Last night my whole body ached. My feet were sore. It's obviously the cobblestones and not age. We'd been to the Vatican in the morning. The Metro back was a crush. At our Republica stop I reached for Laura's hand and pulled her arm off the train. I was thankful the rest of her came through the bodies.
After lunch in front of the Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore we hopped on the Christian Tours hop on hop off bus. This had us sitting up in the second floor listening to a tape while trying to shoot pictures as we careened about Rome in the lurching way the traffic moves here. An early traxi driver told us. "Traffic doesn't work in Rome. It's broken". The scooters are the only ones that seem to do it right though eventually everyone gets where they're going surpisingly.
We were on our way to the Pantheon when we found the famous elephant in the piazza scupture. It turned out to be in front of a Minerva, early Christian church. We walked in and found ourselves in this amazing interior that from the outside had only seemed a little door. It went on forever. We joined a nun and priest who were reciting the rosary in tandem. Rounds of rosary. Reminded me of campfire songs but with a modern "rap" twist. Kneeling I reflected on the altar portrait of a Friar holding a Bible surrounded by beautiful women and angels. I think the message to a young man would be, "If you read the book, you'll get the beautiful girl." The rosary rose and fell around me. Later Laura would say, "It all reminds me of my grandmother. We went to church every Sunday. I wanted to be a nun."
As to the nun comment, an addendum was added over lunch. "I still think of being a nun sometimes but I'd have to study the different habits. I wouldn't want to be an unfashionable one."
We were outside the Pantheon when I told Laura I had to go. "Me too," she said. This began one of those travel treks that are a search for washrooms. They can be found quite easily when you don't need them. So it's a matter of deciding where to go for coffee or coke to use the washroom and then create a problem for later. We found a lovely little restaurant on a narrow cobblestoned street beyond a accordin player. The place was called Vini & Vizi. The taxis and smart cars mingled with the walking shoppers. There was no room for cars and yet like the motorbikes the intrepid ones would make their way through past where we were having a cheese plate with cafe au lait or cafe con leche (I've not figured out what this is actually called in Italian). Their special was calamarri so I had that too. This is not the little fried bits but a plate size chunk of a full grown octopus's arm. Laura was not impressed and stayed with her bread and cheese. I finished the octopus thankful they'd not brought brains as well. It was delicious in that rubbery way.
We stopped in a shop for Laura to buy children gifts then headed back to the Pantheon arriving just in time for a quick swing through before closing. More dead people in the church. This is the buidling with a hole in the ceiling so the dome wouldn't fall down early in the dome building learning curve.
Heading home I told Laura we'd somehow missed Capitol Hill. She said she'd seen it from the bus. Lost as usual we happened upon it. Great building fronted with steps, a horseman in the centre and great buildings with chariots atop. Piazza Venezia. Laura thought this might be 'spanish steps' but that was at some place that read like Piaza Salsa the dance. The big and older Capitol Hill monument was around the back. So we walked some more passing the line up, of probably mostly local,s waiting to get into the Van Gogh exhibit. The building on the hill wasn't Christian but was very old. It had a single horseman in the plaza and a girl goddess. It appears on looking at the book the horseman was Marcus Aurelius from Piazza del Campidioglia. I just looked this up and sure enough it was another place I wanted to see but just happened on. I read Marcus Aurelius as a young man. Amazing diaries of a Roman General and stoic. Here I was visitting his home town a couple of thousand years later.
It was 9 pm when we made one last thrust to find the 'spanish steps' but came across an earlier path of ours and concluded we were lost. I called a taxi to take us home and en route asked where spanish steps were and the driver said they were where he'd picked us up. We'd just not gone around that corner. There's always some corner with something else to see and if you don't go around that corner you miss it. We asked him to take us to Santa Maria Maggiore as this is close enough to the hotel. The taxi drivers know Maggiore.. We get lost every few blocks because of the lack of grid pattern to the chaotic road structure. The street names on the map are all in Italian too which doesn't help. I've taken to carrying a compass. The pope has my boy scout knife.