August 20 - A Day of Sightseeing in Rome

The last day of vacation in a major tourist destination is always difficult. There are so many sights to see and so little time. Today it was brutally hot and humid here in Rome, but we made the best of it and saw some incredible sights.

The Basilica San Clemente was built in the 12th century, but like much of Rome, excavations have revealed it was built on top of a 4th century church which was built on top of a 2nd century pagan temple. We descended the stairs of the brightly decorated church into a dark and musty underground world dimly lit to see the remains of the original churches. In one room I was drawn to the sound of running water. Centuries ago it was the first Roman house of spring water which still flows today into the Tiber River.

After lunch at a modern cafeteria called a snack bar, we visited Piazza del Popolo. In 1480 it was the original entrance to Rome for pilgrims visiting the city from northern Europe. In the center is a refreshing fountain with four lion statues with water pouring from their mouths. I plunged both arms deeply into it to cool off. Another tourist dunked his entire head. Topping the fountain is a 10 story Egyptian obelisk that once decorated the tomb of Ramses II.

Not able to resist the shopping district known as the Golden Triangle, I made a beeline to my favorite store, Swatch. I also checked out the home goods section in a departement store. It's always fun to go in a typical department store. The Golden Triangle is just down the street from the Spanish Steps.

San Giovanni in Laterano is the home church of the pope and a Vatican Church. In order to be officially become the pope, he must sit in a certain chair on the altar. Beside the church in a separate building is a set of ancient wooden stairs. It is said that Jesus climbed these stairs. Today it is a pilgrimage site where hundreds climb the stairs daily on their knees.

Dinner tonight was at Old Bear. It's on a small street hidden behind Piazza Navona. Their pumpkin ravioli with specks of smoked ham was delicious. To get there we took the infamous Bus 64 known for pickpockets, but fortunately we didn't see any.

Piazza Navona was busy tonight. Street musicians entertained the crowd, artists sketched portraits, street vendors sold colorful flying saucers to kids, and people were enjoying the candlelit cafes or sitting by the fountain. Tomorrow we're headed for Dublin. Arrivederci, Roma!


Susan Erickson said…
Sounds like another really interesting day. I forget if Dave teaches about the ancient civilizations, but if he does, sounds like he will have lots of great things to tell his students about! Have a safe flight to Dublin tomorrow.

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