I am currently in the midst of the most ridiculous gelato craving in Magali history (of this week, at least), but I will hold off on it to actually do my job in time for once. This whole “keeping in touch with people” thing gets really out of hand when you actually have a life for a change. And Old Bridge gelato really would be worth getting fired for…NO. NO. STAY STRONG. YOU CAN DO THIS. THINK OF THE FANS, WAITING ANXIOUSLY AT HOME FOR YOUR REPORT. FIGHT IT, MAGALI, FIGHT IT.
Anyway, I’m here to tell you about my day, not my ongoing battle with diabetes, and so I shall proceed without further delay into this week’s topic: excursions.
One of the coolest things about studying in Rome is that with the Colosseum and the Pantheon practically at your backyard, most classes feature weekly on-site excursions to visit historic places and iconic works of art. Unfortunately, this means I have to invest in some sneakers, and get up earlier than 8AM to make it to the meeting place in time, neither of which I would ever have any interest in doing under different circumstances. But I suffer for art, and if my assigned meeting place is somewhere like the Roman Forum or St. Peter’s Basilica, well then I suppose I must not keep my public waiting. Seriously though, the truth is that nothing really beats seeing the pages of your textbook come to life right in front of you, and through all these trips, be they school-sponsored or self-guided, we get a chance to see parts of Rome that I might not have even known existed. Here are some of the best ones I’ve been on so far.
Vatican Museum- History of Baroque Art
I’m just going to go ahead and say that the only thing that compares to seeing stepping inside Pope Alexander XI’s apartments is listening to Jeremy Irons speaking on Showtime’s “The Borgias”. If this means nothing to you and you have never watched the show, this picture sums up my feelings about the entire experience rather well.
The Vatican museum houses about fifty thousand priceless artifacts detailing the history of art in Rome from Classical antiquity to the Reinaissance, with a little Baroque and Byzantine art as well. Built in 1506 by Pope Julius II (who, by the way, had major beef with Michelangelo over a little something called the Sistine Chapel and threatened to go to war with Florence if he refused to paint it, no pressure or anything), this museum documents not just the history of the Papal grandeur but also some of the most important works of the Reinaissance, including artwork by Caravaggio, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci…you get the point.
Yeah, yeah, whatever. You should see my glow-in-the-dark stars-covered bedroom ceiling.
The Wall Walk (a.k.a. The Great Wall of Death)- School-Sponsored
“AND THEN WE TOLD THEM IT’D BE 8 HOURS!”
When Temple Rome faculty talks about The Wall Walk, it often comes with a warning. The Wall Walk is advertised as a faculty-led tour around the ancient Aurelian wall, which were built between 271 AD and 275 AD. As it encloses all the seven hills of Rome including Trastevere and Capitoline Hill, it’s a great introduction to both the ancient city and the modern geography of Rome. It is also approximately 8 hours long. Props to Professor Gadeyne for leading this tour twice a year without any weeping or passing out of any sort (at least, that I’m aware of). Victorious walkers were rewarded with a soda at the end of the journey and had their names chalked up as deities for continuing to walk on foot for more than five minutes in a list that was hung up outside the student affairs office for approximately 24 hours before it was replaced by an advertisement for next week’s wine tasting event. Glory is fickle.
University of Rome- School-Sponsored
Led by the inimitable Gianni, a group of us snuck out one sunny afternoon to explore the student neighborhood of San Lorenzo and learn more about the universal suffering that ails all young adults whether they’re Italian or American: studying. Sapienza Universita di Roma, is Italy’s largest university by enrollment and the oldest of Rome’s four state-funded universities, and its academic system is pretty interesting. Basically, you have a lot of oral exams that you can schedule whenever you want, and you can either show up to class or take your chances on the exams without ever having stepped foot inside the professor’s classroom. However, said exams are a huge &$%*ing mess. In Gianni’s words, “It’s about survival”. Seeing as the last time I attempted to survive at anything I ended up starting a small forest fire, I find myself perfectly happy with my current “keep-talking-and-hope-for-the-best” method that has carried me through kindergarten and college.
Formerly (and sorta currently) home to a wealthy aristocratic Roman family claiming a pope within its geneaology, the beautiful former villa of Innocent X boasts some of the earliest Caravaggios (swoon) known, a portrait of the pope painted by Velazquez himself and a couple of Berninis to boot. It is also home to this gem of a painting:
I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be feeling here, other than nostalgia for Darla Dimple in “Cat’s Don’t Dance”.
Reni, “Madonna in Admiration of the Child”
Home to Saint Francis and Staint Clare, Assisi is a small mountain town that greets like fifty thousand pilgrims a year, all eager to follow Bro Francis’ example and chat up some birds. Needless to say that was, like, 70% of the reason we went, although I have to admit that seeing Sistah Clare’s preserved body and looking up at Giotto’s frescoes chronicling the life of Bro Francis was pretty all right too.
Really, it almost makes you forget the 6-hour delay of trains getting back to Rome.
Carnivale in Venice! If that scene in “The Count of Monte Cristo” is anything to go by, I can look forward to lots of dancing on the street, and being accepted for my Oscar-Wilde eccentricity in clothing for the first time in my life. Bonus points if Henry Cavill shows up the audience. Just a thought.
Predictions for next week:
1. Will get hopelessly lost at least three times wandering around Venice because for the first time in my life I am expected to walk on water. As this is not the first time I have demonstrated deity-like qualities, I have high hopes for the weekend.
2. Cry at the sight of the golden lions or whatever the hell Cornelia Funke talked about in “The Thief Lord”. Along with that, start calling everyone wearing a mask “Scipio” and demand to know where the carousel is (if you get that joke I applaud you).
3. Chase gross pigeons at Piazza San Marco because according to popular culture, that is a perfectly normal thing to do. Cry again, this time not so joyously.