With the return of the clear blue skies the following morning, we decided to spend the day in the central Rome for a combination of the Pantheon, shopping, food and fountain-spotting.
The lovely thing about Rome is how accessible everything is. The metro is a handy help to have around, but we found that most places can be reached easily on foot, and the advantage of finding your way by this means is that you won’t miss all the fantastic Piazzas, fountains and buildings tucked away when getting from A to B.
The Pantheon is a classic Roman temple, although with its position in the centre of the city, surrounding by high buildings, you don’t see it until you are practically falling over it. It is very impressive (although half was covered in scaffolding when we visited), reclaimed as a church (as most things are in Rome!), boasting the largest unreinforced dome ever constructed, light streaming through the hole in its top and hitting the floor of the interior.
Although Trevi fountain is the most famous, the many others dotted around the city are well worth a look, and there’s nothing more pleasant than sitting on the edge of the pools of water with a tub of gelato. We walked around the corner to see another famous statue – a large elephant with an Egyptian obelisk perched on its back, looking rather bemused by its situation.
Central Rome has a wonderful atmosphere – relaxed despite the normal rush of a city, peaceful despite the hordes of tourists like ourselves dashing around to get the perfect picture, and friendly (despite our spending ages pondering the merits of different flavours of ice-cream before finally ordering…). Sitting out in the sunshine, whiling away the time talking, looking out over another piazza, each a little different from the ones before, was an absolute pleasure. I’m naturally a bit of a ‘non-stop traveller’, filling each day with as much as possible, but in Rome, sitting and admiring, I felt I saw just as much.
The shopping part on the other hand was not quite as successful. Gucci, Dior, Prada? Um, just a little out of my price range…