April 25, 2022. 65 °F/18°C
We docked in Rome’s cruise port of Civitavecchia around 7:30 this morning, and were on the bus for our 10-1/2 hour excursion at 8:30, on the first of two really long tour days (we’re doing the same length tour tomorrow in Florence and Pisa).
Today is a holiday in Italy (April 25, 1945 marked Italy’s liberation from the Nazis) so we had no idea whether to expect empty roads or jammed ones. Fortunately, the roads were clear… but Rome was packed with people.
Nonetheless, it was fabulous – so much to see in so little time. Ted took hundreds of pictures, but these are the ones I hope will jog my memory when I look back at them. (In all cases, the photo follows the description)
The entrance to the Gardens of the Villa Borghese
The entrance to the Piazza del Popolo (People’s Plaza).
The twin churches of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Piazza del Popolo. Since “pagan” Rome had the legend of Romulus and Remus, Christian Rome also needed two patron saints. Note the Egyptian obelisk. There is one in almost every important square in Rome, brought there by successive Roman emperors. There are 13 in total in Rome – more than there are remaining in Egypt!
Fountains and sculptures from the Piazza del Popolo, including several sphinx atop the piazza wall.
Rome continues the unbroken run of places we’ve been on this cruise that have palm trees. These were on the Piazza del Spagna (Spanish Plaza)
The famous Spanish Steps were crowded with tourists and Romans. It was interesting to learn that the steps were commissioned and paid for by a French pope, but named for their proximity to the Bourbon Spanish embassy. Note the Egyptian obelisk in front of the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the steps.
The Fontana della Barcaccia (longboat fountain) in the Piazza del Spagna.
Marble plaque on the residence of Gianlorenzo Bernini, architect of many of Rome’s most iconic buildings. He designed St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica, among others, and is credited with being the “creator ” of the Baroque style of sculpture.
One of Rome’s many fountains dating back to Roman aqueducts bringing water into the city. The water is fresh, cold, and safe to drink. The taps “run” all the time – plug the bottom of the tap and the water spurts out if a hole on the top of the tap, creating a drinking fountain!
“Madonelle” are icons or shrines to the Madonna, placed on building exteriors to protect the inhabitants from evil.
The famous Trevi Fountain. We couldn’t get close enough to throw in a coin to guarantee our return to Rome, so we’ll just have to work with our travel agent.
Zoomed-in on some of the Trevi fountain’s sculptures:
Me in my happy place. What could be better than eating a paper cone full of freshly roasted chestnuts bought from a Roman street vendor?
Hadrian’s Temple in the Piazza di Pietra (Peter’s Square).
The Pantheon, with its inscription: Marcus Agrippa Son of Lucius made this in the third year of his reign. The rounded portion of the temple was originally hidden behind porticoes. If we looked closely, we could see the arch shapes on the brick where they were attached.
Another Egyptian obelisk, this time in the Piazza della Rotonda.
The tiny size of the exposed bricks on this house identify it as 14th century… and it is still lived in!
Madama Palace, dating to 1505 AD, is home to the Italian Senate, but was built for the Medici family.
Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers (the Fiumi Fountain) in the Piazza Navona. The Ganges representing Asia, the Nile representing Africa, the Rio Plata representing the Americas, and the Danube representing Europe are depicted at the four corners of the fountain. (Ted and I only need to see the Ganges to complete the fountain!) The fountain is in front of what was Pope Innocent X’s family palace, and contains yet another of Rome’s Egyptian obelisks.
The Piazza Navona was once an ancient Roman stadium. Where the buildings surrounding the square now stand is where the spectators would have sat. It really gave us a sense of just how huge the stadium was.
The Italian Court of Justice, topped by Nike (winged victory), her chariot, and four horses.
As we walked across the bridge spanning the Tiber River, we had a great view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Note ANOTHER obelisk in front of the basilica (below).
The Arch of Constantine, between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill.
The ruins of the Temple of Venus and Rome, located beside the colosseum.
The Colosseum exterior.
The Colosseum interior, which seated up to 50,000. What surprised me the most was how much it reminded me of current football stadiums: elliptical, banked seats, multiple entrances (and ticket values), exterior dividers to get people into lines to enter… it all felt very familiar.
An artist’s rendering of what the Colosseum looked like in its heyday, when the stone surfaces were clad with marble, the niches filled with statues, and the wooden poles for the cloth roof (like an awning) were in place. There was also a model of how the Colosseum’s elevators worked.
We got a peek into the 3 subterranean levels of the Colosseum, where gladiators, animals, and the Romans’ slaves worked and waited until they were lifted to the surface in elevators that used human power and pulleys.
What a day!!