Overshadowed by the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon might just be another box travelers expect to check off their “Rome In a Day” lists. But this underdog of a sight is so much more.
On my first night in Rome, I turned a corner expecting to see just another ruins — after traveling throughout Europe for almost a month, it’s hard not to get a little jaded. While others told me the Trevi Fountain would bring me to tears, it was the Pantheon that magically appeared in my sight and stopped me in my tracks. The Piazza della Rotonda is absolutely bustling under the stars. Many of the restaurants are over-priced and touristy, but a dinner overlooking the Pantheon will be money well spent. While the doors of the Pantheon aren’t open at night, you can step behind the columns and look back onto the square for a great picture.
During the day, stand in awe of the beam of light that shoots through the dome and onto the smooth floor. Both the inside and the outside of the Pantheon are incredibly well-preserved. Be sure to check a travel book or app — there are more than a few facts about its construction that are hard to believe even when you’re standing within its walls. (P.S. Giolitti, the famed Italian gelateria, is steps away and open past midnight. Get a scoop of the homemade cream on top of your cone — it’s even better than the gelato. And if you need coffee, Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè isn’t too far.)
If you’ve seen all the sights when in Rome, you’re only half-way done — they must be seen under both the light of the sun and the moon.