Now, I don’t pretend to think I’m as chic or poised as Audrey Hepburn, and my Roman Holiday was no where close to as fabulous as hers, but to me, it was life changing.
It seems that the more places I go in Europe, the more I love this continent and it’s diversity. As soon as I went to Crete I fell instantly in love- with the people, the city (Xania) and it’s vibe. I didn’t think it was possible to love a place more than I loved Xania, but then I went to Rome.
I read a quote that said, “For someone who has never seen Rome, it is impossible to believe how beautiful life can be.” Rome, despite it’s ancient monuments, is such a modern city. And even though, there are floods of tourists all year round, it is quite beautiful.
The first full day there was spent touring the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum, and the Sistine Chapel. Anyone who really knows me, knows how much I love art. And any person taking an art history or appreciation class ultimately gets Renaissance art drilled into them. This leads to a dis- appreciation of Renaissance art. Despite this, Renaissance art is my absolute favorite. When I tell people this, often enough they look at me with a scrunched nose and ask, “why?” Maybe it’s because Renaissance art was the first thing about art that I learned about, but what I do know is that it was the period that made me fall in love with the idea of art. So being able to tour places that are famous for their art, was life changing. Another thing a lot of people know about me is that I rarely cry. That said, as soon as I walked into the Vatican, looked up at the vaulted ceilings with ornate artwork, I cried. I cried walking in the tombs of the famous saints. I cried when I walked into the rooms that Raphael had painted. I cried when I saw a room full of Matisse artwork, and when I saw a Salvador Dali painting. Lastly, I cried, full tears, when I went into the Sistine Chapel. No amount of education can teach you how moving a piece of art can be. I was so moved and insanely happy that I cried off an on for over 3 hours. I was not prepared for how much I would be moved by the art, and I wasn’t prepared for how much the experience would make me question my lack of [religious] faith.
The next day, my friends and I spent the day walking around Rome and going to all the famous places: The Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and any interesting spots in between. Unfortunately, this was the year when the Spanish steps and Trevi fountain were closed due to restoration. (I desperately wanted my cliche moment of throwing a coin into the fountain). The more I walked around the city, the more I fell in love with its old world charm.
On our third day In Rome, we toured the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, which were all once the center of Athens. This day only solidified my love for old buildings and structures. Some fun facts about the Colosseum:
- Tigers were the rarest, and most expensive animal to have in the ring.
- The fights were almost always fixed, and people didn’t die that often is, because the slaves who were fighting had a price, and you don’t want your investment to die.
- Women also participated in the fights- against “midgets” (Please excuse my political incorrectness. I typically use the term “little people” but the woman who gave our tour used that word)
- The fights were an all day affair, where people rarely ate, but drank a lot, so there were designated throwing up areas (Yuck!)
My final day in Rome, I spent by myself. I had gotten a good grasp of the city by then, so I was able to walk around and not get lost. That day was spent doing different things. I started off my day by writing post cards in front of the Vatican. Then, I went to the Tevere river and sat on a wall reading the New York Times, doing the crossword and word scramble, and listening to a street performer who played the violin beautifully. Before leaving for the airport I walked up and down the river, got a some wild berry gelato, and soaked in my last few moments in Rome.
It was very bittersweet leaving Rome. As much as I love Athens, the two cities are just so different. Rome moved at a much slower pace; it reminded me a lot of Portland. I’ve found that any city that slightly reminds me of Portland or gives me the same at home feeling, I instantly fall in love with. So far, only two cities qualify; Rome and Xania. I’m very excited to find other places I love just as much.