SO the majority of people I have talked to on my trip all have step counters (or whatever they’re called) you know the things that measure how many steps you’ve taken that day. So I am constantly hearing, “OMG Michelle we just walked 500 steps to the gelato shop, that’s so crayyyy.” I don’t have one of these magic little devices. Here is how I measure the distance I covered in the day: my feet are sore, my back aches, I’m thirsty, my leg cramps, my hair looks like the handy work of some nesting birds and my mind cannot comprehend the beauty and awe that my eyes absorbed in just a few hours.
Roma is a city full of rich history and modern culture. It is difficult to describe the feeling of walking a block down from your hotel, turning a corner and seeing Roman ruins next to an immense church, across the street from Michelangelo’s first (but not final) resting place, which is next door to a selfie-stick and adapter stand. My amazement is not in short supply here in this city. I walked all over Roma seeing the Trevi Fountain, several beautifully old and detailed gothic and baroque churches, the Pantheon, the Prime Minister’s home and many wonderfully carved obelisks placed all over the city that once served as coordinate markers for people who didn’t have access to Google Maps 600 years ago.
Next stop? Vatican city. Wow. This place was amazing. We walked all through the Vatican seeing enormous paintings from Raphael that were breathtaking. I learned so much about the history of different paintings and their creators from my tour guide who also happens to be the painting professor at my University I will be attending in Florence. When I entered the Sistine Chapel I felt humbled. Michelangelo truly captured life and faith in his work. The chapel is gorgeous and each painting tells its biblical story so well and intricately. Lets just say my neck hurts A LOT, that ceiling is too incredible not to stare straight up at for half an hour.
It is the year of the jubilee (an event the occurs every 25 years in which Catholics make a pilgrimage to the Vatican to walk through the Holy door, which is closed to the public at all other times). This is a special jubilee since the last one was in 2000, the next one shouldn’t have been until 2025. It was really special watching women and men of absolute faith enter through the threshold, kissing it and praying as they entered, you could feel their joy and love radiating.
As I exited the Vatican I walked out into the square where the Pope gives mass on Sundays at noon, the Christmas tree still up and decorated with a nativity scene at its foot, a vision of holiday spirit that gave me a sense of comfort.
Finally I went to the Colosseum and Roman ruins. It was insane to think about the people and lives they led 2,000 years ago as I snapped pictures with my picture taking device (something I’m the ancient Roman people could have never imagined, as they pushed criminals off the sides of buildings or buried them alive). As I walked through the city ruin’s streets and looked up at the arches and amphitheaters standing with incredible detail and towering height, I kept thinking to myself how awesome people are. Thinking about the perseverance it required to build structures such as those I saw, and then the nonchalant nature of the next couple generations to just pull down these gorgeous buildings to build new homes and churches. In many of the churches I entered, the columns within would not match because the constructors of the buildings used columns from the colosseum or the old senate house etc. SO cool.
The metro in Italy is, how should I say it… simpler compared to London? It is just not quite as modern and lovely as the Tube. Another three course meal for dinner (which I have had every night, covered by my program). Here is something I learned from these 3 course meals… pasta, all covered in red sauce and meat, is an APPETIZER in Italy. Yeah, needless to say I have had pasta, then meat, then dessert every night and am feeling satisfied and grateful. However, don’t be surprised if the next time you see me I am 85 pounds heavier, I cant help it! It’s the Italians and their delicious food… and wine!
It hasn’t been without its tribulations, but I think I am finally settling into life abroad. Today as I was walking through the streets of Trastevere a little girl all dressed up fro carnival (a celebration for children similar to that of Halloween but for a month long period… lucky little kiddos) ran up to me. Throwing her fist into the air with the biggest smile and sweetest laugh she released her fingers and a cloud of confetti rained onto my jeans, down my shirt and into my surprised hands. It was a small, silly gesture that made me so happy and welcomed in this beautiful country.
I leave for Florence tomorrow morning and will finally be able to settle into my apartment with my roommates! Myranda, Kiersten and Duvi are the lucky ladies who will be my roomies in Florence and I couldn’t be happier to get to know them and feel our friendships grow! It’ll be wonderful to establish myself somewhere and actually go back to school, I know! Crazy right? But I actually miss the routine of school work. For instance I am very excited to learn about Italian renaissance architecture, which is one of my classes!
Ciao for now famiglia.
Ps, I begin all of my posts with “SO” because I have realized that is how I begin most of my normal conversations and that way it really does feel like I am talking with you and catching you up on my life instead of talking AT you.
Much love and enjoy a few of favorite pictures from my little Roman exploration!