Today we took it easy and after a good sleep in and some breakfast, we wandered out and caught the bus into the city of Rome. We weren’t exactly sure where we were supposed to be going from the time we hopped off the bus, but we took a guess and headed off in one direction. From where we thought we were, and from looking at the map, we decided to start off with the Spanish Steps. We rounded corners and walked down streets, and found… this:
Obviously, this isn’t the Spanish Steps. But it was still very interesting. Josh has been learning Latin for the last five years or so, so he quickly put his skills to good use roughly translating the monument. From his linguistic skills and some information we found later, we discovered it was a monument to a Roman Emperor called Marcus Aurelius, who defeated the Parthians, Germans, and several other enemies, and brought them under Rome’s power, in early AD.
After some gazing and trying to work out where we were, we kept walking and found… this.
Again, no Spanish Steps in sight. That’s OK – this monument had hieroglyphics on it (even better!). Apparently it was a monument Augustus Caesar erected to celebrate his triumph over Cleopatra and Mark Antony 29BC. I was very excited to see that, because we’d never heard about it, and yet it was celebrating something very monumental to the success of Augustus and hence, the rest of Rome’s history.
So we kept map-gazing. We re-adjusted our direction, thinking that this time we were going to hit the Spanish Steps. We walked down a shady street with warm-yellow walls, rounded the corner and found… (majestic, triumphant music playing please…)
The jaw-dropping, stately, grand, amazingly-built, Pantheon! It was larger than we imagined and yet just appeared out of nowhere. It’s not that it had gold dripping from the outside columns or was even that beautiful, but it was this sturdy ancient Roman building that stood there in the middle of all these buildings; a, like I said, stately building. We all cheered with delight.
Because it was a Sunday, the Patheon was closed until 12:00 for mass – we arrived at 11:25. The front was already teeming with people, so we decided to head of to find the Spanish Steps (again) and some lunch, and come back when it was maybe a little less busy.
We headed off again in search of the Spanish Steps. After some walking around corners and gazing down streets, we wandered into a busy open area and much to our amusement and joy, found…
The Trevi Fountain!
The water was so clear, and the sculptures were pretty impressive. It was lots of fun for us girls, because of Audrey Hepburn’s movie, Roman Holiday, where she went to this fountain and to the Spanish Steps. Over and after lunch we learnt more about the fountain and some of the stories behind it; we actually went back after lunch and had a closer look. Apparently a barber, who worked across the road, was constantly harassing the builders for being at work day in and day out. To put a stop to it, late one night the architect snuck in and built a huge water ‘cup’ directly opposite the shop so the barber couldn’t see what the architect was doing!
We headed back to the Pantheon. It was still busy with people but really, there was plenty of room for everyone. I didn’t realise it was used as a Church building until we first arrived and saw it was being used for mass. It was ironic, because originally, it was a Roman building for all the gods (so not to offend any if they forgot any). At one point it was offered to the Christians as a Church, but they refused, because of the very name of the building: pan=many/all, theo=god. The very name contradicts the belief of Christianity, that there is only one God. However somewhere along the lines it was converted into a Church.
Nowadays it allegedly holds the bones of Joseph, husband of Mary, and it was where Michelangelo’s rival of sorts, Raphael, was buried. The dome is an architectural feat of its day and nobody knows how the Romans hoisted it up to its place. The dome itself is made out of a strange, very hard, concrete concoction and most amazingly of all, it has a huge circle hole in the middle to let the sunshine pour in. It had to be set and then, as a heavy semi-sphere of concrete, laid into position, something we’re not sure how the Romans could’ve done.
Eventually… we found the Spanish Steps (yay!) After taking a photo of Nomi posing as Audrey Hepburn eating icecream (without the icecream), we climbed up the Spanish Steps. It was a pretty good view, but not breathtakingly spectacular. It was a nice place to finish our traipsing across Rome however and I enjoyed it.
So today, as we roamed through Rome, we set out to find the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. We had lots of fun getting bushed in the city and finding new and unexpected things!