Friday, June 13, 2014

Katie meets Rome as Our First Scholarship Winner in 2008

August 20, 2008

Our grand adventure here in Rome began today at 8:30 am when we arrived in the airport and took a speedy ride through the city to our quaint little Italian apartment in the center of Rome, about 15 minutes walking distance from all the great major landmarks and monuments. We got settled in and then Kim and I set out to explore our surroundings.
We began to realize the cultural differences right away. First we stopped for a quick bite at a street side “ristorante” or restaurant, and since the menus were all in Italian, I just picked a sandwich off the menu and I had no clue what was going to be inside. It turned out to be spinach, mushrooms and cheese, a very healthy choice. Then there was the joy of trying to figure out if we could add a tip on the receipt from a waitress whom we couldn’t understand. From there we headed to a bank to try to get some cash out. Kim inserted her card several times into the machine and entered the amount she wanted, then the machine said take your card out in thirty seconds, but every time she took it out the transaction canceled. So, she tried just leaving it in past the thirty seconds—this was lesson number two for the day. Apparently in Italy if you don’t remove your card in time, the machine eats it, and as you can imagine this freaked us out just a little. Then we walked around to the front of the bank and no one was inside. Well, eventually everything got settled and we got the cash and were able to stop and enjoy a quick cup of superb gelato. It was a bit of a culture shock, but we just began to realize that life is different here and everyone operates on a different system.
From there we headed back to the apartment for a quick power nap to try to defeat our jet lag, and then set out to meet up with our Italian guides Petulia and Jessica. They gave us an impromptu tour that turned out to be incredible. I learned so much about the history of the art in the churches and the buildings themselves. One thing I saw that I was not expecting at all were the paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi. The church was full of paintings, but at the end was a little corner nook with paintings by Caravaggio. Walking up you can only see one painting, and as we were approaching I was telling Jessica how much I loved the Caravaggio painting titled “The Calling of St. Matthew.” Little did I know that as I rounded the corner, there it was, in all its glory. I literally almost fainted because I couldn’t believe that this picture I studied so much in art history class back home was actually there before my eyes. Art truly became alive to me today and I realized that what you see in your textbook is incomparable by all means to the real thing.
From there we went on to see the majestic Pantheon where Raphael, one of my favorite Renaissance painters, was buried. The Pantheon itself was so remarkable and to think that people actually built something so complex so many years ago absolutely blew my mind.
Today was a very overwhelming day, but in the best sense. The information that I took in was priceless, and I’m only more excited for the coming days.


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