For our first full day in Rome, we decided to make our way through the most well know piazzas, fountains and various other attractions. We left the hostel in the morning so that we would be mostly done before it got too hot in the afternoon. The receptionist had suggested we take the bus to the Barberini piazza, and then work our way back towards the hostel, ending with Piazza Navona.
Taking the bus was, once again, quite the experience – we honestly probably could’ve walked faster. The first 116 bus that we took only went one stop before the line ended. We walked to the next stop, which was the beginning of the 116 line, just in time for the driver to get off the bus sitting there. He dissapeared for five or ten minutes, came back out and compared ipod playlists with another driver, and then finally got on the bus. The 116 bus is a little electric bus, so it’s about ½ as long as the other busses and goes on a route through less major streets. It was a little terrifying wizzing through the cobblestones, just barely missing parked cars, motorcyles and tourists. But definitely an experience!
After getting off the bus, we walked a little ways to Piazza Barberini, which has the Triton Fountain. The fountain was pretty, and there was a fountain across the street we filled our water bottles in. I love all the free “water fountains” in Rome – the water tastes delicious, is always cold, and hits the spot. Next was the Spanish Steps, which I found rather underwhelming. I guess I was expecting something a little bit more exciting or different. The church above the steps was pretty, and the view was cool, but other than that there wasn’t a lot to them.
The Trevi Fountain is just a few minutes walk, so we continued on to it. It looked a little smaller than what it looks like in the movies, but was still really cool. We entered off to the side, and could only really see a little bit of the fountain and the hoards of people. Once we walked around in front, and down in front, it was a lot bigger. While we were there, I kept thinking of the Lizzie McGuire Movie – I suppose that’s the first time I heard about/saw the Trevi Fountain. We took lots of pictures (and yes, I did throw a coin in) and then got some yummy gelato.
The hostel receptionist had told us that there was a black stone path we could take from the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon. We found it pretty easily (easier than I had been expecting to) and indeed, it lead us pretty much straight there. There were a couple of cute shops that we were able to go into on the way, most had cheap souvenirs and stuff like that, but there was a cute wooden carving shop. I loved the Pantheon. Honestly, part of the reason I enjoyed it so much might have been because I didn’t really know anything about it/have any expectations. One of my favorite parts of the Pantheon was the fact that there is a hole in the top of the dome that provides light for the entire room. I also really that the exterior is rough and ancient looking, but it was ornate and colorful on the inside. And (again) the dome was really cool! I also had no idea Rafael’s tomb was inside, so that was interesting.
After the Pantheon, we headed to Piazza Navona. By this time, it was starting to get a little hot. We didn’t spend very long at the Piazza, but did go inside a really cute little bookstore. On our way back to the hostel (about a 20 minute walk) we stopped and got some calzoni (calzones). They were a lot different than I was expecting, lots more bread and less sauce, and had some sort of a mystery meat, but were okay. Back at the hostel, I was planning on updating the blog and stuff but ended up taking a nap instead.
Later in the afternoon, we went to Castel Sant’Angelo. I had read about it and it sounded cool, and was on our Roma Pass (we had only used one of the two free attractions). I’m not sure what my opinion of it was. It was interesting, and had some really beautiful frescos. The art was strangely arranged though, and it was in serious need of some maps/signs/explanations. I felt like you just wandered around looking at stuff and going “that’s cool”. This is something that i’ve noticed is a definite trend here in Europe, but especially in Italy. I suppose its a reason to have a tour guide take you everywhere.
When we got back, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant at the hostel. Bad idea. We were the only ones there, there wasn’t all that much food, and it was really strange – it was as if they didn’t expect us to actually want to eat there and when we showed up they weren’t ready. All throughout the night, the “hostess” was walking around talking to the cook in the kitchen, and was never around when people poked their heads in and stared at us. It also took forever to get our check after we’d finished eating (a common phenomenon in Italy, i’ve found).
Also, all of the photos from Rome should be posted on the link, so feel free to check them out. You’ll also be able to see more photos from Paris, and maybe even a sneak peak at what we’ve been seeing the past few days!