Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quando a Roma...

This past weekend the entire undergraduate program took a weekend trip to Rome! We were up bright and early on Friday morning and headed to the stazione treno to catch a fast train from Florence to Rome. I decided at that moment fast trains are the best form of transportation ever...there is leg room, comfy seating, a table in front of you to rest your book(or to fall asleep on), and the time compared to l'autobus-era veloce!

The first thing we did was check into our hotel and freshen up a bit before meeting Federico Pelligrini, our guida turristica. This tour guide would be withus for the next two days taking us through the ruins, into the Pantheon, and into St. Peter's Basilica. At times he was a bit longwinded but he was full of information! On Friday we walked past the Piazza Venezia(also known as the wedding cake building), saw where Julius Caesar was killed(which is now filled with stray cats), into the Roman Forum, through the Coliseum, and into the Pantheon(where a bird had flown through the oculus and was stuck flying around in circles for almost twenty minutes!). It was a day jam packed with history and tourists!

On Saturday we had to meet Federico at 7:45 a.m.(which is pretty early when you are still exausted from exploring the day before) and he was wide awake as ever! This was the day we would be exploring the Vatican City. We had to beat the lines, hence the early wake up call. When we arrived in this seperate country within a city and to the enormous building the lines had not built up too much...yet. Within a half an hour of arriving the line stretched farther than the eye could see! Luckily, we got in and began our adventure. There were a few modern art displays, nothing we spent too much time at because we had bigger fish to fry...like the Sistine Chapel. This room is supposed to be completely silent, which is pretty hard when you have hundreds of excited tourists and students whispering to their friends about how amazing this is. While straining your neck(poor Michelangelo) staring up at this beautiful creation you realize how talented and dedicated this artist was...while getting shoooshed by the museum workers over a loud speaker followed by "Silenzio" in an almost God like voice coming from this masterpiece. Pretty bizarre. And amazing of course! Once we finished exploring all of the masterpieces of the Vatican Museum and falling in love with the Sistine Chapel we headed to St. Peter's Basilica. This church was enormous. Gold lined the ceilings and walls, statues everywhere, and ceiling high mosaics that looked like paintings on canvas! Within the Basilica Papale di San Pietro there is Bernini's Canopy that sits half the height of the building directly above St. Peter's tomb. This was one of the most amazing pieces of art I have ever layed eyes on. I remember studying it in GARTH in Duke Hall back in Harrisonburg and thinking it looked pretty cool...but when you are in arm's reach and can see the miniscule detail it is enough to make you faint. I absolutely loved it.

It was a long day and we saw a lot, what I just told you was hardly even a taste of what Rome is really like. After Federico released us a little past 2:00 p.m. on Saturday we were free to 'rome'. The rest of Saturday was filled with fountains, statues, ruins at night, and a complimentary glass of 'sexy wine'(strawberry wine) from a local restaurant at dinner. They actually had James Madison University listed on the wall of University's that had visited before...so we weren't the first Dukes to stop by.

On Sunday morning it was time to see the Pope! He comes out every Sunday morning at noon from the Vatican and recites prayers and does blessings(in more languages than I could count!). I went with Colleen, one of the girl's from our group, and we had an awesome experience. It's not everyday you get to see such an influential figure in such a gorgeous place. The train left back to Florence on Sunday afternoon so for the rest of the day we visited the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Republica, a few more churches, examined the street art...more than you probably wish to hear about! Rome was amazing, I can't even imagine doing and seeing everything we did in less than seventy-two hours. But we did it, and it was extraordinary!!

1 comment:

  1. I spent a semester abroad in Florence in 2005, and reading this blog now brings it all back (eventhough you are most like back in the states as well). I loved hearing about Federico, the same tour guide we had. And Claire, the ever-present smile. Glad to hear the tradition continues and that you had an equally amazing experience as I did.