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Rome as a Tourist

I spent all of last weekend doing “Rome as a Tourist” and got a lot accomplished.  I downloaded a few audio tours from Rick Steves on iTunes for free.  I put them on my iPod and listened to them as I navigated some of Rome’s most famous attractions. On Saturday, I went to Vatican City – namely St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica.  I was there when I was 12, but was completely taken aback by the grandeur of the Basilica.  I walked inside and felt like I was an ant compared to everything else.  The church itself was huge – 400 meters long, but what struck me even more was the size of the sculptures inside of it.  The statues that were “babies” were taller than 6 feet!  Everything about the church was amazing, my jaw dropped as soon as I walked inside!  Rick Steves even joked about the size of St. Peters Basilica by saying that birds don’t even realize they’re inside when they fly around.  I may not understand anything about art, but I could definitely appreciate the beauty of everything inside of St. Peters.  It was certainly a great experience!

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica


This is the view the Pope has when he gives a mass from the steps of St. Peters

This is the view the Pope has when he gives a mass from the steps of St. Peters


This is the view when you walk into the massive door at the center of St. Peter's Basilica

This is the view when you walk into the massive door at the center of St. Peter’s Basilica


Stained glass of a dove behind the altar

Stained glass of a dove behind the altar


Dome from the inside

Dome from the inside


Pietà by Michelangelo

Pietà by Michelangelo


After St. Peter’s I went to the Trevi Fountain and did the typical tourist stuff.  After taking what seemed like 100 pictures, I ventured down the steps to throw a coin in the fountain.  They say that if you put your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder you are guaranteed to return to Rome one day.  I did it when I was 12 and now I’m studying there.  Coincidence? I think not.  After I finished with the Trevi Fountain, everything was closed so I headed back to my apartment to rest up for Sunday.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain


On Sunday, my first stop was the Pantheon – another building that made my jaw drop.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you get inside your eyes immediately gravitate to the  huge hole in the ceiling.  It is amazing that the Romans built it almost 2000 years ago without any machinery.  I had another audio tour by Rick Steves for this which was nice as I was able to gain insight into the history of the building.  It was once a place to worship Pagan gods, but was converted to a Catholic church after Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Another fun fact I learned is that Victor Emmanuale (the person who united Italy & the first king of Italy) and his son have their tombs inside the Pantheon.  It is also Rapheal’s final resting place.

Pantheon

Pantheon


Open hole at the top of the Pantheon

Open hole at the top of the Pantheon

After the Pantheon, I went to a place called the Capuchin Crypt.  It was an eerie place.  Located beneath a church, it is the bones of 300 Friars arranged in a way that makes it a work of art.  It was very, very weird.  At the end of the crypt, there was a sign that said “What you are now, we once were.  What we are now, you will be.” My final stop was the Spanish Steps.  I honestly have no idea why they are famous, but felt like I had to at least climb them once as a student in Rome – what a workout!  I was exhausted when I got to the top and dreaded going down.  Now, I can check that of of my bucket list.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps


View from the top of the Spanish Steps

View from the top of the Spanish Steps


A fountain that is at the bottom of the Spanish Steps

A fountain that is at the bottom of the Spanish Steps


The final thing I accomplished this weekend was make a list of everything I want to do before I leave Rome in May.  Now I have a list of things to do over a page long!.

I had a relatively normal week of classes.  We went on a field study for my architecture class to see a piazza designed by Michelangelo.  My time in Rome has definitely taught me to look at art in a different way.  I’m beginning to appreciate the small details of everything.


In Italian, we had to give two oral presentations.  The first was during a field study around Roma Storico (Historical Rome) where we had to present two different places of interest.  Afterwards, our teacher rewarded us by buying the class Ciocolato Caldo (thick hot chocolate) – it was amazing!  Our second presentation was on anything we wanted.  My group talked about a film we saw the first week of class, La Finestra di Fronte.  It went pretty well – we think.


Before I conclude this post, I would like to reflect on something I have noticed from a lot of Italian people – specifically older ones.  They are highly critical of their country and their people in general.  My Italian teacher said the quality of life in Spain is much higher than in Italy because Italians are never organized and nothing ever gets done.  Coming from America where I bleed red, white, and blue, I am not used to this type of criticism from people about their home country.  I personally love Italy and would love to work over here at some point in the future – I have only been here for 6 weeks though!

Note: This post was originally published on March 6, 2011 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.

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