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Getty Villa

Getty Villa, Malibu, California

getaway-chicago logo A tad more than 150 miles away, but not if you leave from downtown Los Angeles and zoom up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. In L.A. with a day to kill and a rental car to use? Go north to The Getty Villa, one heck of an eye full and unlike anything you'll see within 150 miles of Chicago. In fact, with the possible exception of the ancient art and artifacts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, it's unlike anything you'll see in the U.S.

getty1Recently reopened after extensive renovation, enlargement and rethinking, the Getty is a recreation of the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, the other city (in addition to Pompeii) destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The residence of Lusius Piso (big Julie's father-in-law), the Villa of Papyruses remained buried until German archaeologist Karl Weber excavated it in 1765.

To house a growing J. Paul Getty collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, 18th century furniture and Old Master paintings previously installed in Getty's seldom used, large ranchero residence (still present), a controversial adaptation of the original Villa opened in 1974. It was too Hollywood! Hollywood or not the Malibu Villa served its purpose well until the spectacular Richard Meier Getty Museum Campus in Brentwood opened in 1997. The Villa closed in the same year for a major facelift.

Not museum neophytes, Neil and Holly were pleasantly "blown away" by what they saw, a vast array of exquisite Greek, Etruscan and Roman art and artifacts gathered from across the ancient world and on display in a recreated period setting once-but no longer-ridiculed for being too "Hollywood.” In addition to the many and varied items displayed, Neil was particularly interested in the silver and bronze vessels, while Holly's favorite in the same genre were the numerous ceramic amphora and kraters. getty2Both were keenly interested in a temporary exhibition illustrating the various design ideas for and stages of the renovation between '97 and '05.

Getaway Guy Barney (are you kidding? buy a ticket to L.A.) didn't make the trip. Getaway Cogbill and Getaway moll Holly Clayson made it a combo businees-leisure jaunt soon after the grand reopening. Both were eager to see what $275 million could do; Holly especially. She worked at the '74 Villa while a graduate student at UCLA. The Getty Villa is free of charge Thursday through Monday, 10 am to 5 pm ($7.00 to park), but reservations are a must ( or 310-440-7300). A limited number of visitors are allowed per day, making the experience more relaxed. With year around indoor and outdoor (it's California) seating, casual and delicious Mediterranean dishes are offered at the Cafe at very reasonable prices. The Museum Store is large and filled with thematic goods, some of which Neil thought beneath Getty standards.

Highly skeptical, Alan thought The Getty Villa might be far fetched for a Getaway report. Neil thought "yeah if you ride your bike,” but not if the Getaway reader is in L.A. for other reasons. So The Getaway Guys finally agreed to let their readers decide. Yes or No? Too far or okay? February 2007


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