Home » Lifestyle » Travel 2016: Day Six – Rome in a Day & Getting Lost Along the Way

Travel 2016: Day Six – Rome in a Day & Getting Lost Along the Way

Jeff Linamen

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What better way is there to discover a new city than to literally get lost in it? Okay, so maybe not your first choice and it wasn’t ours either– well, kinda-sorta.

Michael and I, wind-blown on Palatine Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum.

Michael and I, wind-blown on Palatine Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum.

At breakfast, everyone had pretty much decided they were doing there own thing. I think Michael and I were the only ones determined to really go sightseeing and see as much as possible.

The best advice I could find online suggested seeing Rome on foot, skipping the tours and the all-access packages like the Rome Pass and the HOHO bus tickets. We had what we thought was a very modest list of sights we had to see. We figured we’d start at the Spanish Steps since it was closest, then work our way down to end at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. We’d just zig-zag across the city and take in what we could, leaving room for a little exploration along the way.

Obelisk in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti.

Obelisk in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti.

We left the hotel using the Map.Me app… and right off, I thought the direction we were going didn’t make a lot of sense. Long story, short– we walked about a half mile to nowhere. Seriously, we reached a point where there wasn’t even a sidewalk!  We knew we’d have to turn around, backtrack and pretty much start over. Nothing like getting lost first thing– and not in a good way.

Once we’d reached the Piazza Trinità dei Monti,  located at the top of the Spanish Steps, we didn’t seem to have anymore problems with the GPS and the app. Still, with the Spanish Steps closed, we had to find a different route down to the base to be able to see them. Up top there was a barricade blocking it all off.

We found our way down to the Piazza di Spagna at the base of the Spanish Steps.  The steps had been closed for renovation for a number of months. Coincidentally, they had the dedication and reopened them, later that same afternoon after we had visited them.

Looking at the Spanish Steps from the Piazza di Spagna. The Piazza Trinità dei Monti is at the top.

Looking at the Spanish Steps from the Piazza di Spagna. The Piazza Trinità dei Monti is at the top.

 

Horse and carriages lined up near the Spanish Steps.

Horse and carriages lined up near the Spanish Steps.

 

Just to the southeast, we found the Colonna della Immacolata (Column of the Immaculate Conception) in the Piazza Mignanelli. From here we started our leisure stroll, turning down streets that looked promising and stopping by shops and visiting many churches. (My next post will just focus on the churches and cathedrals we happened upon.)

The Colonna dell' Immacolata (Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza Mignanelli.

The Colonna della Immacolata (Column of the Immaculate Conception) in the Piazza Mignanelli.

 

Impressive statuary just inside the entrance of a small restaurant in Rome.

Impressive statuary just inside the entrance of a small restaurant in Rome.

 

Wandering the streets of Rome.

Wandering the streets of Rome.

 

We saw the Piazza del Popolo  from a distance and wandered through. The name’s modern translation is “People’s Square”. I found it to be one of the more beautiful piazzas we encountered.

 

The beautiful Piazza del Popolo.

The beautiful Piazza del Popolo.

 

Part of the fountain framed by the Porta del Popolo in the background.

Part of the fountain framed by the Porta del Popolo in the background.

 

Next we found Piazza Colonna with the striking and detailed Column of Marcus Aurelius. Adjoining the piazza is the seat of the Italian Government.

 

Close up detail of the Column of Marcus Aurelius with the clock of the Palazzo Wedekind in the background.

Close up detail of the Column of Marcus Aurelius with the clock of the Palazzo Wedekind in the background.

 

Piazza Colonna.

Piazza Colonna.

 

Wandering through the streets of Rome.

Wandering through the streets of Rome.

 

One of many News Kiosks found throughout Rome.

One of many News Kiosks found throughout Rome.

I love the architecture and classic style of the buildings found throughout Rome. I also found the numerous news kiosks very charming.

There is literally something new to see around every corner in central Rome. I could spend days just wandering the city aimlessly.

Piazza di Trevi – Completed in 1762, the Rococo (Late Baroque) Trevi Fountain fed by an aqueduct that was built in 19 BC. It is one of the most famous fountains in the world. It is also the centerpiece of this small, extremely claustrophobic piazza.

There is the legend that if you throw a coin in the fountain… you will return to Rome one day. Well, it was so crowded, there was no way we were going to get close enough without taking up valuable time- so no wish was made.

 

The world famous Trevi Fountain.

The world famous Trevi Fountain.

 

The Trevi Fountain in the Piazza di Trevi.

The Trevi Fountain in the Piazza di Trevi.

 

Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk.

Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk.

Near the Pantheon, was the Elephant and Obelisk designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Egyptian Obelisk was excavated nearby.

The combined work was unveiled in 1667 in its home in the Piazza Della Minerva.

Piazza della Rotonda  – is the location of the Pantheon – formally a Roman temple and now a church. It’s excellent condition is due, in part, to its continuous use throughout history.

When you consider the age (completed in 125 AD) and its condition, it really is a world-wonder. The interior is primarily lit by the sun through the nearly 30 foot oculus above, in the center dome.

 

The Pantheon in Rome.

The Pantheon in Rome.

 

Looking up at the oculus in the Pantheon.

Looking up at the oculus in the Pantheon.

 

The sun casting its rays on the Palazzo Madama.

The sun casting its rays on the Palazzo Madama.

The Palazzo Madama is the seat of the Senate of the Italian Republic; built on top of the ruins of the ancient baths of Nero.

We happened to stumble upon the changing of the guard taking place as we passed.

 

The changing of the guard at the Palazzo Madama.

The changing of the guard at the Palazzo Madama.

 

Close up of the Bernini Fountain in Piazza Navona.

Close up of the Bernini Fountain in Piazza Navona.

Piazza Navona is one of the most popular and visited piazzas in Rome. It features three fountains, including Bernini’s world famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) as the centerpiece.

The historic significance of the space is that it was built on the site of the Stadium of the Domitian, also known as Circus Agonalis. It was an important competition stadium back in the first century AD.

At one time, it was also the home of the city market. Over the years, many films have featured scenes that were shot here.

 

Entering the Piazza Navona.

Entering the Piazza Navona.

 

The historic Piazza Navona.

The historic Piazza Navona.

 

Finding the Sacred area del Argentina was completely unexpected. In 1927, during demolition work, parts of the holy area were discovered.  The original square was uncovered that includes the ruins of four Roman temples and part of Pompey’s Theatre, with portions of the ruins dating back to 241 BC. Julius Caesar was believed to have been assassinated in this square. The area is currently undergoing  restoration.

It is also the location of Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter run by volunteers. In addition to protecting them, they sterilizes the cats to help control the city’s feral cat population. There is a no-kill law in Rome protecting homeless cats. We didn’t see any cats here on our visit.

 

Sacred area del Argentina

The Sacred area del Argentina.

 

Sacred area del Argentina- Believed to be the site of Julius Ceasar's assassination.

Sacred area del Argentina, believed to be the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination.

 

The Piazza Venezia is the central hub of Rome. We actually passed through here four times throughout the day. On one side is the Palazzo Vallenti framed by two churches.

Also on the piazza is Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), built in honor of Victor Emmanuel the first king of a unified Italy. It was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885 but not completed until 1925. It is the largest monument in Rome. Immense in size, it is despised by many because a large part of Capitoline Hill and its historic artifacts were destroyed in order to build it.

 

Near the Piazza Venezia.

Near the Piazza Venezia.

 

The Altar of the Fatherland.

The Altar of the Fatherland.

 

Outside the Colosseum.

Outside the Colosseum.

Colosseum  (or Coliseum) was something we had to see. We’d wisely purchased tickets ahead of time to avoid the lines. It included the Colosseum and Palatine Hill/Roman Forum which could be used on two separate days, but only one entry into each location.

When we arrived, the line to get into the Colosseum, even with a ticket, was pretty long. We let a guide on the street talk us into joining a group tour (for only a few Euros since we already had tickets) and he said we’d get in right away. Big mistake. We waited another 20 minutes and still had to wait to get in the queue. We ended up only staying with the tour a short time because the guide was long-winded and wasn’t going any place fast. So we left the group and finished it on our own.

The Colosseum is massive and quite impressive. I’ll admit that the interior was actually in a greater state of decomposition than I expected. Still, iconic– a must-see when visiting Rome.

 

Looking up at the Colosseum.

Looking up at the Colosseum.

 

Inside the Colosseum.

Inside the Colosseum.

 

Leaving the Colosseum and starting to get a little tired, we continued on to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. The breathing-taking views from the hill were the highlight of the day. One of the seven hills of Rome, it is one of the oldest areas of the city. With multiple viewing points, we had exceptional panoramic views of Rome, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum below.

Overlooking the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill.

Overlooking the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill.

 

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Incredible view of Rome from Palatine Hill.

 

Walking through the Roman Forum with Palatine Hill in the background.

Walking through the Roman Forum with Palatine Hill in the background.

 

Columns and excavated pieces in the Roman Forum.

Columns and excavated pieces in the Roman Forum.

 

Majestic Columns surviving the ravages of time in the Roman Forum.

Majestic Columns surviving the ravages of time in the Roman Forum.

 

After the Forum, we walked out past the Piazza Venezia and on to the Via del Corso  where we wisely hailed a taxi back to the hotel. In all, we walked fourteen and a half miles through the city.

Back at the hotel, we had an early dinner/late lunch, having not eaten since breakfast. We had about an hour to kill before we had to get ready for the evening’s reception.

Broadway On the High Seas 7 Reception. As with the last cruise, Playbill Travel hosted a pre-cruise reception with champagne and entertainment. It was a chance to socialize and see friends from past cruises we hadn’t seen yet. We also caught up again with Anthony and Michael, that we met in London.

So in addition to the fact that I was standing a few feet away from Adam Pascal (the original Roger in RENT) during the entertainment– the highlight of the evening was hearing Kate Baldwin sing “Ribbons Down My Back” from Hello Dolly.  She will be performing as Mrs. Malloy on Broadway in the upcoming revival starring Bette Midler.

Afterwards, we took a stroll down the street for Gelato with George and Mary before calling it a night.

I think we did pretty good seeing Rome in a day. Not to mention all the churches we also visited, that I’ll share in my next post. (We’re spending the day at the Vatican after the cruise.)

We managed to get lost literally and figuratively in one the most beautiful, historic cities in the world.

Bellissima Roma!


1 Comment

  1. Herb Linamen says:

    Your photos amaze me, but more than than I cannot imagine how you manage to retain the exact description and spelling of each site you visit. Truely a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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