“could he be waving from a tropical sunset”

7/1/10 – 0:22

Sorry about the delay in postage. I’ve just been going nonstop since I got to Rome and I’m exhausted by the time I get back to the hostel at night. You’ll be able to tell just how much I’ve been doing by the length of this entry. But yes. I woke up to a sunny morning in Rome after a decent night’s sleep and I took the metro into town. Here’s a few observations to start you off. Rome is crawling with tourists during the summer. I really may have seen more lost tourists than I did actual Italians. This is an exaggeration, but you get what I mean. Point two. Rome has the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. It also has the least apparent traffic regulation. I’d be such an angry driver here. And I would be, and have been, the most scared pedestrian. I swear I’ve almost gotten run over about fifty times. There’s no such thing as a walk signal. It’s just the cross walk and you just have to pray to St. Peter that they’ll stop for you. Do note, motorcycles and vespas are exempt from stopping for pedestrians.

Equipped with the 3-day Roma Pass that I picked up from Termini station, I set out for my day in Rome proper. I split my three-day stay in Rome into: Rome, the Vatican, and Ostia Antica. So in one day, I set out to see the major sights Rome has to offer [according to the forces of the Let’s Go-Rick Steves-Lonely Planet triumvirate of travel knowledge]. First stop was the iconic Colosseum. Which is nothing short of colossal [duh.] The Roma Pass allowed me to skip the line and get in for free [awwwwyeuhhh] which was a nice perk. I popped in my earbuds and listened to Rick Steves narrate his way through Roman history and the construction of the Colosseum. Rick Steves’ humor is mostly corny, but while I was walking on the second floor, he made me lawl irl: “The combatants would be hoisted up on elevators into the arena and they would be facing a crowd of up to 50,000. Imagine that many people. Now imagine they all hate you and want to see you die.”

The Colosseum ticket includes entrance to the museum on Palatine Hill which is a collection of ridiculous ruins that is attached to the Roman Forum. I’ve seen my fair share of ruins so far, but this is the motherlode. Again, I listened to the soothing and informative tones of Rick Steves as he walked me through the rubble and gave meaning to this bunch of rocks and sparse collection of columns. Cool stuff. I felt like I was in a Discovery channel show. For rlz.

By this time it was getting pretty hot and nasty, but I charged on because there was a gigantic building of white marble to be explored! I actually didn’t know what it was, but it was imposing and pretty much blinding. Later I found out it was the Victor Emmanuel Monument and it houses a museum for the Italian army. Not quite so interesting, but the statuary and architecture, as well as the sheer size made it worth stopping by.

You know what else was worth stopping by? The unbearable heat coupled with the fact that I hadn’t eaten breakfast led me to decide to try the delicious Italian dessert, gelato. Gelato just sounds like helado, which in Spanish means ice cream, so I’m probably missing the difference. But this tastes much better. It has less of that dairy stickiness and more flavor. There are two basic types [but dozens of flavors]. The tangy fruity kind, and the sweet chocolate/cinnamon/nuts kind. For this first time [which would be one of many. I’m currently hooked], I picked a scoop of lemon and a scoop of mango. Best choice I’ve ever made. The lemon was tangy, which I like. And whenever it got too much so, I had the mango’s sweetness to cool things down. Gelato is hella cheap. It’s 2 euro for two healthy scoops on a cone [or a cup if you like]. The free samples that Gelato Company in Gainesville gives out in Turlington and the Plaza of the Americas have the right idea, I guess. But it’ll never compare to the real deal. Not by a long shot.

Continuing on my trek to see the sights, I walked to the Pantheon neighborhood only to find that the entire right face of the building was covered in scaffolding. Way to be ugly, outside of the Pantheon. That’s ok, though. The outside was never meant to be as stunning as the inside. Which was pretty fecking awesome. You can’t help but let out a gasp upon seeing this perfect dome, placed inside a perfect cube. If you were to clone the dome, and place the other half so it became a sphere, the bottom of the sphere would just touch the floor of the building. The skylight is also a marvel because it creates a pillar of light [I imagined people catching fire in the shaft of light. It looked like taking a magnifying glass to ants]. And it’s not just a pretty ornament, it’s also an astronomical tool. Way to go, Romans.

After the Pantheon was the walk towards the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. They’re nothing really spectacular, just a long series of steps climbing up towards a church. The only thing that I could think of was associating the monument with that one episode of Hey Arnold where Arnold tries to get Stoop Kid to get off his stoop by showing him awesome stoops around the world. Stoop kid’s afraid to leave his stoop! Oh 90s television. You taint my life so.

Further walking led me to the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria which I only chose to visit because of one sculpture. It’s a Bernini work called the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa [?] and I remember seeing it in my Art History readings. It’s a rather interesting work because it depicts Saint Teresa getting shot by an arrow of God and being all saintly. If by saintly you mean she almost orgasmed because of the arrow. She is in ecstasy and she lets out a moan as the angel attending to her gives her a knowing smile. Strangest religious work ever. Apparently Saint Teresa was known for depicting her experience in a very semi-erotic fashion.

More food followed. I promised myself I wouldn’t hold back money-wise when it came to food in Italy. I’m so glad I made that decision. I mean. I’m not splurging by any means, but I never turn up an opportunity to experience Italian food at its finest. I don’t really get the drunken debauchery vibe here. It’s more of an eating society than a drinking society like I experienced in Spain. But yes. I’ve decided to mark several Italian foods that I’ve only ever experienced in America so that I can taste their real versions. Pizza, Pasta, Panini, and of course, Gelato [dammit, alliteration-breaker]. So far, they’ve all been awesome. Especially the second gelato I tried. One scoop coffee, and one scoop nocciola [hazelnut]. Best. Ever.

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My last sight of the day was the Trevi Fountain. I stayed there for about two hours just people-watching and waiting for night to fall so the lights would come on, illuminating the sculpture of Ocean. Legend [and by legend I mean Rick Steves] says that flipping coins into the Trevi Fountain grants wishes. Or assures your return to Rome. I picked the former. I don’t have a problem flipping coins into the Trevi fountain. The proceeds go to feeding Rome’s hungry. Interestingly enough, however, I don’t really do donations for prayers at shrines in churches. The thing is, if I believe in prayer, then I guess I believe in wishes, because they’re technically the same thing. Yeah, I don’t get it either. ::shrug::

Well yeah. I made three wishes [is that cheating?] One with a 2 cent piece, another with a 5 cent piece, and the last with a 10 cent piece. And then I flipped them in, least to most important. After that, I got on the metro and did one last-ditch effort at being a tourist. I went 4 stops in the wrong direction back to the Colosseum and snapped the photo that is now the featured pic. I’m glad I did, even though I almost didn’t make it back in time to print my Vatican Museum ticket for the next morning. The Colosseum is beautiful when floodlit.

Gah. It’s 1 in the morning already. I’ll post the entry about the Vatican tomorrow during breakfast before I go to Ostia Antica.

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