It was a family affair, too: son, daughter (in-law), wife and me. We were all filled with glee; there were the most incredible things to see – and it was all free. Thanks to a man named Getty; who had this vision to re-create a 1st Century Roman country house named “the Villa dei Papiri.”
For a month or so, I have been suggesting, requesting, urging and encouraging one and all to experience some new experiences. To break from the every weekend, weekend of habit that we sometime hold near and dear; and the reasons why we do so can be many things – I pass no judgment here.
And so, in the spirit of that famous saying, “….practice what you preach,” my past weekend was full of wisdoms beyond speech. I got out there. Went there; walked the halls of this wondrous Villa filled to the brink with art from the past; and it was such a blast.
Hallways and side rooms were lined with sculptures emblazoned with the images of people who lived the good life in ancient Greece and Rome in the years dating from 560 BC to 100 AD. Pottery old and bold; painted with scenes of glory in fine detail and colors rich and pleasing to the eye. Exquisite gem rings; gold bracelets, gold and gemstone necklaces so beautifully designed that they could grace the most stylish ladies of today, and none would be wiser. Mr. Getty’s Villa dei Papiri featured several rare gardens planted with spices, flowers and fruit readily familiar to the Romans of 250 BC. We strolled on a walkway circling a courtyard with beautifully hand painted walls and ceilings in colors rich in tones and realism. Corinth pillars sculpted with designs of flowers supported the ceiling structure. Priceless mosaics were handmade with pieces slightly larger that the head of a ball point pen. Master craft men were at work back then.
We laid eyes upon the silver shield of Hannibal – yes, that “Hannibal.” There were displays of silver platters, cups; gods carved from silver and gold, silverware rare; “offering bowls” of gold made us stare. Villa dei Papiri displayed its many fountains and its 150- pool – it was really gorgeous; so very cool
So where is this treasure trove to which we drove? It’s known the world over for the stars that live on its shore; where the sport of choice is to “catch a wave,” and the evening brings beautiful sunsets of fiery red haze. Its soft sandy beach played host to a “bevy of beauties” in a make-believe TV show that many us came to know: “Bay Watch” – filmed in Malibu – the city at the edge of America on the Pacific Ocean so blue.
But we weren’t through for the day.
We headed back south along the Pacific Coast Highway to the 106-year old world famous Santa Monica Pier. It was time for a late, late lunch and a pitcher of beer. It was jammed packed with faces of all races; people in all sizes, shapes and state of dress – it was a damned wonderful scene, I must confess.
There were street singers and performers, show men showing off; fishermen mingled, beach bums lingered, babies wailing and caterwauling – folks talking in so many languages it was like a babbling horde; but picture-taking was the common thread bringing smiles wide and wonderful to those talking heads. There were handbag dogs in purses large; vendors hawking caps, straw hats, this, that and the other; artists luring some to take a seat and let them draw our face with charcoal on a canvas – it was pretty neat. T-shirt booths silently shouted over the din: get your Santa Monica Pier hoodies and sweat shirts in all the colors of the rainbow right here – urging you to drop a bundle of cash for that souvenir.
Some folk were riding the Ferris Wheel; more were learning how to be Trapeze Artists for the fun of it. Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Know (no such person, made it up, but he was there in many versions) and the cousins were tired and were sitting on benches soaking up the sun covered in sun lotion; watching the kiddies splash in the frothy ocean – and young adults frolicked in bikinis and shorts strutting their hormones causing much commotion. The restaurants were packed to the gills; folks eating their fill – music blaring loud making it hard for anybody to sit still.
Too soon it was time to take the long walk to the car for the long ride home. What a day, what a day! But I wouldn’t have traded it for anything – no way! It had been nearly a decade since my last trip to Santa Monica; and had driven the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu. I had never been to the J. Paul Getty’s Villa dei Papiri museum; that experience was new through and through. By the way, they offer tours in nine languages and I think I heard at least six of them spoken last weekend.
So there you have it: my break from my ordinary weekend was worth every moment of the 300-plus mile journey. I was awe-struck with wonder at the antiquities of old; gained some wisdom from the story they told. And I promise you this: as soon as I am able, I will embark upon another weekend soaking up life’s people, places and fables; and come that Monday – I will sigh, smile and remember, that the world rocked my world with a weekend of memories filled with splendor.
“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow”
——Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist, 1749 – 1832
Copyright (c) 2015. Roads, Paths & Trails. “Weekends, Wonders & Wisdoms” – #5. All Rights Reserved.