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When in Rome...

Rome Travel Blog

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Roman columns...

...do as the Romans do

I sit in my hotel room on my last night in Rome and nearly laugh at that statement.  When in Rome, you say that phrase.  I now see why the last part of the expression is dropped.  If we lived our lives as they did back in ancient times, life would be chaotic.  Chaotic in the sense of dealing with which gladiator match to go to, whom to get ready for as next emperor, or how many arches to include in the next set of aqueducts.  While one might think of today as modernized, civilized, domestic…I’m seeing, after experiences in this city, just how far from the truth that statement is.  Though, I must tell you…I’ve barely had time for experiences.  We got the bad end of the deal for this portion of our study abroad.

Roman art
  Only two full days in the oldest city on earth…are you kidding me!  Nonetheless, I’m exhausted after two amazing days of traveling around the city.  When in Rome

            Even though we were allotted two days in the city, the holiest of cities was welcoming back its leader during the first of these full days.  Pope Benedict XVI was coming back to Vatican City, and we were fortunate enough to witness this spectacle.  This spectacle consists of millions of people flocking to a square (which isn’t even a square!) and our group not being able to get anywhere near our scheduled tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.  When the time grew near for his arrival, I grew more and more astonished with what I was witnessing.

The Colosseum
  An endless mass of people kept collecting in an area too small for this loyal denomination.  Talk about a difference not seen anywhere else in the world.  One man can cause this.  One man, what he represents, and what he means to millions of people around the world.  It was simply breathtaking to view this devotion and commitment from so many people.  I would bet that half of them didn’t even get to see the pope!  The procession went on for a few hours, and I never saw the crowd go thin.  I can’t imagine someone in America receiving nearly this much praise and awe…President Bush, Tom Cruise, Tiger Woods?  Yeah, right…they pale in comparison.  It really felt as though people were flocking to see Jesus.
The Pope is back!
  A blind faith was felt as I was amidst all those walking around the enormous Vatican walls.  Saturday is a day I’ll never forget.

            I must travel to the land of contradiction, as much as I long to stay out of it.  Rome has been a tough city to get around in simply because of the enormous amounts of pedestrian traffic.  The subways are packed, the buses, trams, and sidewalks, nearly unapproachable.  Like travelers did in the 18th century when they came to see the classics, tourists everywhere were crowding every historical landmark in Rome.  These people don’t need a Piranesi print, they have the real thing in front of them.

The Sistine Chapel
  This being the oldest surviving city, it is in the nature of man to be fascinated by this and want to be a part of it.  Human nature has intrigued us enough to make us excavate these ancient ruins a few centuries ago.  Ever since, Rome has made the transformation from peaceful city to one of the biggest tourism spots in the world. 

            I visited St. Peter’s Basilica today and was mesmerized by all that I saw.  This church is the mother of all churches.  I loved every inch of it, but at the same time, felt a responsible guilt mixed with contradicting feelings.  All these people, everywhere in Rome, viewing everything that there is to see.

Fountain of the Four Rivers
  I happened to be in the church at the time of mass, so the awkwardness set in quickly.  At first, I felt responsible for every flash going off in the building.  Don’t take pictures while people are having mass!  Communion is not synonymous with “take a picture of the cardinals!”  Then, I grew angry with the Vatican, with the city of Rome.  And the contradiction switched sides.  I felt bad for being there, but if I wasn’t encouraged so much, I wouldn’t have been.  The officials in charge set up a huge stage for the pope, chairs dotting St. Peter’s Square everywhere, awaiting his return.  People love and adore him when he comes home.  But what about when he is just living…hanging out around Vatican City, out of sight.
Mass in St. Peter's
  Do as the Romans do…and take flash photographs of deceased ones that held the papacy before him?  NO!!!  I cannot believe how laid back and relaxed church and museum staff are in Roma.  It still bothers me to think of it as hypocrisy. 

“We’ll let you off your leash, let you climb on ruins, take pictures of things that you shouldn’t be photographing.  But, when the pope comes home, you better be there to see it, and on your best behavior!”

What are we…sheep?  Herds of people go in and out of the Pantheon and Colosseum every day, only to take away ‘priceless’ pictures of history on paper.  I'm guilt, I won't lie.  This whole system just doesn’t make sense to me.

            Whether it be relating to the pope or archaeological digs hundreds of years ago, the human race wants excitement.

I spy a fake sunglass vendor
  Respect is neglected, religious rules are cast aside.  The pope comes home and everyone turns religious.  The largest church in the world is right next door and everyone turns into a cameraman.  And this goes for everywhere in the world.  Rome is a wonderful city, but from my tourist eyes.  As a devout Catholic (which I’m not), I would be offended and ashamed at times.  We must always seek enlightenment, but need to remember the fine line between respect and neglect.

I’ve done as the Romans did…in my own thoughtful way.  Ciao!

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Roman columns...
Roman columns...
Roman art
Roman art
The Colosseum
The Colosseum
The Pope is back!
The Pope is back!
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel
Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers
Mass in St. Peters
Mass in St. Peter's
I spy a fake sunglass vendor
I spy a fake sunglass vendor
Oh look...the ashes of Camerlengo …
Oh look...the ashes of Camerlengo…
The Pope is back!
The Pope is back!
The Vatican Museum hallway
The Vatican Museum hallway
haha...you got nabbed
haha...you got nabbed
Me and the fountain...wheres Robe…
Me and the fountain...where's Rob…
Pantheon
Pantheon
Pantheon oculus
Pantheon oculus
Pantheon security
Pantheon security
Top of Castel St. Angelo
Top of Castel St. Angelo
Castel St. Angelo chillin
Castel St. Angelo chillin
Part of our sweet room.  Notice th…
Part of our sweet room. Notice t…
the gang
the gang
Pope copter
Pope copter
Angel Bridge
Angel Bridge
Italia!
Italia!
Castel St. Angelo
Castel St. Angelo
Vatican Post
Vatican Post
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps
Playing around with the camera
Playing around with the camera
Laocoon
Laocoon
The Last Judgment
The Last Judgment
Me and Il Colosseo
Me and Il Colosseo
Swiss Guard
Swiss Guard
Part of St. Peters Square
Part of St. Peter's Square
St. Peters Square
St. Peter's Square
Rome
photo by: vulindlela