Rome is one of the most frequently traveled place in the world, yet it’s small and walkable in a day. In under six hours I saw plenty of historical landmarks.
Having been obsessed with Italy only during the World War II era, my knowledge of the Crusades, Roman Catholicism, Renaissance, and overall European history was limited. I ignorantly walked around and stopped at places that invited me in. Only after did I read on its historical significance.
Piazza del Popolo
The first square I stumbled upon was Piazza del Popolo. Public executions took place here for centuries, the last in 1826.
Above the plaza is a large public park that housed some 17th century gardens. I walked through the park but did not think much of it. Lots of grass, lots of small hills. I only appreciated the entrance, particularly the tall tree that could be spotted from a few kilometers away. The first photo also has a wonderful view of the city from atop.
I next saw Castel sant’Angelo, once the tallest building in Rome. It used to be a mausoleum, then a fortress, and now finally a museum.
To get to the top of the fortress, I had to walk in a large ascending spiral in the center. Very mystical with the echoing, stone walls, cold wet feel. I felt like Ezio descending into one of those secret locations in Assassin’s Creed II.
The the upper deck offers another magnificent view of the river, the city, and the Vatican. Imagine folks from hundreds of years old doing the same, but behind their loaded cannons and trebuchets, protecting their magistrate. Imagine if Rome did not implode from over expansion, how their siege technology would have continued to lead military and scientific innovations.
From this vantage point, pockets of sunlight penetrated the clouds right next to the Vatican. The sun shines down on Rome, a very transcendent moment.