7/9/08 – 4.40pm
We left the BSR at 9am and walked to the Pantheon, the most complete surviving building from antiquity and surely one of Rome’s most impressive buildings.
We had breakfast at one of the restaurants next to it and it was really expensive – €7 for a small hot chocolate!! It was good but still! I suppose one pays for the surroundings more than anything else.
Unfortunately by the time we’d finished breakfast the Pantheon had closed for Mass, so we only got to see through the doors rather than go in. However, we did get to hear the choir, which was very evocative.
The route we took around Rome today was that of the Triumphal procession. We saw the Largo Argentina (a group of Republican victory temples) and even got to go into the basement of a nearby restaurant to see all that remains of Pompey’s theatre (not a lot!).
We paused at about 11.30 to get something to eat for lunch and we all got these enormous slices of pizza which were really impractical but delicious! Some people sat down to eat theirs straight away so I wandered off and took some photographs of the deserted Roman streets. I really love the ochre buildings with their green shutters!
After that we processed to the Theatre of Marcellus and then on to the Circus Maximus, where we ate lunch and laughed at a woman running round and round the track and doing amusing exercises.
Then we looked at a few triumphal arches and the Mamertime prison, where various historical figures met nasty ends – including the Catilinarian conspirators I believe.
Then we were free to go home so a few of us went to the ice cream shop near the Vittorio Emmanuele monument (aka ‘the wedding cake’) before getting the bus home. Saw a massive convoy of police cars, including black jeeps full of men with machine guns, obviously escorting some VIP around, no idea who though.
Lecture this evening entitled “Bread and Circuses” was really interesting, and amusing in places too. The good news that the air conditioning in the lecture theatre should be fixed by next week which is a relief, as it’s hard to concentrate when you need to cool down!
After dinner everyone stayed at the table chatting until 10pm when the lights went off in the courtyard so we all moved to the terrace and chatted there instead, and laughed about Hugh’s ‘Animal Hospital’ ringtone, which is sure to remind me of the BSR for the rest of my days. Pleasant evening and am really enjoying being here. Day off tomorrow so planning on having a lie-in!