Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Roma, day 1

Our first evening in Rome was a bit rainy. Since our Bed and Breakfast was conveniently located near the Vatican, we deposited our luggage, grabbed the umbrella, and took a stroll to Piazza San Pietro (Saint Peter's square). At the center of the square is a giant granite Egyptian obelisk from 1200 B.C., moved to Rome around 46 A.D. by the Emperor Caligula. In front of this is the giant Basilica of Saint Peter, the first pope.

Rome offers many unique sights, including its fountains. Here we are standing in front of Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the "Fountain of the Four Rivers," created in 1651. As many of the fountains in Rome, this was created by the Baroque artist Gianlorenzo Bernini --- who also designed Saint Peter's Square. The four main rivers depicted here include the Nile, Danube, Ganges, and Plate (the widest river in the world that is between Uruguay and Argentina). Apparently the Amazon was unknown at that time, as was the Colorado river. Interestingly, Pope Innocent X commissioned the fountain with public monies during a time of intense famine. Naturally there were protests, but he had the rabble rousers arrested.

The second large fountain we visited takes up an entire facade of a building: the Fontana di Trevi, or the Trevi Fountain, which was completed in 1762 and is not by Bernini. It is recommended that if one wishes to return to Rome, he should toss a coin in the fountain. Three coins tossed with the right hand over the left shoulder will bring luck. Each day some 3000 euros are tossed, most unremarkably by dupes, chumps, stooges, fools, and patsies. We saved our coins and found luck in having enough money to buy some real Italian gelato.

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