Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Last Shower

It's official!  I've just had my last shower in Rome!  I know it sounds silly, but lately I've been counting down how much longer I have here by number of times I have to do things.  And right now, I just have to brush my teeth one more time before I come home! Yay!!

Well, anyway, a couple days ago, my professor asked me if I was sad to leave.  I said that there are things I'll miss, but I'm not sad at all.  So that got me thinking, a pro and con list would be a nice way to end the trip.  Or rather a miss and definitely won't miss.

I'll start with things I will miss about Rome:

Chocolate Gelatto
Walking to the buther shop
Walking to the bakery
Walking to the supermarket
Walking to any number of amazing buildings and sites
Strawberry Gelatto
The cheap, reliable, and comprehensive public transportation.  There is literally no where you might want to
       go that you can't get to via cheap public transportation.
Melon (Cantaloupe) Gelatto
Any number of flavors of Gelatto. . .

Hmm. . . I think that's all!

Now, on to what I DEFINITELY will not miss:

Being so freakin far away from my husband!
Being so far away from my family
Being so far away from my dog
Living in an apartment with 9 girls
Living in a 3 bedroom apartment with 9 girls
Living in a 3 bathroom apartment with 9 girls
Living without my Prince Charming
Living with 9 girls and only four burners on the stove
Living with 9 girls and only 2 small refridgerators
Living with 9 girls and only 1 washing machine
Living with 9 girls and virtually no cleaning supplies
Living with 9 girls and even less desire to clean up after each other
Living half a world away from my Clinticus
Living in an apartment right off a hot-spot for night life
Living in an apartment undergoing "restoration" with an advertisement lit at night outside my bedroom
Living in a big, dirty city
Living in a big, dirty city without too many trees near by
Dealing with large tour groups everywhere I want to go
No free public restrooms (when you realise you've spent over 2 euro in one day to pee, you wonder if you
               really need to drink so much water!)
Limited free public seating (the culture here is that you buy something at a restaurant if you want to sit, once
              you've purchased something, though, you can stay as long as you like)
Yep, you guessed it, being away from my man for eight whole weeks!

Well!  Its a good thing my "won't miss" list is longer than my "will miss list", otherwise I might be tempted to stay (tee hee ; )

Day 54

Today my camera trip counter says that it is day 54 of my Roma trip.  Can you imagine?  54 days?!  Am I crazy?  I think so. . . well, anyway, this is my last day in Rome, but I still have one more day before I get home, so it'll be 55 total days gone.  Insane, I know!

Well, my last day here I had a little more shopping to do (that's always fun!), and lots of cleaning in the apartment (not so fun), plus packing (somehow fun, when it's to go home!).  But, I wanted to see some stuff too, so I downloaded Rick Steve's tour of the Pantheon.  I thought it would be a nice sort of book-end, since the first monument I saw here was the Pantheon, it maybe should also be the last!

I walked through Piazza Navona on my way:

Then it was on to the Pantheon.  Turns out, that Pantheon literally means "all the gods" (Pan Theon), and that makes since since it was originally built under Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Rome, which made it a very unique temple.  Also making it unique is the fact that everyday citizens of Rome were allowed into the temple to worship, rather than just the priests.  Pretty cool!  After several fires, though, the Pantheon was rebuilt under the emperor Hadrian (about 100 years after Christ).  While the front looks like a Greek temple, the rest of the building is totally Roman: round, domed, built of brick and concrete with relief arches in the walls, which are apparently, 20 feet thick!

Also, even in Greece, most columns were built of several round chunks of marble or granite stacked on top of each other, with a lead core to keep them all together.  The columns on the Pantheon, though (I think they're granite) are solid, one chunk of stone each.  According to Rick Steve's they were also supposed to be taller, and you can still see the begining of a higher roof if you look behind and above the portico.

These doors are solid bronze and over 20 feet tall. . .

Inside the sunlight coming through the occulus was pretty spectacular!

Of course, most of the original decoration has been pillaged for other uses, and the origianl statues to the gods are gone (since its a Catholic church now, and has been for awhile, but I'm not sure when exactly the switch happened).  The most recent pillage was when, in the Renaissance, a Barberini Pope decided to take the bronze coating off the ceiling and re-use it in the bronze canopy over the transept in St. Peter's.  There's a saying in Rome that goes "What the barbarians didn't do, the Barberini did", refering to this pillage in addition to others. . .

In modern times (ie not ancient), since the Pantheon has become a Catholic church, several people have been interred here.  The most famous is Rafael.

Then, also buried here is the first king of unified Italy (in the 1800's), Vittorio Emanuel:

And his son (I don't remember his name), the second king of unified Italy.

They are the only two Kings buried here, because the third king allowed Mussolini to basically take over, then when Hitler invaded, the king ran off to hide in Switzerland, where the family still is today.  Infact, after WWII, the Italian people voted for their current governement system (I'm not sure exactly which kind it is), and they banned the king and his family and heirs from coming into Itlay.  2006 was the first time they were allowed to visit, but relations are still rocky and the family is mostly just a tabloid head-liner.  Oh well!

After the Pantheon, I went to the Trevi fountain with the intention of throwing a coin over my shoulder while wishing to come back (its a thing, I've heard).  But, when I got back to the apartment, I realised I had totally forgotten to throw the coin!  Oh well, I do wish to come back (with a certain someone, of course), so I guess I'll just have to wait to throw the coin next time I come!

Tomorrow its off to the airport bright and early, then I'll be home!!!!!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Italian Beaches

Well, I think these Italian beaches just may be the death of me. . . oh, sure, they're beautiful, but beware!  They can also be injurious.

The first beach I went to was on Saturday.  After we went to Ostia Antica, all us girls went to the beach out at Ostia (the modern city by Ostia Antica).

We didn't actually go to this beach, we went to a free one farther down, and it was a little dirty.  Right when we got there, we went in the water and it was really murkey, so we couldn't see that there were rocks (or maybe coral, but probably was rocks) not too far from shore, so I ended up cutting my foot and leg on the unseen danger.  It bled profusely and stung a ton (funny how salt does that), but strangely, it looks worse now that it has scabbed over. . . oh well!

Luckily, none of the cuts happened to be on the white part of my foot (aka, where my sandals go), so that was a relief to realise!  Since I didn't want to go back into the salty water, I spent the rest of the day just laying on the beach, enjoying my book, the view, and the sunshine!

The next time I went to the beach was Monday (the day before final review?!  Shocking, I know).  Just three of us went this time, and we went to a much nicer  free beach (clean, no rocks) a little farther away.  Since last time I didn't get sunburned at all - no colour, not even the faintest of tan lines (well, no new ones anyway) - I decided I would wait about ten or fifteen minutes before putting on sunscreen.  Well, the girl who had the sunscreen went to go find a bathroom, and I didn't even think to ask her to leave the sunscreen, cuz how long could it take to find a bathroom?  Too long is the answer, apparently the nearest public one was a good twenty minute walk away, so forty five, fifty minutes later she comes back and by then, its too late, I'm burned to a crisp. . . of course, I didn't realise this until I got home.  So now, I have new lines, but instead of tan lines, they are lobster lines.

And of course, from getting such massive sunburns and not drinking enough water, I got a wee bit of heat exhaustion, which was definitely not fun, either.  I'm telling you, nothing good ever came of me going to the beach in Italy!  Next time, though, I'll just be sure to go to the nice beach, put on sunscreen right away, and drink plenty of water!

Ostia Antica

The less touristy version of Pompeii. . . it was the port city of ancient Rome until the Tiber changed courses and the actual port disappeared.  Then the city was gradually covered over by swamp muck.  Not nearly as exciting an end as death-by-volcanoe.  I guess it had a population of about a million people, which is pretty amazing for ancient times!  Also, I downloaded Rick Steve's tour, so I was set to go!

Outside the walls of the city was the graveyard, where there are tons of family tomb type things. . . the ashes of individuals would be placed in urns in the little alcoves along the walls.  And there are little mini altars for living relatives to leave offerings, I guess.

Wheel ruts left by ancinent Roman carts!

Just inside the gate, a huge watering trough for the animals:

And some warehouses:

Then a midevial well dug by people who lived here in the middle ages:

Then some baths with amazing mosaic floors!

After that, on to the theater, where they were setting up for a show!

First, though, a fragment of the original decorations:

The women had to sit near the top (the bad seats), while the men sat near the bottom (the good seats).  The first three rows of marble were reserved for the upper class people, like judges, and governors, and such.

Behind the Theater was a temple and around that were the offices of businessmen.  You can still see the mosaic floors advertising what they were selling!

The Temple in the middle:

A ruined statue of a prominent Ostia businessman.  The whole square around the temple was decorated with lots of these. . .

A sacraficial altar next to the square.  Not the original one, that's in a museum in Rome, this is just a reproduction. . .

Next, on to the mill!

These things were huge!

They would put wooden posts in the square holes on the top part and walk around and around, turning the top part to grind the grain between the top and the bottom, until the floury stuff fell out at the bottom!

Next I was supposed to go to a house and a tavern, but I don't think I ever quite found them, so I skipped ahead to the Forum!

After that, to the Forum baths. . .

Hallow bricks that would have been filled with steam for radiant heat!

Across the street from the baths were public restrooms. . .

The round hole on the front was for a sponge to wipe with. . . the groove in the ground right around the base was for running water to keep things clean. . .

Some other random picturs from Ostia Antica. . .

I spent the rest of the day at the beach with the other girls, but I'll tell you all about that later!  Ciao!