Friday, October 24, 2008

Note da Italia : Il Pantheon e Fontana di Trevi

Il Pantheon e Fontana di Trevi, Roma
The Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain

The manager of the hotel I was in strongly recommended going to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. When I asked him why they were so popular – he just smiled and responded – ‘You cannot leave Rome without seeing them.’ A comment quite justified, I thought, coming from an Italian and most importantly – a Roman.

And so to wrap up the collection of interesting places I had been to over the four day period, I decided to pop into a monument called The Pantheon first.

When I asked a guide who stood smoking a cigarette outside the monument what the word ‘Pantheon’ meant, he shrugged in an obvious kind of way and said ‘A temple of the entire God…ya?’. Notwithstanding the grammatical error he had made, I soon found out that the Pantheon was indeed – a temple that was built to honor all of the Roman gods.

The first thing I noticed was the inscription written on the entrance of the building –

Further investigation about its meaning revealed that translated to English, this Latin text meant

“M(arcus) Agrippa, son (F) of Lucius (L), Consul (COS) for the third time (Tertium), built this.”

More information about the authenticity of this sentence can be found here. The most captivating thing about this temple was a large circular opening at the top of its ceiling. Almost seemed like a beautiful metaphor to let the superior powers bless the visitors' lives with water, light and prosperity.

As I entered the large edifice, it became clear that they wanted visitors to behave like pilgrims since the stress on Pantheon etiquette, as it were, was on two vital things – silence and decorum. I couldn’t help smile to myself as my mind went back to my own Hindu temples back home. One of the noisiest and chaotic examples in the world of religious places, I thought. I have always appreciated the quiet and spiritual atmosphere in a church or a Gurudwara given the scope they provide for actual seeking of wishes and being one with the Almighty. I can’t say I agree that Hindu temples provide the same sense of solace without some serious effort.

Be that as it may, the Pantheon’s architectural finesse aside, I realized how beautifully the dome sat on top of the monument encompassing all that was holy into the shrine. Despite not being of the faith, I found myself feeling the presence of something divine in a place that had been frequented by many an emperor to seek blessings from the one above.

Moving out of the Pantheon, at about a fifteen minute walking distance amid the narrow streets of Rome is ‘Fontana di Trevi’. The word 'Trevi' basically means Tre Vie - as in three streets/roads. The fountain is situated at the intersection of three streets/roads and hence the name.

Legend has it that the Romans found a water source here through the help of a virgin girl 800 years ago and whose statue adorns the face of the fountain. It is also believed that throwing a coin backwards facing forward assures the visitor’s return to Rome. Of course, this is just a legend but without a doubt, hundreds of tourists fling coins into the fountain each day. Not to be left behind I did my bit as well, wishing that I return to Rome someday. Hopefully with my best half. It just seemed like the perfect end to a wonderful trip. Started with an eagerness and ended with a wish. The complete circle.

Another grand day indeed as I was witness to two more of the several wonderful monuments that have stood the test of time in Rome and other parts of Italy. The saying ‘be a Roman in Rome’ never rung truer as I flew out of the city the following day with fond memories and some notes from Italia.


This blog concludes the 4-part series I have been documenting on my trip to Italy.

2 reflections:

Madhura said...

Nice to know about Pantheon and Trevi fountains. Very good pictures too!
I Enjoyed reading all the four series as much as you enjoyed writing and sharing.
May God fulfill all your wishes as soon as possible. :)


shakri said...


Thank you so much for the consistent responses, Madhura. I am glad you enjoyed the travelog and your wishes are always welcome. :)