Friday, April 18, 2003

European Whirl - Day 9

April 18th

Rome … Seven hills Camping

Good Friday … never imagine that I’d be in the place where Pope is at any Catholic ceremony. Kristy said that St. Peter would be closed at 3 due to the preparation of the mass; advise us to go there first. “It’s a stunning experience if you could join the mass tonight,” she emphasizing. I was thinking to join, but Let me see how my feet say about that later ^.^

clip_image002clip_image004I joined the Guided Imperial Tour excursion, 9 Euro, which I found out that it was more worth it than the gondola rider. The lady took us back the time. Began with coliseum, she’s explaining how Coliseum could keep 55,000 audiences at once, how the number the doors (where the door for the king and where the door for gladiator was), how’s the construction reinforced, how the ticketing system worked for such a massive amount of people at once (with the pre-booked seats that used statue as the booking ticket, if I can call it ticket ^.^), how the cooling system works with the cotton roof poured with water … and we got a very blue bright sky that made the Coliseum looked so pretty. The lady said that it the weather report said it’d be rain for weekend … lucky us ^.^ The white circle line on the floor is the line where Coliseum used to stand before was taken down. Many of its marble stone for the seat goes to the St. Peter Cathedral now. On the opening day, they slaughter 5000 animals!

There are many such public entertainments in Rome. It’s a way the king try to control his people in their free time, so they’d leave politic matter to those who in charge. Circus Maximus, a place where chariots racings were held, was another huge project; it could fit in 3 Coliseums! But only part was preserved now.


Roman cobble was another invention. It can stay still even after 2000 years. While I put my steps on any of the roads in Rome, I couldn’t help thinking that underneath the buildings at present time, there might be layers of cities that is impossible to dig up without destroying what above it. Just like the city of Troy in Turkey, 9 layers according to the legend, which had been dug up 7 layers by a German ‘thief’ who used archeology as a shield, but his main purpose was the diamond necklace for his mistress.

clip_image010It’s a pity that after we arrived at Campidoglio, there is too many tourists that I couldn’t hear what she said clearly. We ended the trip at the Piazza Navona where the Capitaline Hill is. Gillian and I climb up the building … another huge project to explore. It has a terrace, from where we can see the whole complex, from Coliseum, Circus Maximus to the Campidoglio. And of course the new city as well. The best part about it was, it’s free ^.^ There’s also museum inside, but we decided to rush to St. Peter Cathedral before it closed. We asked a guard how to take bus to go there, we had a one-day tram pass anyway. But the guard said that it’s better to walk, considering the bad traffic in Rome. “20 minutes only”, he said. So we walked … 20 minutes later we still third part of the whole journey. Took the bus then, it’s not difficult to find any buses.

clip_image012clip_image014On the walking way, I saw the original Trajan Pillar. I saw it before in V&A Museum London. In Elizabeth time, they made a lot of cast from Italy masterpiece. They even have the sculpture of David! Trajan Pillar is a very big column that people can actually walk inside it. It has small windows for lighting inside. It looked very big in the V&A Museum; they even had to cut the cast into 2 to be able to put into the museum. But in it actual place, it didn’t look that big. Trajan Pillar supposed to be a very colorful pillar that depicting the story of Rome, but the casting, they taken away not just the shape, but also the color *.* So what we see today is only a white well-carved pillar.


Finally we arrived Piazza St. Pietro. Half of the Piazza was closed for the preparation of the Good Friday night mass. We enter the cathedral, through the bomb inspection, to the massive decorative church. Gillian said, she wouldn’t be able to pray here … too glamour, too many painting and sculpture to see, just didn’t feel like praying while surrounded by those things. It is very glamour indeed. Not a single wall was left white. It might be not good for praying, but at least it does good for tourist attraction ^.^ Vatican has its own stamps and post office, that buying postcards and sending them from the post office become another must-to-do things in Vatican. There’re 2 post offices inside St. Paul … full with tourists ^.^

While we were inside, we saw a massive crowd waiting for something. It happened to be we were on the right time for seeing the Pope! He made his confession for the Easter celebration. As soon as he came out from the confession both, the crowd clapping hands and yelling his name. I didn’t see anything, but the tall Gillian was able to jump and say him in a glimpse. She said he was sitting on the wheelchair that was pushed by another man. I was able to catch some shots though, only their red hat ^.^


Confession room - look like a ticket booth to me, no privacy


Pieta – the only sculpture inside the cathedral that was protected with glass


Our beloved Pope


We met 2 other girl from our group on the way out. They said it’s worth it to go to the St. Sistine Chapel where the famous Michelangelo’s ceiling painting, the last judgment, was. So off we went, tried to figure out where it was since the map that Kristy gave to us didn’t cover that far. After walking for around 30 minutes, finally we found it. It actually is a museum, Musei Vaticani, 10 Euro for adult and 7 Euro for student under 26. I was lucky that my student card doesn’t print any D.O.B. It was a huge beautiful museum with lots of amazing artworks about religion. If only we had enough time, we wouldn’t just walk to find the masterpiece, which was put on the end of the gallery. It’s good though, forced us to see other things. But by the time we arrived there, at the gallery already crowded by people, we were so tired, and felt so disappointed because we couldn’t take any pictures (the only gallery that doesn’t allow any cameras on actions … just because Michelangelo’s name?). Some guards even dressed up casually, sneaking between tourists to say “no photo!” But I still managed to take one shot … see my chin in the corner?

“Rome was not built in a day”, while we only had 2 hours while we went out St. Sistine Chapel. We decided to walk nearby, before I found out that there’s a Metro station nearby Circus Maximus, where the Tower of Truth was. So we rushed again to the Metro station, arrived in the station just on time for a 10 minutes glimpse at Circus Maximus! Then we had to rush back to the meeting point if we didn’t want to spend 40 Euro on taxi back to the campsite.

Some girls stayed late at Rome for the mass …my feet decided to take just-let-you-full dinner at the campsite and miss the might-be-one-and-only chance in my life.

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