Piazza della Rotonda

Most of  images on this page are clickable for large view.


When we started to move on to the Pantheon, we realized that the passeggiata had started. Soon, the entire Piazza was totally thronged with strolling people. All ages. We stepped into the Pantheon just as dusk was setting. We were stunned. The last time we were there, the walls were all a dingy gray and there was no lighting to speak of. Now, the walls have been cleaned to reveal beautiful multi-colored marbles, and it is beautifully lit. 

Pantheon interior & the great dome with the oculus.
The dome is wider than even that of St. Peters.

The pale blue dusk sky shining through the oculus was like a beautiful dome light. My guide book says the interior is virtually intact the way Hadrian built it in AD125. Amazing, because it is virtually indistinguishable from the great Renaissance works of Bernini and Borromini, and the great Beaux Arts works like our own San Francisco City Hall.  The Pantheon is still defining style today. Timeless. Truly immortal. What a treasure to be still with us. 

From the outdoor table in the Piazza della Rotunda: the front of the Pantheon and strollers pause on the fountain.

We sat in one of the Piazza's cafés for cocktails to watch the passeggiata in almost the exact front table that we occupied on our first visit to Rome in 1986. Next to us was a young couple from the Peninsular on the first day of their first visit to Italy. A kind of déjà vu. They were so entranced. It wasn't excitement - it was wonder. I remembered in their faces the wonder of our first visit. Amazingly, it is still there in ours.

Cocktails in Piazza della Rotunda


Passeggiata in Parma, Nov. '88.  

passeggiata – a true Italian delight.  In the center of the largest city of each region, usually on the most historic streets with the best shops and cafes and that do not allow autos, at around 5:00pm the people start arriving to stroll. To mingle.  To sit in cafes.  To shop.  To cruise.  (at 5:00, it is still 3-4 hours before dinner!)  It is amazing to see the streets swell.  The adults come dressed (everyone dresses much nicer Italy) and show off their bambini.  The teenagers come in the newest, hippest attire. It's a uniquely Italian social event.  The streets empty as the shops are closing just as fast as they swell, and everyone goes home to rest until dinner.  We have enjoyed some truly spectacular passeggiati in Parma, Vicenza, Perugia, and Sorento - as well as in big cities like Rome, Florence, and Milano.  Venice doesn't have a true central passiagiata, but a similar event happens in each district campo.

A nice nap on the linen sheets of the Excelsior, cocktails in their bar and dinner back at the Pantheon at Da Frtunato. On Diane and Lenny's recommendation.  And a great one it was! I couldn't resist the fresh tartufo.  Just simple homemade fettuccini, drenched in butter and beautiful white truffles shaved over at the table.  November is the month to travel to Italy.  Terrific.  Then back to the linen sheets.


On to the Vatican!