Roma, The Eternal City

Trip Start Jun 03, 2012
Trip End Jun 14, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buon Giorno! Today was our first full day in Roma! The capital city is beautiful but much more crowded compared to the spacious Firenze. As any major city would be, Roma has a much more dense atmosphere and the city traffic is on the high end. When we first drove into the city, we were stalled in the crowded streets for a while as our driver honked his horn for long periods of time. He eventually stuck his head out of the window to scream profane names at the adjacent drivers.

Today's agenda was centered on the Vatican. Our hotel is located near the metro subway, providing an easy access route to the Vatican. The metro is used to reach most destinations in Roma. As we walked the streets to the Vatican, it began to rain. Because of the Casterbridge study abroad program, we were able to skip the exceedingly long line to enter the Vatican museum (a potential hour wait).

After completing the security checklines, our tour guide led us into the pavilion to provide us with brief summaries of the paintings that we would view in the Vatican. During her summary, we learned that Michelangelo spent 9 years completing the detailed paintings on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and walls. The ceilings were approximately 35 feet high, and he would lie upside down for days to paint the intricate images on the ceiling. In the Sistine Chapel, he painted separate scenes that chronologically followed the Bible's timeline. The scenes included God's creation of the stars/universe, His creation of man (Michelangelo's infamous painting of God's touch giving life to Adam), His creation of Eve, and the story of Noah. These scenes stretch vertically stretch across the ceiling, from one side to the other. On the front wall (35 feet high), he painted a depiction of the Rapture or Judgment Day; in the portrayal, Jesus is at the forefront, all Christians that were persecuted were next to Jesus, and those nonbelievers are in Hell. To the right of Jesus, there is a martyr holding his skin and a knife because he was skinned alive for being a Christian; as a clever twist, Michelangelo portrayed the skin to appear as his own because he stated that he was severely exhausted after completing the paintings in the Sistine Chapel (the martyr is a true individual). Popes were wearing Michelangelo down during these 9 years, requesting that he adjust some images and paint separate portraits for other churches.

St. Peter's Basilica was an unbelievable sight due to its great size and gold imagery. The Square outside of the Basilica was perfect for a panoramic picture because of its rounded architecture. Surrounding the Basilica were arched columns located to the left and right of it.

After lunch in Rome, we passed the city's most popular gelato spot; the line retained about 30 people and continued down the street. When we returned about an hour later, the line was even longer. No other gelato spot that we had visited or seen in Italy entertained this many waiting guests. We tried banana and nutella, a popular combo.

Before dinner we visited the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Both were surrounded by heavy crowds but the Trevi Fountain was well worth it. After dinner in the area, some of us returned to the Fountain to view it at night. It was a beautiful sight sitting in front of the enormous statues, waiting for the sun to set for a night shot. Before we left, I tossed a 10-cent coin in, an Italian tradition, for a safe return to the Eternal City (approximately €3,000 are collected DAILY from the Fountain and benefit the city's poor).

Later in the evening, a group of us visited a spot next to our hotel, the Living Room. We were able to join in on Brazilian and African dances.

We are on our way to see the Pope in St. Peter's Square. Ciao amici!
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