Up until today, Rome could proudly brag about La Settimana della Cultura, a week that (somewhat) spontaneously appears in the Spring, where Comune and National museums are free to the public. As one of my favorite weeks in Rome, La Settimana della Cultura always inspires me to see lesser known collections, encouraging visits to nooks and crannies all over the city to simply take advantage of Rome. I've always told Paulina, my Parisian friend, to visit during this week, because its the one defining period when Rome has true bragging rights over Paris.
Paris may have delicious croissants, eclairs and cheeses, amazing lingerie shops, and beautifully pedicured greenery, but its museums are overpriced. During cultural week, Rome's combination of amatriciana, dolce vita and free museums beats Paris's je ne sais quoi by a ten fold, I would say.
And now, President Sarkozy is about to tear my soap box down. He has proposed a six-month free period for state museums starting January 1, 2008. I know, I know, this doesn't include the many private museums, but apparently it has inspired many of them to open their doors for one free night a week. I wonder if this national mandate will also include Rome's Villa Medici and Palazzo Farnese?
I do not keep tabs on a Paris versus Rome bout. And in match up, I will always place my bets on Rome. I have refrained from deconstructing the Italian cornetto in regard to the French croissant, likewise the cappuccino to the cafe au lait. I've never compared Notte Bianca with Nuit Blanche. Nor pondered the reason Paris (capital city) is the pit stop for every band's World Tour, where as Rome (capital city) is not. But the summer's inauguration of VeloParis, the inexpensive and almost always available bicycle venture that Paris installed through out the entire city, I am having a hard time stopping myself from comparing the two cities. The line has been drawn in the sand: Paris is finally encouraging its tourists and residents to truly enjoy and appreciate the city for more than just one week. Now what is Rome going to do?