Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Love Rome.

What a day yesterday. We woke up at 5:15am in order to meet in the vestibolo by 6:15. A special-sized bus (extra large on Orvieto scale) came to pick us up and bring us down the cliff to Orvieto Scalo. There, we got on the train to Roma! It was incredibly helpful to have Matt with us, who has lived and worked in this area and Rome for some time now.

It only took an hour and fifteen minutes or so to arrive at the terminal in Rome. Then the whirlwind began.

First stop was for cappuccino in the nearest piazza to the National Museum, which didn't open until 9am.

Second, as soon as the doors swung open, Matt took us into the museum to start our art history tour of Rome. He began with his favorite piece in the entire city. The piece is a fresco of sorts that originally lined all the walls of Livia's palace courtyard in the 1st century b.c. (She was Augustus's wife). It is a detailed, life-like and lively painting of various fruit trees and birds flying. It was pretty incredible to start there, surrounded by 2000-year-old walls. After gleening as much knowledge from Matt as we could, we went wandering in the museum for a while. We saw mosaics, sculptures and frescos of all shapes and sizes. We were so glad to have been told what things to watch out for as we perused the millenium-old artwork. I think the the mosaics take the cake for me - their intricacy is beyond anything I was imagining about that ancient artform.

Next, we swept off by bus towards the Pantheon. Matt took us through some side streets to find our way there. Oh my goodness. This was most certainly our favorite place of the day. The looming outside and the unasuming yet gorgeous inside just epitomized Rome for me. You could see the various centuries embedded in each different part of the building. We both loved the ceiling the most. It's just phenomenal to stumble upon this historial monster snuggled into a perfect Roman piazza complete with fountain, caffe, pizzeria e gelateria. Heaven.

Next was heaven's gelateria (yes, before lunch). Matt deemed it to be the best gelateria in Rome, so we just had to go. Penn got cinnamon, crema and Bailey's flavored gelato and I had chocolate, pistachio and After Eight flavored. It was a great moment in life, I tell you.

We walked with our gelato to find lunch. We took lunch (Italy's famous folded pizza, which ends up being really just like a panini when you eat it) in the open market square. Yum.

Next destination was the area containing the Forum. Again, holy cow. You just don't see this stuff anywhere else. The ruins looked so stunning sitting unbothered right next to a busy Roman street. It was a really peaceful break overlooking the Forum and then walking over to the Coliseum. Once there, too, we listened to Matt's wealth of knowledge a bit more and then rested from the sprinting around.

Finally, heading back towards the train station, Matt showed us one of the famous Basilicas of Rome. This one was St. Mary's, I believe. In contrast with the Pantheon, this place utterly smacked you in the face with its ornate insides. Gold as far as the eye could see and marble and frescos and mosaics. It was certainly something to behold, but not our style. It tuckered me out after just a few minutes of dropped jaw wandering. Then it was time to sit in the sun for a while before heading back. And yes, we did make it back safe and sound without a pick-pocket story to speak of.

This was, of course, one of many trips to Rome that are planned for the program. We are a lucky bunch - especially with a leader whose enthusiasm is so contagious. This is going to be a great semester.


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  2. (...and then pasted here)

    I smoked two Boston butts (pork shoulder, 6 lb. each) for Andy's birthday yesterday : up at 5:30 : clean out the smoker and get it ready : start the fire : butts on at 7:00 : hold temperature between 200 and 260 degrees : 6 hours later Kit shows up... he's moving into his new apartment (900 Cathedral St. - Apt. 410 - Baltimore, MD - 21201 - one- and a-half blocks from his office) : had to move the smoker to help him load up the Passat and G'ma's van with the "Office Armoire" we gave him from the living room... and since it weighs one quarter of a ton, he needed help : butts come off the smoker and get wrapped in foil to steam in their own vapors for a couple of hours while I drive to Baltimore and try to avoid doing serious bodily damage moving a quarter-ton piece of furniture into an apartment (a size 10 foot into a size 4 shoe) : small but lovely apartment and the solution for the desk armoire? It will double as a computer cabinet and dining table. Tight space problem solved. : Back home again, no bodily damage : Pull pork and have enough to feed Washington's troops at Valley Forge : just finishing dinner and the Chikes family rings the doorbell : they're just coming back from Gabe's brother's wife's step-cousin-in-law's (once removed) funeral in PA dressed to the nines (we look like homeless people and I smell like firefighter} : then things get loud : Aidan is fascinated to be up so long after his bedtime with the atmosphere so electric with the human voice : and that's the news from the pond in Ashton where all the women are excellent, the men smoke meat and the children... are a blessing. PS : At 3:52 am I wake up like a shot 1. because I am a little over-fed on BBQ and 2. I look outside and it is snowing, which, in and of itself would lull me into a long winter's nap, but realizing I've left the cast-iron and easily rustable smoker alone in the driveway, dripping in pork fat, I arise and tend to business... namely, clean-up which lasts until 6:30 am, whereupon I colapse on the couch and sleep until well after the sermon, a most excellent one, I'm sure. Sorry that Skyping was a bust but I DID LOVE seeing your bright and sonsie faces so much! Love you!