Piazza Navona and Pantheon, Rome

The key to seeing all the incredible sights in Rome is to carefully craft your itinerary to visit sights that are near each other. Not that I don’t love walking 20,000 steps a day but that takes time and when you only have a few days in one of the most amazing cities in the world, you have to be strategic.

We walked from our hotel to the Piazza Navona, a “must see” site in Rome that is a Baroque period square that played a starring role in the Angels & Demons movie (2000). Of course, we had to watch this movie again just before visiting in order to refresh our memories. The square was fairly quiet when we visited in the morning-no attempted murders happening like in the movie. Bernini’s Fountain of Rivers created in the 1600’s is the centerpiece of this site and rightly so-it’s beautiful. We walked around enjoying the details from every angle, as did several nuns who were out and about early like us. While you are there, also check out the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona. We tend to walk into any church that will let us. They are all beautiful.

Walk from one side of the Piazza to the other and keep on walking for about 5 minutes to the Pantheon. Another free historical site that shouldn’t be missed. You may have to queue up (we waited maybe 15 minutes) to get in and there is the usual church dress code to maintain (no bare shoulders). I had forgotten and had worn a sleeveless shirt over a tank, so I improvised and took off the outer shirt and wrapped it around my shoulders-it worked! The Pantheon is a Catholic church and mass is celebrated on Sundays and holy days of obligations. I imagine attending a service would be a great memory, as would getting a guided tour with a guide who can share all the history.

Entering the Pantheon, you should immediately look up. The rotunda with the massive, coffered concrete dome ceiling with a central opening aka oculus to the sky is the showpiece.  Amazing architecture and engineering built how many years ago?? Fun fact from wikipedia: Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

After the Pantheon, we wandered around and stumbled upon yet another fabulous church nearby that was open for exploring. Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva is stunning (see photos below). Definitely worth a stop in to see and appreciate the gorgeous ceilings.

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