At the heart of it all, I’m really just a small town boy with a lot of hopes and aspirations for myself and my future. Coming from a small family and being a first generation college student, I had no idea that in my third year of college, I would be traveling half way around the world. But here I am, in a foreign country, sitting down in my foreign chair, and writing about my foreign experiences.
It’s pretty awesome.
Last weekend, the vast well of knowledge of all things Roman, Prof. Jeffrey Blanchard (pictured above), took us all on a tour of some monumental locations of Rome and although it lasted through the blazing heat wave, every moment was filled with so much interesting history, you almost didn’t notice the heat…almost. But seriously it was scorching hot last week, it was easily somewhere near 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
But I guess the actual tour would be better to talk about. We started our day traveling to the Jewish Ghetto which is a stone’s throw away from our studio, made a quick stop at the Palazzo Mattei di Giove and then continued on our tour. We eventually made our way to the Piazza del Campidoglio which brought us to a panoramic view of the Roman Forum and Imperial Fora. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had that feeling where you have spent your entire life only having the ability to see far off places through textbooks, magazines or some other publication and then you have the chance to actually see those places in real life, it’s sort of like an out-of-body experience. From inside a textbook you can’t really feel the history of the cobblestones and pillars, or the millions of people that once stood exactly where you are standing thousands of years before you. History is really lost inside those pages that were meant to preserve it.
With this in mind, as soon as we departed that spot we headed over to Santa Maria in Aracoeli (one of the infamous churches of Rome), and honestly, nothing I have ever seen before could compare to the detail and artistry that went into this church and many others in Rome. Although Santa Maria in Aracoeli and San Giovanni in Laterano now are highly regarded as touristic locations, nowhere else seems as holy and religious than these divine architectural masterpieces.
What seemed like an eternity after we saw the Santa Maria in Aracoeli (because of the heat, which was probably more realistically closer to an hour) we walked to the Colosseum over a small hill (aka a fiendishly dry mountain to us) and then down a few scenic streets and reached our lovely air-conditioned tour bus. Jeffrey continued to show us more of the Colosseum, Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), Piazza Venezia and Terme di Caracalla, all whilst sitting comfortably away from the blistering heat.
Right before lunch we visited the Fosse Ardeatine Monument (pictured above) which was an experience: during our time there, it was a violation to talk, and so everyone walked and absorbed the surroundings in complete silence, making it that much more of a powerful monument.
Jeffery ended our tour by taking us to San Giovanni in Laterano (pictured above with Santa Maria in Aracoeli), Piazza del Popolo and then finally, the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). Although it was a very very long day, and it was so abnormally hot, Jeffrey Blanchard did a fantastic job taking us through many significant areas of Rome and showing us key areas that were not just beautiful, but also had a substantially long and elaborate history. With a simple 7 hour tour of Rome completed on a Saturday afternoon, I can’t wait to see what he does to our week long trip coming along later this semester.