Monday, June 28, 2010

Rome, Italy

I spent two fast, wonderful, and tiring days in Rome.  It is indeed a beautiful city- mostly old and rarely new.  Flew over business class (nice) and back in coach (not so nice, but I slept most of the way).  I gained two new friends, and enjoyed spending time with an old friend.  Through the generosity of one of my new friends, we were able to stay in a very nice apartment directly across the street from the Vatican.  It was less than a block to the entrance of the Vatican Museum.  We toured the city, with Simona as our guide.  Being from Italy, she knew the city and shepherded us from one site to another.   On the first day, at the Trevi fountain, we ran into two of the flight attendants from our flight over.  It was enjoyable to connect with them in the midst of a crowd of tourists.  We ate wonderful Italian food, and enjoyed gelato.  We spent time walking through St. Peters and taking in the museum.  St. Peters is large and beautiful.  I realized that it is a church that honors mostly those who served the church, rather than about spirituality.  Unfortunately, many of my interior photos did not come out as good as I would have liked.  We toured the Sistine Chapel and I took a few clandestine photos of the famous Michelangelo ceiling frescoes.   There is a bit of what seems to me to be ghoulish in Roman Churches.  Bodies and skeletons are encased below alters.  Not sure why it’s necessary but in some cases it seemed liked Madame Tussaud’s without the admission fee. 

The wealth of the church is no more in evidence than in Rome.  From its gold leaf to its gold chalices, it reeks of worldly wealth.  I kept thinking of those who died in order for the church to accumulate all that it has, and how those starving the world would look upon the church’s booty. 

The city of Rome is very interesting.  I could see no signs that anything new has been built in the recent past.  I started to take pictures of the buildings thinking that I would run out of historic places to photograph.  In truth, I could take photos for a week and not run out of old, wonderful buildings to take pictures of.  Most buildings do not exceed four stories, so it is scaled for people.  The streets are narrow and there is an uneasy alliance between the auto and the pedestrian. There are few sidewalks in Rome so one frequently is walking on very uneven cobblestones.  The city does have, however, extensive public transportation, including a subway and surface trolleys. 

The Tiber River runs through the city.  We wanted to walk along its walkway, but were cautioned not to do so because of the threat of being accosted by drug dealers.  The river itself appears to be dirty, but its turbidity may have little to do with pollution. 

One major disappointment about the city is the graffiti that appears everywhere- I mean everywhere- in the city.  Beautiful old buildings have been tagged extensively.  To me, it is sad.  There are probably places that should be open to taggers (such as railway corridors) in order than their energies might be concentrated without desecrating history. 
Please enjoy my photos. 

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