Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Roma Ro Ma Ma

This only took me a little over a week to post, but Rome feels like it happened forever ago. Before I begin I must make a disclaimer. I completely lack the vocabulary to describe Rome using the words and phrases it deserves. It was the most amazing place I have ever been in my life. I was in a magical city filled with things so beautiful, and so full of history. It was perfect. So here we go, be ready for a lot of awesomes, perfects, amazings, beautifuls, etc.

Friday we got off work, scurried to change clothes, grab snacks, and head out the door to the ALI bus. When we got to the train station it was a whirlwind of finding where we bought tickets, running to the platform, and hoping our interpretation of an Italian train ticket was correct. When we found our seats (fingers crossed), a super nice Italian girl, who was giggling at us the whole time, assured us we were in the right place. The ride was about 4 hours and when we got there we thought we'd just hop over to our hostel, get settled in and then take a night tour of Rome. Well, it wasn't quiet that easy.

Somehow someone failed to write down the address, or directions, to our hostel. So we spent a good 2 hours wondering around trying to find it. My brain surprised me when it thought to ask where an Internet cafe could be found. So we got that address and still couldn't seem to find it. Eventually we took a cab that we paid WAY too much for. Another little speed bump, the room we were supposed to stay in had a broken toilet. The hostel staff kindly moved us to another hostel on the other side of the town, and paid for our cab there. The ride was like a dream. Flying past the Spanish Steps, into pale blue lite tunnels, and eventually arriving at a lovely building with a courtyard.

After we got to our room we decided it was far too early to go to bed. Next door we had seen a sweet little restaurant with outdoor seating so we checked that out. We had both the white and red house wine, and a few simple appetizers. It was nice to just sit and chat with the girls. Being in Rome was surreal, and there we were sharing stories in the middle of it.

Rome - Friday

We woke bright and early Saturday morning to begin our Roma Adventure. We walked a short 3 blocks to Vatican City. You just walk right in. Suddenly you are in a whole new country (did you know that?). We waited in a rather long line to go into Saint Peter's Basilica. Here is one of those moments where I am incapable of describing how beautiful this place was. You walk in and every inch of space is covered with some piece of art. Paintings, marble statues, candles, everything is sign of the Catholic devotion. I wish I could brought my Grandma along with me. I am sure that in all of her years of Catholicism she has never seen a church such as this.

After the Basilica we took a short walk over to the Vatican Museum. It was also filled with a million beautiful things. Please view my pictures to get a sense of what I am talking about. Near the end of the walk through the Museum you enter The Sistine Chapel. Right there above my head was the magnificent work The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. The room was suprizingly large and filled with at least 100 people. It was so magnificent. No photography was aloud but people were snapping shots left and right, so I tried to get a few myself. They aren't of the best quality, the room is very dimly lite to preserve the art longer. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on Michelangelo's work
Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the commission, and made it known from the outset of Julius II's approach that he would prefer to decline. He felt he was more of a sculptor than a painter, and was suspicious that such a large-scale project was being offered to him by enemies as a set-up for an inevitable fall. For Michelangelo, the project was a distraction from the major marble sculpture that had preoccupied him for the previous few years.

The room was intimidating to just stand in, let alone paint the entire place. Also according to Wiki, he created his own scaffolding that was secured into the wall near the windows so it would not leave marks in the painting.
Michelangelo used bright colours, easily visible from the floor. On the lowest part of the ceiling he painted the ancestors of Christ. Above this he alternated male and female prophets, with Jonah over the altar. On the highest section, Michelangelo painted nine stories from the Book of Genesis. He was originally commissioned to paint only 12 figures, the Apostles. He turned down the commission because he saw himself as a sculptor, not a painter. The Pope offered to allow Michelangelo to paint biblical scenes of his own choice as a compromise. After the work was finished, there were more than 300. His figures showed the creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood.

The Vatican Museum as a whole was overwhelming. It was a LOT to take in. I easily could have just sat in the Sistine Chapel for the day and felt overwhelmed. I wish we could have paid for the audio tour. I think it would have drastically increased my appreciation for the things I was looking at. Very little is labeled in both Saint Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum. I rarely knew what I was looking at, and even if I know what it was, I didn't realize its powerful history. Lesson learned. I hope to someday return, perhaps with more knowledge before I go in.

After being star struck by the greatness of the Vatican we had ourselves some lunch and took the metro over to the Colosseum. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting. After Pompeii it sort of lacked the magnificent history I thought it would behold. More details of the actual structure are located in the captions of the pictures.

After we left the Coloseeum we headed home just before it started raining. Typically rain would be a major bummer, but it was actually amazing. After we ate dinner we took the metro to the Spanish Steps. They were perfectly covered is water, making them reflect the light of the night. It was perfect for picture taking. This is where our 'Night Walk' began.

After the Spanish Steps we headed to the worlds fanciest McDonalds. We got fries and chocolate shakes. I paid 20 Euro cents for ketchup! The place was so FANCY! Then we were off to the Trevi Fountain. It was so perfect and beautiful at night. I'm sorry I'm so repetitive. We took a bunch of pictures doing cheesy things, like throwing our coins into the fountains while we wished. I made 3 wishes. I wonder what I'd have wished for last June. Next quickly walked past the Pantheon which was hidden by scaffolding for construction. We picked up some lovely postcards on our way to the Piazza Navona. A man made us bracelets when we arrived. We made 3 wishes, and finally a promise about love. I think when you wish for the same thing twice in one night under such circumstances such as those, they are bound to come true. I will hold up my end of the deal if the Trevi Fountain and Jamaican folklore do too. After all the excitement at the Piazza we went back to the Pantheon to people watch and enjoyed a man playing guitar. I didn't take his picture because I didn't want to have to pay him. A couple sitting next to us suggested that we go over to a gelato shop around the corner which supposedly had the best gelato, ever. Well, it did. I had strawberry and honey. It literally tasted like I had just picked fresh strawberries and smothered them in honey. It was called "Il Gelato di San Crispino." Little did I know a few days later I would be starting "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is quickly becoming my go to book. I can't seem to put it down. Well if you ever read it, head over to page 47, and there you find her trip to "Il Gelato di San Crispino". I about died when I realized that was the exact place I had been.
It is early September 2003. The weather is warm and lazy. By this, my fourth day in Rome, my shadow has still not darkened the doorway of a church or a museum, nor have i even looked at a guidebook. But I have been walking endlessly and aimlessly, and I did finally find a tiny lady place that a friendly bus driver informed me sells The Best Gelato in Rome. It's called "Il Gelato di San Crispino." I'm not sure, but I think this might traslate as "the ice cream of the crispy saint." I tried a combination of the honey and the hazelnut. I can back later that same day for grapefruit and the melon. Then, after dinner that night, I walked all the way back over there for one last time, just to sample a cup of the cinnamon-ginger.
I probably could have eaten it another 3 times as well.

Rome - Saturday

Sunday we checked out of our sweet little hostel and took the metro the the National Museum of Rome. It was a nice museum but at that point I had pretty much seen enough stuff.

Rome - Sunday

Before we got on the train I went to the bathroom. It cost me 80 Euro cents, and there was a MAN in it, cleaning. Gross.

That was our Roman weekend. It was wonderful. I wish we could have stayed forever. I could easily live in Rome. I loved it.

I would now like to take a moment to thank my parents a million times over for my camera. Without it I never would have gotten shots of the massive tapestries inside the Vatican Museum, or captured how magical any of our night walk was. It feel so wonderful to be able to just walk down the street and because of the speed of my lens I can just snap a photo, and another, and another, without even one of them being blurry, or missing a moment because it had to load. So Thank You Thank You Thank You!

I know Iowa is flooding again. I hope that everyone is safe, and that you don't lose anything important to you.


Still need to add some captions!


  1. Fabulous Hannah! I adored reading this... I move to Rome 8 weeks from yesterday and can't seem to catch my breath when I think about it :)
    Out of curiosity... what kind of camera do you have?

  2. LOVED the pics! Some were really very, very nice. Makes me wish I were on the plane headed to Rome! Thanks for the nice shout out! You're very welcome and we love you too!