This fall I joined a women’s group, AWAR, the American Women’s Association in Rome. It was started in the 1955 by Claire Luce Booth, who was the American Ambassador to Italy. It’s part of an international network of organizations, the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas which is “an international network of 75 independent clubs with a combined membership of over 15,000 women in 39 countries worldwide. FAWCO serves as a support network for American women living and working abroad.”
Locally, AWAR sponsors luncheons, guest speakers, tours and a variety of small group networking activities like a writing workshop, wine tastings, cooking classes, language exchange, etc. I recently participated in a private tour that was organized by AWAR to visit the Quirinale Palace.
The Quirinale Palace sits on the tallest of Rome’s seven hills. It was built by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583 as a summer residence. In ancient Rome, the site was home to temples, baths and then the residences of Roman patricians. It was ideally situated far enough from the Tiber River to avoid the stench and high enough to provide some relief from the draining heat of summer.
Over the years the palace has been home to thirty popes, four kings and eleven presidents of the Italian Republic. The current president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, resides here. The palace is only open to the general public on Sundays, although special tours can be arranged during the week.
Naturally, only parts of the palace are open for public viewing. Like most things in Rome, it is opulent and grand. We visited the chapel where marriages have taken place, and the papal conclaves to elect a new pope were once held. There are amazing Gobelin tapestries which hang in the “winter apartment”, so called due to it’s south facing windows. We walked through halls that had been redecorated by Napoleon’s architects, though he himself never stayed in the palace. The more recently decorated rooms from the Savoy period are filled with mirrors and parquet floors.
We were able to view a special collection of china that is not open to the public and the gardens which offer magnificent views of the city and a lovely respite from the general chaos of the city.
Until next post…
(Don’t forget you can click on any photo and a slide show will open for better viewing.)