When in Rome…

Buona Sera miei amici,

It is almost 6:00 pm here in Florence. I would first like to apologize again about my late posts to the blog. I was unaware of how much work I'd be doing, all crammed into a month! It's basically a semester's worth of material packed into 2 classes for 5 hours, 4 days a week. Talk about exhausting.

So enough about work. This post will be dedicated to one of my trips through the LdM program. My first weekend abroad, I had the pleasure of traveling to Rome for two days of guided tours around the city.  Rome was amazing! It was a HUGE city. I am very fortunate to have seen all the sites I did in such little amount of time.

The first day, after a four hour bus ride, we made our first stop at the Catacombs from Rome's Early Christian period. They had to keep the site heavily air conditioned because the temperature can rise very quickly without it. The site was interesting, definitely if someone is into Anthropology because you could see how small people used to be to fit in these tiny, cramped spaces. Some spaces were more ornate, depicting the life of the deceased, but for the most part, the tombs were very dark and small.

Catacomb Detail

The next stop on the trip was one of my favorites: The Vatican Museum. I was so excited to be in Rome specifically for this museum. For the first time, I'd be among the great masters that I had been studying since my Western Art History class in high school. As I'm sure it was promised, we saw EVERYTHING. The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, St. Peter's Basilica, Bernini's Alter, The Pietá, Lacoön, and many other wonderful works that I had only seen via projector. I was finally there. My feet were killing me, but I was finally there. The only negative? It was a national Holiday the day we arrived in Italy; basically like our 4th of July, this was June 2nd, the day Italy became a Republic. Case in point, there were hoards of people at every national site in Rome that day, including the Vatican Museum. Nevertheless, seeing the light come through from the dome of St. Peter's was awe-inspiring. I truly recommend it.

After that, I went out to dinner with friends and got some sleep (yeah that didn't happen). The next day, we woke up to an arranged breakfast in the hotel. I hadn't had scrambled eggs and bacon in such a long time, so it was a very good start to my day.

That Sunday would prove to be a very long and exhausting day; it was definitely worth it though. We started our voyage to the Spanish Steps, where we were released to walk around and see the citylife. It was however 9:00 in the morning so not much was happening at the Steps. My friends and I decided to take this time to try Rome's famous gelato. I had to admit, their gelato was definitely better than in Florence for some reason. We then walked to the Pantheon, which had a choir singing at the time. It was interesting to hear because of the acoustics. I thought it was funny that the area below the oculous (a hole in the center of the dome that lets light shine through) was actually gated. No one was allowed to stand there, probably bc everyone would flock to that point and it would distract from the service.

Next was one of my favorite stops on the tour; The Trevi Fountain. Not only were the sculptures of sea nymphs and water gods really interesting to see, but also I was really excited to make a wish. Everyone took turns throwing coins over their heads into the fountain. I got to take a really cool picture before I made my wish too!

Trevi Fountain

The Wish

The next stop was the Roman Republic Building and the Column of Trajan. The Column of Trajan was very cool to see because I've studied it many times, and you truly cannot understand the pride associated with the piece unless you see it in person. The Roman Republic building is basically the equivalent to what we have in Washington DC with the Capitol Building or the White House. We climbed many stairs to get to the top terrace, where you can take pictures of the entire city. It was breathtaking.

Roman Republic Building and Column of Trajan

View from the Top

Another favorite part of the trip, THE FOOD. Before we saw the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine, we were treated to a 5 course meal (not 3, not 4, 5 courses!), traditional of Italian lunches or "pranzo". We started out with an antipasti plate, two first courses of different kinds of pasta, a second, or main, course of Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzani Parmigiani), and finishing with tiramisu. This meal was so good, I couldn't even take pictures of it all (as I've been told here, I always eat really fast). I was able to snap one Instagram picture before I scarfed one of the pasta dishes down. This pasta was the house specialty. Buon apetito!

il mio pranzo

And now the last leg of the tour: the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine. Two monuments that I have studied before not only in art history. These sites instantly make you feel so insignificant in comparison. It's unfortunate that for the Coliseum, a majority of the architecture was stripped. But from a historical perspective, it does allow you to know what provided the foundation for the design by seeing the rocks underneath. What I thought was really interesting (picture provided) was an installation on the side where the emperor and the elite Romans would sit. You can see all of the chambers where fighters, traps, and animals were housed, mixed with this vision of what the floor of this "stage" would have looked like during the prime of Gladiator battles.

Arch of Constantine

Coliseum

At the end of the Coliseum tour, it was time to say goodbye to Rome. I had an incredible time there, and made awesome new friends through LdM that I wouldn't have known before. To be honest, during the trip I started to get home sick not for home, but for Florence. I had been with my suite mates and friends from the floor above me only a week, but I missed them just as much as I still miss my friends and family back home. Going to Rome is something I'll never forget, but I couldn't wait to get back to Florence, because it was home. When I returned it was about 11pm. I woke up around 2am to the sound of shuffling bags and slamming doors to see my friends back from the Amalfi Coast, tanned and tired. They really did miss me as much as I missed them, which made me very glad.

Thanks for catching up with me and my blog. This week is finals and papers week, but I will be sure to try and post another about field trips to museums and galleries in Florence. Maybe even one about food! You'll have to stay tuned.

Ciao for now,

Erik

Author: erik.arntzen

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