“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Although we woke up in Rome, it only took us 90 minutes to end up in a different country! The Vatican, an independent nation, was our first stop of the day. It even has its own stamps and postal system. Our guide for the day, Carla, was very thorough in her descriptions throughout the tour, but particularly so when we arrived at the Sistine Chapel. Her discussion of the frescos, including The Creation of Adam and The Final Judgement, revealed much about the character of Michelangelo and of the historical and political climate of the time in which he worked. From the Sistine Chapel we worked our way towards the enormous and opulent St Peters Cathedral where we saw the Pieta and paused for a group photo outside before breaking for lunch.
We jumped chronologically back in time in the afternoon with an awe inspiring visit to crown jewel of Rome’s historical sites: the Coliseum. Carla explained both the history of the building itself, and of its uses in Classical Roman times. We learned that the white marble which would have served as seats in Coliseum, had been repurposed in the Renaissance and now adorned the floor of St Peters – the very same floor we had just walked on this morning. The molten metal which had been poured between holes in the stone foundations of the Coliseum had long since been carved out by Romans in the Middle Ages who recycled the materials into metal implements. Arian managed to impress Carla with his knowledge of the gladiatorial slave revolts, and of a couple of the Latin inscriptions! From the shade of the Coliseum we moved out into the hot sunshine over the Roman Forum, which was the final stop on our tour. At that point the students had some much anticipated time to see other sites in small groups, or to go do some shopping. Most did the latter. But a few decided to go for some gelato… a lot of gelato. Suffice it to say, David has secured his title now as the gelato champion. Our only hope now is that he isn’t sick to his stomach later! Dinner tonight was penne pasta with bruschetta, salad and fruit for desert. Another great, full day of exploration comes to a close. We managed to walk in the footsteps of Popes, Gladiators and Emperors, and truly “do as Romans do”. Tomorrow is our final full day in Rome, and in Italy. We are looking forward to making the most of it!