The ancient goddess of love, sex, and beauty is making an appearance at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love is a new exhibition examining one of the most popular ancient goddesses and her place in the Classical world. More than 150 ancient works of art are on display, including famous pieces such as the Knidia, a life-size sculpture of Aphrodite made by the 4th-century BC Greek artist, Praxiteles. Another interesting piece is the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, a reclining figure who from one side looks like a voluptuous woman, and from the other like a man.
The exhibition traces Aphrodite’s sexy origins in the Near East and the place of her cult in Greek and Roman society. Aphrodite was a Greek goddess who was adopted into the Roman pantheon as Venus. She was the symbol of romantic love and ideal beauty. She also oversaw marriage, an odd choice since many of the myths surrounding her involve her cheating on her husband, the blacksmith god Hephaistos (Vulcan). Men worshiped her because she aroused male virility.
Being in charge of such important aspects of life made Aphrodite extremely popular. She was the patron goddess of Pompeii. Interestingly, Ramsay MacMullen in his Paganism in the Roman Empire points out that altars in private homes in Pompeii were more often dedicated to Foruna, Vesta, and Bacchus than Aphrodite. Perhaps because love received so much public worship, people felt they needed to give good luck, the home, and drinking some attention. They can be related, after all!
McMullen’s book (which I highly recommend) also touches on various ways the Romans worshipped Venus, including picnicking in the orchards around her sanctuary in Cnidus, and wild processions where a woman playing Venus led a string of dancing children playing Cupid. She and the other deities were very much part of daily life.
The exhibition also looks at related figures of Classical mythology, such as Aphrodite’s sons Eros (Cupid), the well-endowed Priapus, and Hermaphrodite.
If you want to meet this lovely lady and her interesting offspring, you better hurry. Aphrodite and the Gods of Love is only on until February 20, 2012.
Some say that romance is a lost art – but it’s not. It’s just hiding, waiting to be uncovered in some of the most beautiful places around the globe. Whether you are trying to show that special someone that they trulyare special, making a proposal, or rekindling the flame you once had with your spouse, setting the stage is your first step to success. Whether you are searching for the perfect romantic spot close to home or halfway around the world, the following 17 destinations are sure to bring out the romantic in each of us.
Who could leave Paris off a list of romantic places? You simply can’t. Montmartre is the most romantic neighborhood in “the most romantic city in the world.” Begin your tour of this hilly district with a ride up the Montmartre funicular as it glides along on its heavenly ascent to the Basilica of Sacre-Cœur at the summit of the highest point in the city. From here a dazzling view of Paris unfolds before you. Amble slowly,hand in hand, and wind your way along romantic back alleys and cobblestone streets, taking in the magic of the artist’s corner of Place du Tertre, descending the stairs of Rue Foyatier. and concluding at 15 rue Lepic where Amelie Poulain immortalized romantic conjuring at Cafe des Deux Moulin.Rome, Italy
With more than 280 resplendent fountains, a “Rome-antic” tour of this city must undoubtedly center on a day of gastronomy. Enjoy a cafe latte near the Fountain of Triton followed by a tour of Palazzo Barberini. View the Barcaccia Fountain and make your way up (and down) the Spanish Steps for fantastic vistas of Rome and savour a calzone from an authentic Roman trattoria.
At Piazza Navona, view the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Fountain of the Moor followed by an alfresco dinner and soak up the sights and smells. A bewitching time to enjoy the Trevi Fountain is late at night when mystical illumination cast spells and shadows. Before the effects of a day filled with romance takes over drop in to Il Gelato di San Crispino, reported to be the best in Rome.
In E.M Forster’s novel “A Room with a View,” Lucy Honeychurch found romance (and the view) in the orange and rose-scented hills of Fiesole overlooking Florence. Grab a table and soak up local flavor as art and culture surrounds you. Book your own room with a view at Hotel degli Orafi.
Place the sights of London at you feet aboard the London Eye, the largest ferris wheel in Europe rising 443 majestic feet above regal London. Pop the question in a private capsule kitted out with a bottle of Pommery champagne and decadent truffles. The 30 minute rotation of the capsule allows plenty of time to overcome any objections.
San Francisco, California
The “City by the Bay” is as photogenic as Grace Kelly. There’s something almost transcendental about Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, Coit Tower, Alamo Square, and Lombard Street that naturally stirs up salacious appetite. We’ve been smitten for years and the affair hasn’t seemed to ebb. The bar on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel offers stunning, 360-degree panoramic views.
A gondola ride in Venice has a heavenly price tag, but is a memory to last forever. There is simply nothing quite as romantic as settling into a red velvet-cushioned gondola as your gondolier paddles slowly through quiet canals and under historic bridges as you drift back into the 16th and 17th centuries. A bottle of Valpolicellabeforehand at the Piazza San Marco and your gondolier could sound like Pavarotti.
Once considered the Paris of Central Europe, Budapest offers a heady blend of Eastern and Western European culture. Stroll over the Danube at Chain Bridge and take the funicular up to the Gothic Quarter with resplendent views over the city. Revel in centuries-old architecture and reasonably priced, hearty food and wine. Budapest is the only large city in the world with 118 natural thermal springs supplying nearly 20 million gallons of healing water every day. One of the most impressive is Gellert Spa.
Think Venice without the crowds. Medieval Bruges abounds with Gothic churches, 17th-century mansions, sparkling canals and flower markets. Most other European cities you’re looked at with disdain for eating on the street. Bruges responds with pedestrian-friendly pommes frites (fries in the US), stuffed into a paper cone, dusted with salt and slathered with mayonnaise. Go to the Louvre for art. Go to Bruges for chocolate. Consider the possibilities at the town’s official website.
San Diego, California
Can’t splurge on a romantic weekend in Paris? Budget-conscious Americans can retreat to a “staycation” in La Jolla, an affluent suburb of San Diego. San Diego can be your affordable base to tour this romantic getaway blessed with 366 days of warm sunshine, trendy boutiques, swanky restaurants and an active arts and cultural community. Toss in a few sumptous stretches of beach, ranging from quiet coves to heady surf, and you have a place that most closely resembles the French or Italian Riviera. Accommodation ranges from a Best Western to the opulent La Valencia, known as La Vie. La Dolce Vita, stateside.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The South American capital of Buenos Aires breathes sensuality. Voyeuristic spectators can observe on city streets as couples maneuver between emotions of love and hate, contempt and passion, repulsion and desire, all within a 3 minute dance known as tango. Ditch the marriage counselor back home and take lessons at La Catedral in the microcentro.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia Nestled amongst the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia in the South Pacific, Bora Bora is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Many have heard of it, but few have actually experienced its beauty. The island itself is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef and is home to an extinct volcano. The lagoon holds some of the most truly breathtaking water you will ever see.
With average water temperatures in the 80’s year around, there is never a lack of water activities available for couples to partake in. For the more adventurous at heart, take a trip inland to the massive peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Bora Bora may take a little longer to get to, but if you are looking for a not so well trodden path to romance, then it is well worth the trip.
San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan is the second oldest European-settled city in the Americas, giving it a rich cultural and archaeological history. With average daily temperatures in the 80’s all year around, the weather is perfect for strolling downtown along the old streets that are covered in cobblestones or lounging on the white sandy beach with the ocean breeze blowing by.
San Juan has somehow managed to blend a modern metropolitan city with the antiquities of the past in a way that offers something for everyone. The pace is slow in keeping with its Latin roots, but vibrant nonetheless. The island of Puerto Rico is only 100 miles wide and 40 miles across making day trips to the tropical rainforests that cover the interior or the less crowded beaches of Ponce an easy drive. Beautiful beaches, stunning history and warm tropical nights filled with the sounds of Latin music – a definite recipe for romance.
Savannah, Georgia Savannah is for the hopeless romantic. Take a step back in time to an era where romance was still alive and well. Savannah sits along the Savannah River and is only about 20 minutes from the Atlantic. Some of America’s most treasured eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture can be found in Savannah’s large historic districts.
With warm summers and cool winters, the weather in Savannah is usually agreeable. It’s almost impossible to walk down the streets of old Savannah and not envision ladies in antebellum gowns riding alongside their beau in a horse-drawn carriage. If old fashioned romance is what you are looking for, then Savannah is your city.
Bali, Indonesia The island paradise of Bali covers about 2,000 square miles and is located at the westernmost tip of the Lesser Sunda Islands. With a history that dates back to at least 2000 B.C., the Balinese people are an interesting mix of Chinese, Arab and Indian. While you can find modern conveniences on Bali, you may also encounter pockets of native people that are forbidden to have contact with outsiders. If seclusion and privacy are your ingredients for romance, then Bali is the spot for you.
With temperatures in the 80’s year around, you will definitely want to find your own slice of beach paradise while you are there. Bali has gorgeous white sand over much of its beaches, but if you want to see something unusual, check out the black sand found on the west coast. Bali is one of the few places left where you can still find a secluded little cove along the beach to make your own little romantic hideaway for the day.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Puerto Vallarta can be found along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, in some of the most crystal clear water on the planet. The city itself somehow manages to blend modern restaurants and shops with centuries old architecture and culture. With perfect weather year around and breathtaking sunsets daily, you are bound to feel romance in the air here.
While you will find American tourists in Puerto Vallarta, you will find a more sophisticated class of tourists – this is not Cancun’s party central. Just a short drive to the north or south and you will find lovely little towns for shopping or more private walks along the beach. Mayan ruins and tropical rainforest canopy trips are also perfect day trips from Puerto Vallarta. Grab a margarita, pull up a rock and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
New Orleans, Louisiana The Big Easy. If you like music, culture or people then this is the romantic city for you. The French Quarter in New Orleans is a world unto itself. Definitely skip Mardi Gras, but any other time of the year it feels as though you have been transported to another time and place where music and love are perpetually in the air. The people (or more appropriately – characters) that you will encounter in the French Quarter just seem to exude fun, happiness and romance. If you want to spend some time alone, follow the ocean along Interstate 10 for a day trip and soak up some of the most beautiful scenery the south has to offer. If you aren’t in love when you get to New Orleans, you will be when you leave.
Santorini, Greek Islands Imagine watching a breathtaking sunset from your Santorini villa perched on the side of a volcano overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s like being inside a Hallmark card. The views are like nothing found elsewhere on the planet. Black sand beaches cover most of the island but a gorgeous and unique red sand beach can also be found on Santorini. If you are feeling adventurous, there a number of islands close by, all within an easy day trip and just waiting to be explored. Romance seems to be carried on the wind in the Mediterranean and Santorini is a perfect example