Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The End

This trip has been an incredible experience all around but this blog has helped me to focus on certain aspects of Rome that otherwise i might not have been able to experience. First was the Colosseum.
From the first time that I saw this massive structure I was dumbfounded. I fell in love with not just the structure itself but also the story behind it. After visiting it during all different hours of the day and night I feel like the Colosseum has become a part of me. It sounds strange and far fetched but by spending as much time there as I have I became attatched to the architecture. Once that point was reached I began to see the Colosseum as something completely different. I experienced it as a native Roman might. I stopped being effected by the building itself and began to see the people that milled around outside. My focus changed and the subject of the Colosseum became about culture of both the American tourist and the local Italian.
This quest for culture followed me into my decision making for broadening one of my topics from one Piazza (Campo De' Fiori) to Piazza's in general. I am very glad that I made this change. After I opened myself up to writing about all Piazza's in Rome I found myself visiting more Piazza's than I otherwise would have. I found that as I visited more Piazza's I realized what each one was about and that each area serves different purposes at all times of the day and night. These ancient fields and pastures have transformed into cultural and social epicenters that I think should be more prevalent in the United States.
The final topic that I had for this blog was experiencing Roman streets. This was by far my favorite topic and the one that kept me interested at literally every turn. The streets here are so unique compared to any city in the United states and only vaguely similar to streets that I have been on in other European cities. What sets these streets apart cannot be narrowed down to just one thing, as my blog clearly illustrates. There is a culture about the streets in Rome that really just fits. Throughout the course of this trip I have found that the culture here breeds the streets and the structure of the streets breed the culture. This symbiotic relationship between people and the spaces that they live is unlike anything that can be found in America. People and places try to imitate this overall feeling but nothing can compare to the real thing.

Tour of Doria Pamphilj

I have previously written a blog about a gallery that I would like to visit and last week we were given the opportunity to experience Doria Pamphilj on our own. Aside from the actual apartments that the family actually used I found the most fascinating thing about the gallery were the portraits of Pope Innocent X. It seemed like this man was idolized by not just himself but by his family for generations upon generations.
Two of the most incredible pieces in the Pamphilj collection were the two busts of Innocent X done by Bernini and the large portrait painted by Valazquez. The portrait is one of the most famous portraits in the world and for me it was especially cool to see because I have seen it so many times previously in textbooks. The two busts of Innocent X were more interesting because of the story behind them. Bernini was commissioned to create the bust of the pope and days before he was scheduled to give the Pope the finished bust his chisel slipped and half of the head was knocked off. Bernini promised the pope that he would produce an exact replica in a weeks time and he kept his word. Not one detail was lost and even the half undone button can be seen by a careful eye.

Student Designed Walk

This morning we did the morning version of an Italian bar tour. Our walks theme was coffee bars and it was led by Carly, though the walk actually combined several of our ideas into one. The most interesting thing about today's walk for me was the first stop, Campo De' Fiori. Here we got to see the very first stages of the morning market. When I arrived at the market there were still people setting up their shops and getting ready for a morning of bartering. The coolest part about this scene for me was watching the different vendors interact with each other. These people probably see each other every day and they all interact like they are one big team. Each vendor has certain competition in the market but if there is something that one needs, like change for a bill, the other vendors are more than willing to accommodate them. It is a system of fellowship that i haven't seen anywhere else.

Circus Maximus

As you walk past the Colosseum and around the Paletine hill, you come to one of my favorite places in Rome, the Circus Maximus. This enormous ovular field was once the sight of ancient Chariot races. Today you can still see the "track" that was used and at one end ancient bleachers are still intact. Unlike the Colosseum which had a fixed capacity, Circus Maximus could be filled with over 100,000 people at a given race. This was due to the ability the people had to view the races from a distance and from atop the surrounding hills.
Standing in the bottom of this track you can feel the size of it and it made me wonder, "how fast could I run around this track if i was being chased with a man in a Chariot throwing spears at me."

Streets-Finding Shade

As summer progresses and our trip nears the end, the temperature is rising. The heat can be overwhelming at times and my sweat glands have been working overtime. When walking the streets in the sun it is crucial to find whatever shade that the short buildings can provide. I have found myself taking abnormal routes to wherever I am going to ensure that I avoid streets where that the sun completely engulfs. This game is an interesting one because as the day progresses the shade moves and shifts making each turn all about timing. The good thing about the quest for shade is that it has opened me up to parts of the city that I might never have seen otherwise.

Piazza del Popolo

This piazza is definitely one of my favorites. As you enter the piazza from either the Corso or from the Spanish Steps you are greeted by one of the largest obelisks in Rome. The base of the obelisk contains four fountains of lion like creatures spurting water from their mouths. To the right is the bottom of the Borghese hill, which in the daytime is one of the most beautiful places in all of Rome. Santa Maria del Popolo is, in my opinion, the most interesting church in the piazza although there are three others. I visited Santa Maria del Popolo again today to view the two Caravaggio's that are hung there. When I entered the church I accidentally walked in on a mass. I decided to stay and receive communion here and I actually felt like I belonged. The combination of the Piazza and the church makes this area unforgettable.

Streets of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is unlike any city I've ever been to. One aspect of the city that sets it apart from others are its street. Most streets are paved but as you get closer to the city center the ground turns to a tightly laid cobble stone. What is most unique though are the rivers and canals that are streets in and of themselves. These "streets" are traversed by small motor boats or canoes, though, neither are allowed to make wake. This makes travel along the canal streets slow and rather relaxed. The canals provide a much different pace than the bikers that nearly knock you over at every intersection.