I’m sorry this update is so late in coming. I’ve had a busy last few days in Rome and just didn’t carve out the time to peck out updates on my phone. I’m in Greece now (more on that soon!) and have a bit of time to do some backfilling!
I arrived in Rome in the early afternoon which gave me time to do some laundry! After all that washing in sinks it felt nice to have real freshly laundered clothes. That night I joined up with a good friend from my days at Carleton working on her Art History PhD who happens to be in Italy right now! We watched Spain advance to the final round of the Eurocup and we caught up with many great stories and laughs.
The next day I set out to do some exploring on the historic downtown of Rome. I was thrilled by the beauty and history everywhere I looked. My homebase for the day was the Pantheon. Did you know it remains the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world, a title it’s held for its entire two thousand year life!!
Here’s kind of a funny panorama of the inside. The stitching together didn’t go super smoothly on my phone.
Here are some other photo highlights. Don’t worry, I also took much better pictures with my big camera.
Here’s the front of the Pantheon.
These ruins are at the end of the tram line I was staying next to. Supposedly, this is the place where (the) Julius Caesar was stabbed!! Crazy to think imagine!
This beautiful building is only a couple of hundred years old (pishaw) but what it misses in antiquity, it makes up for in grandeur! Such an impressive building!
This is Piazza Navona. That beautiful fountain is a Bernini. Here’s a detail shot.
The Piazza was so much fun! It was full of artists selling prints or making sketches.
Anyway, after exploring all day I again met up with Wendy just as Ben, my college and Michigan roommate joined us! It was such a treat!
The three of us hiked over to a massive square in Rome where the Italy vs Germany soccer match was being broadcast on a humongous screen. The square was a wash of people all excitedly cheering on the team. There could easily have been a thousand people there, maybe more. Green, red, and white smoke bombs were going off, there were flares and air horns. The din and excitement was awesome to be a part of, and then Italy scored and the place erupted! We watched Italy score twice before heading out to get some food (and some breathing room). We ended up watching the Italian win from a restaurant with a much more manageable number of empassioned fans. There was honking in the streets that night until the wee hours of the morning.
The next day was a holiday celebrating the patron saint of Rome, so Wendy, Ben and I decided to do some sightseeing in the historical city center. Boy, if you can, go to Rome with an art historian! Wendy had so many amazing stories and was able to point out so many interesting things around the city. Take another look at the picture of the Bernini fountain. See the figure concernedly looking above? Well, it fits with the theme of the fountain as a whole but it’s also poking fun at the competitor who designed the building right next to the fountain- Bernini was quipping that even the statues were worried the building might come tumbling down atop them!
One of the highlights for me that day was a trip to the Vatican. I’m not Catholic, but it’s hard not to feel inspired by St. Peters Basilica. Here’s a panorama of the square out front and the church inside. Much better pictures will be coming soon!
I’m not sure how to adequately describe the beauty inside the church. Whether its the famous ‘Pietà’ by Michaelangelo, the gigantic expanse of the basilica itself with bright, beautiful ceiling and breathtaking sculptures at every corner, or the detail of bronze tassels and folds of fabric painstakingly added to make a sculpture come to life. Everything in the church captured the senses such that I felt torn between standing in one spot and spinning around and around trying to soak it all in, or running the length back and forth trying to get a good look at every detail.
Among the most magical moments was when one of the Vatican choirs began a rehearsal in the choral antechamber just off the main hall. We could hear them well- a full orchestra, choir and soloists. At a guess they were rehearsing Handel but I’ve no way to be sure. Regardless, their singing and playing soared in the church, filling the area with a richness only music can bring. To give you a sense of the scope of this church though, their practice, orchestra, choir and all, was happening at the same time as a mass at the other end of the church and neither disrupted the other!
I look forward to sharing more pictures soon, once I get them uploaded.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the city. I’ll have more stories when I can share those pictures. I have to go for now. Today is actually my last night before I fly back to the states so I’m doing a great deal of packing. I’ll have lots of time on the plane to write more updates though! I promise!