Journal entry from Rome Trip – Nov. 8, 2017
What a day!
Today was the day that we were thinking of going down to the Mediterranian and Ostia Antica. We decided a couple of days ago not to do that. The main reason was that we had been doing all-day outings pretty much every day, and there were a bunch of smaller sights that we hadn’t gotten to see yet. So we decided to get some all-day transit passes and go around to some of the different sites.
We actually did a walking tour through the heart of Rome. We started with a walk to a church: Santa Maria della Vittoria. It was a neat church, full of artwork like all the rest of the churches here. The main reason we went and visited this one is because it houses another famous Bernini sculpture: the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. It was pretty cool to see.
After that, we took the metro (much less busy today!) to the Spanish Steps. This is a great staircase that people love to hang out on. It has a neat fountain of a partly submerged ship at the bottom. It’s a beautiful spot, and today was a beautiful day! We enjoyed the sun and blue skies, after a few days of cloud and drizzle.
That was the beginning of our walking tour. We stopped for some lunch at a cute, tiny little sandwich place that got good reviews on Google. We loved it! We had sandwiches with thinly sliced ham and sheep cheese. It was a tiny little place with short tables that were basically benches. In the bathroom, there was a handle on the wall that may have been for a bathtub or something in the past. It had writing on it: “No! Don’t! No!” Obviously, they didn’t want anyone turning it on!
We saw several neat things after that. Several obelisks and basilicas. We saw a neat one called Bernini’s “Chick”. Not 100% sure why it came to be called that, but it’s an obelisk on the back of an elephant sculpture, sculpted by (you guessed it!) Bernini. It was a pretty cool sculpture.
We also saw the enormous and amazing Pantheon! This is a really awesome building for a lot of reasons.
First of all, it is an ancient building that has been in continuous active use for its entire existence, almost 2000 years! The current building was commissioned in AD 126 as a “Temple of all the gods” (which is what the word “Pantheon” literally means). Later, after Rome had converted to Christianity, it was made into a Christian church, and it is still a church to this day.
Second, the architecture is fantastic! The domed roof is an incredible feat of construction, and is made as the top half of a perfect sphere, whose bottom, if it existed, would just touch the floor of the Pantheon. The dome is huge, and is thicker at the bottom than the top. The bottom is a whopping 21 feet thick, while the top is about 4 feet thick. It also has a hole in the roof, which is its only form of lighting.
And, of course, it is beautifully decorated. Sculptures, paintings, the works. It has amazing columns inside as well.
After the Pantheon, we made our way to Piazza Navona, which is a neat common area. There were fountains, restaurants, and street performers. We watched a neat magician show his tricks. The fountain in the middle is also an obelisk. And it has a really neat sculpture of the “four river gods”. We actually saw miniature wooden drafts at the Borghese Gallery created by the designer, Bernini, before he was hired to do the real thing.
Then we walked to the river and took pictures at sunset, which was beautiful. We could see Saint Peter’s Basilica in the background. Then we hopped on the bus and went to the Altare della Patria, or Victor Emmanuel Monument. Victor Emmanuel was the first king of the nation of Italy, as we know it today. It was a huge monument, and amazing to climb the stairs and see everything.
Finally, we bussed home. I packed up my stuff, and we bussed over to where I’m staying with my team, on the other side of the river. Most of the team was there. We went out to a restaurant, and Sarah and Kim got to briefly meet them all. The rest of the team arrived after a little while too.
So now I’m back at the BnB with the team, going to get some shut-eye before a full day of work tomorrow!