The morning of our last day with the family we decided to head out and do the same thing again. I had googled “things to do in Rome’ and nothing compelling or new came up where we could walk. So we sold the previous evening’s tour to Dad, Chris, and Matt and we headed out again to see the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Roman Ghetto. Nothing to add here but the Pantheon did not disappoint. The light was different so the interior was different.
Dad was sentimental at the Trevi Fountain. He recalled visiting with mom in the mid-90s. Back in the ghetto Chris headed off on his own. The rest of us ate lunch. Another great meal and off we went our separate ways. Dad and Matt to our apartment and Burt and I to shop.
The Gypsy Carpenters crossed the Tiber River and went into Trasteverde to find some things to take home. I bought a new wallet and two new scarves for less than 50 Euros. My shopping itch scratched was easily scratched so we had more time to burn before the family dinner. My theory of family peace was working great. Stay out of the house unless it’s dinner time.
Burt and I followed the banks of the Tiber upstream to the mole of Rome. We had spotted Castel Sant’Angelo the morning we walked to the Vatican. The Castel is a round brick fortress that kind of deserves to be called a mole. That first morning we had no idea what it was. Then we heard it was Catstel San’Angelo and we still had no idea what it was. Then we heard it was once the Pope’s secret apartments and still had no idea. Then I heard it was Hadrian’s Tomb and we had to go.
Hadrian’s Mausoleum was renamed Castel San’Angelo by a pope trying to distract a plague ridden populace from their back sliding towards Roman theism. Rumors had reached Pope Gregory I that the people were secretly worshiping statues of Roman gods so the Pope had his own vision. First the pagan statue exploded. Next, Archangel Michael came down and landed on the tomb of Hadrian and blasted the plague out of Rome. The threat to Christianity resulted in the destruction of more Roman sites. They weren’t ruins until they were ruined. All this time, despite being told otherwise, I thought weather and use had destroyed these sites. After seeing the Vatican and these cathedrals and the ruins it is well planted in my head that one culture destroyed the other.
The tomb was renamed for the holy vision and Hadrian became an afterthought. Weirdly, I don’t know why I know about Hadrian’s Tomb. I remember his wall in England but somebody somewhere used to joke about Hadrian’s Tomb. A relative? A teacher? Regardless, Hadrian had quite the mausoleum. His remains are currently misplaced but you can visit where they once were. The fortress like monument became a fortress and hid several popes in times of trouble. The place is still hard to enter. Just the night before our visit Burt and I found ourselves stranded in the moat with rats all around. We were just trying to walk home and wound up in the grounds with no easy way out. I used GPS. The rats were very intimidating. I imagine five could take down an adult human.
The Castel San’Angelo is worth the entry fee. It is a real castle with lots of fun lookouts, a moat, a drawbridge, jails, cannons and all the other things a castle needs. The museum has weapons and suits of armor. The pope’s apartments are suitably extravagant. The wind off the ramparts stole my hat from my head. There is a shining statue of the archangel at the top. He’s surrounded by fantastic Roman views. We both enjoyed the laid back afternoon wandering the castle. I even got my hat back. It was one of 4 that had landed down below that afternoon.
When in Rome here’s what I recommend:
1. Coliseum and surrounding ruins.
3. Roman Ghetto
4. Castel San’Angelo
The Vatican can be skipped. It’s too crowded and too much stuff to appreciate. You can do Saint Peters or the Sistine Chapel separately.