How do you spend the last few hours in Rome? Should you set on a monument hopping tour, binge on Gelatos, or sit in a cafe and let time slip away? It’s a tough choice. But when the weather is perfect — you might want to let your feet — carry you wherever they might want to. After-all, you’re in Rome. You’re bound to come across something interesting.
It was our fourth and final day in Rome. There was much left to discover. So, we thought of slowing down the pace, and making the most of what we saw.
On the outside, the Pantheon looked to be in a state of ruin. The graying rocks and towering Corinthian pillars were partly reinforced with scaffolding. It would take much more — than vivid imagination — to re-construct this ancient Roman wonder.
Light funneled through the oculus of the giant dome above. At the risk of twisting our necks — we stared as long as we could. There seemed to be something surreal about it. As if the heavens had opened and flooded the orifice with free flowing light.
The present day Pantheon is, a child, born of an unlikely marriage between ancient Roman architecture and catholic effigies. The monument, believed to be, dedicated to ‘one god’ has transformed into a church of St. Mary. The audio guide mumbled in a slow steady flow. We walked around and observed frozen statues of religious figures and crypts of the deceased royals. The setting seemed a little strange.
It was hard to get a good view of the fountain with the pool of crowding tourists. Some of whom — indulged in coin throwing. The statue of Neptune seemed equally puzzled.
A mild drizzle brought down the temperature. We made our way to the Spanish Steps. Tourists neatly dotted the rows of steps that lead to the church above. We sat for a while — and admired the view below.
The Church of Trinità dei Monti sits comfortably at the apex of the steps. The view from here is not one to be missed. We entered the quaint church and the silence inside was truly rewarding. I’ve always appreciated the solitude of an empty church. The quiet was, occasionally, broken by groups of curious tourists. It was a good place to sit and think of our journey so far. To complete our experience — a group of nuns and priests, seated separately, started to sing hymns. It’s one of those experiences we’d never forget. Six years later, their voices still resound in my memory. The acoustics of the church compensated for the lack of amplifying devices and their pure faith — the richness of music.
Villa Borghese Gardens
We continued are walk along the narrow cobbled streets of Rome. Villa Borghese gardens was our last stop for the day. The smell of wet mud, fresh leaves, and crisp air — was all we needed to end our European sojourn.