Running Around Rome

The Emmanuel Monument and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Emmanuel Monument and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Inside the Pantheon. It was built as a temple and is now a Catholic church. The dome is an  unreinforced concrete dome which is astonishing considering it was built 2000 years ago!

Inside the Pantheon. It was built as a temple and is now a Catholic church. The dome is an unreinforced concrete dome which is astonishing considering it was built 2000 years ago!

For the past several months we’ve been traveling in “low season”. Many times we had the campgrounds to ourselves or shared them with 2 or 3 other campers. Turns out the Christmas season in Rome is super busy. But that hasn’t stopped us – we’ve been out and about several times. There is so much to see. Rome is a very expensive city to visit so we chose to have a day of no-cost sightseeing (other than transportation). We started at the monument built to honor Vittoria Emmanuel – the first King of Italy.  It is a huge monument that includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, eternal flames, a museum and a viewing area of Rome. The only part of it that cost money was if you wanted to take the elevator to the top, which we skipped. Visiting monuments like this force us to learn about the history of the area we are visiting. I think many of us know about ancient Rome but what do you know about a united Italy? We didn’t know much until going through the museum and learning.

From there we tried to find the Pantheon. I say “tried” because it took us quite a while. Rome is a maze of streets, little alley ways, and big avenues. We knew we were close but just couldn’t find it. So we broke down and ate some lunch. It’s easy to eat in Rome; there is pizza everywhere and we’ve been trying out our fair share of it. Madison and I split a white pizza with potatoes, sausage and pesto – absolutely yummy! After feeling a bit refreshed we asked our waitress which way to the Pantheon and then headed out. Yes, we were only about 2 blocks away but with the maze and the buildings blocking any view it was tough to find. And when we found it I said this can’t be it – it’s so blah. Turns out it is not much to look at on the outside but the inside is magnificent. The Pantheon was built as a temple and was dedicated to the worship of every god. Over the years it was converted to a memorial chapel and a church. It is the final resting place of Vittorio Emanuel and Raphael. We were most impressed by the concrete dome. It is a perfect sphere built of unreinforced concrete; the same width as height. Kay is a civil engineer who has worked with concrete and was just astounded by this.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome. Absolutely beautiful and huge.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome. Absolutely beautiful and huge.

From here it was a short walk to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Stairs. Both are in a very busy shopping area with lots of upscale stores which we breezed right by. There was definitely a crowd at the Trevi Fountain but not so much to keep us away. I had read about the fountain and knew it was a “must-see” in Rome. It is a beautiful fountain that is huge (things in Rome seem to be absolutely huge.) On our way to the Spanish Stairs we passed a protest and demonstration. We don’t know what it was about and we’ve become a bit used to them as we’ve seen them in 7 or 8 cities where we have been. Though this time someone set off a red cloud of smoke which alarmed the kids so we just kept walking and didn’t linger to find out what was going on.

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish stairs have been a meeting place for locals and tourists alike for many years. It is built around the Spanish Piazza near the Spanish Embassy. There is a fun fountain at the bottom and then lots of stairs. It’s easy to forget that Rome is built on seven hills but this is one place it becomes obvious. From there we hopped on the metro and made our way back to the campground.

I enjoy days like this – just wondering and exploring – but the kids really don’t. We try to find a balance on days like this. The metro was really crowded and we were packed in truly as tight as we could be. It is a bit creepy riding like that but it is what it is. And, it’s much better then trying to drive into the city! So, it was a fun filled interesting day and we promised the kids the next day off so that worked for all of us.

SAM_5650

Pigeons and Fountains – everywhere in Rome!

The Vatican - all light up at night.

The Vatican – all light up at night.

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Posted on December 29, 2013, in adventure, European travel, family travel, Homeschooling, Italy, Rome, RV travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Any clue as to how the dome was constructed? I wonder if it was all supported by scaffolding until it was complete. And what is the composition of the concrete?!! 2000 years is remarkable.

    • Elizabeth Brooke-Willbanks

      Paul – we think they built it in big square pieces and put them in place like a puzzle. Not sure about that but it’s the best Kay can figure out. We haven’t been able to find out much about how they built it. It was very beautiful.

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