Somehow part of our enjoyment whilst discovering places comes from that process and product of planning, designing and construction: the architecture (of any kind and in any shape).
We both like to wander through old and new areas of the location we’re in, almost studying the details of the buildings, streets, parks and everything that might capture our attention.
We are both observer and participant as in a game of chess.
You can imagine how – based on the above – being in Rome was bliss. There were monuments, pieces of art and different buildings at every corner, no matter in which part of the city we were, from a very little detail of a balcony to massive and imposing constructions that made me feel like a little invisible ant in comparison. So much to take in all in one go that at the end I started to became immune to their attractive power. For this reason I suggest to whoever wants to visit the Eternal City to take their time, don’t try to see everything in a day or two, select the places you’d simply must see if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands & stick to that plan.
The first beauty!
If there is one thing I must see every time I go to Rome is the glorious Pantheon. It’s my favorite out of the old monuments of the city, I never get tired of it.
In its austerity, the only ancient Roman temple to survive the centuries, always makes me feel like if it’s the first time I walk through its door.
What I love so much about it, believe it or not, is its brilliant and genius architecture and how its enormous dome (which is precisely as high as it is wide) stays up under its own weight. What an unbelievable work especially considering it was done so many years ago when moving enormous stones was not an easy task.
The first thing I always do, once I am inside it, is to look up to find the thick shaft of sunlight coming from the oculus (a hole at the center of the dome and the only source of natural light) which looks like it perforates the air inside only to lie on and light the internal walls. Simply amazing to my eyes!
I heard that it is a very unique show to watch the raindrops floating down from the oculus to splash on the marble floor and quickly disappear into the cleverly positioned drain (imagine how it looks like when it snows!) Unfortunately I never had the chance to see it with my own eyes. 🙁
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Here it comes the other very different one!
If you paid attention, I specified that the Pantheon is my first choice ancient building. Moving out the center to a suburban area in Rome, E.U.R., there is another very imposing structure that has gained a place in my ‘must see’ in the Italian Capital.
I’m talking about the Palazzo della Civilta’ Italiana also known as the “Square Colosseum”.
I’m not sure how I always managed to miss it every time I went to Rome until this time, when Dale suggested to visit it after reading about it and its fascist architecture which he is very fond of.
By looking at it, already from the distance, you can see a tall white building supervising the surrounding area made up of floor upon floor of arches perfectly in series.
You can almost guess the era when it was built for its lack of complexity of design and ornateness, its symmetry and simplicity.
I loved how tidy and clean the entire structure and area looked, such a different kind of architecture from the ancient Roman one, but still very impressive, overshadowing and magnificent. That made me think how the rest of the city would have looked if the fascism lasted for longer.
According to the history, Palazzo della Civilta’ Italiana was commissioned by Mussolini who wanted an edifice that would remind people of the Roman Colosseum and celebrate twenty years of fascism.
A little fact, that I found quite curious, is that the building has six rows of nine arches each as per the length of the name of its commissioner. Mussolini never left anything to chance, like the decision to write an inscription on each side of the building (so it could be seen from everywhere, what a little clever manipulator he was) that in English reads: “A nation of poets, of artists, of heroes, of saints, of thinkers, of scientists, of sailors, of transmigrates”.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside the building. 🙁
The whole area was fenced off due to some restoration work starting soon.
I have to say thank to Dale for helping me discover something new that I would have probably skipped once again if I was on my own.
It was worth going! Make sure to pencil it in your things to do if you pass by.