marcus travel journal 2018 travels




a year without a day in rome is a year missing an important element


Rome is a city of details, of experiences and of history. You can miss the real Rome rushing to see the "named" sights. We visit Rome on a regular basis. No need to rush off to see the Vatican, the Colosseum of the Roman Forum unless we really want to. Last year one morning as I sat on our patio overlooking the Vittoriano I decided I would return to the Forum. Return, as the last time I walked the Forum was probably 32 years ago. I really enjoyed the Forum, and I just may return again this year.

One of the areas I enjoy each year is Riane V Ponte. Rione is an administrative area of the city. There were fourteen rione in Medieval Rome. Popes, Napoleon all changed the number of rione over time. Now there are twenty-two. Each has a coat of arms.

The Ponte refers to the Ponte Sant'Angelo which was built by Emperor Hadrian to connect his mausoleum to the city of Rome. The bridge itself if part of the Borgo rione. In the 16th century, Important families lived on streets such as Via Giulia or Via dei Coronari.

I like the feel of walk the streets in the early morning.


Palazzo Mattei di Giove


Above: the Upper gallery of the courtyard of the Palazzo Mattei di Giove.

There is always something to find. One morning, while just walking about near our apartment I cam across the Palazzo Mattei, the Mattei Palace. It turns out the Palazzo Mattei di Giove is the most impressive of a group of Mattei houses, the houses of one of the most powerful noble families of Rome during the Middle Ages and the early modern era. Members typically held high positions in the papal curia and the government. Eight Cardinals in the Roman Catholic church came from the Mattei Family.

The Mattei Family had five palazzi in the Rione, together, they were referred to as the isola dei Mattei - the island of Mattei as well as one palace in Trastevere across the river. The Mattei had control over the bridges that were closet to their palaces and for a period of time levied a charge for those to cross. In 1580-85, Muzio Mattei commissioned the Fontana delle Tartarughe, Turtle Fountain, which sits in front of one of their residences.



If I had to name my favorite building in Rome, this may be it. I enjoy walking into the Pantheon on every visit to Rome. No tickets just walk through the doors. Unfortunately, so does just about everyone else and the Piazza della Rotonda becomes just about unbearable due to the crowds.

The Pantheon, commissioned by Emperor Haddrian was built about 126 AD. He retained the inscription of the previous temple that stood in this location. The inscription reads Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius. The previous temple was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augutus (27 - 41 AD). Repairs to the building were made in 202 by the joint Emperors Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla. So the Pantheon as we see it today started as a Roman temple. The Byzantine Emperor Phocas gave the building to Pope Boniface IV, who converted the building into a church in the 7th Century, as Santa Maria ad Martyres.

Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 142 feet (43 m). The dome is 21 feet thick at the bottom where it sits on the structure of the building, and tapers to a delicate 4 feet thick at the oculus. Also, the materials of the dome change from travertine at the bottom, to terracotta tiles in the middle section and at the top, tufa and pumice (porous light stones). The oculus not only lets light in, but it reduces the weight of the more fragile section of the dome. If you look along the floor you will see slots that lead to an internal drainage section to draw away water that may fall into the building through the oculus.

It was the fact that the Pantheon was a church that saved it from the fate of many of ancient Rome's buildings during the early medieval period.

Rome towards Vittoriano


When this is your view every morning, well, why not keep returning to Rome.

Trevi Fountain


Stunning architecture

Even the traffic in Rome has a beautiful edge to it.




Rocks near Capri


Trevi Fountain


I have to return each year to the Trevi Fountain, but honestly, the crowds are becoming very hard to take.