Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ancient Rome

So, it's been over two months since my last post. Why have I been MIA? A combination of several reasons, actually. The two most important being the fact that I am both busy and lazy. But, as I tell my students when they finally turn in their homework, better late than never!

These pictures are some of my favorite from Rome because they deal with one of my favorite subjects - ancient history. We visited the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. I've had a fascination with ancient life since middle school. I took world history in the sixth grade and fell in love with tales of Mesopotamia and the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Additionally, I began taking Latin in the seventh grade and we studied ancient Roman life. Seeing some of the sites I have fancied since I was younger gave me chills. Being surrounded by things so old, yet still so real, gives me a feeling that I just can't explain. It was, for a lack of a better word, magical.

One note about the Roman Forum: things aren't labeled as well as they tend to be in most heavily trafficked historic sites. For the most part, I knew I was looking at something extremely cool, but not exactly sure of origin or purpose.

I like this shot - you see ruins, litter, and flowers. Life, much?

I like this view as well. You have part of the center of ancient Rome in the foreground and the more modern capitol building of Italy (akin to our White House) in the background.

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, construction dating back to year 141. The building was converted to a Roman Catholic church as early as the 7th century.

The Temple of Romulus, one of Rome's fabled founders. The structure was Christianized in 527 and was known as the basilica Santi Cosma e Damiano.

You can climb to the top of Palantine Hill and experience a great view of the Roman Forum. Included in this shot is the Temple of Castor and Pollux (three columns to the left) and the Arch of Septimius Severus (above the temple), dedicated in 203.

Another shot of the Forum from Palantine Hill.

You can see the Colosseum...our next stop!

Most people are familiar with the historical significance of the Colosseum, or at least have heard stories of the bloody gladiator fights that happened within its walls.

Yes, I was actually there!

The interior of the Colosseum. The center oval-shaped area was actually once covered and part of the underground area where animals and gladiators were kept before being sent into the arena.

Ancient stadium seats, from which Roman citizens delighted in the horrific battles going on in the arena.

From the inside looking out. An interesting comparison of the ancient Roman structure with the more modern buildings (and even a double-decker tour bus!) just a stone's throw away. The holes in the stone of the Colosseum are actually from where scaffolding was built during the original construction of the amphitheater.

Many ancient paintings and carvings exist throughout the Colosseum. Most of them depict the gladiators themselves and battle scenes, but this particular scene is actually a map of the Colosseum (then called the Flavian Amphitheater). Also, in the bottom left corner is a depiction of the Crucifixion.

A close-up of the Crucifixion scene that was painted high above my head inside of the Colosseum.

At last, this ends my pictorial of Rome! Three more cities left - Florence, Venice, and Milan. I wonder how long it will be before I make those updates? I do plan on making this blogging a regular thing, but I feel as if I must finish updating my trip pictures before I start discussing my everyday musings and occurrences.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rome, Part II

Now that school is starting up again, I have decided it is the perfect time to continue blogging about my travels through Italy. Having to go back to work is motivating, even if I am motivated to do things other than prepare for my class. C'est la vie...

These pictures are from June 21-23 while we were still in Rome.

After dinner our first night at Cacio e Pepe, we walked back to our hostel. It was quite the scenic route. Here is the Castel Sant'Angelo, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

We also decided to walk through St. Peter's Square again so we could see how it looked at night.

The next day was slightly rainy, so we had the opportunity to go back to St. Peter's Basilica and actually go inside. The lines were much shorter when it was wet outside, so we were actually willing to wait in them. The reason the lines are so long, in addition to a plethora of visitors, is due to the strict security measures taken before you enter the basilica.

Bernini's fountain in St. Peter's Square, 1675

Up close and personal

The square was designed so the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing.

Interior dome, completed in 1590

One of several smaller domes within St. Peter's

A ridiculously famous Renaissance sculpture, Michaelangelo's La Pieta (1499)

Later, we went to the Piazza del Popolo.

The twin churches. Phallic much?

In the middle of the piazza is another Egyptian obelisk with original hieroglyphics. It was ordered to be built by the pharaohs Seti I and, his son, Ramses II.

This obelisk was originally from Heliopolis and was brought to Rome in 10 BC by Augustus. It was erected in the piazza in 1589 by Pope Sixtus V.

A church, Santa Marisa del Popolo, sits at the north end of the piazza. A chapel was first built on this spot in 1099. Tradition states that Nero's ghost haunted the site in the form of crows. The pope chopped down the tree the crows were taking shelter in and built a chapel in its place. The church was reconstructed in the 1470s and the facade was modified between 1655-1660.

On another walk, we came across this - Italy's Capitol building. It's pretty magnificent.

Walking to yet another place, we stumbled across this site. We had no idea what it was, but luckily were able to find a sign. The Largo di Torre Argentina holds four ancient Roman temples and the remains of Pompey's Theater, where it is believed Julius Caesar was assassinated. In addition to being an active archaeological site, a no-kill cat shelter is also located here, which I think makes it even more awesome.

Rome is so cool because you can randomly run into amazing historical sites and monuments without even planning to. Bits and pieces of Rome's rich history is everywhere, even outside of areas trafficked by tourists and within residential and business locales.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm a bad blogger

I'm terrible because I haven't updated in two weeks. Part of the tardiness is due to the myriad photos I have to go through to choose, but I also must blame my extreme laziness...I've got to enjoy it while I still can! The new semester starts up on August 11th and I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies, American and Louisiana history, respectively.

I've also been teaching a brief summer school session to incoming sixth graders. They're great and I love it, but I'm definitely getting spoiled by them - the regular school year certainly won't run so smoothly.

As a sort of "last hurrah" before summer break ends, I'll be spending three nights this week in New Orleans. Good food, hopefully some decent weather, lots of walking around to see my will most definitely be had.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva Italia! Rome Part I

June 20th was a day of travel. We woke up to our last morning in Croatia, finished packing our things, and took a cab to the port in Dubrovnik. We took a ferry from there to Bari, Italy. The ferry ride was about seven and half hours long. We amused ourselves by reading, playing Angry Birds on our iPhones, drinking wine, napping, and listening to the crazy, loud Italians that surrounded us. Once to Bari, we took a ride to our hostel and then went to dinner. We had delicious pizza and then went back to hit the sack.

We woke up early and went to the train station. The ride lasted for about four hours, our longest train ride while in Italy, but the views were nice and we got to catch up on some sleep. Once in Rome, we took a cab to our hostel. The hostel, Orsa Maggiore, is located inside the International House of Women (a non-profit organization) and a former convent from the 17th century. The hostel was actually very pleasant and located near Vatican City.

Our first day in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Part of Bernini's colonnade, each column is topped with a saint

St. Peter's square was designed with crowds in mind, so as many people could hear the Pope speak as possible. These chairs are set out for his weekly appearances.

This Egyptian obelisk is in St. Peter's square. It was originally erected in Alexandria, Egypt by order of Augustus around 29 BC and brought to Rome by Caligula in 37 AD. It was put up in the Vatican in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V.

Mary and I love our Catholic MawMaw. We sent her a postcard from Vatican City, which has its own postal service.

Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova. The first church on the site was built in the 4th century. The church that stands now was built between 1577-1606. There are numerous historical churches such as this in Rome.

Bridge over the Tiber river with the dome from St. Peter's Basilica in the background

In Piazza Navona, La Fontana del Moro, built in 1575

Egyptian obelisk in the center of Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (1651), with Sant'Agnese Agone basilica (1652) in the background. In Piazza Navona.

Fountain of Neptune in Piazza Navona

The Pantheon, one of the most magnificent displays of ancient architecture in Rome, was half covered by scaffolding. This, of course, must be the plight of the ancient building. However, it was still magnificent. The Pantheon was originally a temple built for the ancient Roman gods. It was destroyed, and later rebuilt in 126 by Hadrian. In 609 it was consecrated as a Catholic church and now holds historical religious sculptures and paintings, as well as the remains of the artist Raphael.

My camera could not do justice to the interior of the Pantheon, but I will share this one picture of the oculus, a circular opening to the sky.

Trevi Fountain. Legend says that if you throw one coin into the fountain, you are ensured a speedy return to Rome. Two coins into the fountain and you will find love. Three coins into the fountain will lead to a marriage...or a divorce.

A closer look at sculptures within the Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps, built in the 1700s. We sat here in the late afternoon to people-watch and write postcards. The orange house to the right is the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, where the English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis in 1821.

We had a good first day in Rome even though we hadn't had much of a plan to begin with. More of Rome will come in later posts, as I have more than 500 pictures of the city to sort through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wedding Day

Saturday June 19 - Kristin's and James's wedding day!

The wedding wasn't until four o'clock in the afternoon, so we had a good bit of the day to relax before we needed to start getting ready. We had a lazy morning, and then took a bottle of wine down to the water, lounged around in the sun and dined al fresco for lunch. We headed back to the villa around 2 so we could pretty ourselves up before calling a cab to take us to the site of the wedding.

Since it was our last full day in Croatia, we hand washed some of our clothes and hung them out to dry.

Our view down by the bay of Zaton, across the street from our villa

The green stuff is grapes...yay for homemade wine!

The site of the wedding was the terrace of the Radisson Blu, a very nice resort hotel on the coast.

Mary and I on the terrace

Gorgeous view of the sea from the terrace

There was also a very nice pool, in which all of the wedding party later jumped into

Kristin and her brother-in-law walking up the aisle

It was very hot and the sun was shining directly on us...luckily we were provided with fans!

After the ceremony, we all got on this boat, sailed around and drank champagne

View of the Radisson Blu from the boat

James and Kristin cutting the cake

After the boat ride, we went back to the terrace where toasts were made, dinner was eaten, and the party began. A Croatian jazz band provided the music and the bride and groom, along with their family and friends, drank, danced, and even swam, into the evening.

And they lived happily ever after...