When my sister and her husband were cruising, their friend wrote out a thorough tour for them to follow in Rome. I was able to take part in a “Rome on Your Own” tour for the crew, so I decided to follow the same tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do everything that was recommended, but I still had one of the greatest days of my contract.
The tour bus dropped us off near the Vatican Museum. I pushed through the crowds with my dance captain and her boyfriend– two of my frequent travel companions. We started at St. Peter’s Square, a large piazza designed by Bernini. The sight of St. Peter’s Basilica was fantastic. Since the weather was so beautiful, we chose not to go inside, but rather to keep walking in the sunshine.
My goal of the day was to see the Pantheon, so we made our way across the Tiber and strolled down Via Dei Coronari, a beautiful little pedestrian street that would take us to our destination.
We got sidetracked while passing Piazza Navona, and decided to stop for lunch. I had a vegetable risotto that put all other risotto dishes I’ve had to shame. I also enjoyed an Aperol Spritz, my favorite Italian indulgence. Our table was outside, so we were able to people watch, and enjoy the beauty of the piazza while we ate.
I learned from the tour notes from my sister’s friend that the surrounding buildings at the piazza were build on the foundations of a Roman circus, this the space is in the shape of a large oval. In the center of the piazza is Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. There are two other statues in the space, the Fontana del Moro and the Fountain of Neptune.
Next, we walked the final few blocks to the Pantheon. Access is free, so we were able to go in and really appreciate the structure. The Pantheon was build around 126 AD. It is one of the best preserved Ancient Roman buildings, and was shockingly advanced for its time. The concrete dome has an oculus that opens to the sky. This dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The Pantheon has been in continuous use since it was built, and since the 7th century, has been used as a Catholic church.
Time was already running out, so we started back towards the bus. We walked down Via Dei Coronari again, and stopped at the Gelateria del Teatro. I had “pure chocolate” and pistachio flavors in a small cup. The chocolate was rich and delicious, and the pistachio was probably the best I’ve had.
We crossed Ponte Sant’Angelo, a pedestrian bridge flanked by angel statues, and came upon Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. In the past, the mausoleum has been used as a fortress and a castle, but now is a museum.
We continued walking, and had just enough time for a glass of wine across fro the Vatican Museum before getting back on the bus. I would have loved to have more time in Rome, but I was able to enjoy every minute of my day there. No complaints!