Sunday, December 2, 2007

so little time...

Blaaahhh my insides are a giant stew of emotions right now, and I think it’s giving me heartburn. No pun intended. Everything feels like SUCH a blur – I feel like I’m running down a hill and have reached that point where you kind of lose control of how fast you are going – I cannot make these next three weeks slow down for the LIFE of me, but I desperately want them to.

So anyway, ROME – God, it went by so fast, you can’t even imagine how much they crammed into those two days (which I obviously extended to three, thanks to Alex’s-adventures-in-hotel-sneaking, volume 2…). Just for the sake of solidifying it all in my mind, I’m gonna do a quick run-down, so bear with me.

Friday morning: we stepped off the bus and into a miraculously empty Vatican Museum. Granted, it WAS 9am on a Friday and all modes of public transportation were on strike, but still, this was ridiculous. There was NO line. Whatsoever. Sweet. In the two or so hours we were there, we saw so much Raphael you wouldn’t even believe (the Transfiguration, the tapestries, the Stanze – hallelujah for art restoration, those things were astounding), and… dum dum DUM… the Sistine Chapel. Talk about sensory overload.

After a much-needed lunch break, we got St. Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s Pietà. Quite possibly the most beautiful church I’ve seen so far – that LIGHT! I must say, though, the display of the Pietà is almost as disappointing as the Mona Lisa – you can’t even SEE the intricate latticework of veins in the figure or the high sheen of the marble from so damn far away! Bitches.

They then bussed us to the Church of St. Peter in Chains but I think we were all too delirious by that point to really appreciate much of anything. In all honesty the Moses just looked like he had some seriously bad gas.

Saturday was even more intense: in the morning we got not one but TWO private pleasure villas – the first, the Villa Farnesina, featured Raphael’s Galatea, which, in its unrestored state, appeared flat and rough in comparison to the gorgeously restored works in the Vatican; the stark contrast was a total testament to the value of restoration in revealing the true quality of an artist’s work as it was originally intended to be seen. There was also another room in which the ceiling was intricately frescoed with a garden scene depicting of the bounty of spring, complete with the equivalent of a Renaissance dirty joke – a particularly phallic zucchini accompanied by two humorously placed figs. Horny bastards.

Next up was the Villa Borghese, a once-pleasure villa, now-museum, and most definitely my favorite sculpture collection on Earth. OH MY GOD I want to BE Bernini. I’m so pissed they made me check my bag – I would have KILLED to sketch those sculptures!! Aenus is officially a hottie and the Pluto and Persephone was straight-up scary; that man really knew how to work his marble.

After lunch we backed up a few centuries to antiquity, checking out the Colosseum (there are NO WORDS to describe how utterly awesome that thing is), plus the Forum and the Pantheon, both of which were conveniently closed (good planning, Syracuse). However, on my own time, I managed to hit the Pantheon during its opening hours the next day (one question: where the HELL did they find all that colored marble??), plus I took a peek at the Trevi Fountain (overwhelming/reminded me of something Hugh Hefner would have installed in his backyard), and checked out the massive Christmas market in Piazza Navona, as well as obliquely saw the Spanish Steps and Richard Meier’s Ara Pacis (a.k.a. met up with friends on the Steps for some pre-clubbing wine, and watched my arch friends hiss and boo the Ara Pacis as we passed it on our way to a bar... I guess it was kind of ugly…).

And speaking of the archies – not only did I get to see acres of oil paint, fresco, ancient marble and brick, but I got to share the whole experience with my best friends: the ENTIRE architecture AND pre-architecture program were on the same trip, which means I got to frolic through glorious Roma with Sam, Tyler, Jess, Bryan, Ali, and the whole gang, including Danny. SO nice. I swear, that boy makes me so happy – he just LOVES me so much, man, it’s crazy. He ran all over the freakin’ city to meet up with me on any break he had (the arch kids had a different agenda than the ahis kids; I smell discrimination…), even if we only had a few minutes and even for something as unexciting as sitting on a bench. It was really sweet. We had a particularly idyllic lunch break just chilling out and picnicking on smuggled hotel-breakfast goodies in a sweet little park in the shadow of the Colosseum. And even though MY trip only included one night in a hotel, Friday night, the arch kids were staying Saturday too, and thus I had my second opportunity to exercise my stealth skills and sneak into their hotel for a free bed Saturday night (or I guess it was more like half a bed…).

Good thing, because today I had a glorious, rather extravagant lunch date with my friend Jen (the one I met in Capri who studies in Rome). The last of the Syracuse kids left EARLY this morning, so I took a nice shower, packed up, and confidently asked the guy at the front desk where I could leave my bag for the day. So badass, haha.

I spent the morning wandering through the rainy, deserted, Sunday-morning streets, unintentionally found myself at the one coffee shop in all of Rome that I was specifically told to visit (Caffè St. Eustachio; I was actually waiting in line at a caffè across the street but the line was too long, so I popped into the nearest alternative, right across the street, which turned out to be THE place to get a fantastic cappuccino. Sa-WEET.), so I got myself a delicious cappuccino and my favorite kind of apple-raisin pastry and set off to stroll by the sights I hadn’t seen yet. Come lunchtime Jen and I met up for an incredible, unexpected brunch BUFFET at an acclaimed restaurant she had always been looking for an excuse to try, called Gusto, and OH MAN. SO good. 15 minutes and €60 later, the two of us had shoveled veal piccata (animal-lovers, don’t kill me! It was my only offense!), rigatoni pesto baked with Romano cheese, MOUNTAINS of every variety of fresh, grilled and sautéed vegetables that you can imagine, plus 4 different kinds of cake onto our plates and into our mouths, and spent the next three (yes, THREE) hours gabbing and finishing the bottle of Pinot Grigio we ordered (it was past noon, okay??), ultimately catapulting ourselves into the deepest food-coma I’ve experienced in a good long while. Our grand plans to check out the well-received Rothko retrospective at the Palazzo di Exposizioni went straight out the window, but we couldn’t have cared less – the food, the wine, and the fantastic conversation made a perfect end to my Roman holiday. Now nothing sounds more enticing than stepping off this train and snuggling into my nice warm bed. Va bene? Va bene.

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