City of the Sun

I have now been a week in the city of Rome!  It is hard to believe that I am really here.  Sometimes it still feels a bit like a dream.  I live in an apartment in the neighborhood of Trastevere with four classmates.  We have marble floors and high ceilings and tall windows with shutters that open up to a busy street below.  In the mornings Italians wake up early, and we more often than not wake up with them to the sound of clanging, rumbling, and cooing.  We are located near some small shops, cafés, and restaurants and have a typical Roman street scene:  a narrow street with cobblestone paving, plaster stucco walls, and terracotta tiled roofs.

During the first few days I didn’t get to see much because it took a while to get settled.  My roommates and I went to buy cheap phones, internet, copy keys, go grocery shopping, and find our way around the local neighborhood.  Classes began this past Monday and now we are finally getting out and about.  On Tuesday we went on a large walk from the outskirts of the city to the city center, following the broken paths of two ancient aqueducts, the ‘Acqua Claudia’ and the ‘Acqua Felice’.  On Wednesday our class went to see the ‘Crypta Balbi’ which is a museum of archeological ruins in Rome.  It is amazing to see the layers and layers of history that exists in Rome.  The Crypta Balbi is a modern museum built on, like much the rest of the city, strata from past centuries as buildings and even foundations were reused again and again.  Today we went to the ‘Capitoline Museums’ which themselves are historical buildings but are built on even older foundations right on the border of the Roman Forum.  The ‘Piazza del Campidoglio’, the museum square, was designed by Michelangelo and is a remarkable public space.  The museum is filled with classical sculpture and it was a wonder to walk through and gaze at all of the empty eyes and lifelike fabric.  I saw the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius on his horse, and the huge remains of the gigantic seated statue of Constantine.

Besides going to these organized activities, I have often been exploring with my roommates or on my own.  On Tuesday a roommate and I explored the ‘Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore’ where we drew our first sketch of the facade of the basilica.  Yesterday we went to see the Pantheon and decided to try and happen upon it without a map.  It was easy to do because all we had to do was follow the crowds.  The tourist locations in Rome are extremely busy, and so it is nice to be able to say that “I can come back later!”.  We actually decided to do just that and postpone seeing the inside of the Pantheon.  The crowds were so big that the entire interior was one big crowd of people.

I am very much enjoying the Italian culture.  Food here is delicious and gelato delectable.  We can buy fresh produce everyday from a market in a nearby square.  Italian is spoken so fast that I’m not sure if I will ever be able to comprehend, but I really enjoy the rhythm of the language and am learning a bit more every day.  Rome is a beautiful city and I wonder if I will ever really know it well because there is just SO much to it!  I have four months to try so wish me luck!

– Lise


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