SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
DAY 3 IN ROME
Another Full Day in Rome
Rome is an endless list of world-class art, famous churches, ancient monuments, and excellent places to eat. There is so much to see but so little time. We could have easily spent a week in Rome but today was our 3rd and final day in the eternal city. Worn out from the previous day of exploring, we allowed ourselves to catch up on an extra hour of sleep and enjoyed a relaxed start to the day. Definitely a day to wear our most comfortable walking shoes and dress comfortably (including lots sunscreen).
The dangers of purchasing souvenirs when backpacking for a month… many wont make it 🙁 My Venetian glass broke in Rome! So while sightseeing in Rome, Rob sneaked into a Venetian Glass shop and found the exact same glass. This time the clerk package it up securely and it made the journey back to Canada in one piece! Such a lovely surprise.. I’m one lucky girl 🙂
Piazza del Popolo
You could have a great time in the city almost by accident, turning a corner and all of a sudden being face to face with the Trevi Fountain. With still lots on our bucket list to see, we quickly mapped out a rough walking map to cover some of our must-see things. Today we planned to start our exploring at a large urban square, Piazza del Popolo. The name in modern Italian literally means “People’s Square”. This was the starting point of the most important route to the north in ancient times. It was also often a traveler’s first view of Rome upon arrival. It seems appropriate to start our day in this important square!
We walked up to the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II in the center of the Piazza to escape the hot sun. Here we found a peculiar bicycle knocked over. Also trying to hide in it’s shadows from the hot sun was a cat tied with a leash. We watched to see if it’s owners were around but no one other than many curious tourists came by. Frustrated with the situation and the now panting cat, I attempted to make a water bowl out of a small bag and water from my bottle. As I approached the cat with my gift, an older (& cranky) Italian man got up from his spot in the shade and shooed me away. Apparently his cat doesnt need water on such a hot day?! The man moved the bike (& cat) into the shade of the obelisk and that was our cue to keep moving. At least I tried to help!
A short walk down some historic streets we found ourselves at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. We took a short break in the shade beside a pretty fountain, by Pietro Bernini. Supposedly marks the place where a large barge came to rest when the River Tiber overflowed its banks. We had a great view of the city’s best-known staircase and enjoyed some top-notch people-watching.
After a little rest in the shade, we continued our walk. It was easy to find our way back to the Trevi Fountain as it was only a short distance from the Spanish Steps. We thought the crowds were bad the night before, but the afternoon crowds were insane! We didn’t even attempt to make our way back down to the water. We just admired the views from the top of the square!
A couple of gelatos and window shopping later we made our way down to the exquisite Pantheon.
There is something amazing about setting foot on stones that have been walked on for 2,000 years! A temple to all the gods of ancient Rome is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church. It is just one of the awesome historical sights you can visit free of charge! Under the massive dome we found the tombs of the painter Raphael, two Italian kings, and on Italian queen.
We wanted to cap our last evening in Rome with a meal on one of the city’s famous squares (keeping in mind we were paying for the view more than the food). We headed straight for Piazza Navona after hearing that it’s arguably the most beautiful of Rome’s many squares. It’s a wide open space that used to hold chariot races in ancient Roman times. The large and lively square featured no less than three magnificent fountains and a beautiful Baroque church. But that was only half of its charm; To my delight this square was lined with local artists and with paintings for sale. I was in heaven looking through all the amazing talent. The vendors were so friendly to chat with many of them were the actual artists. One artist made me a lovely deal for one of his painting and assured me he package it well to survive the remainder of our backpacking trip. We still had 7 days to go on our adventure and carrying a delicate rolled up canvas was going to be tricky!
The food at dinner was nice but not as memorable as some of our other meals, but we knew we were paying for the atmosphere and not the food. In fact my desert, a well known local specialty was over double the price to have at the end of a meal as it was advertised outside as a take-away treat!! At least it was delicious!
As the last of the daylight disappeared the activity in the square livened up. Music could be heard all over as street performers moved in. It was a perfect way to relax after a big meal.
Pantheon at Night
The streets at night were so full of life when the sun sets. I can’t stress enough the importance to stay in a city overnight. The most memorable visits have always been in the evening. Once the massive tourist crowds leave for the day, the sights can truly be appreciated. We slowly wandered the streets back to the metro, enjoying the sights and sounds of Rome at night.
We first made a detour back to the Pantheon. At night it was beautifully lit and small groups lingered around enjoying the cool evening air.
Temple of Hadrian
On our way to the metro, we stumbled across Piazza di Pietra . But what makes this small little public square unique is the 11 Corinthian columns that remain from the Temple of Hadrian (once known as the Temple of Neptune) from 144 AD. This city is full of surprises!
Check Out Our Map of Rome
11 Days Down, 6 More to Go!