Even as I set off this morning I could feel my legs. Yesterday was just too far and I found myself gingerly walking up hill to cut round the back of the Roman Type Writer so I could get the The Pantheon. By the time I got to the otherside the worrying feelings were near gone and so I proceeded on to my target.
Where as The Colosseum left me neutral and The Trevi Fountain was nice but over-rated, The Pantheon from outside is just wow. Not quite the wow of Todai-ji or Qtab Minitar, but not that far off. Inside is equally impressive, but it could be argued all the Christian symbolism inside does ruin it a little. Also I noticed European’s seem to have less respect for ancient religeous buildings (and in this case one still in use) than the Japanese. Actually come to think of it, my experience of Indian UNESCO World Herritage Sigths is that they will do the minimum to keep them going, so at least it’s better here. The Pantheon is a must see when you’re in Rome.
Next stop was near by, the Piazza Navona, where Barberini and Borromini went to architectural war to create possibly the best piazza in Rome. The fountains are good and calming, helping you distract your attention from the touts who seem to plague Rome. Also there were various artists at work here, most doing charactures of punters, but still good for the tourist to view.
Now at this point I should have turned round and gone shopping then returned to the hotel. I say should. Being the fool that I am I realised that the River Tiber was just north of here and so I wandered up to it. I grabbed a sandwich and cold drink by the first bridge I encountered, Ponte Cavour. From there I wandered along past Ponte Umberto I to Ponte Sant’ Angelo, across which is the ancient mausoleum constructed by Hadrian before it became a fortress and then a Christian building. I found myself dawn across though I didn’t go in. Problem is that from there you have a clear view of Basilica St Pietro (and you are now effectively in Vatican City). I will say this now, one very noticeable difference between Vatican City and the rest of Rome is not the the improved cleanliness, not the better postal service, but the fact that the area is full of touts, and I do mean full. As you get close to Piazza St Pietro you can’t go 5 yards with out being hassled by a tout, a beggar, a tour guide, or any other scum of the universe. Any Catholics out there ? – tell your bosses to get their own back yard sorted out. Having reached the Basilica I saw the LONG queues that even the ubiquitous tour guide parties were forced to line up for and so decided that controversial celing art could wait for another time so I mademy way through the scum, tourists and pilgrims back to the next bridge along in my river walk, Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II. I crossed back over. Proceeding onwards past four more bridges (and a stop in a bar for a cold soft drink and the writing of postcards) I finally came to the Tiber island of Isola and Ponte Rotto – the Broken Bridge. From there I cut in land to the Temples of Hercules Victor and Portunus. Annoyingly as I then went behind the neighbouring church to the Circus Maximus (which is now but a grass and dust field I saw a queue and assumed it was to go in to the church. It wasn’t. It was only later I found it was for La Bocca della Verita – The Mouth of Truth – arg too late now.
From Circus Maximus I headed back in to town, round the back of the ruins on Palatino up to Camplidoglio and back down the other side. By this stage I was now feeling both my thighs so grabbed a large cola and a rest. I was now in the shopping area and had souvenirs to buy. But while there I found the Time Elevator, a multi-screen, moving screen experience that lets you travel through 3000 years of Rome. Alas it was not what I was expecting, was short on the Roman side, graphics were historically innacurate (at which point you start questioning everything an anything (it showed the Colosseum on fire while Rome burnt in it’;s great fire during Nero’ reign, however it’s construction was only started by Vespasian who was four emperors on from Nero (though only a year or so), so at the time time would not have been there (and in the near future from there would have become the area of Nero’s private lake). Also the moving chairs were not really for the effect of swooping over buildings, but rather for micky mouse side story chases …
Leaving there it was time for tat shopping, then food souvvenirs (i.e. the real ones). Annoyingly the tat I wanted to get for my nephew (who would appreciate it) I could not find. Here’s hoping I see it on the way to the station or at the airport tomorrow.
When I finally got back to the hotel I was dead to the world. My legs are tired and my muscles, especially my left thigh and righ calf are sore, my back hurts and I need rest (i.e. aholiday…) Time to contemplate food for the evening,