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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Mario Praz Museum Rome

What a wonderful place. There aren't very many house museums in Rome but if you like small personal collections that reflect the passion of a single curator The Mario Praz Museum is a place for you, what a gem! The museum isn't well know, but it's easy to find and it's not far from Piazza Navona. It's a great place for anyone with an interest in interiors, neoclassical style or house museums. I love small, quirky museums, places like the Soane Museum in London, or the Nissim Camodo and the Jaquemart Andre in Paris.  So for me, the Mario Praz Museum is a "don't miss".
I arrived in the middle of the afternoon and was able to join two other women (a Roman and her friend visiting from Turkey) for a free guided tour. It was fascinating   and  was a highlight of this trip to Rome.
Mario Praz was a scholar of English literature, an Anglophile and the author of various books on decor, design and aesthetics. He was a voracious collector interested in everything from neoclassical furniture to fans, Dutch dioramas, Russian marbles and even wax miniatures. The apartment reflects his eclectic taste and his desire to reproduce the aesthetic of a prior age. He deliberately sought to recreate the sensibility found in the painting above which is reflected in the first room of his apartment, see below. 
Throughout his home you see objects in a painting which have been carefully reassembled in the room itself. There is a constant play of references throughout. For example, in one room a portrait of a woman and harp is complemented with a harp. In the dining room, a picture of an early female balloonist is playfully echoed in a balloon above the chandelier.
Everything is carefully curated and nothing has been left to chance. The entire museum is an aesthetic reflection of Praz's life, his passion for the past and his engagement with the objects he collected. The art works crowd every surface and there is something more to admire around every corner.
The study, which is painted  in green above, has a particularly British character. As the guide remarked, the whole place has a very northern European feel for a home in Rome. There is a lot to look at everywhere and almost every corner or wall is covered in objet d'art.
The rooms in the apartment  open onto each other, forming a circle. This is the dining room.
There are two bedrooms, including one dedicated to his daughter, below. Another is decorated with exquisite French Empire furniture. 
The entire place is  a curiosity cabinet within a curiosity cabinet. It reflects a respect for a nineteenth century quest for knowledge by a twentieth century collector. To a modern twenty first century  eye bred on specialization, it is hard to fathom such an eclectic intellect.
Highly recommended to those who share an interest in design, interiors and eccentric personal collections.
Note: The museum is closed on Mondays, and they are open  9:00-14:00 and 14:30 -19:30. Check their website, or call to see if there are any updates to the opening times.