The Trevi Fountain Guards Many Secrets
What would Rome be like without its piazzas and fountains? Certainly the piazza is a requisite item in any survival kit for city dwellers. In Rome where the onslaught of cars, vespas and tourists produce mayhem, the piazza becomes a refuge for locals and visitors alike. It is the living room of people confined in small apartments. It is the gathering place, the children’s playground, the place to see and be seen, and the place to enjoy the sound of whispering fountains while watching the world go by.
|The Piazza Navona is a good place to watch “la dolce vita”|
Speaking of Bernini, he was also an accomplished sculptor. Two of his most famous works are the Apollo and Daphne and the Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The latter is a scene depicting an angel about to pierce the heart of the saint. The expression on the face of St. Teresa has been described as “sensual” by art critics. The figures of Apollo and Daphne in the Borghese Museum portray a fleeing Daphne turning into a tree as Apollo chases her. Discovering or rediscovering Bernini’s masterpieces is one of the highlights of any visit to the eternal city.
Within walking distance of Piazza Navona is the Pantheon. Its beautiful coffered dome has served as model for many similar subsequent structures. The great painter Raphael lies here in repose along with kings Vittorio Emmanuele II and Umberto I.
In front of the Pantheon is the compact Piazza Rotonda. There’s no better place to sit and savor a gelato while pondering the great builders who created a harmonious structure without the technological know-how we take for granted today.
|Piazza Rotonda is the best place to savor a gelato while admiring the Pantheon|
Shop windows along Via Condotti display art of the wearable kind. This street is probably the forerunner of exclusive shopping streets which have found their niches in cities worldwide. But if couture moves you not, then step into one of several small 18th century salons at Caffè Greco and imagine the famous writers who once gathered in these rooms. You might very well be sitting on the same banquette where John Keats sat while writing some of his melancholy poems or where Goethe read his works to friends and admirers.
Rome takes on a distinct personality when night descends upon the ruins of the great Roman Empire. Under cover of darkness, the hard edges of stone are muted and deep shadows give free rein to the imagination. It’s easy to visualize the bacchanalia in the Golden House of Nero, the Vestal Virgins tending the sacred fire, the thousands of spectators in the Colosseum cheering gladiators on.
|Toss a coin into the Trevi fountain and make a wish|
Where to stay: The four-star Hotel Universo is near Termini Station and Piazza della Repubblica. Address is Via Principe Amedeo, 5/b.
Café sitting: The Tre Scalini on Piazza Navona faces the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Caffè Greco is on Via Condotti 86.