Rome - The Pantheon

MARCH 03-28, 2007

(Mom wanted some pictures of the Pantheon,

so I took two trips to Rome :)

The temple of the Pantheon in Rome was built in 27 before Christ, on the order of the Consul Marcus Agrippa Powerful deputy of Augustus, the first Roman emperor.

He was chiefly responsible for the victory over Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and during Augustus' reign he suppressed rebellions, founded colonies, and administered various parts of the Roman Empire.

The Tickets:

AUS-YYZ: 19K NW miles ..............#3957FF

YYZ-MXP-LCA-FCO-YYZ: Alitalia Business Class Mistake Fare $177 #JWB5HZ



AUS-MEM NW #5965 11:55 - 13:35

MEM-MSP NW #0455 14:12 - 16:21

MSP-YYZ NW #0606 18:48 - 21:45 first

Took Austin city bus to airport from near Randall's, $1. Routine flights to Toronto, free upgrades to first class from NWA.

Canadian Immigration was more intense than usual. They needed to see my onward ticket, and asked a lot of the questions TWICE. I wish they would hire inspectors who could at least remember which questions they have already asked ! Anyway, I was stamped into Canada for 6 months. Five booths down I was surprised as an inspector was YELLING at a stone-faced group of four orientals: "QUIT LYING ! ....NOW TELL THE TRUTH !! ...... WHY ARE YOU HERE ? "

LONG wait in the cold outside for Quality Inn hotel bus. Quality Hotel & Suites Airport East, 2180 Islington Ave. Toronto, ON, CA, M9P 3P1 Phone: (416) 240-9090 Confirmation #36731652 Points Redeemed: 8000



YYZ-MXP AZ #0653 17:25 - 07:45

Buffet breakfast in hotel $12, hotel bus to YYZ was overbooked so they sent me in Taxi. Alitalia check-in was fine, with very stunning gate agent Francis at the Business Class desk. But the dragon glaring at me from the re-ticket counter was enough to scare me off from asking about re-confirming the next 2 tickets after this trip !!

VERY nice new Maple Leaf lounge with showers, fine salad bar, and draft Guiness. Flight to Milan OK except audio jack was loose, and on second movie the tracking was so screwed up the movie was unwatchable. FA just shrugged it off.... nothing HE could do....I would hate to see how they take care of an emergency evac if they can't even adjust the video.



MXP-LCA AZ #7706 13:35 - 18:00

Arrived on time in Milan, but the Alitalia lounge was the standard disaster. The showers were working, but NO °shower kits° and just PAPER TOWELS ! Fortunately after the shower I was able to get in the OTHER lounge (for Cyprus Air) that was much better and had a nice big couch where I napped until the flight to Larnaca was ready at 3 PM - 2 hours late.

Standard routine at Larnaca, immigration and customs a breeze, Mercedes Benz taxi $14 to Harry's Inn ($18). The taxi driver said HE would never stay in a place like Harry's, but I pointed out that he was obviously a rich man, driving a Mercedes, and others might not be so lucky !! Immediately to sleep so didn't mind that Harry's is just a flophouse, and not really recommended.



LCA-FCO AZ #7701 09:15 - 11:30

Woke up at dawn, taxi to airport $12, talked my way into the business lounge even though ticket downgraded to economy on this sector when reissued. Nice breakfast goodies in lounge, and on time departure. Economy was almost as comfortable as business on CY anyway. I noticed something about travelling in the arrive at almost the same time as those travelling up front ! Strange......Arrived Rome about noon.

Eleanor in Salt Lake had given me a number of hotel ideas: ".. some Rick Steves' recommends": Residencia Adler, Hotel Nardizzi Americana, Hotel Pensione Italia, Hotel Montreal, Suore di Santa Elisabetta, Casa Olmata, Guilliver's House, Beehive, Albergo Sileo, Instituto Il Rosario, Casa San Guiseppe, Casa per Ferie Santa Maria Alle Fornaci dei Padri Trinitari. Here is the hotel Bob and Mary stayed at in Rome. Apartments:

…………………but I had no time to act on any of them, so made hotel res at airport for Hotel D'Este near Rome termini station, 55 Euros. 11 moreEuros for "Da Vinci Express" non-stop train from airport to Termini. It stopped 7 times on the way, but since no one got on or off, I guess they don't count. Walking to the hotel, my new Costco wheeled bag performed well on the tortuous cobbled areas.

I noticed many of the Roman girls were wearing knee-high black boots. At least most of the chinese-looking ones were. Checked in to hotel, where the chinese clerk said he could not accept credit card. I had confirmed with airport res office they would. I explained it would cost me 3% extra to get ATM cash (not true, I just want the. points), but the chinese guy said the price was for cash. Of course, if I wanted to use my VISA card, he could do it for 3% upcharge.....

Took a quick nap til 3 pm, then metro to Spagna station. It always surprises me how different metros are between cities. In Rome, you don't need to keep the card after entering, whereas most places you need the electronic card to exit also. The metro cars are the most graffiti-ed I have ever seen, they should do a Giuliani on them.

In a plaza near the Spanish steps I noticed a number of obviously wacked-out people, walking aimlessly in circles, pressing their hands to their heads, then to the sky, talking loudly, apparently crying out to some god above. Then I realized they were just Italians using their cell phones.

Walked to Pantheon for first scouting. Checked a few hotels in the area but they were around $200. Metro back to hotel, Internet and Skype, then to sleep by 8 pm.


Side altar in Pantheon
















Woke up around 5 am, thought I would catch morning light at Pantheon, but heard a loud clap of thunder and rain falling, so went back to sleep.

At 8 am had pretty good breakfast at Hotel, but afterwards felt a wave of jetlag, and slept again until noon.

Spent the afternoon on a 4-hour walk from Termini area, up Cavour street, could see the Coliseo off to one side, through a few forums (fori ?), then Plaza Navona and through back streets to the Pantheon. Walked around it CCW, then inside.











Guards roped off area in center where rain coming through 9m hole in dome












This finally answered the question that has been bugging me since I first saw the Pantheon in 1975:

what do they do when it rains......


Despite a careful examination, no erotic art could be found.









Continued walk to Trevi fountain, packed with people tossing coins over their shoulder. Back to hotel along Via Corso and Plaza del Republica. Sore feet finally get a rest about 4pm, then internet, where I lose a half hour typing this document as power fails !

Took another walk about 9 pm, doner kebab for dinner $4. Checked a few more hotels, but nothing better even at 80 euros, over $100. So may stay with my marginal 50 euro hotel due to inertia if nothing else.


Tested out my cell phone as alarm clock this AM. Since it can't register here (wrong GSM freq for europe), it is still set to time last connected to a network, i.e., Toronto. But indeed, if I adjust for the time gap, it does the job.


Lazed around a bit and after breakfast headed to the Vatican Museum metro stop. Interesting to see that this metro stop is named CIPRO, after the famous antibiotic that saved so many from the post 9-11 anthrax attacks. Between the metro and museo was a GAUNTLET of romas (gypsies) all apparently carrying swaddled babies, one crying out for money touched her lips with her hand then pressed it to my shirt, but as I pushed past, she no good....just go to the PANTHEON.

Anyway, I arrived at the museo a bit before 10 am, and was appalled to see the line stretching at least a city block down the first Vatican wall outside the entrance. But my info that the museo was open 9 am to 1 pm was wrong, actually 10 am - 4 pm.

So as soon as it opened, we streamed through security. I headed for the Sistine Chapel first, but got side-tracked a few times.











Really liked the micro-mosaics.


There were even three of the PANTHEON.





Was fun just to sit in the quite dark Sistine Chapel looking around. The guards would yell out SILENCIO .... grazzi... NO PHOTOS ...grazzi... NO VIDEOS ...grazzi .....every few minutes. The loud buzz of hundreds of people would drop to a whisper, and then slowly build up until the guard barked again. Everyone was trying to sneak photos of the ceiling.

Visited the Sculpture hall, picture gallery (pinocateca), and Egyptian room.

The catholics have definitely done OK plundering the world during their time.
















From the Museo Vatican walked around the walls to St Peters, then along the Tiber river to Sant Angelo Castle and Bridge.


Headed into old center Rome, got turned around and ended up at Plaza Frenesi, but finally found the Pantheon.

Not much new today, but more crowded than ever. They seem to be constructing a ticket booth just inside the massive doors, so this sight may not remain free much longer.

Thought I might get the sunbeam shot, but the clouds were not productive.After I gave up and headed to Spagna metro, the sun came out, so I may have been too impatient. Back to hotel to rest feet, then Internet and sleep.


Bright sunshine this morning, but had to do a hotel shuffle as the D'Este was full up for tonight. Walked 2 blocks back towards the station and found Hotel Hollywood for 65 Euros. Despite the name, it only has 2 stars.

Around noon walked to Coliseum, where the Eros exhibition at Museo de Coliseo had just opened, included in 11 Euros Coliseo admission fee.

A very interesting collection of pottery and sculpture, maybe 20% with actual erotic stuff. Some of it would look pretty good in an alcove in the Pantheon, was my impression.

Coliseo looked good, packed with tourists though.

Finished up at Palatine hill, metro back to Termini and looked around at a few more hotel possibiliies.























Picked up info on train Rome to Ancona for next possible trip 10 days from now. I could make a dash over to Croatia for a few nights, as I think I am close to Rome-saturated. Train to Ancona ferry terminal is 3-4 hours and 27 or 46 euros, with three departures in the afternoon. At this point another trip over here doesn't seem very attractive, even with the cheap comfortable Alitalia deal. I might get more satisfaction out of "digitizing my life" project at home. But things can change.

I did not make it to Pantheon today, despite the sunshine, so that broke the chain. Apparently there was a research problem about the erotic material in the Pantheon, as the subject matter is actually located in Pompeii near Naples. So, without that highlight piece, the project has withered.


Villa Borghese



Marriot Courtyard Fumicino           


....FCO-MXP AZ #1022 Y 07:50-09:10

....MXP-YYZ AZ #0652 D 10:10-14:35

....YYZ-MEM NW #2837 16:55-18:25

....MEM-AUS NW #5739 19:25-21:25

 supershuttle home $23

------------------- ROME via CYPRUS #2

........AZ #JVXCD5 $180 ..........CO #CBZ9LF ....25K miles + $94



......4AM Drive to Airport, FastPark

Normal flights on CO to YYZ via IAH.

....AUS-IAH CO #0240 05:40 - 06:35

....IAH-YYZ CO #2905 08:00 - 12:12

Met Flyertalkers Gleff and Four Wheels at Alitalia check-in. FRANCIS, the lovely Alitalia angel at business class check in, remembered me from 10 days before. Excellent shower in the new facilities at Toronto Maple Leaf lounge.

........YYZ-MXP AZ #0653 18:25 - 07:45 +1

Nice new lie-flat seats and personal video players on the Alitalia 767-300. Watched "The Illusionist", then slept.



4-hour gabfest with Gleff and Four Wheels in Milan lounges, but no shower due to cold water.

MXP-LCA AZ #7706 13:35 - 18:00

Invited Four Wheels to a free ride into Larnaca, where I stayed at Petrou Bros apt.




LCA-FCO AZ #7701 09:15 - 11:30

Arrived Rome OK after another nice Cyprus Air flight. Departure was delayed 1.5 hours, and a few rude passengers pushed forward into the boarding door area telling the flight crew they needed to take off NOW to make their connections in Rome. They would be in cuffs at that points in USA. When the delaying passengers finally boarded, one guy yelled at them, saying "Next time, could you try to be on time, please !" A small verbal battle ensued with no obvious winner.

Bettoja Hotel Mediterraneo ( )

Via Cavour 15 Rome, 00184 Italy, 011-39-064-884-051

$139.00 per night + $14.61 = $153.61

I figured out how to take train into Roma for 5.5 euros instead of 11, just 3 extra stops instead of the non-stop train which stops. The MEDITERRANEO hotel for $150 is quite comfortable, other than the price! Big room, KING bed, frig, CNN, etc. One problem with VERY narrow alcove for toilet, and the shower stall is one of those where you would not want to drop the soap. Well see later if I extend or go $80 flophouse hunting.




Nice hot buffet breakfast. Hotel room had a walking tour pamphlet which I followed, first to Pyramide station then across Tiber to Sunday morning flea market.

Really a nice day for walking with light traffic.








Continued through Trastevere, finding musicians and an unusual Artichoke festival at Plaza in front of Santa Maria Trastevere church.
















Crossed back into downtown near Tiber Island bridge.
































Walked up Argentina and saw the Cat Sanctuary at Largo Sacra roman ruins.















Then visited the Pantheon again and everything has changed:There is a sign that explains about the holes in the floor, must be the most common question ! ...AND it says there are 22 holes !! But I couldnt find anywhere near that many with the crowds inside. I asked people if they were standing on a drain hole, but got really strange looks. I guess they didn't speak English. Probably French.


Interesting walk back through narrow winding streets in center.











Another sunny day here, it is 11 am, but traffic is roaring outside. I change to Hotel Cavour one block down the street, still a big bed and bathroom, only $100 instead of $150. Most museums closed today. Apparently Tivoli is only cold water.

Took suburban train north to VITERBO ($12) to see the Popes hot springs, but never got there as they were further out of town than first research indicated, and I could not figure out the public transport.







Back in hotel about 7:30 pm, later to internet for long but poor quality Skype to Mom and Dad.



TUE 27 Mar

Took the hop-on-off open-top tourist bus ($17) for one big loop around the city between 9:30 and 11 AM.

Sights that caught my attention to return to this afternoon are the ARS PACIS stop, I think the tomb of Augustus,

and a TRASH PEOPLE exhibit at the People's Plaza.































There are a THOUSAND full size people made of trash, all lined up like an army, reminiscent in scale to the Ceramic warriors of Xian.








Took an afternoon nap, then back on bus again for another loop. Tried to find the Campodoglio but a rain storm made things difficult. Got off at Plaza of the People for a closer look at the Trash People exhibit.

Missed a final chance to toss a coin at Trevi Fountain, so this could be it for Roma.


5:52 AM Train to FCO, flight to Milan and Toronto, to Austin via Newark.

....FCO-MXP AZ #1024 08:30 - 09:45

....MXP-YYZ AZ #0652 10:30 - 13:50

took 1 hour to get bag at Toronto !!

....YYZ-EWR CO #0573 17:14 - 19:08

....EWR-IAH CO #0806 20:30 - 23:59.....flight delayed in Newark due mechanical

arrived home 2:30 AM


EXTRA: Hot Springs near Rome:.......


"Why don't you go to Tivoli and do a series of inhalations?" The sulphuric waters of the Acque Albule (white waters- so called because of their milky colour) of Tivoli have long been used to treat all kinds of chronic complaints, ranging from sinusitis and bronchitis to acne and eczema, rheumatism and arthritis and various gynaecological problems.

However, the image of the spa itself was not the most positive. After its golden heyday in the Dolce Vita period, when it was frequented by people such as movie director Federico Fellini, Italian film star Vittorio Gassman and singer Ornella Vanoni, the baths slid into a state of decline. So it was pleasantly surprising to find a sparkling clean, ultra-modern establishment with a brand new, state-of-the-art clocking-in system for visitors that eliminated queuing.

The baths in fact reopened last spring after an extensive facelift lasting a year and a half, aimed at restoring their former prestige. "Plans are by no means completed," said spa director Francesco Mannu. "That big hole in the ground you can see to the right of the main building is the site for a new hotel with 140 rooms. There will also be underground parking for 500 cars. Another five-star hotel is to be built in the area on the left, with a congress hall to seat 2,000 people. This is all due to be completed in 2010."

The gardens, however, are the most delightful part of the spa complex. The four huge pools, fed with a constant flow of cloudy water from the Acque Albule spring ("At the rate of 500 litres per second, with a constant temperature of 23 degrees, summer and winter," Mannu explained) are set in rolling green lawns shaded by date palms, eucalyptus and gnarled old olives trees. The only problem is that, in the summer holidays, they tend to be very crowded as many local families come simply to enjoy the park and the pools.

The curative properties of the Acque Albule were well known and appreciated by the ancient Romans. Augustus, who is said to have used the water to treat his gout, commissioned the architect M. Vespasian Agrippa (who also built the Pantheon) to design the first thermal baths. These were not, however, situated on the same spot as the modern ones, but next to the actual source where the water flowed out of the earth into two small adjoining lakes. The source and the ruins of the Roman baths lie, largely forgotten, in a stretch of wasteland about 1.5 km from the present spa.

Those interested should take the first turning to the right after the spa entrance (coming from Tivoli) and follow the signs for the Raffaeli fireworks factory down an unnamed country lane. Go through the gate at the end and a short walk will take you to the site. Acque Albule S.p.a. - Le Terme di Roma Via Tiburtina Valeria, km 22,700 (in the heart of the Bagni di Tivoli suburb), tel. 077435471,

Re-opens 12 March. Getting there: there is a regular train service from Tiburtina Station, Rome-Pescara line. Entrance to pools: E10 per day Mon-Fri, ?13 Sat, Sun and holidays. Reduced entrance for those registered for a course of treatment. Margaret Stenhouse Terme di Stigliano It was abandoned for years, covered with vines, with black locust growing out of its roof. Now it's a four-star hotel.




The ancient hot springs of Stigliano, which formerly bubbled out of broken pipes, broken tiles, their tubs rusted, decayed, are now once again harnessed in elegant tiles, sunlit rooms, a magnificent pool. Le Terme di Stigliano reopened, restored, with their mud baths, hot springs with pools of various temperatures, health and beauty centre, on 12 September last year.

It's good news to many people residing in the area of Lake Bracciano and on the coast, and also to Romans. Deep in a valley of forest and stream, Stigliano's beneficial hot springs were venerated by the Etruscans, who considered them a sacred place of worship to water divinities.

Its thermal baths have been identified by archaeologists as dating from the sixth century BC. The Romans named the spot Thermae Stygiane - Stygian baths. Remains of a temple dedicated to Apollo were excavated, and several rooms with stone benches typical of ancient curative baths were found during maintenance work in the 1970s. Pliny wrote that it was law for the Roman legions returning from Egypt to stop at Stigliano to purify themselves before entering the capital. Under Tiberius the baths reached the peak of their popularity. In the mediaeval period they belonged to the feudal lords of the time, the Anguillara family, the Orsini.

In 1700 a hotel was built by the Altieri and a structure designed for the hot springs and baths for visitors seeking therapy and cures. During the 20th century Stigliano had its ups and downs; the hotel had long been shuttered and taken over by the luxuriant vegetation, and only the mud baths and pools were used by day visitors. It was a shabby set-up, rusting, badly run; the entire complex finally closed down in the 1980s when what could be taken of its Roman remains were sacked. However, following an extensive restoration taking several years and considerable investment by a private company, which has seen the 18th-century hotel transformed into a four-star complex with all its luxurious amenities, the Terme di Stigliano can now be considered a place for short or prolonged stays.

The setting is a magnificent botanical manicured park, with paths and little bridges over a stream, and from the hotel a path leads to Il Bagnarello, the health centre. Both resident guests and day visitors can use the facilities of the health centre with its various therapeutic treatments, its sulphur-iodic hot springs with temperatures ranging from 25 to 56 degrees, for respiratory, bronchial, arthritic and skin complaints, its mud baths and equipment for inhalations. Nearby is the splendid outdoor pool fed by a hot spring with water at 31 degrees providing hydro massage as it flows in. Terme di Stigliano Via Bagni di Stigliano, Canale Monterano, tel. 0699805977,

Re-opens 4 March. For day visitors the entrance fee is E20 including use of the pool and changing rooms, towel and use of the lounging area. There are one-day and seven-day packages offering various therapeutic and beauty treatments; prices vary according to treatments and the facilities used. The price for rooms in the hotel is E170-190 per night with half board, and includes use of the pools.

Many people go to Stigliano just for the day.