One of the first things you learn in Rome, especially arriving in August, is that when you make plans, you should always include an alternative plan B and plan C. Opening and closing hours vary immensely depending on where you are in the city, what day it is, what month it is, if renovation is going on, what happens in the place, and sometimes it seems like it just depends on whether they want to be open or not. However, what also happens very frequently is that you find yourself being pulled away from your route as you discover something new and unexpected. So, good planning in Rome should be able to accommodate unexpected detours and you should be able to improvise.
One of the many events I haphazardly witnessed here was the changing of the guards at the Palazzo del Quirinale. Since 1947, it has served as the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. It had served as a papal residence for more almost three centuries when, in 1871, it became the residence of the Kings of Italy. Italian guards, impeccably dressed in traditional Italian uniforms, heavily defend the palazzo. The Palazzo sits atop the highest of the Seven Hills of Rome and has a beautiful grand entrance way. The piazza in front of the Palazzo del Quirinale offers a great view towards St. Peter’s Basilica.
The changing of the guards, which happens daily at 18:00, is a rather lengthy show. You see different ranks and regiments of soldiers marching; a military band plays during the march and during the switching of the guards. The highlight of this event is when the two guards that flank the entryway into the palazzo are switched for two new guards. The new pair of guards assume the next shift until a new changing of the guards takes place. From some positions, the public can get very close to the soldiers. Most of them kept a straight and focused face as they marched not even ten feet away from me.
My group’s first studio assignment partially deals with the avenue that brings you to the Presidential Palace, and it had not even been more than 5 hours since we had met with our professors in front of the Palazzo del Quirinale for our first ‘desk crit.’