Friday, June 27, 2008
Arriving in America was overwhelming. Everything felt different, even as if America had become foreign to me. Driving through the Philadelphia suburb where I reside I could not help but watch the way our culture differs just when walking around the streets. First of all, with my windows down, I smelled the scent of fresh cut grass, something I had not smelled in a good seven weeks. I noticed several runners with out their shirts on, also something I never saw in Italy. There were not cobble stone roads, much easier on my legs, but confusing to my familiarity with them. The street signs read, "Speed Limit, 25." It was in English, also something I had not seen for awhile. People dressed in summer attire, shorts and tank tops with sandles on their feet. Looking around there were no beautiful sculptures on the street corner and definitley no piazza's with a Trevi Fountain. I did notice an eroded statue which was beginning to turn green by the local University, and let me tell you, it did not even come close to comparing to the ones I looked at in Rome. Being back in America, I still find myself examining these same themes which I did in Rome and it has forever changed me.
Looking back on the topics I chose during my time here in Rome makes me realize how much my appreciate and view on them has changed. The Trevi Fountain, one of my themes, was the most important out of all to me because it is the one place I looked forward to seeing to the most while in Rome due to its exposure in movies. I never would have imagined the area to have been so hectic and energized because I had only imagined it as an empty space I had seen in the movies. The culture of course, was the one that changed my appreciation the most. Watching the way the Italian culture lives and acts made me both open my eyes to the world, as well as appreciate America. My third theme, statues and sculptures, is one that I found to become an interest I never had before. I did not pay much attention to art work until I got to Rome and now it is something that truly affects me and makes me want to learn more about. Even some of the statues I have seen in both Rome and France I have copies of in my home and now I can put a name and story to the sculptures. I believe these three themes were the best I could have chosen for making my experience in Rome so much more meaningful and life changing, and with out the CAS program allowing me to do so I would not have experienced as much as I did.
Last night was my last visit to the Trevi Fountain, as hard as it was to believe. Walking up to the fountain for the last time on this trip I could not take my eyes off of it. What if this was the last time that I would see it in my life? There are no guarentees, so I did not want to miss a second of it that could have been spent admiring its beauty. As usual, the surrounding steps were packed like sardines with dozens of people. This time however, I noticed that the majority of visitors were now more so tourists than locals. Since it is now late in June, I assumed this would be the case. What was even more suprising was when we got to talking to three different groups of what appeared to be college students. We asked what they were doing in Rome and they responded that they go to school in Florida and just arrived today for a six week program. This struck me being as it was my last night. It was probably their first time viewing the famous Trevi Fountain, and I could take myself back to that feeling of not knowing what to expect and all of a sudden see a beautiful blue fountain with large Neptune at the top of it. It is a feeling that I will never forget and knowing that these students were going through what I had already been made me appreciate what I have gone through and can have enjoyment in knowing others will get to experience just the same.
When I had a chance to go to visit somewhere I had never been, I did not choose to pick one that I had written about, yet I chose to go to the Colloseum because I found it horrible that this late in the trip I had still not visited it. It was excruciatingly hot on the day that I went and once again pondered the idea of how Romans deal with it. Buying my ticket for the Colloseum I decided to get a video guide as well, different from the simple audio guides I usually receive. Taking the lift up to the top level and walking through the entry way I was struck when I walked in. immediately what I could not stop looking at was the platform of where the floor used to be and where the gladiators entered on to it. Immediately my emotions were thrown in to an array of putting myself in this are when it was completely full, people screaming out of both pure anger and frustration of the heat. Watching the video guide it showed us digital images of what the are of the Colloseum we were looking at used to appear, as opposed to how we we were seeing it. It was amazing to see the difference and I wonder how long it will stay in tact. Thinking about the animals and people brutally murdered in this space is something that is even hard to imagine. I have never experienced events like this and hearing about them is extremely interesting and surprising.
Thanks to the heat and a horrible migrane because of it, I was not able to go on the walk to markets through out Rome with my group. I did however go to the market in Trastevere on my own, and have been to Campo di Fiori on my own. The market in Trastevere struck me the most, especially because I happened to just stumble upon it one day. I was walking home from the bus stop from Ostia Antica and noticed a market with stands splurging out of it. Immediately my eye was caught by the clothes stands outside, of course. As I entered the market I noticed several jewelry stands, as well as more clothes. Walking down to the right there was an enormous stand of fresh cut meat and what I noticed first was how much cheaper it was than in the super markets. Next to this meat stand was a fresh produce stand and I picked up some fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers, all of which were phenomenally fresh when I ate them at a later time. Eating a baguette I got at a small stand I made a left to see to my surprise an entire long hall of shoe stands, my speciality. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself. I found this market so interesting because we do not have anything like this at home in the States, and I really wish we did.
Something I have noticed and do not quite understand is how Romans dress in the extremely warm weather compared to Americans. I sweat just from looking at people who look remotely uncomfortably hot while walking down the cobblestone streets of Rome. I can not comprehend or understand why and physically hot when it is over eighty degrees out they continue to wear long pants and shirts of dark colors. I have come to accept them for it and realize it is a part of their culture, but I will never get what is going on in their heads because I could never dress the same in this kind of weather. In the United States we are so acclimated to wearing as minimal clothing as possible in intense heat, and flip flops are always a must. However, when we wear flip flops in Italy we are always looked at as a “tourist” and sometimes that is the sole factor of determining you as one. I do not think I could ever get used to the clothing worn in the heat.
I decided to go to the Trevi Fountain and eat dinner somewhere around it. I found a spaghetteria with outside tables and decided the ambiance was beautiful with the red and white checkered table clothes, candles, and plants surrounding the tables. A few of the girls and I sat down to eat and looked at the other customers meals in complete awe, as we patiently sat waiting to feed our hungry stomachs. We decided we would make this meal a several course one since our time here is dwindling. I began with a Bruschetta al Salmon, and the crispiness of the bread along with the perfectly heated mozerella and smoothly layed salmon mixed perfectly together in a decident taste. For the next course I had a dish called Chanel, which was spaghetti tossed in a lobster and burgundy sauce. This was one of the best dishes I have had since I have been here because it tasted home made. It was like it had just been made in the kitchen of a local Italian’s home, and enjoyed every bit of it. Not only was this meal one of the best I have had in Rome, it was also cheap. A good deal!