Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When in Rome...

The thing that I really like about Rome is the unexpected. The city's so crammed with history that Roman ruins and medieval churches are living cheek by jowl with Renaissance palaces and run of the mill apartment buildings. Buildings that would be considered historical landmarks in other cities are just the local bank or shop or church in Rome. 

It is the strangest thing. You can be walking along any innocuous street, and once you turn a corner, you can come across an amazingly old church that would be a historical landmark in any other city in the world. Or you look up from the dog poo covered road and you're standing right next to an apartment building that was built 100 years ago. Or you find out that the bench you've been sitting on was right in front of Trajan's column. 

We went to the Vatican today. 

St Peter's is as vast and as grand as you'd expect. Cathedrals are meant to inspire awe and fear of God, and St Peter's Basilica does the job nicely. I was so impressed by the altars and the statues and that vast, gilded roof that I was ready to fall on my knees and convert to Catholicism. Imagine what a 16th century Italian pilgrim from the back of beyond would have felt. 

The Raphael rooms are amazing. It really is a shock to be confronted by something like The School Of Athens and realise that you're actually seeing these things in real life. The first impulse is to take as many photos as you can. The second impulse is to stand and stare. I think I wasted about fifteen minutes in front of that thing, just trying to pick out all the people in the fresco. 

And the Sistine Chapel is what you expect - awe-inspiring. It tells the story of Man, from Creation to the Last Judgement. And it's such a grand thing to stand in a big crowd of people, all of us with our heads craned up, watching all of history unfold. I'm kind of pissed off that my camera died halfway through, but you know, at least I was there, and at least I've seen it. 

Oh, and gelati. Love gelati. It's so cold and so sweet that it makes me teeth hurt and my head ache, but it's worth it. I knew a girl at uni would existed on a pure ice-cream diet for a while, and I'm starting to think that she had the right idea. Love gelati. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a very monotaneous thing to hope you are enjoying yourself in every city you have been to, but I hope you are enjoying Rome. I guess there is a lot to see and do. When Ces and I were there, we ended up around the corner from the Baths of Diocletian (i'm sure it's the wrong spelling), which is an amazing thing in and of itself. I liked going to St Peter's, pointing at a random window, and shouting "El Papa", but I'm very childish.

I don't think staying in Italy is a bad idea, it's only two weeks til christmas. The mediterranean climate may make your feel more at home.

I don't know Dave's progress through Europe, but I'm sure you can get his email from Dad if you are interested.

By the way, I looked up Divide Comedy on wikipedia. There are nine circles of hell, the last one (for traitors) is in fact very very cold.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Darren

Connolly's agent said...

No, I appreciate it. It's nice to know you care. Nine circles of hell? Fancy that. But if it goes from boiling hot to frigid, I assume hells 5 and 6 are quite temperate and mild, with a cool summer's breeze.

I walk past the Baths of Dioceltian on my way to the city. Saw the Pope today. He's well, if a bit frail. Speaks a lot in Italian. Oh, and he said to say hi and he gives you his blessings. Nice guy.