Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Arrivaderci Roma

Last 2 days in Rome.....we did the obligatory tourist stuff.  

If you travel to Rome, the 3 day Roma pass is a good deal.  You get 2 sites/museums, metro/bus, and you get to skip the long lines of people waiting to buy tickets.

First, the Colosseo-----we have been staying close to the Colosseo, but never really looked down the street to see how close it really is.  And it's huge.  The history is brutal, bloody and sad----and really, not for the squeamish.  The entire complex has an eerie feel to it, and I was glad to get away from it.  To be in a place where killing people---via animals, or other people----was the "entertainment" just felt strange.  But, it is, indeed, a 'must see' so we saw, and moved on.

The best part of the day was the evening at the Lay Centre----this is the group that was going to provide the education pieces for our original study tour, so our friend AJ arranged for us to have dinner with the folks who live and study there, and then to visit.  They occupy part of the facility owned by the Passionist Fathers----right across the street from the Colosseo----and it is the largest garden area in the city of Rome (keeping in mind that the Vatican gardens are in the Vatican City State).  It is a beautiful place of learning, and I want to go back!

For our last day in Rome, we journeyed out of the city to Ostia Antica---the ancient ruins of the seaport city.  Fascinating, interesting, and HOT (as in lots of open areas with no shade).    Ostia dates from the 3rd or 4th century BC, and was Rome's seaport at the mouth of the Tiber.  It was a boom town, then fell into disuse when the Tiber changed course, then it was silted over-----they excavated it in the early part of the 20th century and found that it was amazingly intact.  They are still excavating, and it's a wonderful, easy day trip out of Rome----closer than Pompeii!

How to spend one last evening in Rome?  Visiting with a new Italian friend, and then back to the guest house to finish packing for an early morning!

The movie that we got to watch on the way back was timely---after spending over two weeks taking in some of the greatest art ever created, "Monuments Men"---based on the stories of the rescue of the art stolen by the Nazis in WWII---was an unexpected treat.  I had been wanting to see this film for quite some time, and here it was as a fitting conclusion to my trip to Italy.

It has been a wonderful journey---from worrying about how to navigate, the pickpockets, gypsy folks, thieves---fortunately, nothing terrible to report.  I tried, as much as possible, to become, as Rick Steves suggests, a "temporary Italian."  When you do that, it changes your perspective on so many things.  As Americans, we tend to be very judgmental of people who don't do things the way we are used to.  It was fun, on our last night, to converse with an Italian friend, who shared all the ways that Italians embarrass her----lest we think that Americans are the only badly behaved tourists.  (I will not write anything about the most badly behaved folks we encountered.....but if you ask me, I'll tell you!!)   

I find that if you travel with a basic open-ness to meeting people where they are and hearing their stories---no one cares what country you come from and what the different biases are that might be at work.  We meet as people, as part of one human family, as good world citizens. And that, my friends, is the best part of travel.

I am beginning to understand why Rome is always referred to as the "Eternal City"---so much of history, culture and art are here---as well as the center of our faith.  When I compare a trip to Rome with a trip to the Holy Land---as similar as they are in some ways, they are very, very different,  Our faith started in the Holy Land----but it was tried in Rome when it started to expand.  Jesus didn't walk in Rome---but His presence and Spirit are very much there.  


1.  On the street near the Irish Pontifical College (where we stayed)
2.  Nun.  Cell phone, St Peter's Square.
3.  Gypsy, near the Vatican Museum
4.  Cross at entrance of Colosseo
5, 6.  Colosseo
7.  Near the entrance to the Colosseo.  I post this without comment.  Hee.
8, 9:  Rome at night, from the Lay Centre.  Victor Emmanel monument and Colosseo
10, 11:  Ostio Antica
12.  Last night in Rome with our friend, Chiara

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