The following was written on May 7th, our first, Official day of Study Abroad.
When we woke up this morning two of the beds (that we had laid out for our slumber party on the balcony) were damp from the morning dew, so I was regretting putting them back onto the bed frames (and jealous of the girls who wouldn't have to sleep on wet mattresses the following night). However, I wasn't about to leave them outside so we brought them back into the room. A little while later Kate and I wet to the Market and bought some fresh strawberries and a hunk of cheese to eat on Sunday that way we wouldn't have to buy anything on the Sabbath.
While we were at the market it felt so good to be able to communicate with the women who owned the cheese stand inorder to get exactly what I wanted (even if my Italian was archaic at best).
After breakfast (which was complimentary from the Hotel), everyone met together to start the official FIRST day of the Study Abroad. Our first stop was the Roman Forum so we had to take the metro from our part of town to the Historic District. When we got off the Metro and stepped outside the first thing we saw was the Roman Colosseum!
It was right outside of the entrance, looming over everything! It was bigger than I had ever imagined it to be and was beyond any physical description I could ever muster.
After standing in awe for about 5 minutes we started to walk to our first subject, an even greater amazement in itself, the Roman Forum. In the area it was amazing to see the layers of history right before us! There was the Roman Forum on top of which was another building which was topped by a modern museum/senate building! Below everything you could see the ruins of a basilica and a row of columns that led up to a bunch of free standing ancient buildings. There were trees everywhere, like the kind you see in Lion King, and just looking over everything made me want to put on a toga and prance around like a lunatic.
We entered the area from the left side and went right into the excavated area! Once inside we went tot he Arch of Septimius Severus (A tribute t the God of Victory), and sat down smack in front of it for our first lesson.
We learned about the myths surrounding the start of Rome (aka Romulus and Remus) and what buildings we were sitting amongst. It was really cool listening to how history unfolded upon the very ground we were sitting upon (my one complaint throughout the entire thing was that our professor was talking so fact I could hardly keep up in my notes!)
|Curia to the Right|
We passed a basilica, a pagan church that had been Christianized, and several other ruins that looked like some sort of amphitheater, or courtyard. When we got to the end we turned to our right and went up a hill where we face to face with the Roman Forum. And let me just tell you it was HUGE!!!
|The Roman Forum|
After another lesson we moved on to the student reports. The first on was given by Sarah T, on the Arch of Titus,
Arch of Constantine,
The two girls before me had both done okay jobs, but after their presentation our professor had to fill in a little (but that's to be expected with how much history everything has). When it was my turn to present (on the Colosseum) I was a little nervous, but I just dove right in and tried to get everyone as excited as I was to enter it. When I first started giving the presentation I noticed a woman standing close to our group, listening to what I had to say. About midway through she was joined by her husband and they both sat down and listened to the rest of my presentation :)
After I was done, I turned to Steve, our professor, to indicate that he could take over and fill in on anything that I had missed, but instead he stood up and motioned everyone towards the amphitheater (woohoo! Go me for doing such a great job that he didn't have to add anything else!).
When we got inside, I was moved by the majesty of the Colosseum. Everything that I had studied, dreamt and imagined was up close and personal! As we walked along the first floor, gazing upon the aging ruins both inside and out, we took pictures and I was able to answer everyone's questions about the building (boy did that feel good!).
After our discussion was over we were free to explore as we pleased. A big group of us decided to grab some paninis and visit the Church of the Capuccini-"Santa Maria della Concezione". It was a crypt filled with the skulls and bones of priests that had been dissembled and used to to decorate the ceilings, walls and floors in intricate designs, as if you were in a real cathedral. There were four rooms connected to each other by a walkway; in each of the rooms there would be a gruesome scene being played out, usually involving skeletons in habits set up against a wall of Human skulls ( on the ground there were fake graves with roses scattered across them).
It was one of the most horrific scenes I had ever seen. Just walking into that "church" I felt sick in my heart and my stomached was tight the whole way through, the entire thing did not feel right. On top of it all the owners of the "church" began to play Christian music over these loud speakers hung throughout the rooms, as iff it was okay to display these men's bodies in such a way as long as they played spiritual music.
I left the scene as soon as I could and waited outside for the rest of the girls. Above the church of bones was an actual Christian Church, inside there was a choir practicing, so I sat down and listened to them.
I can't quite say that I felt the spirit in there but it was soothing just the same. After everyone else got back from viewing the bone church, we split up into two groups (one that wanted to continue exploring the city and one that would go back to the hotel). I went back to the hotel with a couple of other girls and then proceeded to the Internet Cafe which was just down the street so that I could send the pictures I had taken home.
After Dinner that night the majority of us went to the Trevi Fountain followed by the Spanish Steps.
|In front of the Trevi Fountain|
|The Russians and Us on the Spanish Steps|