Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Roman Holiday: famous fountains, pagan temples, and piazzas

Our Saturday in Rome started out with a visit to the famous Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that if you throw a coin in, you’ll come back to Rome someday.

I was all over that.

We learned later that if you throw in 2 coins you’ll fall in love with an Italian, and if you throw in 3 coins you’ll marry them. By the time we found that out, Olimpia had already done 2 coins. So she did a third, because, really. Might as well.

I was actually surprised by how pretty the fountain was. I knew it would be pretty, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting it to be that impressive.

One of my favorite things about traveling in Europe is observing Russian tourists. They often feel the need to take ‘sexy’ pictures at every site they go to. A simple smile and normal pose aren’t good enough.

Props to the zoom on my camera for capturing this.  This is how she was posing for like 5 minutes. 

We tried to take sexy mermaid pictures too, but it was hard not to laugh. Also, it’s hard to commit to it like the Russians do. I just can’t take myself that seriously.

Our next destination was the Pantheon. Thankfully, we were able to find it because Olimpia has the magical ability to read maps. I don’t know how she does it. She thinks it's because of her Dora the Explorer haircut.

On our way there, we walked by this pretty church. When you see a pretty church in Europe, one of my life rules is that you have to go inside.

I’m so glad we did! It’s called St. Ignazio in Loyola. I think it was my second-favorite one I saw in Rome (after St. Peter’s). The ceiling was breathtaking. 

Just up the street from the church, I saw my first glimpse of the columns of the Pantheon.



I like it because it’s old and historical. I mean, Marcus Agrippa had it built during the reign of Augustus. Come on. That’s exciting. It used to be a pagan temple, but now it’s a Catholic church.

Raphael’s grave is in the Pantheon. We were excited to ‘pay hommage’, in Olimpia’s words, after seeing his beautiful paintings the day before.

Nearby the Pantheon is one of Rome’s most famous plazas, the Piazza Navona. We hung out there and listened to some music for a little while to soak up the atmosphere. 

There are three big fountains in the plaza. This main one in the middle was sculpted by Bernini, and the pretty building behind it was designed by Bernini’s rival Borromini. People like to stare at this spot and try to decide who was the better artist. If that’s your idea of a good time, I would highly recommend visiting the Piazza Navona. It's a lively spot with lots of restaurants, music, and tourists!

Piazza Navona is pretty far from the metro, so we decided to walk to our next stop: the Spanish Steps. There were some beautiful views walking along the Tiber River.


This church looks really cool! I have no idea what it’s called, but I’d love to go inside someday. (Yes, I know...I broke my own life rule about not going into every pretty European church when I see one. The problem was that there was a river in the way.)

There was lots of good shopping as we got closer to the Spanish Steps. In fact, all of a sudden a sort of supernatural sense came over me and I could sense that there was a Zara nearby. It was just such a Zara neighborhood.

And we turned the corner, and there it was! I bought a pair of pink sparkly shoes that I’ve had my eye on since August. I’ve now shopped at Zara in 8 countries (U.S., France, Spain, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Israel, and Italy). If only the Vatican would have had one hahaha. 

I really feel like Zara should have some sort of special rewards program for me. Like a shopping spree for every two new Zaras that I shop in, or something.

So anyways, we were pretty hungry by this point. We decided to try our first Italian pasta and eat on the Spanish Steps. I had gnocchi. So. Good. I liked my gnocchi almost as much as I liked going to Zara (high praise). Italy: finally a country that understands my taste buds.

I forgot to take a picture of the steps (gnocchi on the brain?), so I found this one online that's way better than anything I would have taken anyways.

We climbed the steps and the views got better the farther we went up.

Our last stop after a long day of sightseeing was to pop into the church on top of the hill.

The previous day I fell in love with the Vatican, but this day I fell in love with Rome and Italy. What a city!

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