3 Things I Learned on a Recent Weekend Adventure (Free Museum First Sundays For-EVAH)

We had a delightful Sunday adventure recently.  Like shockingly enjoyable.  With almost little to no planning.  I know.  I’m as incredulous as you.

It all started after waking up Sunday morning following a busy Saturday.  We hadn’t been out of town (or even out ON the town) in a bit.  I knew I wanted to do something.

Then I remembered that it was the first Sunday of the month.  This means free public museums in Rome.

At first, I poo pooed free museum Sunday.  I was all, NO, it’s not worth the few euro saved to deal with these crowds and hassle.  NO THANK YOU PLEASE.

But a wise friend pointed out that this applies to much more than the Vatican Museum and the Forum and Villa Borghese.  (Borghese is free, but you have to call in advance for tix.)  You can pick a rando sight.  Chances are it won’t be that busy.

And, of course, she was totally right.  Because the adorable weirdos are particularly bad at museums, I am all for taking advantage of free.  We have to leave early because of a meltdown?  No sweat!  I didn’t pay for this shizz!  Muhahaha.  Jokes on you, Rome.  And all fellow museum patrons who had to deal with said meltdown.  Evil villain cackling aside, I really am sorry you had to witness that.  I promise it won’t happen again.  (It will TOTALLY happen again.)

Mac and I went to the internet to pick a place to torment.  You know what I found?

1) Public museums in ALL OF ITALY are free on the first Sunday

What what!  I scanned the full list and decided to shoot for Palazzo Farnese in Viterbo.  We still haven’t made it to Viterbo.  High time to cross it off the list, I thought.

(Turns out we went to the Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola.  This one is possibly better known as Villa Farnese.  There are a lot of Farnese-named stuffs round these parts.  Next time, Viterbo.)

After we all got up and ready, we headed out.  Not our usual try to hit the ground running exit time.  But it worked.

After about an hour, we posted up in the (appeared to be) free parking garage in Caprarola.  Our destination was not hard to spot.  The palazzo overlooks the whole town.

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We huffed up the hill and all of the stairs into the palace where they confirmed that it was totally completely free.  I didn’t even look to see how much it normally costs, but I’d like to pretend we saved about 200 euro.  That’s probably accurate.

Stroller aside:  this place was a littler stroller cynical.  Lots of stairs up into it.  Stairs to the second level.  And you exit at a different spot at the entrance, which we learned AFTER we decided to leave our strollers before hitting the upstairs.  Consider yourself warned.

We toodled our way through the three rooms on the ground floor and the spaces upstairs, and, again, I was amazed at how well the day was going.  Like don’t-even-dare-comment-on-it going well.  Yeah, Mac was kicking his soccer marble across the floors.  Yeah, we didn’t read all the plaques.  Yeah, the boys played with stray dogs for 20 minutes before we even got inside.  But it went just fine.

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James particularly enjoyed the maps

James particularly enjoyed the maps

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View from the top

View from the top

After exiting by the secret garden, we set off in search of lunch.  We decided to hit Bella Gioia, something we spotted on our trek up.  The restaurant was mostly empty.  I figured maybe we could get in and out offending a limited number of fellow dining patrons.

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Joke was on us because the restaurant filled right up.  Service was also a little slow, which was understandable because I think only one waitress was running the whole dining room.   But, again, things went pretty OK.  Maybe it was the kids’ excitement about pasta.  Maybe (probably) it was my decision not to care if they ate everything in the snack bag.  It was all around a pretty enjoyable meal.  Which brings me to my next bit o’ knowledge.

If the restaurant has a dish named after the restaurant, order THAT

This is something I strongly suspected for quite sometime, but the rule became cemented into place after experiencing the Bella Gioia pasta.  Homemade sauce over fresh noodles.  Bellissima!

I also remembered:

House wine tastes better with food

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I leave Italy and wine is expensive again.  10 dollars for a glass??? I can get a whole bottle (of excellent wine) for less than that!

Of course, the wine is of variable quality.  When you order a house wine, you never really know what you are going to get.  It’s like the Forrest Gump dilemma of Italy.

This was no exception.  After a few tentative sips, I deemed the wine “definitely OK.”  But when the food came!  Well, YES, please.  It became the perfect dining accompaniment.

And so, with full tummies, we departed Caprarola.  But did we stop the adventuring there?  NOPE.  Because nap time was already shot, we decided to press on to Nepi because we had seen signs for a Christmas market.

Mac napped a little in the car on the way and while Henry and I played at a playground.  Then we hit the market.  It was small, but cute.

The walls of Nepi

The walls of Nepi

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Yes, that is a machine gun balloon.  Say hello to my little friend's little friend.

Yes, that is a machine gun balloon. Say hello to my little friend’s little friend.

An excellent 5 euro market find.  And I kinda sorta bargained.  In Italian!

An excellent 5 euro market find. And I kinda sorta bargained. In Italian!

Yes, we will have plenty of future adventuring hiccups.  No, everything will not go perfectly every time.

But this was a fun day, and it gives me great hope for the future.  And come the next first Sunday, you’ll know where to find me.



One thought on “3 Things I Learned on a Recent Weekend Adventure (Free Museum First Sundays For-EVAH)

  1. DreamDiscoverItalia.com says:

    Wow, what a trip! Sounds like it was really good fun and I’m so glad you gave the free museums on Sunday thing a go – its a fantastic initiative and a great way to enjoy Italy’s wonderful art and cultural heritage! Happy travels!!

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