|Thursday 4th October 2007 Weather: - Hot/humid
(J) We changed our minds this morning and decided to visit another side of town, we went to explore the Pantheon then moving on further to Piazza Navona and then on to Castel Sant' Angelo. After a ride on the Metro, then on the tour bus and then some walking we finally arrived at the Pantheon.
The Pantheon has stood there for over 1900 years and you could easily say that looks as if it was built 100 years ago. It has astounded modern engineers as to why it has not collapsed. The original builders had it figured out to a T as to how to mix the various layers of concrete, to what degree to widen the walls at the bottom of the cuppola and to thin the layers down as they got higher so as it does not collapse in the middle. When you stand there and look up into it you see not one crack or repair to the inside of the dome, it looks like it was done in one pour but instead it was layered upon layer. It is another one of the master pieces that make up Rome. The 6 meter thick walls inside the Pantheon are lined with a large block mosaic of marble and on the left as you enter there is the tomb of King Umberto 1 and on the right the tomb of King Vittorio Emanuele 11. Both of the Tombs are guarded by armed guards.
A bit of back street foot shuffling took us to the Piazza Navona, supposedly one of the most beautiful squares in Rome with a dramatically beautiful 'Fountain of the Four Seasons' by Bernini in the middle. No hordes of tourists today as they had all heard that it was covered with hording and surrounded with scaffolding, but we still stole a photo through a peep hole.
Nothing to it but shuffle on to our next destination. In the meantime helping a few other tourists who were lost more than we were. To get there we had to cross the Ponte (bridge) Sant' Angelo which was built in AD 136 by Hadrian to get to the Castle Sant' Angelo (his mausoleum) it is a landmark that can be seen from across the Tiber River and it looks very imposing. The bridge was enhanced by Bernini who with the help of his students lined it on both sides with angels holding the instruments of Christs' passion. The castle over the years has been converted into a fortress by the Popes and has been linked to the Vatican Palaces since AD 1277 by a wall and passageway as an escape route.
Enough of being a tourist for a little while so we decide to go home for a little break. On the way home Herman realizes that his super duper, vandal proof bag has been slashed near the seam on one side, right through the lining, at least 3 cuts. How? When? They are very good. Their loss, our gain, they did not find anything in there, all our valuables are safe. It just shows even though we are very safety conscious one little loss of concentration and anything can happen. We think it must have happened on a very crowded train on the way home yesterday. You need one hand to hold on to anything you can and Herman always keeps his other hand in his front money pocket, the back pockets are empty and all valuables are locked in our suitcases in our very locked apartment.
That gave us a good excuse to go out again as Herman had said "I am just getting used to carrying a bag, it makes my life easier" so off we go to buy one. A nice thick leather one this time so we will see how things go from here but in a week from now we will be asleep in our own beds and having a shower in a space that is larger than a 50cmx50cm triangle with water spurting in all directions from up high. The holiday is the experience of a lifetime, but home is HOME.