To Trevi Fountain and beyond…

Tuesday 3 December 2019. On our second full day in Rome, we set out from our apartment in a lovely old building on Piazza dei Mercanti, Trastevere, to see some of the major sites of the Centro Storico. Crossing Viale di Trastevere, we headed for the interesting Basilica di Santa Maria, built on the site of one of the earliest places of Christian worship in Rome. Veering north then, we crossed the Tiber via the Ponte Sisto and made for Campo dei Fiore, an unpretentious neighbourhood market, where we stopped to buy mandarines and dates. Then on to Piazza Navona, with its splendid Bernini, Fountain of the Four Rivers (to wit, the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges and the Río de la Plata). The piazza was quiet, as was Rome generally; early December is evidently a good time to visit. Just as well too: navigating the crowds associated with tourist spectacles in cities like Rome is wearing; the inability to linger renders one’s experience somewhat superficial. Approximately 300 metres to the east of Piazza Navona is the superlative Pantheon, the temple of all the gods, now a church. According to the plaque inside, it is the best-preserved Roman building anywhere and has the largest brick dome in the world. It is certainly a marvel. Striking out next for the Trevi Fountain, we managed to walk south instead of north-east and arrived at the interesting, cat-infested temple ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina, where the younger Handels had fun spotting the friendly felines. A course correction brought us eventually to the famous fountain, named for the district in which it is located. The Trevi is rather amazing, but, like the Spanish Steps, arguably overhyped. Less glamorous but much more interesting is a nearby archaeological site, the Vicus Caprarius, a double attraction comprising the remains of a villa and those of a cistern supplied by water from the source that supplies the Trevi. By now it was lunchtime, and we needed to eat. Having earlier decided to end the day at the Capitoline Museums, 800 metres south of the Trevi Fountain on Capitoline Hill, we set off once again in that direction on the lookout for a good panini shop. We found one off Piazza Venezia and sat on the steps of Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli, adjacent to the Capitoline Museums, to eat. Replete, we entered the magnificent Capitoline Museums, a large complex of three sections, with far too many galleries for the increasingly foot-weary Handels to cover extensively. Nevertheless, we managed to find some choice works, including the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus, Artemis of Ephesus, and the colossal head of Constantine – both of them! As darkness approached we walked back to Trastevere, fully satisfied with our day’s work.

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