We arrived in Rome in the early afternoon. Burt and I threw down our bags and said see ya later to the family and headed out. We managed an 8 mile triangle that captured the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Jewish Quarter. The Gypsy Carpenters and 150,000 fellow travelers were out that afternoon walking the superheated street of Rome.
Rome was not a planned part of our trip. We had thought we’d be in Amalfi until our departure date but the reservation error put us back in the capitol with two days to wander. Burt and I decided to walk to the major attractions. Actually, the Pantheon, our favorite, was an accident. We found it on our way to the Trevi Fountain. That was kind of fun, accidentally running into one of the wonders of the world while looking for an over rated and ugly marble fountain.
The Spanish Steps are famous because they are famous. Think reality TV. The steps were built in the early 18th century as a kind of urban renewal. The governing forces wanted a nice connector between two landmarks on different elevations. There is a church at the top and there was the Spanish Embassy at the bottom. Not sure if the embassy is still there. There was a competition and these steps were the winner. Frankly, these steps bore me and I am not interested in learning more. I prefer the feel of the steps at the Lincoln Memorial.
Moving on to Trevi Fountain I am slightly more amused. Again, the fountain has a degree of famous for being famous. The name Trevi comes from Tre Vie or three roads. This site was the intersection of three roads and also the terminus of an aqueduct of clean water for the city. In 19 BC a supposed virgin supposedly found the water source that was then routed to the city. I only bring this up because the scene of discovery is part of the extensive marble sculpture that makes up today’s fountain. I didn’t notice the virgin. The marble facade was the result of another arts competition. In 1730 Pope Clement XII had a contest. One Alessandro Galilei from Florence was deemed the winner but the Romans would not hear of it and insisted that the winner be homeboy Nicola Salvi. No word on what Galilei planned. I really want to know. Galilei was a renowned engineer and architect. I tried researching this topic but my Italian isn’t up to the task.
Today water in the fountain is recycled. Toss into the germy recylcled water 3,000 Euros in good luck coins and that is not water you want to drink. People try to bathe in it for superstitious reasons but the Italian gendarme toot on whistles continuously to discourage bathers. They are probably saving scores of people from some dread skin disease. Burt scampered down to the clean water spigot that still delivers the original Virgin’s water and filled our water bottle. I took in the global horde. It was all whistles and selfie sticks and over the shoulder coin tossing and souvenir hawking with thousands of bodies in a stifling heat. I’m guessing it was only a little bit different on market day in Rome when the fountain first debuted some 30 years after it construction began. The marble used here was mined from the, wait for it, coliseum. I have an eye for the cleaner lines of ancient Rome. This Baroque stuff is not for me.
It was late in the day and Burt and I had put some serious mileage on our bodies over the last two weeks. We were not easily amused by the garish public art of the 18th century. We decided to head to the Jewish quarter and have some food. On the way a tiny sign caught my eye. Pantheon with an arrow pointing down an alley. Hungry and tired, Pantheon here we come.