We walked along, following the Tiber River on its eastern bank, past the Castelo D'Angelo and the Palace of Justice and spotted this small church with the ornate exterior on the far bank:
Continuing along, it occurred to Martha that we'd be somewhat close to the Spanish Steps, a locale that is one of the more famous "must see" locations of Rome, and made further famous by movies such as "Roman Holiday" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. A movie, by the by, which we'd watched and planned on seeing how many locations we could find.
We knew that it was presently having renovation work done to the church at the top of the hill on which the Spanish Steps were built, and so had resisted going there (as with the Trevi Fountain) but Martha was determined to not let things go unseen when they were so close.
But as we were following the river bank, we got a bit "mis-oriented" and a route was followed to what was believed to the the site of the Spanish Steps but turned out to be something different, the Piazzi di Popolo or The People's Square. Back in older times, it was also Rome's North Gate:
There was a tall obelisk at the center of the plaza but it was also having work done on it, and the company in charge had surrounded it with a fence on which they'd sold advertising for a car company I think. Not work taking a picture of, shall we say?
We elected to take a path up a short flight of steps which put us on the Viale della Triniti di Monti, this time pointed in the direction of the actual Spanish Steps. Here's a parting shot of a couple of small domed churches in the Piazza di Popolo:
Now, somewhere in the process of walking along towards the Spanish Steps, and after the shot above, I managed to cause the storage card on my camera to disengage slightly, and didn't notice that pictures I was taking were warning "No Card" on the small LED screen of the camera.
So, though we did find the Spanish Steps and took a few pictures, there's no evidence of such. Not that we found it very scenic by the way. The facades erected by the company restoring the church towers on top of the hill were rather ugly I thought. Here's a view of them that I found on google:
Now, the crowds depicted above were not what we found, it was quite acceptably sparse in terms of humanity but still, it didn't live up to the hype in my opinion.
We wandered down away from the steps, along the shopping district which Martha said was their equivalent of our Rodeo Drive in LA.
We got turned around as we endeavored to get to the Pantheon, but even though we had to retrace our steps for a few blocks, we did find these interesting church interiors that we passed by. The first one sported a small dome which at first I'd mistaken as Saint Peter's Basilica's Dome.
A bit of navigating later, we did find our way to the Pantheon, getting there two minutes after it had opened and was pretty much empty.
We went inside, I to take pictures and Martha to sit quietly (it is a church after all) and listen to the audio guide she had on the history of the Pantheon. It's one of the best preserved of ancient Roman buildings, more info here: link.
When it rains, the water collects in the center of the dome's floor
and is drained away by holes located there. Cool eh?
If you think of the entrance to the Pantheon as six o'clock, and the altar as 12 o'clock, then you'll find this memorial to Italy's King Umberto I at 9 o'clock:
At the 3 o'clock position is another monument to Italy's "Father": King Vittorio Emanuele II.
These kings were Italy's only two Kings before it became a republic.
Soon after we arrived, tour groups swarmed the place inevitably and we adjourned to a nearby cafe/gelateria called Della Palma which had come recommended by friends of ours who'd toured parts of Italy the year before. 150 flavors of gelato, folks, worth the visit and its only a short walk north of the Pantheon. No gelato this early though in the morning, we contented ourselves with espressos and chocolate filled pastry:
I personally found the "barista" a bit hard to communicate with, but
the place is worth the visit.
Near the gelateria was this church, Santa Maria Maddalena with a rather eye-catching exterior, its interior was even more impressive:
The heat of the day had begun as the sun climbed higher into the eastern sky and we slowly made our way back to the hotel, crossing the river at the Castelo D'San Angelo bridge. I'd stayed up till midnight local time last night due to work and so I soon collapsed into bed for a "nap".
Lunch, later on, was at a small ristorante near the Ottaviano Metro station which we'd planned to take to the Colosseum to go visit a Vespa Museum nearby.
Lunch was fine, no food porn shots though. We walked over to the nearby metro stop and found its doors shuttered. Apparently repairs were being done, near as I could tell. There was a small crowd around the entrances to the Metro station, all waiting for the buses I assume.
So, we gave up on the idea of the Vespa Museum (Sorry Steve W!) as we weren't about to try and walk to it in the heat and humidity. We did find a shop where I was able to purchase a replacement AC adaptor for Patrick's laptop however, so it wasn't a total loss. Patrick, had managed, to leave his laptop's charger back home, in spite of repeated checks by me. Sigh.
We walked over to the shopping district and Patrick and I were dismissed at that point by Martha who remained to "shop" with Miles. Patrick and I walked back to the hotel, after detouring slightly to find a camera store (only to find it closed).
I did some work while we waited for Martha and Miles to return and soon we all were "resting" some more before dinner.
Dinner was at the same trattoria where Miles discovered he loves Tiramisu and the cute Italian waitress that works there. The wait staff actually remembered us and made us feel welcome once again.
After dinner, Martha and Miles did a little shopping while Patrick and I wandered over towards the San Angelo bridge for pictures. You see, it was the golden hour. We got on the eastern bank of the Tiber river via the Ponte Principe Amedeo just south of the San Angelo Bridge.