but it must be tough when you have to find a few euros to replace the shutters and you can’t just sell a Bruegel.
This quaint little establishment has been here a very long time, beside the Spanish Steps, just across from the house where Keats breathed his last, and I’d like to imagine on better days he spent the odd hour there scribbling away while he sipped on a cup of Earl Grey – except the poor fellow passed away much earlier, in 1821.
Babingtons is a little corner of Rome that will be forever England, where sandwiches and scones are the order of the day, and there’s not a pizza or bruschetta in sight.