Jun 6, 2014, 2:38 PM EST
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The Irish men’s lacrosse squad enjoyed an early breakfast, and then departed Montecatini at 8 a.m. for the freeway bus ride to Rome. After parking next to the Tiber River, the Notre Dame group walked to Piazza Navona in the northwest part of the Rome city centre—and from there everyone wandered for 90 minutes to find lunch. At 2:15 p.m. everybody returned to the plaza to meet with two-English-speaking guides who provided headsets and audio systems enabling everyone to hear the guides as the two spoke to their respective groups.
From Piazza Navona (a long ago home to athletic competitions, games and horse races), the Irish spent the next two hours walking through some of the most historic sites of Rome—starting with the Pantheon at Piazza della Rotonda. It’s dedicated to all the gods, with no windows but a single nine-meter opening at the top of the vault—and home to the tomb of Raphael. Then it was off to Piazza Venezia, one of the busiest intersections in the city and site of the national monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of Italy, followed by an overhead view of the Roman Forum, a huge area holding some of the oldest (and mostly underground) Roman ruins in the area.
About 5 p.m. the entire Notre Dame group entered the Colosseo (the Colosseum), as imposing a building as you might imagine—and quite apropos considering one of the buses had watched the movie “Gladiator” on the ride to Rome.
After a warm afternoon in the sun, the Irish contingent checked into their home hotel south of town at the Barcelo Aran Mantegna and had a dinner of pasta, veal and a fruit tart before many members of the group headed out to Rome at night.
When in Rome, stop by L’Osteria de Memmo i Santori, a local spot off an alleyway north of Piazza Navona—and try the pasta with tomatoes and shrimp.
Tomorrow the Notre Dame team will go in the morning to the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel and then spend the rest of the day seeing some of the remaining sights in the city centre, including the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna (the steps leading to the church of the Trinita dei Monti).
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