Started the day with the second half of our Palantino ticket with a visit to the always-impressive Colosseo. New sections were open on this visit, providing some up-close vantage points to peer into the ancient flooring and imagine what it was like in the bowels of such a structure.
Began a long afternoon walk in the direction of Castel Sant' Angelo. Ducked into two cool churches along the way...cool in decor, but more importantly, cool in temperature. Maria en Campitelli was a dark, quiet church with few visitors, while Agnese di Agone was bright and opulent and teeming with admirers. Outside, on the Piazza Navone, Jeff spotted a landmark from a book he is reading: Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. (Thanks to Matt for the recommendation...Jeff is pointing out "clues" all over Rome.)
Our primary destination for the afternoon--the Castel Sant' Angelo--is another book landmark. The Medeival Castel was construted on top of an ancient Roman masoleum constructed by Emperor Hadrian. Later, the Castel housed Papal apartments, and a secret passage to the Vatican ('Il Paseo') for the Pope to escape invading armies. For modern visitors, the result is a 3-D inter-mixing of eras. From the parapets, got a colorful glimpse of the myriad of street vendors below: sandals, handbags, glasses, scarves, grass reeds twisted into oragami grasshoppers...tripods?
A short walk to the Vatican, where visitors lined up for evening service in Piazza San Pietro. Watched the curious scene for an hour...expecting something to happen...I'm sure it did eventually...probably even included the Pope. Nevertheless, hunger overcame us and we walked along the Tiber back to the Travestere for dinner. A very popular spot...Carlos Menta...with good food at very reasonable prices. They are the one place that seemed to have embraced the American economic model that with high volume, you can have low prices.
Returned to the hotel for drinks (mojitos) and dessert (a creative, rich tiramisu) at the hotel rooftop bar, Circus.
Nestled into a very cozy bed.