Home Maidenhead Exchange Visits Maidenhead Visit to Frascati 2016



26th - 30th September 2016

Eleven ladies from Maidenhead Women’s Group for European Friendship set off on Monday 26 September for a visit to our sister group in Frascati (the CFAE).  On arrival at Fiumicino airport we were warmly greeted by Rita Greco with a minibus to drive us to Frascati. There friends old and new met us and we were taken off by our hosts to settle in and have a light lunch. In the evening a welcome supper was provided at “La Locanda dei Ciocca” restaurant where we ate a buffet meal in elegant surroundings and official welcome speeches were made.

Tuesday morning saw us setting off by car for Ariccia and a visit to the Palazzo Chigi designed by Bernini at the request of Pope Alexander VII in the Roman Baroque style. We marvelled at the leather wall hangings with their beautiful decoration among other treasures. Lunch was eaten locally and several of us were then driven back to Frascati via the lake overlooked by the Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s summer residence). Later that afternoon our Group presented our new topic “The Islands of Great Britain” to members of the Frascati Circle at the Town Hall in Italian. It was well received by an attentive audience. In the evening we went to various dinner parties hosted by our Italian friends.

On Wednesday we left bright and early for Tivoli, where we had the privilege of a guided visit to the Villa d’Este and gardens. All the fountains were operating in the garden creating a truly amazing spectacle including the playing of the Organ Fountain at 12.30 pm. The villa, built by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia and The Duke Alfonso I d’Este, was decorated by the stars of the late Roman Mannerism but now belongs to the Italian State. The garden meanwhile is an imposing construction of terraces above terraces with an aqueduct tunnelling beneath the town reminiscent of the engineering skill of the Roman era. Our visit was followed by a long leisurely lunch in a rural setting. Most of us were invited out again in the evening by members of the Frascati circle.

After a light breakfast on Thursday (nobody was hungry after all!) we met in Rome for a guided tour in the Palazzo Massimo. This is a relatively new museum and we concentrated on the second floor where we had the benefit of a very knowledgeable archaeologist guide to show us the frescoes, stuccos and mosaics which illustrate the decorations of prestigious Roman residences. A striking display recomposes the rooms of the Villa Livia and the Villa della Farnesina in their original dimensions. The colours and designs were truly splendid. We had lunch at nearby Eataly where some of our hosts amused themselves by spotting a politician or two and then went “home” for a quiet hour before getting ready for the Gala Farewell Dinner at Il Babbuino in the Park Hotel. Once again we were in elegant surroundings and there was much laughter, taking of photos and farewell speeches of thanks and appreciation.

We left after breakfast on Friday morning in glorious sunshine (we had been so lucky with the weather) and warm words of friendship ringing in our ears. Some of us had had the privilege of being in Frascati before but for a few it was their first visit. All were agreed however that it had been a splendid four days. The visit had allowed us to extend and to cement friendships with our European partner organisation on an individual basis. This now seems more important than ever.

Mary Stock

October 2016


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