“We call it “dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing.
It has been a while since my last blog post. Since the recap nothing substantial has happened while I was in Denmark. I spend most of my day commuting from one end of the city to the other, people watching, and the occasional cup of coffee. Oh, and I guess I do homework from time to time, even though the whole “study” portion of study abroad has been on the back burner. I have done better about immersing myself in the culture around me and have made a few Danish friends. It has been an interesting and enlightening experience going to football matches, playing reverse limbo and twister, and celebrating a birthday Danish style. However, at the end of this past week there seemed to be a bit of a lull. This is partially because it was the period of time between the newness of Copenhagen and our upcoming weeks off from class, but the other part is probably because of us settling into our roles in Copenhagen. But, like any lull they do no last long, and after my past few days in Rome I’ve developed a fonder appreciation for Copenhagen for what it is and what it is not.At this moment I’m sitting on a train rushing through the Swiss countryside (I’ll have a separate blog post about my Swiss shenanigans) trying to put my last few days together in a concise manner. I’m having trouble finding words at this point. Is it because of the 2 hours of sleep I had the night before my flight? Probably. However, I think my inability to communicate my thoughts is a reflection of the splendor that is Rome. I’ll do my best to hit some key points and not ramble.
Let me explain first why I was in Rome (besides the fact that it is Rome and that should be reason enough). I am taking a 1-hour course called Classical and Renaissance Rome where we learned all about Roman culture during the time of the Roman empire and the resurgence of Roman and Greek thoughts during the Renaissance. In this class we focused on many of the major sites of Rome such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum Romanum in order to gain a better understanding of the quotidian Roman life. After completing this crash course on Rome we were given an exam and finally, we go see the real thing. On Saturday morning I left my kollegium, and of course in typical Danish fashion there was a chilly rainfall. Normally this type of weather would even dampen the mood of an eternal optimist, but seeing the forecast in Rome made my temporary time in the rain much more bearable. We flew into Rome during the early afternoon, and just as predicted the weather was wonderful. It was warm and humid and it reminded me of South Carolina. We arrive to our hotel which was much more posh than I was expecting.What was once a large Roman villa was converted into a cozy bed and breakfast with all the amenities a spoiled American could even want. Once we were settled in we quickly made our way into the city for a couple of sites and then dinner (I’ll go over those in the sections).
When talking about Classical Rome one imagines the typical marble statues of gods and goddesses usually wearing absolutely nothing, or they think about large ornate buildings covered in marble and gold.
Classical Rome is cool, don’t get me wrong, but seeing the buildings built during the Renaissance period was absolutely thrilling. Pictures honestly do not give buildings such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica any form of justice. These buildings are incredibly large that the magnitude simply cannot be captured in photos. As I walked through the Vatican museum I was blown away by the major fresco paintings such as the Academy at Athens and the depiction of the fall of ancient Rome to the newly dominant Catholic Church.Once you go through the Raphael portion of the museum you find yourself going up these steps into the Sistine chapel. The only way to explain the sensation one has when walking in is breathtaking. Everyone looks up at amazement at Michelangelo’s creation, which is as clear as they are in any picture one has seen yet at the same time much more astonishing. In the center you can see the Creation of Adam, the most famous fresco Michelangelo created in the chapel. Now I hope my amazement for the chapel is coming out pretty clearly. I am incredibly impressed, right? Right, I am, but the Sistine Chapel pales in comparison to St. Peter’s Basilica. I literally have no words to express how impressive that building is. I first got there one night in my attempt to meet up with Christopher Novak (WOCO NAME DROP. MORE ON THAT LATER). Of course I was horribly lost, but eventually a priest-in-training from Nebraska found me and lead me to the square. That has to be a sign right? Divine intervention? Anyway, I finally meet Novak in the square, but not before I revel in the wonder that is this building. The square consists of a colonnade of 284 Doric columns, two fountains, and an Egyptian obelisk in the center. The following day I went inside and up to the cupola, which was even more impressive. Inside St. Peters are famous sculptures such as the Pieta and the statue of Pius VII, and of course the bronze baldachin in the center. None of the pictures I post will give anything any sense of justice as they are much much larger in person. From the top of the basilica one can see all of Rome, from the Colosseum to the “Birthday Cake”. Of course, one cannot leave the top without making a trip to the holy gift shop located conveniently on top of the church.
Life in Rome
Now that I’ve gotten through a bit of the artsy stuff (I saw so much in that city it would be quite the task to describe all of it), I can talk about life in Rome. Two things, food and transportation. Food is, of course, one of the best parts of Rome. On our first nights in Rome we went to a square with the statue of Bravo, a famous monk, where we had an authentic full Italian dinner.A full Italian dinner consists of an antipasta (appetizer), a pasta, a main course, and finally a desert. The dinner was a borderline religious experience, which if one were to have one it would probably be best to have one in Rome. Over the past few days we went to many authentic restaurants. Some had angry Italian grandmothers forcing us to have her lasagna. Others had accordion players on the outside, giving it that perfect Italian ambiance. Our final meal was a more contemporary meal, but to be honest it reminded me of the traditional meal (which is fine. It was still delicious). Also, gelato. That’s all I can really say. So good and so cheap. I ate an embarrassingly large amount of gelato while in Rome, and I’m going to leave it at that.
Now, where the food was absolutely amazing, the transportation was dreadful. The bus system in Rome made me miss the one in Copenhagen. Where the one in Copenhagen is organized, clean, and orderly, the one in Rome is chaotic, irregular, and frustrating. A typical wait for the bus is normally around 30-45 minutes, which I must say was incredibly frustrating when I was going to the airport this morning. Once on the bus the driver whizzes you through the city while hitting each curve with increasing ferocity. While my knees did a good job of absorbing the shocks from the maniac driver, there were a few times I stumbled into the Italians around me. While the buses flew through the city, the tram took its sweet time all around, mainly because cars would casually chill on the tram track. It was a sight to behold really. And of course there are taxis.Taxis have been the bane of my existence here in Europe so far and I will not take them at all costs. However, I had to take one this morning to the airport because the trains and buses were not running. After a 50 euro taxi ride, I made it to the airport safe and sound. While the transportation made it a bit hectic, it was the only part of this Rome trip that was negative. The city is incredibly vibrant and beautiful, combining the culture of today with the pride of the glory days of the Roman Empire. If you ever have an opportunity see Rome with your own eyes. You will not regret it.
Til next time.
PS. GUESS WHO I FOUND
Also, shout out to Emma Kellum for being on this trip with me. Too many shenanigans.