Fountains, churches, and palaces/museums, oh my!

You can tell I’m struggling with titles here people, but bear with me.  Also, I did my best, but the number of photos only increased from the last post to this one.  Sorry I’m not that sorry, you know you like them anyways!  Most of you probably don’t even read my nonsense, and just cruise through the photos – for which I can’t really blame you.  What can I say: it was another jam-packed day of sights!

Early morning on the bridge of angels (and gulls)

Early morning on the bridge of angels (and gulls)

I started my journey to the neighborhood named Trevi early in the morning again, as my first destination was one of the go-to tourist spots in the city – the Trevi fountain.  I know, fountains really are a big thing here.  But this one deserves the recognition.  I rolled up on this gorgeous monstrosity around 0745, and there were already a handful of other hardcore Sunday turistas there.  Not to worry, the few that were there did not obstruct my view of such an amazing work.

Neptune and his minions - fairly appropriate that he is present on more than a few large fountains

Neptune and his minions – fairly appropriate that he is present on more than a few large fountains

Some of you may recognize the fountain from some famous movie – not really my cup of tea so just rest assured that if it looks familiar, it is.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that ~3,000€ makes its way into the fountain via light tosses from the tourist mob on a daily basis.  Gives you a bit of perspective on how many people visit it.  Not to mention, there are stiffs like me who think my euros are better spent on pizza, pizza, and the occasional pizza.  If you aren’t up to speed, I did not contribute my cash money to the watery grave, rather I just spent my time enjoying the fountain in all of its glory, trying to capture some great photos of it, and of the three Italian gents who sauntered up next to me to have a nice morning corn-cob pipe smoke-off.  Quintessential Italy.

It's like a swimming pool... Backstroke anyone?

It’s like a swimming pool… Backstroke anyone?

Anyways, back to the plotline here people.  My next stop was to check in on the government, and see just how lavish their domiciles are.  Palazzo Quirinale sits atop a hill with a view of  – guess what – St. Peter’s Basilica (again, I will NEVER not be able to find my way home), and is the enormous building where the president of the republic lives.  I planned the trip perfectly to hang out with the equivalent of their secret service, or the president’s guards, as on Sundays from 0830 to 1200 they have tours of the palace.  These guys are decked out in white regalia, complete with a heinous headdress and saber.  Amazing – if you want to see what I mean (I failed to snap a photo of one of them), look up ‘palazzo quirinale guard’ in Google image search.  Halloween costume worthy?

Awesome elliptical staircase in the Palazzo Barberini

Awesome elliptical staircase in the Palazzo Barberini

Not the Palazzo Quirinale, rather the Palazzo Barberini, where I visited a nice gallery

Not the Palazzo Quirinale, rather the Palazzo Barberini, where I visited a nice gallery

After the palace visit, I saw an awesome boxer (the canine) complete with a full tail on my way to a church that was closed for restoration.  The next stop – a fountain that was closed for – wait for it – restorations.  Devastating.  And then I had my biggest Lonely Planet let-down, a pitiful fountain with three tiny bees on a oyster shell.  When I saw ‘La Fontana delle Api,’ you better believe I was expecting massive bees, or at least a big ol’ hive or something.  Nothing of the sort, but the tour must go on…

…To the next LP mis-direction.  I went on the hunt for this place that was marked on the map of sites to see named ‘Italaidea.’  No mention of it in the text, just a spot on the map.  No idea what it is, or if it even exists.  Strike two.

But not to fear, I had some more fountains to comfort me.  One with this baller, who I think is Jupiter (Zeus):

Righteous beard

Righteous beard

Fountains for days...

Fountains for days…

And then another one with a lady apparently strangling a goose, and this aggressive horse-wrangler along with more animal harassment in Piazza de Republica:

A lot of animal abuse represented in this fountain - goose strangling, horse wrangling, basilisk-sitting, and one other I can't recall

A lot of animal abuse represented in this fountain – goose strangling, horse wrangling, basilisk-sitting, fish squeezing, and fish tail-grabbing

After getting a bite to eat, I entered through a cool door into what seemed to be an archaeological site.  It was supposed to be a basilica called Santa Maria degli Angeli… And good lord was it a hidden gem of a church!  Behind a dilapidated exterior was a massive, beautiful interior, complete with a meridian line (physics baby), an exhibit on pendulums (boom, more physics), amazing frescoes/sculptures, and an awesome organ.

Impressive and intimidating music box

Impressive and intimidating music box

Striking door of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Striking door of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Quite a precise meridian line, used to tell time and predict dates of events using  light cast down by the sun

Quite a precise meridian line, used to tell time and predict dates of events using light cast down by the sun

The next stop was the Terme di Diocleziano, or in easier to understand terminology, a museum incorporating a reconstructed cloisters that was part of the largest bath complex.  Again, Rome does museums very well.  Lots of cool sculptures, including some of the most terrifying ‘comic masks’ I’ve ever seen, and some cool animal heads in the garden area.

The gorgeous cloisters, a relaxing break from the busy world of tourists

The gorgeous cloisters, a relaxing break from the busy world of tourists

They must have known I was coming when they sculpted this many years ago

They must have known I was coming when they sculpted this many years ago

The show marched on to another museum, but made a quick stop at this strangely creepy pope statue outside of the main train station in town.  Is it me or does this guy remind you of the Princess Bride?  Anyone?

Settle down there pope dude

Settle down there pope dude

Two more stops to go:  the next was another museum, housed in an old palace.  Amazing sculptures, and some great knockers:

Definitely need a set of these for my future home

Definitely need a set of these for my future home

And when I kick the bucket, you will have to bury me in a sarcophagus like this one

And when I kick the bucket, you will have to bury me in a sarcophagus like this one

The last spot was an enormous basilica (di Santa Maria Maggiore) located a bit further south of my location.  I’ll let some photos play us out, and I’ll touch base with you all again on Monday after my visit to Ancient Rome this weekend!

Inside the basilica - apparently in the ark-like chest down at the bottom there is a piece of some important manger?

Inside the basilica – apparently in the ark-like chest down at the bottom there is a piece of some important manger?

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the necessary obelisk in its piazza

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the necessary obelisk in its piazza

Hold that thought, my last stop was actually a tiny little church with a famous Bernini sculpture.  I became a true viewing free-rider, as you need to put in €0.5 to turn on the light over this tourist-drawing block of stone.  Act like I’m going to pay money to turn on a light to see a statue…

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, a controversial Bernini masterpiece

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, a controversial Bernini masterpiece

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