Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Un Giorno Perfecto a Roma

Yesterday was one of the most wonderfully random and glorious I could possibly have imagined. On the way to Kate's 9:30 class, we stopped in for a quick cappuccino and cornetto (pastry), consumed in a mad rush while standing at the coffee bar, which is a traditional Italian breakfast. I journaled and read while Kate was in class, and then we headed out for some sightseeing, grabbing tasty paninis on the way.

We passed through the Campidolio on our way to the Forum, and spent about an hour just wandering through the ruins, exercising, as Professor Walter Lowrie would have encouraged, our historical imaginations. Although mainly just a pile of brick and marble rubble, enough of the original structures remained to give a general idea of how the ancient Roman city center would have looked, and to make my jaw drop once or twice as well. It was pretty insane to see tourist just sitting around chatting and resting their feet on hunks of marble with intricate carvings made a couple of thousand years ago.

Then we went up onto the Palatine Hill, where the rich Romans and emporers built their palaces. Also mostly ruins, but very pretty ones, especially with all the interspersed fields of clover and wildflowers. We found a solitary spot devoid of tourists, where I frolicked amidst flowers, butterflies, and ancient ruins. Amazing.

Next stop was the Collosseum, where we didn't have much time before Kate had to make her way to her next class, but we were kind of encircled by a passing tour group and managed to incur a good deal on knowledge about the structure's ancient use.

Kate's class, which is on the Baroque period, was a site visit, so the class met outside the Palazza Spada, the residence of a cardinal of the 17th century, which contained an extensive art collection and a courtyard with a really neat "perspective gallery" (a hallway of about 8m made to look 30m long by tilting the walkway and shrinking the more distant arches and columns--so cool!). Kate's teacher gave some in-depth lectures about the techniques and symbols employed in a few of the paintings, and then the class went over to a church (which happened to be right next door to the Taverna where Kate and I got our unintentionally fishy pizzas my first night here) to see a beautiful statue of Saint Cecilia, patroness of music.

We then wandered home, on the which journey, inspired by the impulsiveness of the Fox, we did things like peer through keyholes, wander into secret gardens, follow cute old men up random side streets, buy one of each of all the pastries in a shop window and eat them as we walked down the road, offer to help old ladies carry home their groceries, and get told off (we think) in Italian by invisible, unidentified persons behind mirrored glass through a lifted slot for twirling around in an abandoned stone tollbooth pretending it was a time machine.

As we neared Kate's apartment, we discovered our path to be impeded by the winding, five-hour-long line to view the Pope's body, which snakes through all the streets we would normally have taken. So, after a few minutes of being swept through that madness, we took a wide path around it and finally made it home, where Kate's flatmate had prepared a delicious dinner of chicken fried rice and potato, egg and apple salad. Yummy!

(Kate and her flatmates have a system worked out by which they each cook one night of the week, which is a grand way to get variety in your diet, a break from cooking, and a very fun and homey atmosphere, which I greatly appreciate.)

So that was yesterday. On the other two days since I last wrote, I went to the Sunday morning mass in Pope John Paul II's memory, attended by tens if not hundreds of thousands out in St. Peter's square. My favorite part was the sharing of the Pace (aka peace), in which everyone turned to their neighbors and warmly shook hands, and for that moment, the entire crowd was connected. It was beautiful. We also went to Vespers and Mass inside the basilica that afternoon.

The day before yesterday we went to an open-air market to buy fresh fruits, veggies, and eggs for our dinner night (for which we cooked a spinach, swiss cheese, and onion quiche as well as one with chicken, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese). Kate showed me the area around her school, which is in the midst of such monuments as the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain, and then while she was in class I got some delicious gelato and visited the Area Sacra, a square of ruins where Caesar was assassinated, which is now a cat sanctuary. I went down to visit the offices and nursery of the sanctuary, and ended up getting a lengthy tour of the place by an exuberant volunteer.

Those are the highlights of my trip so far. In a little bit we're going to go down to see if the Vatican is open, so hopefully I'll get to see the Sistine Chapel and such. And then tomorrow, believe it or not (I sure don't), I head back to England. Sad. But, then it's off to Ireland, which has been a dream of mine for quite some time. I can't quite get over how fortunate I am to have all these amazing opportunities, and I want to thank everyone who has made this trip possible and supported me through it. Amore,


Blogger GrandpaFred said...

How fortunate you are to be able to make these Homeric wanderings! How fortunate we are to be able to travel vicariously from our homes with the help of your able reportings and attendant fine fotography; or is it: phine photography?



12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think of the JEDP hypothesis? Lemme know when you get a chance. Also, I am sorry I wasn't able to help you out with free will. I am like a ping pong ball. :-)

Uncle Frank

6:19 AM  

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