ROME and the Barbarians – Palazzo Grassi Exhibition

Got back from a rather anticipated exhibition of the century in Venezia and here are some impressions for all of you who still haven’t seen it or plan to visit it any time soon (there’s still 1 month left until the exhibition closes).

Practical tips for Venice newbies:

– do NOT drink coffee in Piazza San Marco or its vicinity unless willing to pay approx.10€. Honestly, once you cross over Canal Grande into the heart of the city most of the prices go up as to 50%

– take your time around the centre when searching for a lunch spot because there are numerous of mini squares with good-and-not-so-pricey restaurants and pasticceria’s

– have you ever been to Rome? If not then know this – almost every cultural/historical monument/building/site has an entry fee, so make sure you have deep pockets, especially patience because people queue in kilometers to visit places such as the interior of Basilica San Marco

– if arriving by bus, your driver’s probably going to dump you at Tronchetto parking spot, don’t be lazy and immediately go for a vaporetto – it’s only 20 minutes walk to the centre and you won’t regret it (no chance for getting lost ‘cos of the large and visible street name signs and directions towards desired locations)

The exhibition

– Info about opening hours and ticket prices can be found here

– be prepared for crowded rooms with exhibits and definitely make sure you arrive to the Palazzo as early as possible, most of your valuable time will be spent on waiting for a clear spot in front of any exhibit

– first step in the Palazzo should definitely be a bookstore on the ground floor and the CATALOGUE (fairly cheap for its size and contents, 48€) and this for a very simple reason – catalogues are available in 3 languages only (Italian, French and English), of which the English version gets sold out on a daily basis and there are no stashes waiting only for you somewhere in a storage room (this especially goes for you 1-day visitors where you have no chance to visit again tomorrow and check for re-filled bookshelves). The rest of the souvenirs connected with the Roma e i barbari exhibition are just, plainly said, BAD

– the purpose of my visit to the exhibition were specific finds from specific sites made by specific Germanic tribes – having said that, my purpose was fulfilled and I was very satisfied by the fact that I managed to see LIVE in one place all of the archeomaterial of my interest without having to travel all around the Europe. On the other hand, even as an educated professional in the field I wasn’t satisfied with how the exhibition and artifacts themselves were handled and presented. I’ve observed that many of the visitors had the same problem, especially those who actually came to see and learn something new. If you fit in this category you may find it hard with certain exhibits to even grasp what you are looking at and why is it important. Namely, if you stand in front of a few meters long showcase with artifacts from several different countries and sites, dating from different periods, you might have a problem with tags – artifacts presented have no corresponding numbers to be related to when looking at description tags and you end up pretty confused.

– if you read the pompous introduction about finds to be seen at the exhibition on the Palazzo’s website, you might end up disappointed like me, for example – the magnificent Sutton Hoo was represented with only 3 silver bowls that I almost skipped amidst the overcrowded rooms. Same goes for the finds from Childeric and Arnegunda’s graves. Other finds were thematically somehow mixed (Scandinavian for example), but all in all, you don’t want to miss this one, if nothing, then because of an enormous quantity of finds gathered all in one place, of which some never left their homelands and the question is if they ever again will.

– Thumbs up for Germanic princely graves!!!