Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Final Blog

So here it is. My summer in Rome has come and gone. I vividly remember sitting in Vermont on March 10th with my dad and brother (we were on a ski trip) and commenting that I had exactly two months until I left for Rome. Well, it came and it went again. It is Wednesday afternoon here in Rome (Wednesday morning for those of you back home) and we have just finished class for the summer. Tomorrow I will finish packing, say my goodbyes to friends that I made and then Friday morning I board the plane at 9:45am for the 11 hour flight to Chicago. Once there I have a layover for three hours and then it's back to Pittsburgh where my brother and mother will be waiting for me. The point of this post is to remind you all again what my purpose was this summer. I specifically looked at three areas this summer and those three areas are what comprised a majority of my blog entries here. I looked at photography in Rome by showing some of my own shots, looking at other peoples shots and also looking at equipment. I also spent a lot of time on Viale di Trastevere, which is the main road in the town we live in. I checked out many different coffee shops and restaurants and reported my findings back to you all. Lastly, I spent a lot of time at the various water fountains in Rome. Whether they be drinking fountains or monumental style fountains, they were all enjoyable. This summer was full of so much excitement that I am not sure what to expect when I arrive in Pittsburgh at 6:45pm on Friday. Hopefully things will be the same as when I left. I am looking forward to sharing stories with my family and friends and we all promised that we would keep in contact with one another as much as humanly possible during the summer and the up coming fall semester. I feel like I may have made some life lone friends here, and I hope that I am right. For now I would just like to say thank you. Thanks for reading this and for commenting on it. I made a personal promise to myself that I would be back to Europe within the next five years. I hope I can keep this promise to myself. I'll see you all soon. Ciao.

Fontana del Pantheon

The fountain that is centrally located in the Piazza della Rotanda (the Pantheon) is one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome, in my opinion. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and is the work of Leonardo Sormani, the marble sculptor. It was also used as a central location for the shooting of Angels and Demons, which I mentioned a week or so ago. If you stand at a far and look at the fountain it looks amazing, but get closer. It turns into a whole new looking fountain if you walk right up to it. The details on this marble giant are great! The one downside of the fountain is that, at least while we were in town, it is always covered with large bugs. The water seems to attract them. Oddly though, I have seen them on no other fountain but this one. This is a great place to hang out on a hot day. Be sure to dip your hands in the cool water and put it on your hot, sunburned neck. It will make you feel a whole lot better. Or, grab some wine or gelato and simply lounge in the shade that sometimes (depending on the time of the day) circles the fountain. It is a hectic area, but around the fountain it gets quiet. If you find yourself in Rome, treat yourself to an evening spent at this location. You will not be let down.

Viale Di Trastevere

As I finish up my last 2 days here in Trastevere I find myself wandering the streets more and more just taking it all in. I love being able to interact with the Italians as much as I can. Whether it be something as simple as ordering coffee or something more complicated as telling a waiter that I don't want anchovies on my pizza, it's been a pleasure to have the chance to interact like we have gotten to. I am so tempted before I leave to give a few Euro to the homeless people that I have seen and said hello to everyday for the past seven weeks, but I am not sure whether that is the best idea. More specifically, I feel that the man in front of the pharmacy that I pass everyday may be one the nicest homeless people that I have interacted with in my life. He has nothing but a sleeping bag, cigarettes, and a bottle for water, but he is always smiling. Makes me want to re-evaluate my priorities. We have been eating at the same restaurant pretty much every day now, and the food keeps getting better. Whether is be sausage pizza or cold tomato, eggplant, onion, and cheese salad, it is all good because we are in Rome. I know it sounds very cliche, but when in Rome, do as the Romans. I feel that we have done our best to show Trastevere that we are willing to mold and conform to their standards as much as we have to in order to be accepted as residents of their quiet little suburb.

Piazza Navona Photography

After spending more time in Piazza Navona than any other space in Rome, I have had the chance to see some great artwork. The one thing that strikes me as interesting though is that out of the dozens of artists who have booths set up in Piazza Navona, I have only seen one that sells original photos from Rome. I strolled over there the other afternoon on my way to Kevin's apartment and found that, sadly, the photos were nothing special. The photographs that were being sold were of sites that anyone can photograph, anytime they want. Ever since the age of digital photography it seems very unrealistic to set up a booth selling photos that anyone can take with a little time and patience. I am not trying to sound cocky at all, but the photos of the Colosseum that were for sale were not of as good a quality as mine are. If I would have thought that I had a chance to make some money off of my photos here in Rome I would have set up a booth weeks ago! I do give these gentleman credit though, they are trying to use their talents to support themselves. I just can't justify spending 10 Euro on a photo that I can take by myself.

Gallery Doria Pamphilj

Last week we had the opportunity to visit the Gallery Doria-Pamphilj which is conveniently located next to our class space here in Rome. The main reason I went was to see the Carravagio paintings. After viewing the ones here I have seen all but two that are left in Rome. Considering we have only 2 days left, I don't think that I will have time to go and find them. The paintings in this gallery were his earlier works, so they did not really resemble his work that I have become accustomed to here in Rome. Nonetheless, it was good to see the progression that he had made during his life as an artist. Also inside this gallery was a chapel that is actually in the room located right above where we have had class everyday for the past 7 weeks. In this chapel are the bodies of two saints. It is weird to think that for the past 7 weeks we have been having class underneath two dead saints. If you find yourself in Rome, make sure you leave time to visit this gallery. It is said to be one of Romes best!

Villa Doria-Pamhilj

This past Monday, June 23rd, our small group went for a morning stroll through Villa Doria-Pamhilj which is located on the hill behind our apartment. Allison had the idea to take this walk, so this is exactly what we agreed on doing. We hopped on bus 44 in Trastevere and headed up to the park. It was a truly amazing place. There were acres upon acres of fields, ponds, statues, gardens and trees. It was a nice break from the hectic space of downtown Rome. The Doria-Pamphilj family still has a mansion in the villa that they live in. It was a beautiful stone mansion surrounded by gardens of roses and hedges. After we strolled through the park for almost two hours we caught bus 44, again, to Piazza Venezia and then walked to get lunch. We got pizza and sat on the wall behind the Pantheon while we shared each others company and just talked about our experiences in Rome. We then went and got gelato at Rome's most famous gelateria, Gioliti's. I had just eaten a large lunch so I passed on the gelato. I hope to get it sometime in my next 2 days left here in Rome!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fontana dei Fiumi-Fountain of the Four Rivers

The Fontana dei Fiumi, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers, is the centerpiece of Romes largest piazza, Piazza Navona. Currently the fountain is under construction but you can still see it almost in its entirety through the glass wall around the fountain. The fountain was designed by Bernini and was erected in 1651. The fountain stands in front of the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, and it sure is a sight to see! Roman fountains originally served many purposes such as brining water into town from the hills and also as being monuments to the Pope's that commissioned them. In the case of this fountain, it was sponsored by Pope Innocent X.
The name of fountain is meant to describe four great rivers on the four great continents of the world: The Nile in Africa, Ganges in Asia, Danube in Europe, and Rio de la Plata in America.
Most recently the fountain is one of the center points of the movie Angels and Demons, which is being filmed in Rome. Since the fountain is under construction, they are doing computer generated images of it and then recreating the whole piazza in a studio back in Hollywood. I hope it looks as good as it does in real life! Ciao!