Continuing on our tour with Antonella, we walked to the Pantheon, a former Roman temple dedicated around
126 AD. It has been in continuous use throughout its history and is considered one of the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings. Since the 7th century, it has been used as a Catholic church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs (Basilica de Santa Maria ad Martyres).
From there, we walked through some narrow lanes to Piazza Colonna, also known as Government Square because it is home to the seat of the Italian government. The column in the center of the square, named the Column of Marcus Aurelius, dates back to AD 193. In 1589, Pope Sixtus V had a bronze statue of St. Paul placed on the top.
After a gelato stop at Antonella’s favorite shoppe (welcome relief in the early afternoon heat), we moved on to the famous Trevi Fountain (as in the movie song “Three Coins in a Fountain”). Not surprisingly, it was incredibly crowded. Antonella guided us through and found a prime seat from which we could toss our coins properly (from the right hand over the left shoulder).
Finally, we walked to the also famous Spanish Steps, 135 steps in all that join Piazza di Spagna below to the Piazza del Monti. Urban legend has it that the French built the steps so they easily join the Spanish festivities below them without having to climb down a steep hill. Many goup the steps to see the view; others sit on the stairs to past time and people watch.
Rome is a very crowded, touristy city with so much to do it is mind-boggling. Having private guides made our Roman experience so much more meaningful than either being part of large groups being herded from place to place, or doing it on our own in which case we would have missed a lot. To check out their services, Antonio–who drove us through the Roman countryside to Tivoli–and Antonella–who guided us through the Vatican buildings and took us on the Piazza walking tour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.