We finally made it to Washington, D.C. We stopped on the way to visit my cousins, Rose and Walter in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was the first time we'd seen them since our return to the states and we had so much to talk about! Rose is actually my mother's first cousin and she faithfully corresponded with me during our two-years in Italy. After sharing coffee and conversation with them, we headed on to find the park and ride, where we left our car and boarded a train to take us into the center of the capitol.
Our goal was to visit the National Gallery of Art http://www.nga.gov/ and anything else we could fit in a day! We ended up with time to also check out the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History http://www.mnh.si.edu/ have a walk on the mall and dinner in a local restaurant away from the heavy tourist areas. We were back on the train by 7pm and home by 10. A long day, but fun and one we will do again. There are so many things we want to see there. One of the great things about our national museums, aside from the really wonderful collections, is that they are totally free, which is totally amazing!
The Capitol dome, over the tree tops
It was a lovely surprise to find a Perugino at the National Gallery (whose real name was Pietro Vannucci) the renaissance master from Perugia (where we lived for eight months in Italy in 2005)
The Iceman from Bolzano was an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. We had seen the real thing at the South Tyrol Museum in Bolzano (see www.iceman.it) and met a man named Flavio Fossato in Verona - a friend of our friend Giorgio - who made all the replicas of the ancient weapons and tools on display there. Here's a link to our blog page and photos of Flavio and his tools: http://livecheapmakeart.blogspot.com/search?q=Iceman+of+Bolzano
The Old Post Office Building in D.C. was built in 1899 and is home to the Bells of Congress, replicas of the bells in London's Westminster Abbey, a gift from England in 1976. Apparently no one liked it after it was built and the only thing that saved it from the wrecking ball was the depression! In the 1970s Congress finally appropriated the money but local citizens worked hard to convince them to reverse their decision. It was unfortunately too late in the day for us to go up to the observation deck for what is supposed to be one of the most spectacular views of Washington D.C. Maybe next time.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum complex and research organization, according to its website (http://www.si.edu/). The Smithsonion's first building, known as the Castle was built in 1855 of red sandstone from Seneca Creek, Maryland in the Norman style.