Pantheon & Piazza Navona

06.08.2010

Today was a pretty easy day, but I did walk quite a bit.  I started out with Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a church located just around the corner from the Pantheon.  There were two interesting things about this church.  One, it has a statue called “Christ Bearing the Cross” by Michelangelo.  Two, St. Catherine of Sienna is buried under the high altar.   Lots of people are buried in these churches of Rome and I just stumbled on this one on my way to the Pantheon.

There is also an amazing little piazza in front of the church, which features a sculpture of an elephant by Bernini with an obelisk.  I continued walking along and came up from the backside of the Pantheon.

They are doing some kind of work in the front of the church, so there is scaffolding everywhere.  I was hoping to get a good shot of the front, but there was too much construction going on.  The Pantheon is one of my favorite churches in Rome.  The geometry of the design puts me in awe.  I also like how simple it is.  I took some pictures in black & white and cannot wait to see how they turn out.

Piazza Navona is just a short walk away, so I went over there.  It was another hot and humid day and I was baking in the sun.  I found a piece of shade and sat for a bit before chatting up some Americans.  They were from Virginia and looking for a tour that was leaving from the area I was sitting in.  I also met some women from Chicago who I shared a bit of my travel story with.  I felt kind of bad because I knew they were waiting for this tour and they kept asking me more questions about the Camino de Santiago and being Catholic.  They were the kind of people I would have loved to have sat down over drinks and shared travel stories with.

I decided since I was close enough, I would walk over to the Vatican to catch the bus back to the hostel.  I set off and went my usual haphazard way of going down streets that look interesting and in the general direction of where I want to go, looking down every so often to consult my map.  I ended up on the other side of the Tiber River, with Castel Sant’ Angelo just across the way.  It was such a beautiful day to be out walking.

As I am typing this, I just realized I have essentially been to all of the major sites featured in Dan Brown’s book, “Angels and Demons” on this particular day.  The other funny part is that while I was at Piazza Navona, there was an “Angels & Demons” tour group not too far off from where I was sitting.  I was quite amused by it all.

I continued over to Vatican City and found a cool bookstore with all kinds of Catholic-themed books in it.  Shocking, I know, what with being in Vatican City and all.  They had a great section of English language books, so I got in out of the heat for a bit as I perused their aisles.  I am on the hunt for some specific books on pilgrimage, but they all seem to be in Italian or Spanish.  I left the bookstore and went over to St. Peter’s Square (thus completing my own “Angels and Demons” tour without even realizing it at the time!).  There were lots of people there.  I am planning to go to the Vatican Museum tomorrow since most people will be trying to get into the Papal Audience (I didn’t look into it soon enough, and not a huge fan of the current Pope, so I’m okay with that) and I am hoping the crowds aren’t too bad early in the morning.

I went back to the hostel and sprung for the 8 Euro dinner and decided it was entirely too much food to eat, so I might not be doing that very often.  Even though I don’t drink a lot of soda back home, I am enjoying the pure cane sugar Coca Cola tall boys in a can.  500mL of pure soda bliss!