Our final day in Rome was a particularly early one for a few keen students. Justin, Emma, and Kirsten were up at 4am with Mr Barrett to head over to the Coliseum for some amazing sunrise photos. By 7 am the early risers had joined another traveling group of students from Canada in Rome for some yoga and frisbee. At 10am the rest of the group joined up just outside the Vatican to begin the days group activities. First on the docket was a walk along Via Cola di Rienzo where the locals shop, to Piazza del Popolo. At the Piazza students broke off in to a couple of groups for different activities and lunch. The largest group followed Mr Audia up to Pincio park where they rented segways to zoom around the park on. After lunch it was on to the remarkable preserved and enormous Pantheon. It’s domed roof was, and continues to be, an architectural marvel. Evening was spent around the Piazza Navona area where students enjoyed a pasta dinner and some final souvenir shopping and gelato. Thankfully, we lucked out again and the rain held off for us. We return now exhausted to the the hotel but confident that we made the most of our Roman Holiday. Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 10am for an early afternoon flight home.
“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!
“All Roads Lead to Rome.”
While the expression may not hold the truth it once did, our road from Florence today through Tuscany did, indeed, lead to Rome. But before we reached the “Eternal City”, we first stopped along the way at the home of the famous Franciscan brotherhood in Assisi. Francis, the saint for whom the newest Pope is named, established his order in the rolling foothills between Florence and Rome. Our bus pulled into the classical medieval city just after 10am where Brother Joseph from Zambia showed our group around the different chapels of the church. We admired frescos and learned about the life of St. Francis and how his connection with nature, austere lifestyle and most importantly his work benefitting the poor were qualities which Pope Francesco hopes to champion during his papacy. In Assisi, Arian H continued his search for medieval paraphilia, but came up empty handed once more. Mr. Audia took time in Assisi to highlight the fact that our trip, historically speaking, has taken a journey back in time… starting with Venice during the height of its trading power in the 1700’s, to the Florence’s renaissance of the 16th and 17th century, to the medieval architecture and frescos of Assisi and finally to the Roman empire and the time of Christ.
Our final destination today was Rome. We first ventured into the fray of tourist throngs at the Spanish steps. High end shopping stores at the foot of the stairs pulled the girls in, preoccupying them to such a degree that they arrived back at our meeting place late. A lovely lasagna dinner mere bocks from the steps was our first Roman meal. We walked it off by making our way down to Trevi Fountain where each student took turns tossing a coins over their left shoulder in hopes of one day returning to Rome. Cole G’s toss was the most enthusiastic, almost clearing the fountain entirely. A short walk from the fountain was a gelato pit stop, and then our final bus ride of the day back to the hotel. With just our first taste of Rome, everyone is excited to be up early tomorrow, 6:15am, to explore the city more thoroughly.