During these past eight years that we have been married, Tony and I have occasionally reflected on the difficulties of having an anniversary two days after Christmas. In fact, getting married on December 27th was inconvenient from the start. On the Christmas day before our wedding, we had to drive to the regional FedEx office to pick up several dozen black roses, which had been misdirected in the Christmas rush.
Since then, we’ve encountered various obstacles to celebrating our anniversary. First of all, after planning and executing Christmas, we’re always a little burnt out. It’s extra work (of which Tony always does the lion’s share) to plan a special event for the two of us. And it’s a little weird in the midst of Christmas family time for us to rush off by ourselves. Not to mention the fact that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of the very worst times to book accommodations anywhere.
Still, we persevere. And since we’ve officially decided that the honeymoon stage will never be over in our marriage, that’s what we call our anniversary. This year, although it was our eighth anniversary, we took our ninth honeymoon (sort of like the Chinese, who count the time in the womb as the first year of life). Tony had the lovely idea of going to the Getty Villa in Malibu. We’d already been to the Getty Center, a $1 billion art museum and architectural extravaganza built on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Endowed by an American oil magnate in the 1950’s, the Getty Foundation is dedicated to “the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge.” The Foundation has created two world-class (and free to the public!) venues for showcasing its large art collection. The Getty Center, mentioned above, houses a research institute and a huge collection of art, and is one of the most visited museums in the United States. The Villa is a smaller affair, but no less impressive in its way. Getty modeled his villa on an ancient villa excavated in Herculaneum, Italy, near Pompeii. The lovely pleasure garden in front contains over a dozen replica statues like this one:
The workmanship on the villa is impressive, with classical pillars, intricate woodwork, and inlaid stonework, all arranged in lusciously harmonious taste.
I particularly liked this dramatic mosaic fountain. You can’t tell from the picture (guess who had the camera, and used the villa mostly as a backdrop to a series of photos of me), but the mosaic even incorporates several rows of seashells.
O.K., here’s a closeup from Creative Commons. Yes, I threw a penny in the fountain. And no, I’m not going to tell you what I wished. At least not till it comes true.
The inside of the villa is even more impressive. It hosts a surprisingly rich collection of antiquities from Ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. This is the Hercules that inspired Getty to build an edifice worthy of housing his collection. Notice not only the statue, but also the dramatic surroundings.
My favorite place was the triclinium, which is a small room paneled floor to ceiling with marble. There was a plaque on the wall identifying the origins of each color of stone, which we remembered from our study of mosaics in Tunisia. The different colors of marble come from all over the Roman empire. The white, as always, is the famous carrara marble from Tuscany. And the bright yellow is from Tunisia.
It’s always funny when you’re on a date and suddenly look at each other and say, “too bad the children aren’t here.” The Getty Villa had an unusually good family room. Here I am “painting” an amphora with a dry-erase marker:
And here is Tony, starring in his own classical shadow play:
Next time you’re in L.A. (whether with the kids or not), I totally recommend a visit to the Getty Villa. It was a delightful stop on this year’s honeymoon.