Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Villa Giulia and Borghese Gardens

Friday October 10th

We went to another museum today in the Villa Giulia. This was built by Pope Julius III as one of his getaways. This place was massive, it amazes me to think that this was just the Pope's getaway place. Now it is a museum filled with Etruscan and Roman art, so we had to visit. Museums are vey tiring, I think it's harder to be in a museum for a few hours than to walk up and down hills all day (no exaggeration). There were a lot of cool artifacts in here such as a sarcophagus with a couple on top and some really cool metal work. We walked around for a few hours, it's funny to notice how at the beginning of this excursion we were all taking a million pictures but now we mostly just look at everything. I'm not sure if this is because we are too tired to take anymore, finally realized we'd have to go through them all after, or if we just stopped caring about documenting things that are so similar to one another. After the museum we were free to roam again, some went back to the hotel, other went to the modern art museum, I was museumed out so I went to the Borghese Gardens for some alone time and relaxation. It was so nice to be free of the city and go in the gardens. It was really pretty here too, as most gardens are, and I took a bunch of pictures here (probably because I haven't seen green in a while), and here they are!
The Reclining Couple Sarcophagus.
A neat claw/frog thing.
A cool little fountain thing in the Villa Giulia.
More Villa Giulia.
A praying mantis friend that we were all swarming around.
Look how popular he is.
I chilled at this fountain for a while.
More fountain.
Look at the drips, so wow.
I was really enjoying this fountain.
Turtlies! He has a feather over his eye, I suspect he got in a tussle with a bird.
Look mom muscovys exist in Italy.

Pantheon/ Markets of Trajan/ Circus Maximus etc.

Thursday October 9th

Today we saw a bunch of things, it was very busy so I'll keep it short for everything or else this post will take forever. We started off with the Pantheon, which was really cool on the inside since we had only ever been on the outside of it. Next we went to the Markets of Trajan, this is where people would have their shops and markets (obviously) pretty cool to see it still here. Then we walked farther down the streets to find the Theater of Marcellus, not as impressive as the Colosseum but still standing and there are actually a couple floors of apartments build right on top of it (this tends to happen a lot in Rome, ancient things just get things built over the top of them). Then we went to the Temple of Portunus dedicated to the safety of seafarers, I had to present here about the history of the temple as we were all give topics to talk about either in Sicily or Rome. On we went to the Temple of Hercules Victor/ Vesta since they don't know which one it actually is, I also had to present this temple. And then we went to the Church of Saint Mary in Cosmedin, though it is not of the ancient or imperial era, it is thought to hold the Ara Maxima (Great Altar of Hercules) in the basement floor (and I had to present again here). The Great Altar of Hercules is actually a really cool thing, it is the oldest known temple dedicated to Hercules and is though to predate any sort of religion in Rome (super old). Lastly we went to the Circus Maximus where chariot races took place, this place is still used and when we were there they were setting up for a political fair thing. After this we were free to roam on our own, I went and bought way too many art supplies because the brushes and paper I had were very bad quality. After that I actually watercolored a bit since we had 10 sketches due pretty soon and I only had one done. Then we went out to the Irish pub again, not for food, and were going to listen to the band but the sound check was going terribly so we didn't stay long for that. Now on to the real issue with european countries, I don't know if this is just an Italian thing but every public restroom I have used tends to not have a toilet seat. I don't understand the point of this, its a very unsettling situation to have to go so bd only to find a missing toilet seat. It's not like they don't exist, the holes the seat attaches to are there just no seat. If there is some kind of toilet seat thief running around Italy I would kindly ask him or her (probably him since a her would understand the struggle) to stop on behalf of every girl that has to use those facilities. And to the pictures we go!
Pantheon in the daylight.

Some carriages in front of the Pantheon,  really like this picture for some reason.
Aww ponies.
Column of Trajan.
Theater of Marcellus, see the addition on the top.
Temple of Portunus.
Temple of Hercules Victor/ Vesta.
Some nice candles. 

The Capitoline Museum

Wednesday October 8th

Today we spent 5 hours in the Capitoline Museum. Five hours is a very long time to spend in a museum, even if its filled with amazing sculptures that are thousands of years old. I'll keep this post rather short because it was a very repetitious day going from room to room looking at very cool sculptures. My absolute favorite was of the Dying Gallic Trumpeter, this sculpture was originally made in the Hellenistic (Greek) and the Romans loved it so much they had to copy this piece. It is absolutely amazing, at this point in art history the artists not only made sculptures of the idealized victors of war and battle but we see them sculpting this dying gallic trumpeter, he is clearly the loser and he is not of the Greek army. I just thinks its a wonderful sculpture and the tribute to the enemy is fantastic. I love the Hellenistic era of art so much, there are loads of different sculptures being made that break the norm. After a long day in the museum we went to an Irish pub for dinner (this one was much better than the one in Taormina) and had beef in Guiness, thats right beef soaked in Guiness and mashed potatoes on top. This my friends was heaven after eating nothing but pasta and pizza. Whilst taking Italian we have learned that the word for enough is basta, I find it quite amusing to say basta pasta because we have all had enough pasta to last a lifetime. Well enough of that, on with the pictures!
Now I'm sure everyone knows about my disdain for feet, but somehow I find sculpted feet beautiful (I think it's because they don't make them look grotesque). Anyway this is a massive foot, like a cat can curl up in the toe nail, it is a piece of Constantine the Great sculpture. Pretty cool.
The Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (the good emperor in Gladiator). The only reason this sculpture didn't get melted down is because people though for a while it was Constantine (hello Constantine never had a sick beard).
Commodus as Hercules (yes the same Commodus in Gladiator that kills his father shown above, though it is highly unlikely that happened or that Maximus killed him but whatevs). He was a really bad emperor though so the movie got that right, his memory was actually damned after he was killed (in a bathtub).
E tu Brute (bust of most likely Brutus who helped kill Julius Caesar).
The She-Wolf that Romulus and Remus were supposedly brought up by (the babies weren't added to this sculpture till way later).
Medusa head, she looks so sad (did you know she was made ugly because Poseidon raped her in the temple of Athena and Athena got pissed so she made her super ugly, just another example that life is not fair, poor Medusa).
The feet are just so cool, I think this was Athena's foot but I don't remember.
The Dying Gallic Trumpeter, so freaking cool. Look at his bleeding wound.
Full shot of him, plus Meagan in the background, his trumpet lays around him broken like he is.
Look dad he even has a mustache.
This Flavian women had crazy hair, but I liked the silhouette and the window.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Colosseum (and other things but most importantly the Colosseum)

Tuesday October 7th

Forget what I said about Zingaro, today was really the best day so far. I mean Zingaro was awesome but nothing can compare to going to the Colosseum. We started out the day visiting the cat sanctuary, our group is very cat oriented. Along with it being a cat sanctuary it is also a historical site of three crumbled up temples, only the very base remain of most of them, and this is where the cats live. How cool are these cats though to get to live in temples that are thousands of years old. Honestly we were more excited about the cats than the temples. We then went to the Palatine hill (which is one of the 7 ancient hills Rome was founded on) and glanced at the massive Victor Emmanuel building, but it was just recently done so it was not one of our stops, this building is very impressive. We saw the Arch of Titus and a temple dedicated to the Vestal Virgins along with the house of the Vestals. For lunch we all split up and my group found this great place with an awesome deal (12 euro for a pizza of your choice a glass of wine and dessert, you can't go wrong with that) and the place had the best view ever, we were eating right next to the Flavian Amphitheater (the Colosseum for those of you who don't know). After lunch we saw the Arch of Constantine (a little less impressive than the Arch of Titus) and finally we got to tour the Colosseum. I can't even begin to describe my awe of being in the Colosseum and being able to touch the walls and columns. Many of you know of my love for the movie Gladiator and I just couldn't contain myself I had to quote a bunch of lines from it and I nerded out and bought a little Maximus helmet pendant (even though I could have gotten a cheaper one outside, it had to be from the Colosseum, I'm weird). I never wanted to leave but we had to, it broke my heart to though. Later that night we had tickets to a light and sound show about Augustus (it is the 2000 anniversary of his death which is a pretty big deal I guess). Before the sound show though I got some great night shots of the Colosseum since it was close by. Oh how I love the Colosseum. It's just massive and amazing, I can't understand how they built something so large so long ago and it only took 10 years (about the same time as those mosaics, now you tell me which is more impressive). I also can't understand how people could have let something to wondrous crumble away and be destroyed, I will never forgive the Holy Roman era for letting this happen unacceptable! Any who enough of my rant and on with the pictures!
Some of the sculptures on the fountains designed by Bernini. The poor horse, the stupid kid won't let go.
You tell that octopus who's boss Poseidon.
Another silly child hanging from a horse.
Water breathing dragon!
A kitty cat from the cat sanctuary.
More silhouettes and sunbursting. This is either Castor or Polux, I'm not sure which.
Arch of Titus (its very super detailed)
Really cool wing sculpture.
My view from lunch (you're all jealous I know).
Arch of Constantine (less cool) (but still pretty cool).
Ahhhhh. The Colosseum. So close.
Eghad! I'm in side the Colosseum. 
Such wow. So Colosseum. (Sometimes I think I'm funny).

The outside of the Colosseum, I really wish the scaffolding would go away.
The Colosseum at night. So pretty. I could stay here forever.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Catania to Rome

Monday October 6th

Today was a very long day. We didn't have to check out of the hotel until 11 so we had all morning to sleep in. I on the other hand decided to take my one day to sleep in and wake up at 7 to go to the fish market. Going to the fish market early in the morning by myself was quite an experience let me tell you, mostly everyone was just setting up their tables. I walked through and was looking at all the fish everywhere which was actually pretty cool, they have some massive fish in Sicily I guess, there were also butchers and fruit people (what do you call someone who sells fruit? maybe produce people?) and spices laid out in burlap sacks. Anyway the guys setting up were very excited to see me taking pictures so they were all calling me over to their booths and stands to take pictures of their things. It was a little unsettling to be around all the fishermen by myself when I can't understand the language very well, but it was a really cool experience to get to see all the cut up fish and meats without all the hustle of when the market gets full. I walked around Catania for a little after that taking pictures and then went back to the hotel where most people were finally getting up. Once everyone was up and ready for the day we all went back to the fish market as a group, it was about 10 by this point so the market was much more lively than when I was first there. It was fun to go back when everyone was haggling with each other and interacting, even if I didn't know what they were saying. One butcher saw me taking pictures of him and called me over to take a picture with him so I obliged, while he was a very willing subject of photos some others looked at me very grumpily when they saw me snapping away. It is quite the different experience walking around a city with a group, no one really pays attention to you then, compared to being by yourself, you just feel like people are watching you even if they're not. Sadly we had to leave the fish market to get back to the hotel so we could mosey on over to the airport. There was a little confusion about what bus station to go to and we got slightly separated but we all met up at the airport so all is well. The plane ride was nice and short, thankfully, the bus ride to our hotel though was quite the opposite. We landed in Rome at 4ish and we did not make it to the hotel (which is in Rome) until 8. Lets just say we were all very tired by the end of the day. But being in Rome we had to do a little bit of sightseeing before we went to bed. We took a quick look at some fountains designed by Bernini (if you don't know who Bernini is you should look him up, he was an amazing sculptor) and the Pantheon. After that we finally got some much needed shut eye.
The view from our hotel roof top, which is where we eat breakfast (and watch lightning).
Looking up at our lovely hotel from the ground, so much greenery!
The church in the Piazza Duomo (sp?) ,its super pretty though.
Some fish merchants.
Yum, Wilbur.
A look at the street full of fish and produce people and meat people. There are a lot of streets too, so many.
Grumpy old man smoking, this is pretty much Italians summed up in one picture. Except they're actually all really nice so far (er most of them anyway).
Silhouetted fountain plus sunburst.
This is when I went back the second time. Poor fishy, he lost his body.
Yummy, yummy.
I think this is sheep, but honestly it's hard to tell when they're in half and have no skin so it could be a chicken for all I know.
The now crowded streets.
He wasn't happy about the pictures, oh well.
The guy looking at me is the one that made me take a picture with him, unfortunately Cassandra has that photo or else I would post it.
The Pantheon in Rome, I love Rome.