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2011

2011

Last Day of Museums in Rome

January 15th

On the agenda for the day: Roman National Museum, Diocletian Baths, and Church of Michelangelo.

We started the morning off at the Roman National Museum which houses some incredible mosaics, statues/sculptures and other ancient artifacts. One thing that was really impressive was an exhibit of a villa archaeologists found not far from the museum. In these re-created rooms, there were examples of the beautiful walls, ceilings and mosaics on the floor. It was neat to catch a glimpse of what the Roman’s living situation was like. Moving on from the impressive mosaics, the sculptures were so very detailed. One bronze statue we saw was called “The Boxer.”

Next we went to the Diocletian bath ruins. The Diocletian baths was a huge complex that housed you guessed it, BATHS! Bath time for the Romans was not only for cleaning purposes but also for social reasons. No matter your class, going to the baths was something that was available to everyone. It was thought that this specific bath house could house up to 3,000 seated people and a total of 9,000 people. The Romans were not only advanced in their engineering but also their thinking for coming up with the idea of such a enormous bathing complex. Among the ruins of the baths was where Michelangelo decided to construct a church using 8 gigantic pink egyptian marble from the original structure. Also inside the church is the meridian line, which a pope had constructed in order to get the accurate date of Easter. Science for the purpose of religion, kind of a cool concept!

At the end of this tour, we said goodbye to our fantastic tour guide Gino and had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves.

2011

We didn’t reserve the bus long enough…

January 14th

Our first event of the day was to visit the Villa dei Quintili.  This was a villa for the Quintili brothers, but Emperor Commodus had them executed and took control of their villa out of jealousy.  This is the emperor depicted in the movie Gladiator, he was actually a jerk just like in the movie.  We had a private bus to get there which took about 45 minutes.  Once we got there we were taken aback by the amount of greenery.  Most of Rome is covered in pavement, but this area looked more like Ireland than Italy.  The ruins of the villa were very well preserved.  Many walls were still standing and mosaics and wall decorations were also still visible in the ruins.  Another interesting thing was that they are still excavating the area.  We got to see a portion of the villa that has only been open to public viewing for a couple months.  We also saw where they would be excavating next.  There was a building top sticking out a little ways away from the main ruins, that is where they would be digging next.  Additionally, we saw part of what an aqueduct looked like up close.  This was the aqueduct that was an offshoot from the main aqueduct which used to supply water to the Villa dei Quintili.  We also learned a little about bathing in ancient Rome.  Commodus was obsessed with baths, he was even assassinated in one.  They had three different baths for warm, hot and cold water.  But we will learn more about this when we study the Diocletian baths, which were public baths used in ancient Rome.

Next, we wanted to eat lunch before going to the aqueduct park, but we didn’t have the bus booked long enough!  It was 1pm already and we were hungry, but first we saw the aqueduct park.  Nine of the eleven aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome run through this area.  An interesting sight was a piece of a multi-level aqueduct in which a cross section was visible.  So, from a distance, we were able to see how the inside of an aqueduct was structured.

Villa dei Quintili

Villa dei Quintili

Perfectly preserved mosaic at the Villa dei Quintili

Perfectly preserved mosaic at the Villa dei Quintili

On the bus ride home we ordered the pizza.  We couldn’t even wait to get there.  Because we ran into the time crunch with the bus John and Barbara covered lunch for us, we didn’t end up eating until 3 or 3:30! Aren’t our instructors the best!? We ordered from our go-to pizzeria and Alberto hooked us up with 21 pizzas.  We ate almost all 21 of them in no time at all on the rooftop terrace at the hotel.  After lunch, most wanted to do some laundry before we left Rome and this was the last opportunity to do it, so we had free time for the remainder of the day.

The aqueduct park

The aqueduct park

2011

Projects…

January 13th

Today was pretty laid back.  In the moring we heard presentations from Claudio and Alessandra on aquaducts and Villa dei Quintili both of which we will be seeing on January 14th.  After these presentations we had time to prepare for group presentations which were assigned on earlier this week.  Then we listened to the 15-20 minute presentations prepared by our classmates.  The presentations were as follows:

  • Wine: how to tell good from bad and some proper wine tasting procedures
  • Venice:  the history and attractions
  • Arches: including a SolidWorks analysis
  • Italian Cars:  including Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lamborghini
  • The Colosseum: some history, past and present uses and some information on the Gladitorial games

After the presentations, Barbera and John treated us to dinner.  We boarded a coach bus and were taken to a small resturaunt for our delicious meal. We were seated at a table for 23 in an enclosed tent coming off of the front of the small resturant.  The meal consisted of an appetizer of cod and artichoke, a first dish of pasta, a second dish consisting of meat and salad, then finally a dessert of a berry filled cake.  Most of the group also enjoyed wine with their meal.  Wine is enjoyed by the Romans almost daily and you know what they say…When in Rome!

Claudio on the left - our Italian coordinator and guide, John on the right - one of our instructors

Claudio on the left - our Italian coordinator and guide, John on the right - one of our instructors at the resturant for dinner

Getting home from the resturant we were on our own.  A majority of the group walked back taking many different routes.  Some strolled by the river while some took a more direct route.  After the laid back day we had, I was ready for some walking so I walked back, it took about an hour at the slow pace we were going.  It was a wonderful night!

2011

Back to the Vatican

January 12th

We started the day with a public pope audience.  Every Wednesday the pope appears in front of a packed auditorium for passages, hymns and blessings.  We left the hotel at 9am for the 10:30am appearance.  Once we arrived at St Peter’s Square, we realized why we left so early.  There was already a huge line waiting at the security check to get in.  There were groups from many different countries present including St Thomas, St Kate’s and St Olaf from Minnesota.  We were seated in the front section of the auditorium so we had fairly good seats when we got in.  Closer to the starting time they opened the front section to people sitting in the back section.  At this point there was a mad dash of people trying to find the best possible seats in the front.  These people were on a mission for a close spot, they had such intensity in their faces. You could tell how important this event was to the people there.  Once the pope came out the auditorium erupted into cheers, screams and camera flashes.  He reached the middle of the stage and called for silence.  We then heard passages from the book of Luke in several different languages including English, Italian and Spanish.  Then, different groups present in the audience were acknowledged and cheered to receive a non-verbal acknowledgement from the pope himself.  The appearance ended with a mass blessing and a hymn led by the pope, sung in Latin.

After this we grabbed some lunch then met again to go into the Scavi so see ancient excavated tombs below Vatican City.  We saw where St Peter’s remains were buried along with the sarcophaguses of different popes.  We also saw the Vatican necropolis which showed where bodies were cremated and what a family mausoleum looked like for the rich in ancient times.

After the Scavi we had a class session followed by dinner.  A few went to get a doner kebab, which are fantastic.  A large group tried a Chinese restaurant, which was a good change of pace.  We then settled into the hotel for good conversation and wine with our instructors.  Our dean, Dr. Weinkauf,  came to Rome to hang out with us for a few days, but it was his last night so we spent it enjoying each others’ company

The Pope

The Pope

2011

College Lectures and a Birthday

January 11th

This morning we visited the University of La Sapienza. It was established in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII! 1303… that puts 1885 (when St. Thomas was established) to shame. The school of engineering has 10,000 students and is located maybe 2 blocks from the Colosseum. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity of attending lectures by the professors at the University. The symposium consisted of about 6 mini lectures @ 20 minutes each. (Some of the professors took long than 20 minutes) The lectures were all about ancient roman architecture and engineering (roads, aquaducts, bridges etc). Oh and did I mention that the lecture hall we were in was once used as Michelangelo and Raphael’s drawing room?! INCREDIBLE!

Around noon we got a coffee break. They had delicious finger foods like panini’s and bakery items like croissants with hunks of chocolate in them. YUM! We then had a chance to hang out in their commons area which was a huge cobblestone courtyard. We also got to talk to some high school girls whose teacher ended up lecturing for us. It proved to be entertaining because we each go to learn about eachother’s culture and each had an interest and awe towards eachother. We’re supposed to meet up with them but we’ll see if that’ll happen!

We then were escorted by 4 male students to have lunch at their cafeteria. We all stuck out like sore thumbs. It was funny to watch everyone’s faces as a group of 20 American students walked by.

We had a free afternoon and evening. On the agenda for the evening was celebrating Derek’s birthday! A big group of us went to the pizzeria down the street and had dinner. Later we all met up at Scholar’s Lounge for Karaoke and festivities. We also met up with another St. Thomas group that was there for a communications course. The night was entertaining and you could hear songs by artists ranging from Lady Gaga to the Bee Gee’s. Our very own Andy and Pat entertained us with “Staying Alive,” which was absolutely priceless.

2011

A picture’s worth 1000 words: The Vatican

January 10th

A statue from the Octagonal Courtyard in the Vatican Museum

A statue from the Octagonal Courtyard in the Vatican Museum

A statue of Hera from the Sala Rotonda (Round Room) in the Vatican Museum

A statue of Hera from the Sala Rotonda (Round Room) in the Vatican Museum

The floor in Sala a Croce Grece (Room at the Greek Cross)

The floor in Sala a Croce Grece (Room at the Greek Cross)

A tapestry in Galleria degli Arazzi (Gallery of Tapestries)

A tapestry in Galleria degli Arazzi (Gallery of Tapestries)

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The dome at St Peter's Basilica from the inside

The dome at St Peter's Basilica from the inside

And last but not least…The view from the top of St Peter’s Basilica!

view

2011

The smallest country in the world: Vatican City

January 10th

Today was all about the Vatican.  We saw almost everything that the vatican had to offer and there was so much!! First we walked through the vatican museum which had so many interesting works of art.  We went into room after room of statues, tapestries and murals, it all seemed never ending.  The Vatican has such a history and it was all there, told through pieces of art.

Finally, we made our way to the Sistine Chapel.  There was no photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but it was extremely impressive.  Literally the entire inside of the church was painted, and each painting told a story.  The stories of Christ and Moses were present and, of course, the famous “Creation of Adam”.  The entire ceiling and all four walls had intricate murals on them.  The paintings also had perspective to them, they weren’t just the ordinary two dimensional paintings, everything looked to detailed and real.  The 20 minutes we spent gazing above at the stories of Michelangelo were simply not enough.

Later, we finally got to go into the largest church in the world, St Peter’s Basilica.  We had seen the outside of this monumentous church, but the inside was just as breath taking.  The enormous alter stood at the far end underneath the dome and left us in awe at the door.  The statues and art all around the basilica were simply beautiful.

After we had taken in the basilica, the rest of the day was free.  But most of us, if not all, hadn’t had enough.  We wanted to climb the 550-ish stairs to reach the very top of the dome.  I don’t know what 550 may seem like to others, but that is ALOT OF STAIRS!  But we made it, and it was totally worth it!  The view was amazing.

After we came back down, we grabbed a quick lunch then headed back to the hotel to catch up on homework and have a class discussion.  Once the business was out of the way, we all grabbed dinner.  Some went to a place famous for its orange tortellini, while a few decided to mix it up some.  Italian is so good, but you have to mix it up every once in a while, so some went to a Mexican restaurant:  La Cucarach.  Despite being called “The Cockroach”, the food was delicious and a nice change of pace.  Afterwards we all returned to the hotel for a quiet night of pool and Uno, then off to bed!

PS:  We are having some issues getting pictures to upload into the blog right now.  We have emailed IT but we may find a different solution.  We will keep you posted.

2011

Oh What a Day

January 9th

We’re finally close to getting caught up, and up to date with our daily activities. I’ll try and add photos, but I can not promise if they’ll be as cool as Angela’s.

Time is flying by. So many sites, so little time. Lots was on the agenda for today. Actually this is a complete understatement. We pretty much were on the go for a solid 10 hours! Oofta! No complaining though. 

Some began the morning with mass at St. Peter’s bright and early (around 7).We proceeded to venture to Porta Portese via the wonderful public transportation, which is quite popular around this part of the world. Maybe we should try it?? Okay back on track. Porta Portese is basically the biggest flea market you could imagine. Anything and everything is there. We all parted ways when we got there and bought various knick knacks, and just took part of being with the locals on a Sunday morning. One could easily get lost. Would you be surprised that a couple of us actually did get lost?! The place is not only a maze, but a zoo as well. A great morning adventure none the less.

Next on the agenda: Castel Sant Angelo, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Aqua Virgo. I wasn’t kidding when I told you we did ALOT today.

Quick Summaries:

Castel Saint Angelo: One of the monuments we use to help us navigate ourselves. It has proved to be super handy because it is so huge, and once we reach it we know exactly how to get back to the hotel.  Some facts: this building has been “recycled” many times. A trend that we’re seeing evident in almost every building.  This “castle’s” original purpose was to be for the emperor Hadrian and his family around 120 AD. It then became a defense fortress, and later used by popes as protection.  This whole structure has survived many face lifts but wrinkles from it’s original state remain.  We walked all the way to the top, and the hike proved to be rewarding and breathtaking. We could have spent all day up there. No time, onto the Pantheon.

Pantheon: Also built by Hadrian, or commissioned would be a better word.  Another incredible engineering feat. The dome of the Pantheon is 150 roman feet in diameter, and 150 roman feet in height, this is approximately 140 feet. At the center of the dome is a 30 ft circular opening called an oculus. It is truly an experience standing in the Pantheon and looking up, pictures can not translate the shear size of the structure. It is the best perserved of all ancient Roman buildings. This is mainly because it was turned into a church around 609 AD, and has been protected ever since. Oh, and if all this weren’t enough the famous artist Raphael was buried there.

Trevi Fountain: Not too far of a walk from the Pantheon lies the famous Trevi Fountain. It is absolutely beautiful and gigantic. A few of us tossed a coin in the fountain. Foutains have been used in the Roman world as entertainment. What technology is to us today, is what fountains were to them. These fountains are possible because of yet another engineering feat of the aquaducts. Everything is starting to fit together!

Aqua Virgo: Inside the bottom of a modern building not far from the Trevi, ancient ruins were found. Now this is generally common, however the fact that archaelogists believe that this ancient villa was connected to the Aqua Virgo is quite spectacular. We were lucky enough to see these ruins in person and the artifacts that were recovered in the process. If this weren’t enough a meidevil house was built on top of the ancient one, and this is all in the basement of an inclosed building.

Is any of this blowing your mind yet? So much knowledge, so little time.

Until tomorrow!

2011

Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum

January 8th

Being around Rome and taking tours with tour guides is always helpful when it comes to absorbing little facts. For instance “palatine” can be interpreted by us as palace. Therefore, Palatine Hill is basically the hill of palaces. We arrived to the hill fairly early because there was still the feeling of briskness in the air. None the less it was a gorgeous morning and it sure beats the snow and cold temperatures of Minnesota. We met our tour guide for the day Alessandra (a real, live archaelogist)! She showed us around and we got to see the House of Augustus (first emperor of Rome) and the House of Livia, Augustus’ wife. At a certain point one could get easily bored because pretty soon everything begins to look the same (I’m talking about the ruins). But what was especially intriguing about today was that we got the opportunity to look at the inside of both the House of Livia, and Augustus, which isn’t open to the public, so this was kind of a big deal. About 5 guards (okay I’m being dramatic they were workers) followed us around. Anyways, I tried to imagine what these palaces would have looked like but also the people which lived in them. Think about someone walking around your house in about two thousand years. Mind boggling right?

Continuing on, just at the bottom or valley of the Palatine Hill is the Roman Forum. Think or imagine ruins EVERYWHERE… seriously ruins galore. There is so MUCH HISTORY in this area that books are written about it. I won’t try and write a book, however I’ll try and sum it up as best as I can. The Via Sacra (Sacred Way) is an ancient road that runs right through the forum. The road was used for the return of Kings and Emperors from across the empire. Now picture yourself standing on this road, the same road ancient people used. These are the experiences we’re having on a day to day basis, and they’re priceless. Like I mentioned earlier there is literally remnants of ancient buildings everywhere you look, it’s like a war zone. Another really cool site we saw in the Forum is Julius Caesar’s resting place. Let’s be honest who hasn’t heard of Julius Caesar.

Already in a week all of us at some point, at some site, have been able to be overwhelmed, amazed and just in plan disbelief of the things we’ve experienced. The amount of history and facts that have been presented to us is un-real. Rome has shaped our modern world more than you would think. We’re getting the chance to see all of these contributions. Incredible.

Now mostly what Angela and I put on here is about the sites we see, but then there is the whole part of the day that doesn’t consist of site seeing. We’re all getting to go on our own adventures together. Whether it’d be grabbing some delicious Italian cuisine, eating gelato, being spontaneous, or trying to find the local grocery store to maybe or maybe not buy and responsibly enjoy Italian vino. These are the times we will remember.

2011

The Colosseum – New Pics Added!

January 7th

The Colosseum described in one word would be AMAZING.  Words simply do not do it justice.  It is 527m around, which is about 1/4 larger than a standard outdoor track, and 162 ft high.  We took the metro (subway) to the Colosseum, and when we left the station it was right in front of us.  It is simply breathtaking.

col_outside

Each of the arches are 23ft high, and to the left you can see that it used to be even taller all the way around.  All these dimensions don’t mean as much until you’re standing next to this enormous arena.  The Colosseum could seat upwards of 50,000 people and had 76 public entrances in addition to 4 private entrances for the elite.  Some of the numbers above each entrance are still visible today.  It could also be emptied in a relatively short amount of time because it had so many entrances.

The inside of the Colosseum

The inside of the Colosseum

What’s left on the floor of the Colosseum is the gladiator staging area. A number of lifts and trap doors were present so gladiators and animals could appear anywhere on the arena floor.  Most of the seating areas have collapsed but there was seating all around the arena floor, all the way up to the top.  First the senetors, then the upper class, then the comman man, then in the “nose-bleeds” were the peasants.

Palatine Hill from the second level of the Colosseum

Palatine Hill from the second level of the Colosseum

Arch of Constantine from the second level of the Colosseum

Arch of Constantine from the second level of the Colosseum

The Colosseum closer to dusk

The Colosseum closer to dusk

After the Colosseum we made our way up the street to Basilica di S. Clemente.  There was no photography allowed inside the Basilica, so I don’t have any pictures of this one.  This basilica was built on top of many older Roman buildings (as is most of Rome).  We traveled back through time, to lower and lower levels until we reach levels that were 1900 years old!  After the Basilica, we were on our own for dinner and getting back to the Hotel.  Most took the subway, but a brave few made the walk back to Hotel Alimandi the first day.  It is between 2-3 miles between the Colosseum and the hotel, depending on the route you take, but we got to see so much!  I made the walk this first night, and we walked past the Capitol again as well as to Campo di Fiori.  It was a long day, and we were all in for some sound sleeping!

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II after dark

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II after dark

Gino telling us about the Colosseum

Gino telling us about the Colosseum

The group out in front of the Colosseum

The group out in front of the Colosseum

-Ciao