We Live To Travel

Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, and the Dark Heart of Rome!

We took a train from Florence to Rome. This is a pretty easy and inexpensive way to travel. Jessica found a hilarious book in the book store at the train station that is called “Wreck this Journal”, and basically tells her hundreds of ways to trash the book. It was quite hilarious and kept us amused the whole time 🙂


In Rome, the apartment I rented ended up being extremely close to Piazza Navona and on a very interesting street filled with shops, restaurants and bars.


The first night we didn’t do much, but Mom, Gary and Steve ventured out for a bit. From all reports it included looking at fountains…


… and eating amazing gelato!


On our first full day in Rome, we decided to start by visiting Piazza Navona. There was so much going on in this square. Lots of artists, performers and various people selling “stuff”.

The real beauty here is the three fountains, and the beautiful buildings that circle around the square.

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After spending a bit of time here, we headed over towards the Pantheon. This is an amazing building, made even more mind-blowing by the fact that it was completed and dedicated in 126 AD! That is about 1900 years old!!

The pillars out the front are amazing and gigantic. I was trying to imagine them building them, getting them here and then placing them without the benefit of heavy machinery. I was even more amazed when I read that the columns were actually quarried in Egypt, barged here, and moved 700 meters from the river to their final resting spot at the Pantheon!


Before we went into the Pantheon, we stopped for lunch in the square. We chose this restaurant overlooking the Pantheon. The food was quite good, and not too expensive.


People in Europe are quite hyped about the world cup right now, and most restaurants and bars have a TV set up playing the games somewhere. This restaurant brought out a TV, balanced it on the railing, and secured it by knotting the cable to the canopy of the restaurant!


After lunch we went to admire the Pantheon. I kind of remembered it from last time, but was still amazed when I looked at it again. It is quite massive, and a real architectural feat.


The large bronze doors are huge, but apparently not the originals. The current doors were put in during the 15th century. The originals were once plated with gold!


When you first enter, the dome catches your attention first!


The diameter and height of the concrete dome are both 43.3 metres. It is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.


The inside of the Pantheon is still used as a Catholic Church, as well as a monument and tomb for two of Italy’s Kings (and one Queen).



The building was quite finely finished on the inside, and looked beautiful from the front, so it was quite interesting to see that the back was in a bit of ruin.



After the Pantheon we did a little walking and came across this cool fountain that looks like books! We saw one guy drinking out of it, so figured it was okay to wash our hands in 🙂


After a rest back at our apartment, we headed out for dinner. We found this nice restaurant and enjoyed some good food (and drinks!) Jessica and I thought the bellinis were yummy.

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After dinner we headed over to Piazza Navona because Steve wanted to show Jessie the fire dancers. She loved it!


I was a little less impressed and had trouble watching 🙂


Next we headed to the meeting spot for our “Dark Heart of Rome” tour. We were a little early, so walked a bit and found these ruins dating back to 400 BC just in the middle of the city!


Our tour led us through the streets of Rome… in the DARK! Our guide told us stories of people being burned alive, executioners, crimes, and even a few ghosts. Disclaimer: we did not actually see any ghosts 🙂

It was quite an interesting tour, as all the information came in the form of stories which were quite interesting. We also saw the outside of the “Church of the Dead” which is apparently decorated inside with bones and skulls of the deceased. They believed that your soul was important and your flesh and bones were just that, so why not decorate with them (really, that is what the guide told us)! Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside because it is under restoration… I guess we’ll just have to come back 🙂


After walking for 1.5 hours and listening to the interesting anecdotes we ended our tour at the Castelo Sant Angelo which was the site of many public executions.


After a few more photos of beautiful Rome at night we headed back towards home.

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Piazza Navona is beautiful at night.


If you are lucky when you are out walking at night, you might catch a glimpse of a beautiful interior like this! I could handle living here 😉


We finished off the night by me protecting my beautiful niece Jessica from Italian men trying to take her to parties! I DON’T think so! (Sorry Jess!)


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