So a week has passed, and I’m finally starting to get settled into my daily routine. I have class from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and also on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to noon and then again from 5:00-7:00. So all in all, it’s not too crazy as my buddy Travis Manger anticipated in his last blog. Also, I want to congratulate him and compliment him on everything.
Each day is a new adventure. I wake up and wander the town for a bit and go down to the open-air market where I try out the Italian that I am learning. Man, this place is awesome. All these meats and cheeses and fruits and just about everything you need to eat in a lifetime, all in one area that extends about six blocks. Then I return with whatever I bought and stop in to the pizza shop, which is next door to the Residence. My buddy Fabio works there, and every day I drop by to see what’s going on, and sometimes I’ll get a slice or two. I mean c’mon, what’s better than pizza for breakfast? I figured that these places wouldn’t be open if it wasn’t somewhat normal to eat pizza for breakfast.
The walk to class isn’t bad. It is a nice one, and I can make it now in about a half hour. In my art history class during my morning session we go on field trips around the city. This week we went to the capital building of Rome, which is called the Piazza Venetia. I always thought downtown Philly was nice, but there is no comparison! I never knew architecture like this could have even been possible. The structure is just enormous and around the back of it is a museum where we went in. The museum held tons of great Greek and Etruscan pieces, which were made of marble and bronze. The rarest of rare pieces are the bronze ones, because art pieces like that don’t usually last. This museum was nice, but what I was about to see next absolutely blew my mind.
We walked out of the museum to the ancient forum. This was the most amazing sight I have ever seen with my two eyes. Now, maybe it was better for me than others, but I mean I had an Ancient Roman Civilization class two years ago, and we literally spent the whole semester on what buildings were in this place. We’re talking about the Temple of Saturn, the Arches of Titus and Septimius Severus, and the Temple of Venus and Roma. These are only a few of the many structures in the forum of which you could see from on top on the capital. And in a distance, in the background of this amazing spectacle was my first glimpse of the Colosseum. Talk about breathtaking, I mean I’ve literally dreamed about being a gladiator, well, ever since I saw the movie Gladiator. I could just see myself standing in the middle of the Colosseum with thousands of people watching as I prepared for battle. I think that is a pretty good analogy of a football game.
We continued on our journey, and well actually we got lost. You see, our teacher decided to just leave us to find our way home, which was actually very interesting, and we ended up getting back (somehow). This led us right in front of the Colosseum. Words can’t describe how large this thing is. I cannot wait until we take a class tour of it.
Oh yeah, my favorite word is ciao, because it means hello and goodbye, and what’s cooler than that? And, for those of you who don’t know me, I could be anywhere and I will say “Hi” to every person I see, whether I know them or not. So why change in Rome? I had no intentions, so I just kept at my old ways, and overall, I would say that people here are generally nicer than people walking along the streets of Philly. One day when I was just being me walking to the market, I saw this older lady, so naturally I said, “Ciao.” Whoa! I don’t know what she said to me, but it didn’t sound like it was “Hello, how are you?” She continued to scream and wave her hands, and I just smiled and said “Si” (which means yes) and walked away. I had no idea at all what was going on, so I went to the guru Gianni and asked him why I just got an earful. He laughed at me and said that to the older people of Italy, you are supposed to address them with “Buongiorno” (good morning) or “Buonasera” (good night). Then he explained how it was just how older Italian women were.
On the weekends everyone travels, and I decided I wanted to see Rome more in-depth. So a couple of us went to the Catacombs. The one we went to was called St. Priscilla's catacombs. This place was crazy. Imagine a whole underground world of chapels, passageways, and burial sites. There are about four or five throughout the city of Rome. This one was smaller, but nonetheless exciting. I’ve heard that the catacombs under the Vatican stretch for more than 14 miles across Italy. That’s a lot of digging.
So my suggestions of the week: Eat gelato whenever and wherever you see it! That would be a stretch here, because it is literally on every single corner of every street. But if you have never tried gelato back home, you need to pronto! My favorite place so far, and I think the most famous gelateria, is called Old Bridge. It is right outside the Vatican. The guys that work there speak great English and when they ask us where we’re from, all of them erupt with cheers of Rocky Balboa!
Some interesting facts: The Italian culture is very rich and deep, and the Italians have their own way about things. Italian men until the official start of summer (June 21st) will wear long pants and shoes, and the Italian women wear pants, dresses, or skirts and no flip-flops. It is like 90 degrees here, and all these guys are walking outside wearing long pants. I just think it’s crazy! I walk around wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt, and I am sweating, I don’t know how they do it!
Also, it is very entertaining to see men dressed in their finest suits riding on scooters to work and women in their four-inch heels and dresses doing the same. It is really a sight to see during rush hour. Men and women dressed in their finest riding on little scooters, and everyone is a crazy driver over here. These people can make one lane into three and somehow there are not that many accidents!
Oh yes! This is a good one: Bars are really coffee shops, a latte is just milk, they sell beer everywhere (including McDonald’s), and finally, in the supermarket they have little juice boxes, but instead of juice there is wine (I can’t get over that one!).
Word of the week: Prego! – This word means way more than pasta sauce. Prego means a variety of things from “You’re welcome”, to “Come and sit down”, to “Welcome to our place!” This is just a happy word, and whenever you go anywhere to eat or somewhere new, everyone shouts Prego with a big smile on their faces.
So basically if you know Ciao, Grazie, and Prego, you can pretty much get a meal here in Italy (combined with a lot of pointing and some forming of English words into Italian).
So I leave you all with this quote: “Rome, Non Basta una Vita” – which means “Rome, a lifetime is not enough!”
I think whoever said that was onto something.