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I am doing this post on a train making its way to Florence. I should be able to complete the draft by the time it arrives in approximately 3-4 hours. The express train does this route in a little over an hour, but I decided to save the 10 extra Euros and take the less expeditious route (i.e., more stops). I should arrive in Florence early this evening.

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“Trendbytes” (Anne) occasionally stops by my blog and even leaves a comment once in awhile. She said something very important yesterday, that I have always intuitively knew, but I really took to heart yesterday and today. Anne said in part, “Soak up the Atmosphere  .  .  . My sister and I skipped the Sistine Chapel line and walked around  experiencing Rome  .  .  . Frankly, I would rather sit in a cafe in Plaza Navona sipping on a Negroni instead of waiting in a two hour line.”

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The day before yesterday, I saw the Pope in the morning and my good fortune continued throughout the day, as I discovered a number of sites by accident. The first discovery was a fort, large arch and museum dedicated to a war fought between Italy and France in the mid-1800s. I didn’t visit the museum (which was essentially the fort, but I did take a few photos of the exterior of the fort, along with a couple of the arch. Another Arch, related to this same war, but dedicated to General Gabaldi, a key figure in the war, I discovered a few miles away. I also found a church, with the Tempieto of San Pietro in Montorio, that apparently was the site where Saint Peter was crucified. Continuing my journey, I discovered that I was in the famous Trastevere district, which has a number of hip restaurants and night clubs, apparently this district is a favorite of younger Italians. I wandered around this district for a couple of hours. I made my way back to my hotel via the Tiber river  walkway that led to a bridge near St. Peter’s Square and my hotel. I’m not certain, but I think I covered approximately 7-8 miles. I slept well that evening. 🙂

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So continuing on my theme of not doing too much planning (as well as keeping in mind what Anne said), the next day I decided to walk to the Pantheon – approximately 4 miles away – to see the “hole” in the circular roof. Everything after that would be “gravy.” Regardless of the day’s outcome, I would be satisfied with my day. I needn’t have worried, as the day unfolded, I discoverd quite a few other interesting and famous sites. Not too far from St. Peter’s Square, there is a castle, called St. Angelo that overlooks the Tiber river. What a magnificent structure. Near the castle, I crossed a Tiber river bridge, where I was amazed by two buddhists that were doing a levitation “act” and I got a couple of photos of them doing their performance.

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I next discovered Piazza Navona, where the Sant’ Anglese in Agone Cathedral is located. Per Trendbyte’s advice, I had lunch in the square and then visited the Cathedral. This church was quite beautiful and had some amazing sculptures and paintings inside. As it seems with all Italian Cathedrals, the roof was stunning as well.

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Next, I discovered a French cathedral which had a few Michelangelo paintings inside. How did I know that? Simple – most of the tourists were gathered around near these paintings. Again, this church was beautiful. I also took many photos of the sculptures that were outside this church.

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I finally came to the Pantheon. It is a magnificent building, but inside it is truly stunning. I took photos of the roof hole and it looked as if heaven was shinging rays inside the interior. The photos I took with my lousy Tablet came out surprisingly well in my opinion. I was so grateful that there was no line to get in, albeit, it was crowded inside. I truly was impressed with this building. Raphael, the famous Italian sculptor and painter, is entombed inside. I think a number of Popes are entombed as well. If you ever go to Rome, make sure you visit this site.

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I took a break from typing this post, so I could admire the Italian country side. Lovely bucolic views from the train. This part of Italy is quite hilly and green. Many small farms and sheep ranches dot this part of the country. Occasionally, you see castles and large cathedrals on the more prominent hills. Hard to describe, but the words “magical, medieval, fairy tale, fantasy” come to mind.

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So, where was I? After the Pantheon, I discovered the famous Trevi Fountain, where a number of movies have been made such as La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, Three Coins In A Fountain, and  .  .  .  ahem, my favorite, Gidget Goes To Rome (JUST JOKING). When the famous actor, Marcelo Mastroanni passed away, they turned off the fountain and draped it in black in honor of this outstanding actor. It’s been estimated that approximately 30,000 Euros are tossed into the fountain day in and day out. Yes, there have been attempts to steal the money, but none have succeeded to my knowledge. I understand that the proceeds have gone to feed the poor and in fact, a grocery store for the poor has been constructed. While I was taking photos of this fountain, along with a gazillion other tourists, I think a famous Italian couple were in attendance (see photos below). I have no idea who they are, but a photo shoot was taking place here and at the Spanish Steps, with this couple being the subjects of interest. If any one has a wild ass guess who these two people are, give me a shout. By the by, how in the hell did they ever film these movies here? As my photos indicate, the Italian Army would probably have to be brought in to close this place to the public. Yes, it’s that popular.

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Wowsa! I am in Florence and I didn’t have too much difficulty locating my hotel, Locanda Dè Pazzi. Speaking of which, the hotel is fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect because I booked a room for 47 Euros per night and I am sharing a bathroom. However, the building is 1700 years old and it’s on a lovely meandering Italian back street, with all the quaint flower pots in the windows, storm shutters, and a stoned road. The accommodations are excellent. I love my room. It is quite big, although I do have a small bed. WIFI seems excellent and the brother and sister proprietors, Tony and Alba, speak excellent English. Alba says, “I am very disciplined about watching an English movie every night, either with English or Italian sub-titles. Frequently, booking a hotel is a crap shoot, despite having the internet at your finger tips. So again, I apologize for the interruption. I am now settled in at my hotel, after having an excellent pasta pasta dish, Linguine Porcina (mushrooms) and a large salad. No dessert though this evening, since I had gelato earlier today on the train.

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My last stop in Rome was the Spanish Steps. For all you John Keat’s fans, he had an apartment adjacent to the Spanish Steps.  It’s a cream colored building that has been renamed Keats-Shelley Memorial House in his honor. At the top of the steps, is Trinità Dei Monte Church, with it’s own piazza of the same name and below the steps is the Piazza Di Spagna, with a water fountain. The Spanish Steps are the widest staircase in all of Europe. I mentioned earlier a photo shoot of this older Italian couple at the Treni Fountain. This same couple was at the Spanish Steps, with their own paparazzi in tow, snapping away, as this couple posed romantically on the Spanish Steps. Again, if anyone knows who they are, let me know. I haven’t a clue.

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The Spanish Steps concluded my day. To recap, I saw a Castle, a few churches, shrines/arches, Tiber river, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. Frankly, I could spend 3 months in Rome and I don’t think I would be able to see everything this beautiful city has to offer. I probably could do 1-2 more posts on this city, since I haven’t even mentioned some of the other things I saw, but can’t put a name to because I didn’t exactly know what they were. I loved Rome and although I don’t like to go back to places I have already been, Rome would definitely be an exception. Next post will be about Florence. Until then, take care  .  .  .  Steve 🙂

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