Today in Southern California it is warm and sunny–a perfect day to drive out to the Getty Villa in a canyon facing the Pacific in Malibu. The Villa is a re-creation of a now-lost villa on the coast of Italy south of Rome. If you were a rich Roman senator in 85 A.D. your beach house would look like this one.
In front of the villa/museum is a classic Mediterranean garden, called a peristyle, enclosed by walls with a few palms and shrubs growing neatly along the walkways. Not one inch of lawn in sight! Grass was for cattle back in those days, not for front yards.
At the center of the peristyle is a long, shallow reflecting pool with sculpture here and there. Surrounding it is a colonade which offers shelter from the hot Mediterranean–or in this case, California–sunlight.
There are three additional gardens and a sizeable collection of ancient Roman and Greek art, most of which I cannot show you.
No photography is allowed of the art inside the museum. How Getty acquired some pieces is under dispute and Italy and Greece have asked to have some art returned.
What isn’t in dispute is that having a leisurely lunch and a glass or two of wine in the warm California sunshine while looking out over the peristyle at the blue Pacific is heaven on earth! Getty was reputedly the richest man on the planet and he certainly picked one of the best places in Malibu for his villa. A visit to this place–even if you have no interest in the art–allows one to experience the life of the super-rich for a few hours.
Here are some other photos of this extraordinary place.