06 – Roma

Week 2 – Roma, Italia – “Old Stuff; Anyone”

First is sincerely apologize for taking so long to write – internet in Roma was extremely difficult to get and additionally I pretty much did not still the last week; so in short – I’m tired and this might be brief…………..well actually its me; so get a coffee – a whole lot happened.

Roma was a shocker; seeing it from a tourists perspective instead of at an athlete is much better. I always had thought that Rome was just this krazy, dirty, cramped city, full of tourists, wit not much of an identity anymore besides being the Pope’s play toy and the backyard excavation site of some really “old stuff.” Well its still is those last two things but it has its own identity, is most definitely not dirty but quite the opposite, has plenty of new thriving stuff to compliment old stuff, and with the hundreds of Palazzo’s seems like there is pletny of space for everyone. Below is a summation of what all I saw; then I’ll tell you about the fun and charm of the town.

Italia – Week 2; Roma, Napoli, Pompei, Positano

Day 1 – Tuesday 16 September – Vatican City & Spanish Steps + Superman;   

  We left for Roma at 7:56 AM and arrived to our hotel around 11:30 AM. The view from our window was ridiculous. Our hotel was about a 1/2 block from Campo del Fiori and about 10 blocks from Piazza di Venezia which is where most the Roman ruins are. We pretty much dropped our stuff and then ran to meet up with our tour guide at the Vatican (or as we mistakenly called it in Italian; La casa di Popa – this is incorrect we sew found out). What a church; the brilliance in its design is amazing. Initially I was expecting to the see the largest Church and square I had ever witnessed and it did not meet what was in my head. We soon found out that this is the trickery of Baroque. The church’s main forum and facade is baraque which is meant to distort the environment by not providing a perspective point. The walls and architectural tools can be used to bend your vision. But as you finally approach the Church you realize the massiveness and wow its was impressive. The Duomo di Milano is still my favorite Cathedral but this was definitely number two. The interior was unbelievable; the ornate designs, sculpture, and woodwork would left my jaw hanging. Seeing the Baldacchino in the center by the pulpit I had been looking forward to seeing for years and was just as good as I envisioned; but again it was wild to the power of the Baroque design that made this massive (90 ft.) tall structure appear to be little more than 40 feet high. We saw the Pieta which at that point was my new number 1 (until seeing others, read on).  In short spectacular barely sums the experiences.

 

Afterwards we visited the Vatican Museums and Galleries plus the Sistine Chapel; where the Pope’s are chosen. Again unbelievable. The architecture and interior decoration was mind boggling. The sculptures and art were great but as we had just came from St. Peter’s most we just briefly walked by expect for the key pieces – the collection is enormous and took us four hours to walk; without barely stopping (although at a slow pace). Definitely a must do – probably the biggest collection of mixed are I’ve ever seen. Some of the view out the windows of the museum where heartstopping since it sprawls across the Vatican property. Then there was the Sistine Chapel; just as good as it is talked about. Its hard to describe in words besides seeing it yourself. My favorite party of both the museums’ halls and the chapel were the use of painting to add molding/trim details on the ceiling that look so real you had to really look hard to realize it was just paint; and not 3 dimensional. The Sistine chapel ceiling was great but I think that the Last Judgment (both by Michelangelo) was my favorite. I left a bit down because I was looking for the painting of the School of Athens Iby Raphael but missed it. It was over the doorway of the entrance to the Sistine Chapel and think we were so excited we didn’t look up. After being semi-depressed for a few minutes I decided I need to take the new attitude in Europe that “if something is missed; its just a reason to come back” which became my new motto. Post Vatican we walked clear across town to the top of the Spanish Steps and took in its gorgeous view of the city. Our professor took us out to dinner with a professor he knew from Roma and had a feast of pizza after an incredibly long day walking. Me and another guy decided to ditch the map and free for all it home and tried to get lost. We stumbled across the Pantheon, Marcus Aurelias’ response to Trajan’s Column (storyline of battle wraps a 90 ft. column), and countless Baroque churches – really glad we took the detour. That followed with a night out of dancing near our hotel with a bit more wine plus an embarrassing video of Superman that I hope doesn’t make it to the net; but if it does I’ll claim to be proud of!  

Day 2 – Wednesday 17 September – Coliseum, the Forum, and San Pietro;

After a really long day one we slept in a bit day two and didn’t leave until around noon, but I got a stunning jog in the morning ( I think after this trip I think I shall write a book called “Europe, Vino, Stradas & Sneakers”; maybe it can finance my next adventures haha). We met at the Coliseum which was much larger than expected. This thing could outdo most collegiate universities (even probably Auburn in height. I could see how some people would actually volunteer to be gladiators because what a thrill it must have been to hear a crowd roar hear; although sadly for mostly villainous reasons. The professor that met up with us the previous night (she is in restoration planning; and I’m definitely calling to get job search help) and brought two really cute Italian girls who said the next time they come to Rome to be sure to call them. They were a great wealth of information for both the ruins and to help my Italian which is getting really good. We walked the coliseium and then moved to the Palatine Hill and then on down through the forum. The whole deal took about 7.5 hours. Again much better than anticipated. This city must have been the sight to see and dwarfed most modern day metropolis’. How this was achieved perplexed my brain (notice a theme) but is obvious when you think of all the slaves they had. The Forum was breathtaking; and are images that will never leave my eyes or mind. As a huge architecture buff it was really overloading; and again got frustrated because I could site and stare forever – but with my new motto – I guess I have a reason to come back and hopefully with family or someone special to share it with instead of a bunch of loosely related guys/gals, although the group has been loads of fun! We also ran by San Pietro to see the relic of the shackles that cuffed Peter and Michelanglo’s “Moses”; another jaw dropper.

 

Day 3 – Thursday 18 – September Galleria di Borghese, Piazzo del Popolo, Campo del Novana, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Metro Linea B1 Jobsite Visit;

Thursday morning Bryan and I decided to switch it up and see a Gallery. I really like sculpture and on the suggestion of Bryan’s sister walked 4 miles north, passing the Piazzo del Popolo, with its dueling churches and city gates, and massive obelisk, and on to the Museo di Borghese. Here is when I really started adding to my list of world’s most amazing sculptures. We saw Bernini’s “David,” Apollo & Daphne,” Pluto & Proserpina,” and finally “Truth Unveiled by Time.”  I defintely like art but have never been a stop, sit, and stare art connoisseur. This gallery made me just that. I couldn’t believe how perfect the David was down to the veins in the hands, the creativeness of Apollo & Daphne with the leaves, the way that Berinini made Daphne’s marble skin look soft where Pluto gripped her, and the cloak on the T.U.B.T; each deserved 15 minutes minimum each. And that was just the highlights. There was such mastery that is almost incomprehensible. My fan of sculpture is growing. Afterwards it was  made dash to meet up with the group at Campo del Novana and see another baroque splendor and the associated fountain whose characters stare at it in agony and disgust (the fountain’s artist lost out on the church contract and made this is response, politics through art seemed to be a theme in much of Rome’s pieces). Then on to the Pantheon which just look so old its hard to believe. It really make you feel like you are rolled back a few thousand of years. And on to the Trevi Founain (there is too much in Roma; it needs weeks) which was instantly a favorite spot (of course anything with water gets me). Post touring our professor has lined up a site visit on the outskirts of town to seeing the boring methods for tunneling – really cool – 100 meter long drill. Was really cool but not sure worth the whole afternoon. Afterwards we decided since we had been a bit rowdy the previous nights to just grab some local pizza and some Peroni’s and head down to Trevi Fountain and eat and appreciate. We soon realized that the rest of Roma’s tourist had the same though pattern and there would be minimal appreciation possible – the result was us packing up and heading down to our local nightstop square (Campo del Fuori) and listen to the music. Campo del Furori I think is my favorite place in the world to hang out. Local Italian music, lots of great architecture and fountains, medium size, thousands of people all enjoying each others company without impeding on each, and clear skies. Obviously with all these people which grows with the hours we soon were not doing so much relaxing and picked up socializing. Met a local and her sister that I conversed in Italian for an hour (longest yet) and we are now facebook friends. The temperature every night was perfect which just added to the experience.  

Day 4 – Friday 19 September – Museo di Capitaline, Monumento Vittorio Emmanuelle, and “Ciao Roma”

Favorite new activity; a cafe’ in the quaint streets of a European jewel! Great way to the start morning, especially when its a bit overcast, cool, with light rain. I could get used to this. Two of the girls in the group and I went to the Museo di Capitaline (just off the Forum) to see another great art/sculpture collection. I really enjoyed it but after being spoiled with so many great pieces in the last few days have started to notice in sculpture in art ; there is good……..and then there are knockouts. Sadly few knockouts – but inversely architecture always seems to impress me at any level. The Capitaline are 3 palazzos (like a palatial villa) that crowd a piazza (square) on a hill overlooking the forum. The back palazzo had breathtaking views of the forum that again my eyes could not digest. Two of them were designed by Leondardo da Vinci! Post Capitaline we climbed the iconic Monumento Vittori Emmanuelle; a gargantuan colonnaded monument to recognize the unification of Italy that makes the arches the Romans built to celebrate wartime victory look like bugs on the ground. This thing is the size of the US Capital building and is like saying in marble; mine is ……….. than yours. We went as high as you can climb and tried to get in line to take the elevator for the panoramic view of the ruins area but with at 10 Euro price tag added it to the list of things to come back to Rome for! Haha!. 

This concluded our trip to Roma. In short I think I am in love with the city! It was way different than I expected a long stay would be like. I’ve told some people in the past, like Egypt and the Greek ruins I’ve seen in Turkey, I can understand why their citizens believe their emperors were gods – if you were a farmer and dad took you for the first time to Roma, and the biggest building you had seen to date was your one/two story home and nothing else for miles – it would be easy to believe that only a “god” could build such wonders. Done with Rome, we headed for train station to head for Napoli, Pompeii, and Poistano….made our goodbyes..hopefully not forever…..Ciao Roma.

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