Note: I basically did all the things I planned on/tried to do 2 years ago when I came to Rome but couldn’t, hence my subtitle.
At my hostel I got an upgrade because I spoke Italian nicely. Booya.
Santa Maria degli Angeli
I came into this church a few times and I actually don’t really like it, but I finally looked up why it was important and appeared on the tourist’s maps. Here’s what I learned from my handy-dandy book: the church is interesting because it was transformed from the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian into a Catholic Church. These Italians have gotten good at refurbishment out of necessity.
Read more: Hello from Roma!
Piazza del Popolo & Santa Maria del Popolo
I also came to this church and plaza 2 years ago but my plans to see a famous Caravaggio were spoiled when the church was closed for the mid-day pause. But I came back! There was mass going on so I had to wait and the priest wasn’t going to let me in because the church was supposed to close mid-day (again!) but I begged and told him I studied art history and I came 2 years ago to see it. He let me in. 🙂 I tell you, speaking Italian, studying art history and being a cute, nice girl can get you far in Italy!
The photo below is the specific painting I came twice for. I am generally not a huge fan of Caravaggio but I love seeing what he can do with light. All of his pieces (and I’ve seen a lot these past few days!) are infused with sharp, concentrated beams of light and the light almost becomes another character in his paintings. His paintings have a theatrical dramatic feeling to them. This technique is called tenebrism.
This photo is the conversion of Paul. Here’s the story: Paul was a Roman soldier and on the road to Damascus he was struck by God and told in a heavenly manner (I’m guessing) to follow Jesus Christ and become an apostle. This is the short-short version of the story pulled from my memory, written on a train, excuse its briefness, Google for more/better information.
FYI: this was actually the only thing I “planned” on getting done today. The Ara Pacis is an altar built by Emperor Augustus to celebrate the peace he was able to bring to the Roman Empire. This peace actually lasted 200 years or so and is called the pax romana (I shouldn’t have to translate that one).
Also in the museum of the Ara Pacis was an exhibit of Impressionist works from the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Since I’ve never been (surprising, I know!), I decided to pay extra and see the show here. I have no photos but it was really nice and some very big names, a nice surprise and change from ancient Roman or Baroque art.
Read more: Roamin’ Rome
This building was originally Emperor Hadrian’s tomb (you might know him from Hadrian’s Wall in the UK and the Pantheon), but has been through many a facelift from that point on, changing into a military fort to a Vatican stronghold. Today, it is called Castel Sant’Angelo due to a miracle that I actually used in my thesis. Nerdy moment of excitement for me!
Here’s the gist: Pope Gregory the Great (he’s in my thesis) organized a procession to ask for aid to end the plague in Rome in the 6th century. He reportedly saw the Archangel Michael sheathing a bloody sword on top of Hadrian’s Tomb signally an end of the plague. The plague indeed did end a short time later. Coincidence? Yeah, I think so…but it’s a great story!
Although I’m not sure the castle was exactly worth the price, the view totally was!
The rest of my afternoon consisted of walking around the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Market, Column of Trajan and the Coliseum. I’ve already seen all of these before but it still takes my breath away to see all of these ancient buildings standing there in the center of this metropolis. It also kind of makes me think what will be left of our time in 2,000 plus years, what will people think of us by the things we leave behind? Yes, I do think very deep thoughts while wandering the city alone; I’ve got no one else to talk to!
That night for dinner I decided to be adventurous, as if the day wasn’t enough. So I invited myself to a group of 4 American boys for dinner and drinks. It was the first time I’ve had truly intelligent discussions in months; we talked about politics, international relations, globalization, education, you get the drift. I went to bed happy and exhausted, both mentally and physically.