After spending the summer at home (and welcoming our first grandchild to the family) we were ready to feed our travel bug with a trip to Rome! We’ve been to Rome before and wanted this to be a more relaxing visit. We planned to revisit a few of the top sites but also looked forward to having time to see places that are not quite as popular and so have fewer tourists.
Rome is a very “walkable” city, with the popular sites clustered inside a few square miles. On our first day we walked across town from the Trastevere, where our rental apartment was located, to the Spanish Steps. The Steps are the widest stairway in Europe and were designed by a Frenchman, who won a competition. The steps and the plaza were originally called Trinità dei Monti, after the church at the top. The name, Piazza di Spagna, came from a Spanish Ambassador who lived there.
We made our way to the top of the stairs, past the church, and on to the Villa Medici for a garden tour.
The Medici Villa is owned by the French and has been home to the French Academy in Rome, an art school, since 1803. The gardens are lovely even on a gray day.
Most of the garden statuary are copies, the originals moved indoors to museums.
The Villa has a fabulous view of St Peter’s and the city.
The rain eased off as we made our way back to the top of the Spanish Steps.
Next we walked past the Trevi Fountain. I expect there are always crowds here, tossing their coins into the fountain. The fountain is situated in a surprisingly very small plaza.
Then on to another popular site, the Pantheon.
Marcus Agrippa built a temple to all the gods of Rome that was destroyed by fire in the year 80. The Pantheon was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126AD. It’s been used as a church since 609. The Pantheon was a marvel when it was built and is still a marvel today. It’s the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
The center floor was roped off as the Pantheon’s oculus had allowed the day’s rain to make a large puddle.
We stopped into the church of San Luigi (St. Louis of the French).
And walked through the Piazza Navona. This square was built over the space of a Roman circus/arena. Assorted architectural styles and three lovely fountains make this a very popular plaza for Romans and tourists.
There are lots of restaurants with outdoor dining on the piazza and on the surrounding streets – not very popular on this rainy afternoon.
It was a hard day to own a motorbike too!
The rain didn’t bother us. We thoroughly enjoyed our first day in Rome.