New blog post Thursday November 12, 2015
Last day wandering in Rome. Churches, Fountains, and PANTHEON! (Finally!)
The espresso in the hotel coffee machine is pretty average. Artigianale in Florence has spoiled me. So far, two breakfasts of average. I figured if I do three shots, a cappuccino with two extra shots, that it’d come out better. Even sugar couldn’t aid the flavor. Oh well, it’s caffeine and it’s free, so no complaints here.
I call United Airlines in rome and check on my flight. It’s Thursday morning and they mad a flight for Friday using the same itinerary that I had before but there was no connection given for Frunkfurt to Denver. Just Rome to Frankfurt. Also the news says Lufthansa won’t resume flight until Saturday, so I’m at a loss as to what’s going to happen. The wonderful American I got told me that I was correct, that all lufthansa flight were cancelled until Saturday. Initially she discussed a flight to Paris then to two other cities then to denver. It’s Thursday and I don’t want multiple cities, and i don’t want to got Paris (because there’s too many crazies and I didn’t want to go to Germany either) so I asked for a simple route not in those cities, she told me of one on Swiss Air that goes to Zurich, then Washington D.C. That’s the one I picked. Problem is that I have to leave Rome at 3 AM to get to Fuimacino/Leonado Da Vinci airport and check in by 4:30 and my flight will be at 6:30 AM. Thank God I skipped Paris, while I was in Zurich and over the Atlantic, the terrorist were bombing parts of Paris. I would have been stranded there until Saturday morning.
Deciding to walk the distance across town to Pantheon I set out through Roman neighborhoods, I have al day, literally, just to get there.
I come upon some ruins that are attached to a large Renaissance type building, but I’m at the back, so I walk around and discover the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, the seventh largest Christian church.
It’s part of the Dioiocletian baths that Michelangelo conceived a reimagining as a basilica (part of the baths complex).
Santa Maria degli Angeli
It’s been adapted even more than a few times and a Pope made it a kind of art museum church. Michelangelo’s genius when he was in his 80’s, was to show parts of the original structure from ancient times in the design. This concept is still used today in some modern architecture. There’s a whole connection to Galileo and his discovery of time keeping and the pendulum. Here we also see astrological signs and markings in brass on an axis for days of the year. Through a hole and in the wall the sun shines at a specific time on the axis markings to show the day. Pretty clever stuff. The structure, the paintings, statues and the gigantic volume of space is overwhelming. This is also an active Parish church. Through a side door is the Sacristy which is in the bath’s ancient parts, and has an exhibit showing the history of the structure in pictures and busts of Michelangelo and the other guys responsible for what we see. Going out through the opposite door we enter what is essentially a courtyard entrance to the baths, out through the door in the back, takes one to the ruin I saw when I was walking. There are parts of the bath there and even what would have been a swimming pool mosaic. This link will take you to a really great site with far more info on the church, it’s history and what’s inside, than I could post here. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-santa-maria-degli-angeli
Detail of the ceiling in the exact center.
The corded off floor is protecting the brass and jewels and paint that portrays the calendar and has signs of the Zodiac. Next to one of the side chapels is the display of Galileo’s invention of the first pendulum that was used to tell time.
Continuing my Pantheon quest, I run across this:
These neighborhoods must be ministry row. Interspersed are various large churches and their statues.
Three are large wall enclosed villas and other large stone buildings. All of these are pretty heavily guarded. Anything from Ministry of Economics, a massive structure, to Defense, lots of people with weapons here and bars on all the windows. A two block long enormous edifice had a single entrance in the middle. I did what I did at every building with armed guards, I went up and asked what building it was. The monstrosity turned out to be the Presidential Palace. Looking through the entrance I see a beautiful garden area, so I ask the Ak47 toting guys, can I come and take pictures, he lowered his eyes, and shook his head. Alrighty, then. I’m off down the street, enjoying the fenced park opposite the Prez’s palace as I come to the end of the building and turn the corner
I’m at the top of a hill with steps going down into the neighborhood below. It dawns on me that the Spanish steps go down into a neighborhood and were built by Spain’s Ambassador. So, Prez palace and Embassies. and Ministries… While I know this isn’t them steps, cuz there’s am amazing church at the top of those and they’re wider and more spectacular. This is probably in the neighborhood.
So down the steps onto a windey street full of shops food places and lots of people. I come to an intersection, and guess what’s to my left, right smack in front of me?
Water was off. That didn’t seem to bother the hundreds of people that were there. http://www.trevifountain.net
Looking for a bathroom in Rome is a challenge. If ya don’t buy something, you can’t use it. Same in Florence. But in Rome, an awful lot of places don’t have, or tell you they don’t have a ‘toilet’. I f you say bathroom or anything beside toilet, they stare at you. I pass this:
My smoothie of passion fruit, mint, and apple (the mint made it), and a savory “torte”, a really thin spinach quiche. atrestaurant.it At aT, they call it ‘active natural eating’, they have a shop in Brussels, Rome, and soon coming to the USA, where this concept will do splendidly. It would be at home in Boulder, Berkley or Miami, really it would do well in most cities.
No toilet, but now, I head out in earnest to find Pantheon, since I remember it wasn’t that far from Trevi fountains. Finding access to facilities at a Gelateria for the price of a bottle of water (I know you were worried for me since I’ve been looking for a while). I’m now beginning to recognize buildings and shops from the last time I was here. But wait, what’s this large church like building in this square. It’s unassuming, simple and lacking in the usual, ostentatious edifice. L’Aventura di Ignacio di Loyola church. And as we’ve come to expect, it’s awesome in its magnificent art. It’s trompe-l’oeil painting (use of fake perspective) is legendary, especially the “fake” dome. http://santignazio.gesuiti.it/en/ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sant%27Ignazio_Church,_Rome
The tomb of Pope Gregory XV. Pope Gregory XIII is the Gregory tomb in St. Peter’s.
As I come down the lane the familiar structure of Pantheon begins to appear.
The finger of God is pointing to this unique and influential building.
Dedicated to the worship of every god (Pan-every, Theon-divinity), the Pantheon was built by the Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 A.D. over the ruins of another temple dating back to 27 A.D. Statesman and General, Marcus Agrippa was responsible for the construction of the original church, to whom a dedicatory inscription is clearly visible over the magnificent portico.
In 609, it was converted into a Christian Church by Pope Boniface IV and consecrated to Santa Maria of the Martyrs.
Turned into a memorial chapel for the kingsof Italy in 1870, the tombs of Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy are to be found here together with that of Renaissance Artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, we know him as simply Raphael. A ray of slanting sunlight shooting down from the “oculus”, a 9- metre round aperture at the very top of the dome that illuminates the entire building.
If it is raining, the falling water disappears into the floor’s 22 virtually invisible holes. Except these four directly under the opening:
Sant’Agnes in Agone. The 14 yr old martyr. Patron saint of young girls.
Since the light is beginning to change to evening and I still have some fight in me, I head out from Pantheon towards Plaza Navarona and its fountains.
Passing a simple ( for Rome) church on a corner I stop in for a sec:
Coming upon a museum that I wasn’t sure if I should pay to go in since I was trying to get to Navona before I lost the light, they were advertising an exhibit about the end of World Was II. I did get off a few pics in the lobby though:
As you leave the museum courtyard and walk through the pass-through, it opens up on to Plaza Navona. Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza as did the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone of which Innocent was the sponsor.the buildings are a perfect example of Baroque Roman architecture. Innocent X reigned from 1644 until 1655. The piazza contains the Famous Bernini fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) 1651.
There are two other fountains in the piazza, and their pics and countless others as well as video of a complete walk around the track, this used to be a Roman “circus”. http://www.reidsitaly.com/destinations/lazio/rome/sights/piazza_navona.html
St. Agnes. They tried to burn her at the stake, but the fire didn’t harm her. So the Romans chopped off her head. It’s here behind glass at her tomb (the skull). I didn’t photo it cuz, creepy.
Now I’m starting to feel it, and start my walk back, its miles to the hotel. When after I’m a couple of blocks outside of the plaza, I begin to feel it and decide there’s no way I’m walking all the way back to the hotel, and I should eat now since I have to be up at 3:30-4:00 to get to the airport. I spy this trattoria with pscatore in the name. They have a coal fired pizza oven and make me some focaccia, rosemary and Roman sea salt (?) on a light crunchy and chewey, basically pizza crust. Wonderful flavor. This accompanies buffalo mozzarella and Parma prosciutto.
Next I have a “Roman” risotto, tomatoes and herbs topped with five types of pesce. Mussels, calamari, clams, shrimp and baby lobster.nice risotto with fresh tasting seafood. I put some fresh grated parmagiano and jumped the flavor.
Stuffed and can’t wait to get back and get some rest before my ride to the airport comes for me at 3 AM. I walk to a cab stand and make it across town in a slow cab ride through busy Thursday night traffic.
Twenty-three thousand steps through a busy, noisy, kinda dirty, exciting, surprising, glorious city on my last day in the Mother Country.