In Patricia’s version of our day in Rome, she was force-marched through the city, begging for food and water, while I was on my single-minded quest to conquor as many history sites as possible in one afternoon. That’s so untrue. She’d had breakfast. And somewhere in late afternoon, I allowed her to have one piece of pizza and one scoop of gelato. She even got to sit while she ate the pizza. And she had water with her pizza. Maybe.
Coming out of the Forum on its north end, we came upon Trajan’s Column and paused long enough to take some photos. It’s a 98 foot high column made of Carrara marble, created to commemorate the Emperor Trajan’s CE 102 and 106 victories against the Dracians (who lived in what’s now Romania and bits of other east European countries). On it is a spiral bas relief that depicts scenes from the Roman/Dracian wars.
Then it was north on the Via del Corso, right at some random street, and a wiggle in a direction that I hoped was northeast-ish. We were on a hunt for the Trevi Fountain, because Patricia wanted to do the coin-in-the-fountain thing.
It was mid-afternoon. “When are we having lunch?” asked Patricia.
She gets to see the Trevi Fountain and now she also wants food? Will her demands never end?!
The Trevi Fountain stands at the end of ancient Rome’s main aqueduct, where three roads (tre vie) meet. The sculpture (finished in 1762) represents the taming of the waters by Oceanus, the divine personification of the sea. It’s interesting that a Pope — Clement XII — would commission a work that represented a scene from Roman mythology.
The fountain wasn’t that hard to find. Which was a shame because the rest of Rome had found it too. The crowd was about twenty deep in front of the fountain, but that didn’t deter us. We crawled under hand rails, jumped down walls and pushed our way through the crowd. You’ve never seen two more determined little old ladies.
We made it to the front of the pack and Patricia had her “Three Coins in a Fountain” moment. Legend has it that if you stand with your back to the fountain and throw in a coin, over your left shoulder with your right hand, you will someday return to Rome. According to the Catholic publication Crux, $1.7 million worth of coins were collected from the fountain in 2016 (there is a large police presence around the fountain, to ensure that the money isn’t stolen). Caritas Rome, a Catholic charity that provides support for Rome’s poor, is the organization that gets that money.
From the fountain, we walked to the Pantheon. And as we did:
Patricia: “When do we get to eat?”
Me: “When we see something that appeals to us.”
Patricia: Mumbles something under her breath.
The current Pantheon (built over a couple of previous iterations) was a temple, built by the emperor Hadrian around 126. It’s apparently not true that it’s called Pantheon because it was dedicated to all of the gods. The gods, jealous and petty beings that they were, wouldn’t have been happy about that. It was a nickname that could have had to do with the many statues of gods that surrounded the building, but no one really knows. The first iteration of the Pantheon, built during the reign of the emperor Augustus, was dedicated to Romulus (remember him?), whose disappearance during a storm led to the belief that he had ascended into the heavens, to become a god.
The Pantheon (credit for the two photos above to Patricia) is now a church, officially called Santa Maria ad Martyres. There were prayers being said while we were in there, to which absolutely no one was paying any attention. “Silenzio” is apparently Italian for “Ignore the guy saying silenzio.”