September 23, 2017

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
6.28:

Missed updating my journal for a while, so I'll just have to hit the highlights of today :(

- toured Colosseum - Wow. What a sight! And to think, this was built in only 8 years!! The giant stones... no mortar!! They used a keystone.

- toured Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ruins - Also amazing. Some of the building built before Christ are just insane. Huge columns made of single pieces of stone. Still standing. It is almost unbelievable to see what the ancient Romans had built.

- saw Mamertine Prison - This is the prison where St. Peter was held before being crucified upside down. This was a very interesting place, with a hole in the ceiling where prisoners were lowered. Peter would be chained to the walls here (his chains are in a church here in Rome), with dead bodies all around, rats, and people waiting to die.

- saw the Pantheon - After seeing what we did of Rome, this was one of my favorites in terms of ancient Roman buildings. All of the other ancient Roman buildings have been damaged, but this building is almost unscathed. An incredible place. The oculus is incredible, with a beam of light hitting an area inside. Rapheal and some other significant persons are buried here. If you go to Rome, don't miss this one.

- had gelato from giolitti's - This is Rome's oldest "gelateria"

- took "where's mommy" pictures on the spanish steps - Fun pictures we sent home with mommy in a sea of tourists on the steps.

- took the subway back to the hotel and prepared to leave


6.29:

Checked out of the hotel this morning and walked over to the Termini train station (it was close to our hotel). Took a little while to figure out which train to get on, but we ultimately committed to what we decided was the right train and the right car (but disagreed with the posted signs - which was part of our hesitation). Ultimately, we were in the right place, and we met a great couple from North Carolina. We had a great chat with them, had a nap, and saw some beautiful Roman and Tuscan countryside.

Once in Florence, our hotel was just across the street, so it was quick (and cheap) to get there. We got settled and headed out to find a place to eat. We went to one of the place suggested by the hotel, but the attitude of the server and the prices on the menu quickly convinced us to try something else. We found another one and were greeted by a lovely lady who was very helpful in explaining the specials and the prices. We ate there and had a great time.

After eating, we explored a bit of Florence and then walked around the Brunelleschi's famous dome at the Duomo of Florence. Incredible. The cathedral exterior is also quite incredible. Headed back to the hotel.


6.30:

Woke up and had breakfast in our new hotel. It was good, but not as good as the breakfast at our hotel in Munich (but this hotel has free wireless internet!). Met up with our guide and headed out for a great walking tour of Florence (or Firenze as it is called here). Saw some amazing things. The Renaissance truly was born here in Florence (which is why Michelangelo's David is often used as the icon of the period). The architecture and the art are interesting, but most interesting to me is the open-mindedness of the period. This was the true reason the Renaissance flourished throughout Europe. It represented possibilities... a common man could aspire to be something greater, but using his brain and his gifts. Europe would begin thinking again, like the ancient Romans did over a thousand years before. One wonders what caused all of the Western world to stop using their brains for a thousand years. But regardless, it was in Florence that they began anew. Many of the great Renaissance sculptures are here, and quite a few of the originals are outside in the public!!! Some have been moved inside museums, but many of the great sculptures remain outside in the elements, and at the risk of crazy people who climb on them and do stupid things (Every great sculpture here and in Rome had these stories. On Michelangelo's David, there is someone's initials carved into his thigh. On Michelangelo's Pieta, someone brought in a hammer and climbed on it and started beating it. Etc.).

The tour ended in the museum that houses Michelangelo's David. Wow. What a sight to see the real thing. The guide explained so many great things to us. Why his statue was different from the one's before it (like Donatello's)... Why David appears the way he does. Why there is a tree in the background. Why his veins are so apparent. Why there is controversy over whether or not the pose is supposed to be just before or just after the battle with Goliath. Why the hands and feet appear to be enlarged. Why the toes look different. Etc. And even without all of that great info, the statue itself is truly amazing to look at. Knowing a little about how Michelangelo sculpted differently from other artists makes it even more impressive.

After the tour, we walked around and shopped a bit, and ended with a hot panini sandwich and slice of pizza from a local sandwich shop. Very good stuff. Took a nap at the hotel.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Keith said...

I like that one, "You have to wonder why man stopped using his brain for 1000 years." Made me laugh.

Sounds like a real adventure!

8:36 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

WOW! You guys are on the trip of a lifetime!! Love all your comments on the sights and scenes! Love that Christian doesnt take crap from crappy wait people! You're on vacation and deserve good service. Thanks for keeping us updated and keep the pics and posts coming! HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME!!

6:39 AM  

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