Friday, April 12, 2019

Italy - Day One...

I arrived Wednesday morning after an almost ten hour flight from Charlotte. 
 
Customs and baggage claim was a breeze, and then I got to the car rental. I won't go into the gory details, but Giancarlo, the Avis guy, tried upselling me on this and that and, by the time he was done, he wanted an additional €956 on top of what I'd already paid. According to xe.com, that comes out to a princely $1,079.86 (US). Thanks, but no. 
 
I was going to rent a Citroen and get the GPS they offer (at $25 a day), but he offered me a Peugeot 308, which has a GPS already in it, for the same price as I would've paid for the Citroen and the GPS. I also went ahead and added the prepaid fuel. When all was said and done, I ended up with a car which, once I got someone to change the language of the GPS to English, will serve me well during this trip.

I checked into the hotel and settled into my room. The rain in the forecast never materialized, so I grabbed my G7X MKII and found my way to the local rail line, which takes a little getting used to. 
 
More on that in a later entry.

After lunch at a fresh market mall called "Eataly", I grabbed a cab and made my way down to Piazza Novona. Piazza Navona came into its own in the 15th century, after the city market was transferred there. More recently, it was featured in the Tom Hanks film "Angels & Demons", specifically the fountain entitled Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers).
 
 
Piazza Novona

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). In the movie "Angels & Demons, Cardinal Baggia, one of the "preferiti" (a made up term, by the way), is tied to a metal chair and thrown into the fountain. Tom Hanks character, Dr. Robert Langdon, dives into the fountain and, along with other witnesses, intervenes and save Baggia's life...
 
From Piazza Navona I found my way over to the Panthenon. It's said that the Panthenon is the only architecturally perfect building ever constructed. Now, I don't know anything about that, but I know the effect it had on me as I turned a corner and first saw it. I felt the air escape me. It was that impressive. Thousands of people visit every day and, despite that, it didn't really feel crowded or cramped. 


The Panthenon, built in 125 AD. It's the most well preserved building in all of Rome...

The flow of visitors into, and out of, the Panthenon...

Inside the Panthenon, which is the final resting place of King Victor Emanuel II and the artist Raphael...

Following the visit to the Panthenon, I made my way to Trevi Fountain. The fountain was completed in 1762. It's tradition to throw coins into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder. Each night, 365 nights a year, workers collect more than €3,000 thrown into the fountain the previous day.


Trevi Fountain...

The crowds around Trevi Fountain is impressive. I had this ideal photographic scene in my head where I walked up (maybe at night or twilight), set up my camera on my little travel tripod, and I get this wonderfully perfect image of the fountain. Well, I honestly don't believe there's not always a crowd there. Ever. Consequently, I may have to be happy with the images I have, but may still give it another go next week.

I had time for one more stop before heading back to my hotel, and that was the Altare della Patri, built as a monument to the first King of a unified Italy, Victor Emanuel II. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1935. It  is the largest monument in all of Rome.


Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II...

A fountain at the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II...

Victor Emanuel II, the first King of Italy...


Not wanting to wrestle with the rail system so early into my first day, I opted for a cab from downtown back to my hotel Yeah, I'll never do that again. But I got back to the hotel in time for dinner at the restaurant, and called it a night. There are a lot of photos left to take of the many things left to see, and I need to put pen to paper to start to prioritize...

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