And we had the tour to confirm it! A full day exploring all the other “must see” places in Rome – piazas, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, and Basilica di San Clementi. The climb up to the cupola the prior day had my legs feeling like jelly for the better part of the day, so it was a slow and steady pace for us. I considered calling it quits once or twice during the day, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
We started at Campo di Fiori where there was an open air market. A fresh fruit cup from a vendor, and it was time to hit the cobblestones.
It seemed every few streets we’d stumble onto another piaza, each with its own feel.
From there we found the Pantheon. Seemed like it was dropped in the middle of the city. There was a long line to get in, but as admission was free it moved rather quickly. 2 Roman “soldiers” were outside the exit posing for photos.
The next piaza had a rather non-descript church from the outside. My other half and I waited outside while the others ventured in to explore. What could top St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel? Based on their encouragement, we went in for a tour…and very glad we did! Gregorian chant being played quietly through the speakers seemed to have a magical effect on all visitors – the level of respect and quiet was considerably higher than the day before. I wonder what effect piping music into the Basilica and Sistine Chapel would do? Might bring down the amount of “shushing” and overall chatter. But, it might not with the tour guides trying to hold their group together and impart information. It makes me wonder, though.
From there we wound our way through side streets and main streets and found ourselves standing at the Trevi Fountain. As disappointed as I was with Michaelangelo’s Creation, I was very pleasantly surprised with this site. So much bigger than I’d expected. It has been under renovation for the past few years, so this was the first time our hosts had seen it in full splendor, too.
Lunch was at a small pizzeria around the corner, and very good. We rested, chatted and enjoyed the air conditioning as long as possible. We then hit the streets to the ancient part of the city…the Forum of Trajan (112 – 113A.C.) and Forum of Augustus (2 B.C.)
It was rather surreal to think about standing on/near sites that were built centuries before the beginning of Christianity. There is a tremendous archeological effort underway to rebuild what areas they can from the original pieces. A short walk further, and we had to pinch ourselves to remember we weren’t on a movie set…
Well, maybe just a little bit of a set!
The final stop was Basilica di San Clemente. No photos are allowed, but it was by far one of the highlights. The current basilica was built just before 1100AD. It sits on a 4th century basilica which was previously the home of a Roman nobleman. In the 1st century the home had served as an early church. In the 2nd century, the basement was used as a mithraeum. The nobleman’s home has been built on the remains of a villa and warehouse which had been destroyed by fire in 64AD. We went all the way down into the catacombs and shook our heads in amazement. The frescoes that have survived all these years later brought goosebumps.
Dinner at a neighborhood restaurant outside the city center. Pasta and risotto primi courses, rabbit cacciatore and calamari spiedino for secondi. Neither of us could finish either of our courses – the portions were enormous! A final tiramisu and glass of grappa rounded off the meal.
Back to Piaza di Campo di Fiore to buy a small suitcase to get everything home, then back to the hotel to repack and get some sleep. We were headed back to Norway in the morning for the final days of our Big Adventure 2016.