Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Great Switch

Today marks a very important day in the lives of those on this trip. I never would have thought art could create such emotion and a spiritual change in an entire group. 
Today we woke up and had to leave early to the Villa Borghese. It was a long fast walk uphill most of the way. We crossed the first park type area in the city that we have seen yet. 
Once inside the villa we were lead further in awe of the art that we are so blessed to be able to see on this trip. There was a Caravagio piece that took my breath away. It was of the Madonna and child and another woman. Jesus was not a young babe in this painting though, he was in his younger years probably around 4 or 5. Mary is holding his arms back to balance him up. The power of the piece came through in the bottom of the frame. Mary had her foot on the serpent while Jesus had his foot on top of hers... This doesn't sound all that amazing because words cannot describe all of this painting. The symbolism to the serpent and all of the stories and prophesies in the bible was great. I could have stood their all day. But I moved on... I went to the other rooms and I found the pieces that would take our group by storm. 
Bernini had three super powerful pieces in the villa. The first we came across was the Rape of Persephanis (sp?). Here his work on the marble was beyond anything I have ever seen. The sculptures were so realistic and full of emotion you couldn't help but stare from every angle and try and do something about the situation. Then I moved to the next room where the piece was of Apollo and Daphne. This piece brought Mark to tears and made the group rethink their lives. Initially the marble work makes you want to say, "SHUT UP! This is NOT real marble!!! No WAY!" Then you look closer, realize it's real, and you are taken aback by the faces and the agony exposed. Again the story of this piece made it 10 times more amazing. Bernini has a great ability to capture the moment and emotion of that moment that makes a person contemplate... not just walk past. The next piece he had was my favorite of all. It was of David right as he was about to throw the stone and kill Goliath. David had great moments of his life but none as great as this. The marble was so intricately crafted, David's face was amazing and full of determination. I couldn't stop contemplating how David is so much like us... he had a great moment but he also had bad ones and he has to live with both. It's a great example of how we cannot let our poor moments determine the way we live the remainder of our lives. Redemption, though we fail, God is their with open arms. 
This may not have been what everyone else got from the work today but there was a change. The feelings provoked we no longer surface appreciation, there was a change and an awe that overtook the group. What a wonderful thing to experience with those who appreciate these things! 
The rest of the day was spent doing some more walking, checking out the Jewish Ghetto, and walking along the river. It was a good day. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ciao Colosseum!

The past two days have been packed with walking, looking and wonder! 
Yesterday we spent the day walking around the Roman Forum and seeing the ruins at which many great things occurred. It was pretty sweet, though quite warm, so much of the day was spent searching for some shade to take a little breather in. 
In Roma there are public fountains all over the city that are great to drink from and fill your water bottle from. And they aren't just any old drinking fountain... these fountains are made of marble or stone and are beautiful! 
For lunch a group of us learned the hard way that some places charge just as much for their cokes as they do for their paninis... and they charge a fee for sitting in their cafe. So our 3.5 Euro lunches turned into 10 Euro lunches. 
Following this disappointing meal we headed to the Colosseum. While waiting for the group to assemble we witnessed an undercover cop chasing the illegal dealers of all things kitchy from the surrounding area of the Colosseum. During this chase the lady cop picked up a rock the size of her fist to throw at these merchants who were taunting her and running away. 
We eventually made it inside and had a great time exploring around the few levels and taking in the greatness that some of us had only seen from a textbook. It is soooooo much cooler in the flesh. 
From the Colosseum we headed back to the hotel to rest our feet. That evening a few of us went out and found a restaurant for some pizza... and they marketed no sitting fee and an additional 10% off for our group. It was just what we needed. Coming home after dinner we saw the taping of an Italian movie production and/or Italian Soap Opera. 
Soon we headed to the Pantheon for another evening of talking on the steps. This night we decided to practice the art of Planking and time-lapse photography. It was great to be surrounded by a group of willing creative adventurous friends! 
Today we spent going to different churches and the Etruscan Museo. It was a great day. We spent far too little time in the Museo but I could probably stay there all day in awe of their greatness. Etruscan pottery is a must to see... just when you think you've seen it all you find additional intricate components that completely blow your mind. 
The basillicas were also great. One was built on top of a 4th century basillica which was next to a temple to Mithas. It was like cave diving down through the layers of the Earth. 
Later the group of M girls went out to eat on the way back to the hotel. We stopped at the Irish pub, had a French waitress, and ate Irish, Indian, and Italian-esque foods. It was a great way to experience dinner. Further on the way back we found a great grocery store that we shall frequent again soon. 
This evening we edited photos, relaxed and went to the Pantheon to experience the night life (sitting on the stairs, people watching and talking). 
The streets of Roma are amazing, small and cobble stoned. It has been a great city to explore. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Prego= Thank You, Pasta Sauce, Pregnant, Etc?

dWhat a day! We began our day with breakfast that was amazing! What do you ask did the kind man at the front desk serve us for breakfast? Oh yes, he served me a chocolate croissant!!!! Really? The first morning spent in Roma and I already get served a chocolate croissant, only my favorite breakfast item ever! 
In addition to this I was served a bread bowl type breakfast food that was super tough but good. I ate it with some jelly and it all turned out alright. 
After breakfast we headed to the Museu Capitolli and looked at the many carved marble and bronze cast statues of old Roman rulers and royalty. It was a great show and full of so many things that are way cooler in person that seeing in a text-book. I do enjoy kinesthetic experiences as opposed to the alternative. 
Once done that the Museo we headed downtown-ish to get food. We bought panninis and sat around the Pantheon to eat. It was amazing! We walked a little ways and got gelato. 
The remainder of the evening and night was spent resting, uploading photos, traveling to see the Fountain Trevi, and doing that all over again to see everything with less people. The Pantheon has become our little tradition of the evening, we go and see it at night where it is gorgeous and exudes awesomeness as we sit and contemplate the evening. 
Rome is such a great city! 
Also, after trying to figure out what you're welcome is I discovered many things. One of which was the word prego. Prego not only is the name of a pasta sauce it also sometimes means question, you're welcome, thank you, and pregnant. What a multifaceted word! I might get this language thing down... maybe!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting There...

There are many things that Em Pea and I experienced on our excursion to Italy... First I met up with Em in Chicago. We ate some sub-par chinese food and then got some Euros. The exchange rate probably wasn't outstanding but we needed some and the lady said I could change them back for free when I came back through. 
We then found out that even though we pre-checked in online and found seats together they had printed off different seats on the boarding pass. The kind very young looking German fellow at the Lufthansa desk helped Em and I get seats together for the remainder of the flights. 
The flight was enjoyable... there were a few times I laughed out loud to different shows and had to watch myself. I was drawing attention... :) We eventually made it to Munich airport and found it to be... silent! In Chicago the carts pass you honking the horn every second. In Munich carts would pass silently, people walked silently. And it wasn't that there weren't people there, there were lots of people. They just weren't loud or anywhere close! One time the moving walkway shut off and the entire terminal was silent. What a change from anywhere in America. 
In the Munich airport we found reclining chairs that were amazing! 
And the set up of the bathrooms made it super confusing for travelers. So Em and I spent the hour layover watching people attempt to find a bathroom in the utility closet. 
We soon went over to our gate and waited to take off to Rome. While we were waiting for our plane to take off we met a man that was from Italy and high fashion with his luggage. We called him our fashion traveling friend. When on the plane we got a pic of his luggage... 
He was rocking a white based luggage with pink zippers and blue, pink and black swirls and flowers. It was intense. But we gave him props for his style choices. 
The flight to Roma was uneventful... mainly because both Em and I were asleep before take-off. 
When in Roma we followed the baggage claim signs, we didn't follow our fashion traveling friend... which turned out to be a bad idea. We ended up in Terminal 1 baggage claim area when really we needed to be in Terminal 3. A man at the Lufthansa desk said (in an Italian accent), "You need to take the escelator around the corner, go down... then go into the doors where everyone is coming out, this is prohibited,  the Policia will stop you but you show them this (boarding pass) and they will let you back in." Em and I did so and had to stand in another couple lines before our bags were sent to yet another baggage claim belt. 
Eventually we got our bags, met up with everyone, got on the train and headed on a bus to our hotel. Had I been alone I would never have found it. The streets are tiny and the signs for hotels and landmarks are nearly non-existent. 
By the time we actually got to our hotel we were starving! I was super crabby because I was so hungry. Some people ate together as others of us decided to go off on our own. M-Ann surprised me with a Magnum sandwich/ ice-cream bar. It was sooo good! 
Then eventually Em and I found some cheap panini's and agua to satiate our hunger. 
The remainder of the evening was spent sitting in front of the Pantheon watching street performers and talking with fellow group members and friends who have decided to spend extended time in Italy. It was a beautiful beginning to a trip. 
I am sure there will be many more adventures to come!!! We have arrived and we are well! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time Difference

p.s. there was some question as to how far ahead I would be time-wise  and what the weather will be like. 
So according to the weather is going to be in the 80's for the first few weeks at least. And I will be 8 hours ahead of those of you in MT and 7 hours ahead of those of you in IN. 


I find myself here at 1 am the night prior to my departure. I am checked into my flight and I have started packing.... Yes I know it seems strange that I would pack so late, but that's the way it goes. I think I have simplified to some extent. 
I still have a list to accomplish before I head to the port of air tomorrow but some of it might just have to wait until Christmas break :) 
As for this evening I am letting Brooke Waggoner and The Head and The Heart sing me away while I remove photos from my computer and clear off space for great photos ahead. I feel like a photographer I read about a while back, he lived when there were only film cameras and he took enough rolls of film to fill 3 large barrels. I am sure I would have that many if I were to convert my photos to film. Is it worth taking all of these photos when not many if anyone will ever see them? I believe so... I suppose I am a hoarder of photos, thank goodness I can store them where they don't take up that much space. 
Which leads me to my next point... I look forward to sharing my photos with anyone who cares to follow me while I explore the depths of Italy :) 

 Some of the things that are either packed or eliminated from my packing... 
Buddy, the dear soul that did not stay awake until the end of the packing extravaganza... 


Thursday, September 15, 2011


It is 8 days until departure for Italy... I currently know about 7 words in Italian and I might be able to get from the airport to the hotel.... maybe :) 
I am excited to see all of the art there is to offer in Italy and experience it with some great people. It will be amazing, and I shall post everything solely for everyone to live vicariously through me! ENJOY!!!