When in Rome


Friday Morning we had an early start

And made our way, winding through the empty streets, to the Pantheon which was a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome

We basked in the emptiness of the usually crowded piazza and had delicious, smooth coffees

(im a machiato girl)

as we looked towards the pantheon and waited and watched as rome slowly woke up.

We then made our way to Piazza Novana, the pride of Baroque Roman architectural and art history. It’s sculptural and architectural creations include the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi; and the Pamphilj palace also by Rainaldi

We then cruised on through to Campo d’Fiori, which translated literally from Italian, means “field of flowers.” The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow. In Ancient Rome the area was unused space between Pompey’s Theatre and the flood-prone Tiber.

since 1869 there has been a flower, vegetable and fish market there every morning. The ancient fountain “la Terrina” (the “soupbowl”) that once watered cattle now keeps flowers fresh. Its inscription: FA DEL BEN E LASSA DIRE (“Do well and let them talk”) suits the gossipy nature of the marketplace. In the afternoons, local games of football give way to set-ups for outdoor cafés. At night, Campo dei Fiori is a popular meeting place for young people, both Italian and foreign.

Capital punishments used to be held publicly in Campo dei Fiori: in Vasi’s etching the tall permanent gibbet stands in the horse and cattle market.
Here, on 17 February 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive by the Roman Inquisition because his ideas (such as heliocentrism – the astronomical theory that the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun) were deemed dangerous and all of his work was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. In 1887 Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to him on the exact spot of his death: he stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of speech

We continued our meanderings

and crossed the Cisto Bridge, the only bridge that was built over the Tiber from the fall of the Roman Empire to the 19th century. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the architect, Baccio Pontelli, to build the new bridge, in 1475 authorizing him to remove the material needed from the Colosseum as the church commonly did. Cardinal Farnese (1534-49) once used 4000 men in a single day to pillage material. Cut stone from the Colosseum was used in St. Peters, the Lateran and Palazzo Venezia. Looting of the arena only stopped in the 18th century when the popes found it more profitable to turn the ruin into a ‘holy site’ .

We entered the Trastevere area and eventually found the “Basilica of Our Lady’s in Trastevere”, one of the oldest churches in Rome, perhaps the first in which mass was openly celebrated as its foundations as a Christian house-church were laid in 220

The Avila Chapel to the left of the alter was my favorite part of the church as it’s incredible fresco’s, naturally illuminated by the light flowing through the windows, were simply awe inspiring

Inside the church are a number of late 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini on the subject of the Life of the Virgin

Starting to feel a bit peckish, we crossed the Cestio bridge to Tiber Island (which lies in the middle of the Tiber River), the boat-shaped island that has long been associated with healing and delighted in some delicious Gelto.

Re-energized we made our way through the old Jewish Ghetto

Past numerous ruins , fountains and statues – it becomes impossible to properly appreciate them after a while as they are just so commonplace!

We wound through extravagant courtyards and past decrepit eateries

We came to the renowned Trevi Fountain and spent a while standing frozen in awe of what is the most famous and arguably the most beautiful fountain in all of Rome. This impressive monument completely dominates the small Trevi square located in the Quirinale district and is at the ending part of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC. It brings water all the way from the Salone Springs (approx 20km from Rome) and supplies the fountains in the historic center of Rome with water. The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses which symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, the statue on the right represents Salubrity. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water – we were unable to book tickets to the private art collection at the Villa Borgese Gardens (the best collection in Rome!!!) so i have no doubt that i’ll be back!

Even though it’s not nearly peak tourist season, in the top sites like Trevi Fountain, the sheer number of tourists milling about is terrifying so we quickly escaped there -but we were met with even more at the Spanish steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti)

Climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti and dominated by the church of Trinità dei Monti, the Scalinata is the longest and widest staircase in Europe.

After making our way to the top and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere our rumbling stomachs beckoned, we headed to the Otello restaurant that i had found with google earlier that day. The family run restaurant is located in the courtyard
and whilst the food was hearty but nothing extraordinary, the setting made it a highly enjoyable experience.

Our next stop was back up the Spanish Steps to the Villa Borghese Garden which is literally a breath of fresh air for those who visit it. There are museums, a theatre, a bio park, a lake, a winter ice skating piste, rollerblade and skateboarders space as well as numerous fountains dotted throughout. The Park was originally a private vineyard, redesigned and enlarged in 1605 to grandiose proportions for pope Paul V’s nephew, the Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

We rented a bike that mum and i peddled whilst Dad enjoyed the ride. We cruised the gardens but soon realized we were well out of bounds when we were about to cross a main road intersection and have to laboriously turn it around and make our way back someone a bit safer!

After 45 minutes of sweat and exploration we dropped the bike back and Dad decided walking was too boring so he hired one of those crazy wheely things based on balance and had a great time whizzing around

We took in the amazing views from the gardens towards Rome

passed hundreds of portrait sculptures

and just wandered.

Eventually dad convinced me to go on this gazmo mover and whilst initially terrified i soon got the hang of it but i felt like such a monumental idiot that i soon handed it back.

I instead followed the suit of countless others, lying on the lush grass and enjoying the serenity

and found my own little space beneath an old tree

Whilst i relaxed, dad figured out how to unlock the ‘maximum speed’. One minute i saw him whizzing past with a gleeful expression and then the next thing i heard was an awful screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeecccccchhhhhhhhing sound and a heavy thud and Dad and the gizmo fell backwards and slammed onto the ground. Hence he ended up with this charming bruise which is now MUCH bigger and darker

On that note we headed out of the park – all laughing hysterically and made our way back towards the bizarre white monument which acts as a fantastic bearing point as it’s quite close to our apartment.

A lovely day in Rome.

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1 Comment

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One response to “When in Rome

  1. Ignacio

    I would like to include your picture of the Pantheon (https://hg92.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/img_0854.jpg) in a textbook. It would show at about 2 inches high and be credited in the legend immediately below to your name/s and any other (location, contact, URL) information you would like to add.
    Would I have your permission for that?

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