This all sounds quite dry, unless you are an enthusiast of Greek pottery and old Roman busts, but believe me, it's a lovely experience. The grounds are shady and quiet, with gurgling fountains, the faint perfume of roses and the sun playing hopscotch on the mosaic floors. The collection itself is interesting enough and small enough not to become boring or overwhelming, but large and varied enough to keep your interest for an hour or two. The rest of the time you can spend wandering around the gardens, gazing at the ocean and having lunch at a cafe carved into the mountain, which makes you feel as if you are on the site of some extremely well preserved and beautiful Roman excavations.
We spent a couple of very peaceful hours ambling from one room to another, stopping to look at the pieces that happened to catch our eye, smelling one flower or another (ok, that was only me) and dipping our hands into the fountain. Then we stood on the terrace, away from the tourists, and let the ocean breeze cool us off (it was 90 degrees! Summer is officially here). It's a lovely legacy that the Getty family preserves for us, I must admit, and definitely one place I would love to take someone who thinks that LA is all glitz and glamor and Hollywood (*cough**New York people**cough*). Of course, one could argue that as a replica, the Getty Villa fits in with Hollywood perfectly. It's a paradox, but I think that we Angelinos wouldn't have it any other way.
I have to warn you, though -- you need tickets to get in. They are free, except for an $8 parking fee, but a ticket reservation is necessary at least a week in advance. When we drove in and presented our tickets, the security guard (who had the unmistakable whiff of an off-duty-cop) looked us over very doubtfully. "Just the two of you?" he asked, checking out our backseat, as if absolutely certain that we were smuggling some miscreants into the place. I said jokingly: "It's like Fort Knox in here!" He gave me a grim look that instantly silenced me. "I thought I heard something bumping in your trunk," he remarked accusingly. "Nothing but the two dead bodies," A. murmured, driving to the second check point.