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OK, Where Do I Start?
Two blocks west of Piazza Venezia—Rome's central transportation hub—sits the grandmother of Rome's 17th-century churches, Il Gesù, whose splendor makes it a fitting overture to this sumptuously Baroque quarter. After this curtain-raiser, cross Corso Vittorio Emanuele and take Via del Gesù, turning left onto Via Piè di Marmo to enter Piazza della Minerva. On the right is Santa Maria sopra Minerva, whose piazza contains Rome's most delightful Baroque conceit, the 17th-century elephant obelisk memorial designed by Bernini. Straight ahead is one of the wonders of the world, the ancient Pantheon, with that postcard icon, Piazza Navona, just a few blocks to the west. As cornucopic with art treasures as any in Rome, this district would take about five hours to explore, not counting breaks—but taking breaks is what this area is all about. Chill out at Campo de' Fiori, a Monday-to-Saturday morning market that becomes a nighttime scene-arena, or hit Piazza Navona in the evening, the ideal time to rest on a bench and revel in the dramatic way the lights hit the fountains and church.
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