Bad News first: Rome is in the midst of major renovations with scaffolding and temporary enclosures covering the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and numerous other monuments. Good news: much of the work is complete. Trevi Fountain reopened last week after 17 months of work and has never looked better (although the massive crowds make it hard to see). Work on the Spanish Steps is expected to be complete by April 2016, while repairs to the Colosseum now in the fourth year, should be done by the end of next year.
More Good News: there’s still so much to see! We spent five days walking from morning to night and left with many sites unseen. Fans of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons will recognize the Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally constructed as a mausoleum by order of Emperor Hadrian (and completed after his death), it was transformed into a fortress during the Middle Ages. There is a café/bar on the top level which is an excellent vantage point from which to watch the sun set over Rome.
Hadrian built many monuments, including the Pantheon, which we visited several times. All light inside emanates from the opening (or oculus) of the dome whose diameter is 142 feet, exactly the same as the height from the floor to that point.
The Piazza Navona’s unusual shape is due to its origin as a race course. Today the plaza is home to cafés and restaurants where it is possible to sip an espresso or enjoy a meal while watching the world go by.
The Centro Historico is a wonderful place to imagine life 2000 years ago. Many of the ruins are incorporated into newer buildings (some still old by any standard, dating to the16th or 17th centuries). For those who like to plan ahead and enjoy the anticipation, now is a perfect time to start planning a trip to Rome in Spring 2017. Stay tuned for more sightseeing, dining and other suggestions.