This ancient place.

For Sunday, the Pantheon:

If anyone tells you April is a good time to visit a European city and “skip the crowds,” laugh in their face. When we stepped into the square, it wasn’t quite elbow-to-elbow, which I guess is what a skipped crowd looks like in Rome. Rather than wait in the interminable line for tickets, we opted to pay a little more for a guided tour by a short Italian sprite, and it was worth it, just to hear her say “Agrippa.” A friend advised me, in sounding out Italian words, to “say every letter,” and you could really hear that second P in her pronunciation of the Roman general’s name.

What to say about the Pantheon besides that it’s glorious and amazing? Not much. The oculus is my favorite part:

You also have to spend some time marveling at the engineering feat, and consider that, fires and restorations aside, that dome is older than Christ. The only disappointment, if you could call it that, is that there’s no visible evidence of the pre-Christian era, but oh well. We saw Rafael’s tomb, saw the royalist guard in front of :::checks notes::: King Umberto’s tomb, saw the drain in the floor that lets the rainwater flow away, saw it all. After that, the Trevi Fountain was just kinda no-big-deal:

The crowds didn’t help, all these people milling about, bent not on appreciating the sculpture, or even throwing coins in, but getting selfies, because pix or it didn’t happen:

We stayed a bit, and left carrying some McDonald’s trash that some trashy soul or souls had left behind. At the Trevi Fountain. I ask you.

After that, we needed a drink, and I much preferred watching this woman, just inside the cafe where we sipped spritzes, making pasta by hand and then weighing out every portion on her kitchen scale:

Also: More walking, more squares, more spritzes, a pizza, the Tiber River, a genial cashier at our breakfast place who said he had been to the U.S. 14 times, and that his least-favorite American city was Houston, a point we could reach 100 percent agreement on. Speaking of Texas, she’s inescapable, she is:

More later.

Posted at 5:08 am in Holiday photos |

26 responses to “This ancient place.”

  1. Alan Stamm said on April 15, 2024 at 7:16 am

    Meravigliosa — goditi le tue avventure!

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  2. alex said on April 15, 2024 at 7:18 am

    If it weren’t for the antiquities, you wouldn’t know you weren’t in America, what with their throwing trash on the ground and listening to Beyonce. I don’t see any obesity, though, so they haven’t picked up all of our worst habits.

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  3. Kristen said on April 15, 2024 at 8:11 am

    I hope you get to try one of these. I thought I knew my Italian pastries, but I just learned of these divine-sounding treats recently.

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  4. Jenny said on April 15, 2024 at 8:30 am

    So many people.

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  5. Dexter Friend said on April 15, 2024 at 9:19 am

    Was the pizza crust cracker-crispy and air-bubbly? Are scooters still gasoline powered Vespa-types or electric ones?

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  6. LAMary said on April 15, 2024 at 9:26 am

    Hmmm. I took Italian in college and Senorina Peronti said to not pronounce the I that makes a G or C hard or soft. Hearing someone say GEE O VANNI made her cringe. The I after G makes it sound like Jovanni. Same with I in perciatelli. It’s not per chee atelli. It’s perchatelli. You do make sure all those ns and rs etc get included, though.
    But she could have been wrong.

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  7. Deborah said on April 15, 2024 at 10:05 am

    My husband’s younger daughter lived in Florence for 3 years, we went to Italy a lot during that time but haven’t been back since. Your photos Nancy, are making me want to go back. Not for the crowds though. Go in February, it’s pretty tourist free then and it’s not that cold. Compared to Chicago anyway.

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  8. Jason T. said on April 15, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Bob & Ray had a joke about the Trevi fountain that went something like this:

    Ray: “A listener writes, according to legend, if a visitor throws a coin into the Trevi fountain, they are destined to someday return to Rome. I threw a slug into the fountain. Does that mean I can never return?”

    Bob: “No, but if they do, they can expect a visit from the Mafia.”

    Well, maybe you had to be there.

    What an amazing trip — have fun!

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  9. LAMary said on April 15, 2024 at 11:59 am

    Misspelling Signorina Peronti didn’t give me much credibility on that pronunciation comment.

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  10. Heather said on April 15, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    Beautiful! If you are looking for restaurant recs, La Tavernaccia in Testaccio is great for classic trattoria food. For a more contemporary take, Piano Strada is amazing (and women-owned, fairly rare in Italy).

    Also I wrote this some years ago if you need a place to get away from the crowds:

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  11. Deborah said on April 15, 2024 at 12:31 pm

    Why does Trump do that thing with his eyes when he’s in courtrooms? He makes them look beady, especially when he crosses his arms across his chest and lowers his head looking out through his eyebrows. That’s exactly what toddlers do when they’re having a standoff with a parent who won’t let them do what they want. It doesn’t makes him look tough at all, which I think is his intent. But then he doesn’t get how he looks to the general public, otherwise he’d quit with the orange make up, the ridiculous hairdo and baggy blue suits with long red ties. He’s a caricature.

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  12. David C said on April 15, 2024 at 2:03 pm

    If he didn’t say all the belligerent crap the does, the cult would say he was a gay, beta. How the hell be became their idea of a manly man is so far beyond me.

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  13. Deborah said on April 15, 2024 at 3:31 pm

    Trump falling asleep in court doesn’t help his oldster look. What are they going to do with him when he’s convicted? I think he will be.

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  14. David C said on April 15, 2024 at 4:14 pm

    I see Don Snoreleone blowing up everywhere. Sometimes the internet does something nice to balance things out.

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  15. Brandon said on April 15, 2024 at 4:32 pm

    This is a few years old, but an interesting gauge of Beyonce’s international popularity.

    Ultimately, she is much weaker in other major European markets, such as Spain (#60), Italy (#61), Germany (#62), Russia (#66), Austria (#69), Ireland (#70), Norway (#74), Denmark (#75), and Finland (#91). This isn’t really surprising as her sales and chart positions in these countries aren’t that big.

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  16. Scout said on April 15, 2024 at 5:54 pm

    I just saw another good one: #TheNodfather

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  17. Deborah said on April 15, 2024 at 6:56 pm

    Oh my god, it’s the Kubrick stare, I had forgotten about that. LB reminded me just now

    Edit: there’s a paywall but you get the idea from the initial photos

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  18. Jeff Gill said on April 15, 2024 at 8:57 pm

    What Alan Stamm said.

    Plus, hope you get to stick your hand in the Bocca della Verità at Santa Maria de Cosmedin.

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  19. Ann said on April 15, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    I haven’t traveled much, at least compared to most of my friends, but I did make it to Rome–on someone else’s dime, no less. Fewer selfies, more nuns, and a woman with a whistle telling us not to eat around the fountain.

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  20. Pam H said on April 16, 2024 at 11:12 am

    You didn’t say where you’re staying, but if in a hotel, be sure to use the services of the concierge to book tours and such. The Vatican is so impossible unless on a tour. You stand in disney style lines that snake around and around and are too tired to appreciate the Sistine Chapel when you finally get there. Concierges love to do these things since they get a little cut from the guides. Don’t forget the Borghese (tour needed).

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  21. Dorothy said on April 16, 2024 at 11:46 am

    Happy birthday, Sherri! Thirty-nine years ago this date was my due date. But he came via planned C-section on April 8.

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  22. Dexter Friend said on April 16, 2024 at 11:47 am

    LA Mary, your comments remind me of when, in the mid-80s, the White Sox new shortstop was Ozzie Guillen. He’s Venezuelan. People who knew a little about espanol pronunciation called him “GHEE-enn”. He corrected them, saying over and over it is “GHEE-zhenn”. It never caught on. He’s Ozzie “GHEE-enn” to this day, at least in this country.
    Also, I saw a TV show filmed in Portugal, and I now know why Jeff Borden loves it so much.
    And just last week Dan Patrick ( The D.P. Show, Peacock, 9-12 weekdays) was in Italy, saying in Southern Italy he wanted a side of pasta with his seafood but they did not serve pasta… he was sorta flabbergasted.

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  23. Sherri said on April 16, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks, Dorothy!

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  24. Jeff Borden said on April 16, 2024 at 12:35 pm

    When we visited the Parthenon in 2004, we were treated to the sublime beauty of a chorale group and string quartet inside the structure. I’ll take those moments to my grave. We celebrated my 53rd birthday in Florence, where the local delicacy is a T-bone steak. Dear dog, it was delicious.

    Maybe there’s no good time to visit Europe. Today’s NYT has a story about the anti-tourism sentiments building in Spain and Portugal with some cities including Seville considering steep fees for entry to some of its historic neighborhoods. This follows the very real dislike of tourists in Venice, which has been brewing for years.

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  25. Sherri said on April 16, 2024 at 1:07 pm

    Chris Rufo and friends, with the pearl-clutching help of the NYTimes, are now going after the head of NPR. Conservatives hate NPR on general principles, but the latest kerfuffle began when a long time business editor went over to Bari Weiss’s substack to complain because NPR had not jumped all over the Hunter Biden laptop and the China lab leak origins of Covid (you know, and committed journalistic malpractice) and also whined about a lack of ideological diversity. I’ll listen to his complaints of ideological diversity when a Marxist gets to report on business.

    Anyway, that sent up the bat signal to Rufo to go trawling for evidence of liberalism, and he found that in old tweets prior to taking over at NPR, Katherine Maher had tweeted such horrible things as that Donald Trump is a racist. Which is not so much liberal as objectively true, having much more evidence behind it than the lab leak theory.

    But they’re coming for her now.

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  26. Deborah said on April 16, 2024 at 1:10 pm

    My husband’s older daughter lives in France and has lived there for a couple of decades. Her French husband left her for a 20 something year old, but that’s another story. Since she’s been newly divorced she has decided to get back in touch with her dad so we’ve been hearing stories from her about how Americans in France are now persona non grata. She is obviously American, she has dual citizenship now, but her 2 adult children don’t have it and she is recommending to them not to get it. And she’s advising them to keep quiet about their American mother. This started during the Trump admin she says and continues because he still has so much influence on so many Americans. That’s sad.

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