Rome: Giorno Uno
Leaving at 3:30 a.m., we arrived in Rome after diverting to a nearby airport around 10:30 a.m. It took that long because the cab driver could not find the first group’s hotel, so we got a whirlwind “tour” of the city. The hotel, Hotel Porta Maggiore, was a labyrinth, but decent for the price. We spent a lot of time walking the streets of Rome looking for the Spanish Steps, which was fine by me with the sunny mid 50s weather.
We made it to the top fo the Spanish Steps for a great view of the city then made our way to Trevi Fountain. Herr was surprised that the fountain was at street level (actually below), but as we saw with all ruins, the ancient city sat at least fifteen feet below current street level. At Trevi we enjoyed our first gelato – heaven! – before leaving for the Pantheon.
Along the way is a row of marble columns now fixated to the side of a modern building. Something to take note of is how the modern city grew around and into the ancient city. The Pantheon opens up to a small plaza with a fountain surrounded by lots and lots of tourists. Despite it being just one big room with a big hole in the roof (ocolus), it was by far the coolest site of the day. The domed roof is one of earliest examples of concrete, and an impressive one at that. It made me so happy I had to hug the giant doors. Twice. 😀
We attempted to locate the Diocletian Baths near Termini (main train station), and discovered the large open area was still in tact and converted to a church. Afterwards we wandered around until we found the Hard Rock for some dinner. I had some lasagna (I thought it fitting) that was actually quite tasty.