From Castel Sant’Angelo to Piazza San Pietro and Vatican City (Città del Vaticano in Italian) is a short distance. I followed Via della Conciliazione that straightly connects Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza San Pietro.
Via della Conciliazione is a road with circa 500 m in length, and was constructed in the 20th century aiming to be the primary route to access Piazza San Pietro.
It was a strange sensation knowing that I was now in a different state – the Vatican, having crossed no apparent borders. The smallest state in Europe, yet with so much power. It houses Basilica San Pietro, one of the most impressive buildings size wise I have seen (I did not go inside as the cue was ginormous.
The Vatican City is ruled by the Pope, who is also the Bishop of Rome, and it is the centre of authority over the Roman Catholic Church.
I was awed at the impressive columns, that flanked the piazza, not only due its size but for the beautiful effect these 284 columns and 88 pilasters give. At the top of them there are a total of 140 statues of saints dating back from the 17th century.
St. Peter’s Basilica is a Renaissance church that was designed by Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Bernini, being the largest church in the world.
Wikipedia: Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.
I had decided not to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel this time, so I headed back to the bus stop to go to Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, to see as much as I could.
I descended the bus and after a short walk and a stop for a coffee, I ended up in Piazza di Spagna, the place of the famous Spanish Steps, and the Fontana della Barcaccia. The name of the Piazza does not come from any important battle or an homage to the Spanish Kingdom, but simply because due to the Spanish embassy that is located in front of the adjacent Piazza Mignanelli since many many years ago (XVII), on Palazzo di Spagna.
From there you walk a few seconds and suddenly there are the famous Spanish steps, Obelisk and Trinitá dei Monti church, that was commissioned in the 15th century by the French King Louis XII to replace a chapel that was there at that time. It is a Gothic church with a Renaissance facade and two bell-towers. The obelisk was moved here from its original location in 1788 by the request of the Pope. The stairs have 12 flights and 135 steps all made with travertine.
And it was crowded, and it was not my favorite part of Rome, but maybe because I was stupid enough to go there late afternoon, while I should have gone there early morning (arghhh, did I tell you waking up early is not a skill I have?) to see it empty of tourists and be able to appreciate its beauty. I did not climb the stairs up to the church (Trinitá dei Monti), because it was too crowded, but I will surely do next time, as the view from there is spectacular.
Standing in front of the stairs, to the right you will find the house of Keats, the writer that died there too young at 25 years of age.
To the left there is a beautiful Team Room, with a very much English decoration and ambiance called Babington, that has more than 100 years.
In the center of the square there is a beautiful baroque fountain that was designed by Bernini (Pietro) and finalized by his son (Gianlorenzo) back in the 17th century. It means ugly boat in Italian and it is actually shaped like a boat, having engraved the emblems of the Bernine family, the Sun and bees.
After seeing everything and being a bit overwhelmed with the noise and the crowd, I headed to Via dei Condotti, which is the Rome posh street with all international high end brands as well as Italian brands like Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Prada, valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, etc. Via Condotti leads directly to Via del Corso and from there I went to Fontana di Trevi. When I got there, oh my, it was even more packed than Piazza di Spagna, and I decided to sit at Don Nino’s for a while, having a nice coffee. After a while and reinvigorated, I was now ready to take a time and see what is considered the most beautiful fountain in the whole world. And, it is. beautiful, magnificent, monumental. Intricately carved, with so many beautiful details that you will surely want, as I did, to take as many pictures as possible.
Fontana di Trevi is a huge Baroque Fountain with approximately 26 m in height high that started to be built in 1732. It is fed by Acqua Vergine, one of the aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.
In the center of the Fountain there is a huge statue of the God Neptune (Oceanus) under a triumphal arch with Palazzo Poli as a backdrop. In the two niches on each side of Oceanus, Abundance spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup.
Neptune rides a chariot pulled by two horses, each one guided by a Triton. As you can see, while one horse seems calm the other does not, and it symbolizes the moods of the sea.
And the legend?
Tradition says that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain. There is, however, a way of doing it. The coins should be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder with your back to the fountain.
Today, more than 3000 Euros are thrown PER DAY and the money is used to fund a supermarket that serves the poor of Rome, as well as other charities.
I did not throw a coin. I knew I would be back, coin or not.
By now I was already tired, but still took a time to walk around Fontana di Trevi, Piazza Barberini, Via del Corso and then finally headed to the bus pick up point, where again the green line bus was a disappointment and I had to wait almost 90min.
And from the bus stop point I returned to Trastevere walking, extremely tired, to the point where I could not take an extra step, so I had to just seat on a Pizzeria (I do not eat gluten or any high carb food), below the B&B I was staying in and order a Pizza. The pizzas there are totally artisan, and the dough is fermented for 48h to 72h, transforming the gluten and giving the pizza a whole different flavor.
Next day? More walking, meeting a friend, and beautiful sightings