We spent our second full day in Rome in some of our old familiar haunts. No Metro or meandering today. But there were a few surprises in store.
We began by heading over to the Via del Corso. As we walked down the busy thoroughfare, we noticed a massive traffic jam shaping up – unusual even for Rome traffic. As we got further along we saw that the Police and Carabinieri had the street barricaded and were diverting everyone away from the Parliamentary square. There were a lot of guys walking around with assault rifles but the atmosphere seemed calm enough. It looked like some bigwig was coming to visit. Too early for Donald Trump though.
We turned off del Corso and headed over to one of our favorite spots – Piazza di Pietra. There is the huge facade of the Temple of Hadrian here and this is a spot where Teddy loved to run around in when we were here in 2010. Maria in the above photo is in front of the facade.
Next we went to the Pantheon – and it was nice to see that the authorities had finally completed their restoration work on this marvelous 2nd century building. The last couple of times we were here there was metal scaffolding all over the front of the Pantheon. Now it looks terrific.
The Pantheon is so old the architects of the time hadn’t figured out how to do a complete domed ceiling. So there is “a hole in the roof where the rain comes in” – if I may quote Sgt. Pepper.
While we were at the Pantheon a precision flying team of jet fighters zoomed overhead trailing smoke in the colors of the Italian flag. Quite a contrast with the 2nd century. Something interesting must be going on in Rome today.
Then it was on to my favorite spot in Rome – Piazza Navona. The last couple of times we were here it looked like an EllisDon construction site – the water was turned off and there were lumber barricades all over the fountains – a mess. Now everything is blissfully back to normal.
Why Pope Innocent X had Bernini build his graceful Four Rivers fountain around the first century Obelisk of Domitian is a mystery to me. When it comes to aesthetics, I guess he wasn’t infallible.
The smaller sub-fountains are more to my liking.
As we were touring Piazza Navona, a military band marched in, lined up and proceeded to play a concert of sprightly European marches. No John Philip Souza here. From the look of their uniforms I believe this is The Italian Air Force Band. They were very professional.
At this point our curiosity got he better of us and Maria asked some of the spectators what was going on. Turns out it was Armed Forces Day – Italy’s version of Remembrance day, since for the Italians the First World War ended a week earlier than it did for our troops.
From Piazza Navona we headed over to Torre Argentina, a Roman ruin unearthed in 1926. We had seen it the day before, but today we decided to take a closer look.
Apparently Julius Caesar was assassinated here in 44 BC, but we didn’t see any dudes in togas running around with knives (unlike the Colosseum.) What we did see was
cats. Lots of ’em. But they were not your typical mangy emaciated street cat. These were well fed and sleek – obviously well cared for. One even looked amazingly like our own Mr. Oates. We had to investigate further.
Turns out that at the edge of the ruin was a cat sanctuary and adoption place. Inside were dozens of cats – some in cages, others lying round in cat beds. The Roman cat sanctuary was sponsored by some good folks in the UK – and people like us who made a donation. We worked our way through – a chin rub here, an ear scratch there – and we certainly got our cat fix from the mellow and friendly felines who were lucky enough to be in the room.
After cats it was time for flowers so we toured the Campo de Fiori market.
And after that we visited one of our favorite places – the Renaissance Palazzo della Cancelleria – where they have an exhibit of some of Leonardo da Vinci’s large machines.
And finally it was back up del Corso ,over to the Spanish Steps and finally to Piazza del Popolo – where we probably should have ended up the day before.
We headed back to our hotel for a break and that evening we went back to do Ris for dinner. This time we had pasta – the time before it was pizza. Same great red wine though. So ended our second full day in Rome. Off to the ship tomorrow.