Until further notice, all entries will be posted from Joanna's computer. My laptop is dead forever.
So...after a relatively easy flight (especially after China), I landed in Rome on the 21st exhausted but excited. Joanna and I split a too-expensive cab to the Centro from the airport and after unpacking, I promptly fell asleep for 5 hours. The first week was spent in a general orientation to both the program and the city of Rome, the culmination of which was the now-infamous "Obelisk Walk." There are 13 extant obelisks in the city of Rome and the program's directors set aside last Wednesday to see them all (lest we feel shortchanged, they also took us to see the place where another one used to be. Mussolini swiped it from Ethiopia during World War II, but after much debate, the Italians recently returned it.) The whole walk was, according to a pedometer one of the professors was wearing, 13.2 miles. I'm not one to complain, but...oh wait, I am. The walk wouldn't have bee so bad were it not for the 35 mile per-hour wind gusts combined with a steady drizzle which was punctuated by the occasional downpour and hailstorm. Though we went into the occasional early Christian church, there were very few times when we weren't outdoors, and I think that fully half the group came down with something. Needless to say, once we got back we made a straight line for the eneoteca down the road, where Theodoro (a close friend of the program) provided us with vino to warm us up during dinner. I suppose the trip wasn't a total wash though.
An enormous obelisk by Sta. Maria Maggiore.
Bernini put this obelisk on an elephant in the 15th or 16th century. It stands ouside one of the 10,000 famous churches in Rome.
St. Peter doing his thing, holding down the Kingdom of Heaven.
St. Phillip, looking like a superhero.
Speaking of superheroes, the facade of San Giovanni in Laterano. I think that they look like the Justice League.
The Emperor Constantine, at the same church.
Chillin' with my homeboy, M. Tullis Ciceronis.
On Friday, art history class, which covers the Renaissance through the Baroque in Rome, was a welcome respite (if only because we spent a lot more time indoors - the weather was miserable again). We went to see see the church of San Pietro in Montorio with it's tiny - and Villa Farnisina, a palace outside of the ancient city in Trastevere which has some work by Raphael. Unfortunately, because photography destroys the art work, I wasn't able to get a lot of pictures.
Over the weekend, a few of us went to see the national art collection, which isn't as extensive as one might imagine because many of the most important pieces in Italy are in The Vatican (where our art history class goes on Friday!) and the Villa Borghese. Still, there were a couple of cool pieces there, including
a portrait of Raphael's mistress, by Raphael:
this famous picture of Henry VIII:
and a few overly violent Old Testament scenes:
We also went to see a football (soccer, calcio in Italian) match between AS Roma and Siena. Newly decked out in our Roma gear, about 20 Centristi descended on the Stadio Olympico to cheer on the boys in red. Roma won 1-0 on a goal in the 61st minute from Vucinic (his first goal in the top Italian league), whose jersey I had purchased before the game. Clearly, I have impeccable taste. Most of us also got scarves, some of which read "I hate everybody: Milan in Flames, I hate Juventus, Lazio is s**t, there is only Rome." It felt Harry Potteresque, but with a more adult flavor. Nobody died in the crowd insanity, but someone did come close to getting hit by a firework. For the next game, we plan to lear all of the songs and chants that the crowd recites during the game so that we don't feel like idiot Americans.
A bunch of Centristi after the first and only goal of the match. I was clearly excited.
The "Curva Sud," the south side of the stadium where all of the true Roma fans sit. We couldn't get tickets here, but that was probably the safest option.
After that eventful weekend, yesterday we visited a series of Etruscan tombs outside the city. The weather finally cooperated, and the sites were gorgeous. Most of the pictures speak for themselves, so I won't say much. The first place we visited was on a hill about an hour and a half north of the city, which housed about 25 tombs of Etruscan aristocrats from the 7th-5th century B.C. While the tombs were wonderful, it was the view from the top of the hill that was really spectacular. After an hour or so of poking around musty shafts, most of us opted to picnic at the top of th hill instead. The next place was even more beautiful. The Necropolis at Caere (or Cerveteri) houses the tombs of some less-affluent Etruscans. The location is picturesquely overgrown, and the tombs, though somewhat dilapadated, are fantastic.
The view from the hill at the first site, with a group of Italian school children.
One of the dirty images painted on the wall in one of the tombs. We were given a cell phone-looking thing to listen to for information about the tombs. The stuffy British guy's commentary on this particular image was priceless.
Walking into the tombs
How many classics majors does it take to read a map? This many, with a few professors thrown in, apparently.
I'm dead, just like the Etruscans...well how would you amuse yourself in a tomb?
Cerveteri - the Via Infieri or "Road of Death." Cheerful!
My group for the on-site project. Elspeth from Wellesley, Me, Joanna, Leah from Hamilton (Team Outrageous to our competitors)
The Vatican is on Friday, then Siena or Florence for Joanna and my 4 year (!) anniversary this weekend. I'll update as soon as I can wrest the computer from her again. Ciao!