The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain, And The Pantheon

After a refreshing birra, we ventured into serious Roman Tourist Territory. Our first stop was the Spanish Steps, shown in the photo above. Even though the Piazza di Spagna offers plenty of open space, the area was overrun with people. Still, the steps themselves are beautiful. We found that we enjoyed them most by simply looking at them from below, without climbing.

Weirdly, people were filling water bottles with water from the fountain right in front of the Spanish Steps, as the guy is doing in the photo above. That’s putting a lot of faith in the Roman municipal water system, and I wondered how many of the people who quaffed the fountain water ended up desperately regretting it a few hours later. I don’t think you could pay me enough Euros to drink fountain water, no matter how thirsty I might be.

It was a pretty day, and there were many people out and about. Even though it is still May, the temperatures were hot, and probably touched 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Because much of Rome is unshaded, walking from point to point can be steamy and sweaty work. The fact that the crowds were out, as indicated in the photo above, added a bit to the heat as we followed a well-traveled path from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain is magnificent. It also is probably the most “selfied” photo opportunity in Rome. There are multiple levels around the fountain, and each one featured people jostling for position as they tried to take the perfect selfie. The photo below, of people gathered at the top tier of the fountain, gives you an idea of the selfie scrum that was underway. You couldn’t really move in any direction without checking to make sure you weren’t photobombing somebody’s selfie.

From the Trevi Fountain we followed the throngs over to the Pantheon, which is another magnificent structure shown in the photo below. The admission lines were long, so we didn’t go inside to check out the famous oculus, but instead just enjoyed the graceful lines of one of the world’s most famous buildings from an outside vantage point.

Many of the visitors to the Pantheon were camped out on the steps leading to an obelisk in the middle of the piazza in front of the Pantheon, hoping for a cool breeze to beat the heat. As for us, it was time to find some shade and a place to settle for a late lunch. We stumbled across a nice little sidewalk restaurant on a side street and enjoyed a light lunch al fresco. I polished off a wooden board of prosciutto and absolutely fresh mozzarella, washed down with another birra and guzzled water, and concluded that a bit more walking was in order.

Saving The Trevi Fountain

If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve likely seen the Trevi Fountain.  It is a magnificent attraction, with its depiction of Neptune and sea horses and other sea creatures atop craggy rocks.  When we visited Rome during a very hot summer some years ago, the Trevi Fountain was a delightful place to sit, enjoy the spray of the cool water, and appreciate the beauty while taking a break from sightseeing.

Unfortunately, the Trevi Fountain is badly in need of repair.  Earlier this year, some pieces of the 250-year-old fountain — commissioned by one of those civic-minded Popes, Clement XII — broke off.  Fortunately, an Italian mineral water company, Acqua Claudia, has agreed to foot the $250,000 cost of the immediately needed restorations.  Whether funding will be located for the more long-term repair work on the fountain that is desperately needed is another question.

The condition of the Trevi Fountain is  symptomatic of a larger problem in countries with significant cultural sites.  Italy, Greece, and Spain, to name just a few, are terribly cash-strapped.  It’s hard to believe that such countries, which reap huge economic benefits from tourism, would neglect the sites that attract those tourists in the first place, but paying to maintain crumbling monuments, old buildings, fountains, and churches, is pushing budgets to the limit.

I hope that other companies step up, as Acqua Claudia has, to help the Italian government maintain Italy’s many irreplaceable architectural and artistic landmarks.  Generations to come should have the chance to see the Trevi Fountain in all its glory, rather than a heap of dust and rubble.