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TAKING ALL SIDES

Written by  Professor Barry Goldsmith

BTHDT Garden-Palazzo
In Rome’s Borghese Gallery (paraphrasing T.S. Elliott) men and women come and go seeking out Michelangelo and other great masters of painting and sculpture. Visitors enter and exit through the front, without even bothering to walk around the entire building, and miss three unique formal gardens. That’s a shame. Visitors miss an aviary on one side. But above all they miss a magnificent rear-formal garden with fountain and statues (as seen in Three Coins in the Fountain), which is a great place to rest.  

In downtown Rome is the Palazzo Barberini, today’s National Gallery of Antique Art, with magnificent paintings such as Raphael’s La Fornarina (his mistress) and Holbein’s Henry VIII.  However, unbeknownst to most visitors is the magnificent rear “secret garden” (formal garden with ubiquitous fountain) which is even hidden below from the Piazza Barberini (with Bernini’s great Triton Fountain) it overlooks. And hidden within the Palazzo Barberini’s hidden garden is a Mithraeum - a buried 1st-century AD Roman temple, dedicated to the Persian God Mithras, complete with dazzling frescoes. (It’s even unknown to most Romans, unlike the more famous Mithraeum at the lowest level of St. Clemente near the Colosseum.)
In Rome just don’t visit the Vatican Museums.  Venture behind the museum’s interlocking buildings to visit the extensive Vatican Gardens with its many pavilions and gardens.  
Here’s a tip:  When inside any palace, museum or church, just look out the windows so you can see what you may be missing.
There’s only one time I don’t recommend walking around to see all-four sides of a building -- when the building is round.

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