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Roma II

October 18, 2011

The Vittorio Emanuele monument at the Piazza Venezia

Sunday, October 16

This morning we took off walking with no particular aim in mind except to end up at Vatican City to see the Basilica of St. Peter. We happened on Via Nazionale, obviously a main thoroughfare, and followed it southwest. Above, the Palacio delle Esposizioni, featuring Soviet political art.

Soon we came upon another imposing structure, elegantly flanked by palm trees, but bearing no signage. A shopkeeper across the street told us that it was the Bank of Italy, which, in view of the previous night’s events, explained the serious police presence out front.

Soon we came, inevitably, to the Piazza Venezia and the Vittorio Emanuele monument, and the incessant Roman traffic.

From the piazza you can see the Foro Traiano (Trajan’s Forum), or what’s left of it, and…

…Trajan’s Markets, and beyond, Trajan’s Column, built to celebrate his victories in what is now Romania in 112 AD.

Continuing westward, we cross the Tiber for the first time. The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica rises in the distance.

Nearing our goal, we pass the Castel Sant’Angelo, originally built as a mausoleum for Hadrian, and later used as a fort and a prison.

Finally, walking west on Via Della Conciliazione, St. Peter’s looms.

The Piazza San Pietro, like the basilica, is huge.

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The basilica is flanked with matching fountains, by Bernini and Carlo Maderno.

Want a Vatican City postmark? Step right up.

We were too late to get into St. Peter’s, and so turned around for the hostel. On the way back we stopped in at the Scholars Lounge, one of several Irish pubs we’ve seen in Rome.

Saying good night to the city, we stroll through the arcades at the Piazza della Repubblica, semi-surrounding the Fontana della Naiadi.

Monday, October 17

Today we decided to take a walk using Rick Steves’ so-called La Dolce Vita tour, basically starting at the Piazza del Popolo and continuing down the Via del Corso, with a detour for the Spanish steps. Above, the the piazza seen through Bernini’s Porta del Popolo.

Immediately after passing through the portal we see the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, rather unassuming on the outside compared to many others, but housing one of the most outstanding art collections of any church in Rome.

Striking paintings by Raphael and Caravaggio (no photos) and many elevated sculptures by Bernini, above.

The ceiling of the central dome.

In a hall off to the side of the chapel I noticed this plaque honoring Ottorino Respighi, composer of The Pines of Rome, The Fountains of Rome, and Feste Romane (Roman Festivals), which has one of the greatest opening chords in all twentieth-century music.

Back out in the Piazza, looking south, are the twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, which serve as the gates to Rome’s Trident, with the Via del Babuino on the east, Via di Ripetta on the west and Via del Corso in the center.

In the center of the piazza is an hieroglyph-inscribed obelisk brought to Rome by Caesar Augustus after his conquest of Egypt.

…and so we begin our walk down Via del Corso, a street of many shops, most quite pricey.

Of course we make the obligatory side trip up Via Condotti to the famous Spanish Steps, perpetually occupied by hundreds of people who apparently have nothing better to do than sit down.

Not that this has anything to do with your humble scriveners, taking a well-deserved break from their research of the behavior of crowds made up of people from many countries who own cameras.

One such crowd, seen from behind.

On Via Gregoriana, leading up to the rear of the Steps, we found this charming makeover taking place.

Peggy stops in at a glove shop across from the Steps recommended by her West L.A. parruchiere.

Further down Via del Corso, we come upon the Piazza Colonna, and a column that bears a striking resemblance to Trajan’s columns, but created by Marcus Aurelius to celebrate his own foreign policy triumphs.

One of many, many fascinating variations we have seen here on the humble doorknocker.


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  1. Roberto permalink

    Hello Peggy, very beautiful the pictures. how are you ?, I wait that you are very well. Our vacations have just finished, but we discovered, saw and know, very beautiful places, and funny , interesting and very kind people also, as you. A kiss for you and hug for bill. Write us !!! Roberto ( Italy – Moscow – France – Espain – Argentina )

  2. Vladimir Ibanez permalink

    Bill, I hope that this message finds you. I hope that you had a wonderful trip. I just wanted to send you my personal information. Please keep in touch, my email address is

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