Third installment of the Italy Spring Break 2011 Travel Journals!
Yes I know I already have two, but this is right out of my journal that I wrote day-to-day when I was there. I haven’t bothered to write them all out until now but it’s summertime now so I might as well.
These will probably be whiny, as I was very whiny and tired and cranky when I actually wrote them. Also they are like play-by-play so you’ll probably be bored to death lol.
10 April 2011 (Saturday)
I got up just before 5 this morning to finish last minute packing, and I even managed to fit in a quick conversation with Megan. Emily was already incredibly snappish. It wasn’t long or difficult at the airport, but I had to sit next to some random dude because Reade ditched his seat…[skipping out some because this is just ridiculous, this is nothing about Italy wtf] The drive to the hotel was kind of dumpy. It reminds me of both Romania and Poland. Emily, Reade and Mom had no interest in exploring this rather podunk part of town, so Dad and I went out. We walked one way, found a map that made it clear we were WAY far away from the place we went to last time. In any case we headed the other way, and initially towards this church/museum thing, then we just started walking down the street. We walked for a long time and I started to want to go back, but I didn’t want to be holed up in the hotel so I kept walking. We ended up at this cool little street market where I bought pink sunglasses. Here:
…[skipping more because I’m a whiny bitch]…
I offered to take Emily and Reade to the little market. We headed that way, but it was just closing down as we got there. We got some strawberries.
…[holy crap pages and pages of me whining]…
Gah. Eating in restaurants in foreign countries is just so incredibly difficult. I hate difficult things.
…[skippy skippy skippy skippy]…
Next Morning (Day 2)
11 April 2011, 12pm
Just finished Pompeii trip!
The car ride there was bumpy but so enjoyable. The atmosphere of this place is nothing like Romania, although physically it looks similar. This countryside looks thriving, full and robust. I love it. We had our own tour guide. He was funny and awesome and his name was Ezio.
[Aw damn did we not get a single picture with Ezio? RIDICULOUS! He was awesome!]
It was so fascinating. I loved it. There were all these little things that I never would have noticed, had it not been with a guide. Like little openings in the curb to tie your horse to.
[you can’t really see them here, but they’re there]
We saw erotic frescoes lol. And I got TONS of Bulbasaur/Orangey pictures.
[as you can see]
Honestly I am going to write Glee fanfictions of this SO HARD.
I love spending time at the outdoor markets where the guys try to sell you stuff. If I could, I would buy EVERYTHING.
[mostly the giant dongs, though]
We’re in the car heading back towards Naples. Hopefully we can stop in the square or museum before we go to Rome. What an amazing country!
Tons of Vespas and Mopeds. Reade called it a “moped parade.”
Emily got a dick in Pompeii lol. It’s great and perfect for her. Mom is clearly uneasy about it. Aha ha ha ha.
I love seeing ancient cities. I wish I could walk around alone there forever. Our guide was so chill and cool, especially about the sex lol. Sex was far less bad back then. :)
New travel commandment: no cruise ships.
Ok! Well. I wanted to go back to that plaza, but all things considered, it was probably best that we didn’t. The plaza was around something like Triste di Trento. Or something. So we headed to the archaeological museum. We were there for a while - I could have wandered for hours - but Emily and Reade’s feet were dragging so we headed back to the hotel.
[this is Emily, Reade and I being cool kids in front of a statue. in case you couldn’t tell.]
We stopped for food at that little place we saw yesterday…I got a mushroom pasta ish dish? It was delish. We walked all the way back to the hotel and the taxi got there super quickly…At the train station, Emily and I went off to spend some money. I guess initially we were going to do so in order to piss off the parents, but we ended up just buying some candy. We bought a pair of socks for Emily then just headed back to our seats. Now I think Emily is much more calm but it smells like smoke here and I don’t like it. Hopefully we can just get on the train soon. When we get to Rome I think I’ll just go to sleep. I am tired. I might write some Italy!Glee now because I’m bored and inspired.
It’s be cool if we could find Holly and Brian’s hotel.
It’s so weird that we sent them to Rome in April. It’s like we’re actually acting it out. Aweeeeeeesome.
My head hurts! We got to the hotel and I tried to sleep…At least the bed’s softer than in Naples. Got an Angels and Demons tour tomorrow. Think I got a Death Note idea. I shall write some.
12 April 2011
Woke up early today…We took a totally crowded metro ride to the place and things kind of sort of improved. Our tour guide Roberto was so smart. He was awesome and he knew like everything. He approached sensitive topics (Catholic church, Vatican City, etc.) very well. I really appreciated it.
We saw “Santi’s Tomb”
[the first church in Angels and Demons, I believe, the earth one]
Then we went and saw St. Peter’s Basilica, right in Vatican City. So cool!
[the second place in Angels and Demons, right?]
We saw the Ecstasy of St. Theresa! Wow! I’ve literally looked that up because I was so interested in seeing it, and we saw the REAL THING!
We headed to Castel St. Angelo, that has the angel with the sword pointing downward, but we had to leave early to catch our next tour. I got tons of Bulbasaur pics, though.
After some more angriness, a taxi, and more irritatedness, we’re now on the bus for our next tour.
BTW, Dad, it’s pronounced BulbaSAUR, not BulbaZOR.
Anyway. I am still very jealous of those at home. What’s the point of going to these wonderful places if you can’t get what you want most? In any case, I would trade any vacation to be back home. I’m thinking of Megan a lot. I can’t wait until she visits.
So many ancient ruins right beside modern buildings. The Pantheon is surrounded by newer buildings! And the Pantheon is OLD.
[from within the Pantheon]
Just two more full days here, I believe. Hopefully I won’t kill anyone.
The Angels and Demons tour was seriously interesting. I feel honored to have seen so much.
Mom was terrible during the ancient ruins/Coliseum thing. But I’ll not dwell on that.
Tomorrow we have nothing except a crypts and catacombs thing. I’ll sleep tons and then eventually get up to chill by the fountain
[honestly I don’t know what I mean there]
Things will go well if we can just keep each other up. OPTIMISM!
Two more days of Rome, I believe.
Took a shower. How absurd. A shower in Rome.
I wish Megan were here.
13 April 2011
Wow! What a day! I slept until 11ish and I had a headache, but things got rolling very soon. We walked to the um Fontana di Tritone I think.
[this was the square we waited and it was fantastic]
We had some gelato, then waited for our Crypts and Catacombs tour to begin.
I do in some sense, feel this city. It feels ancient, and riddled with cracks and holes for demons and other mythology to nestle, besides the rush of cars and tourists that is modern Rome. It almost feels like a risk, or a connection. Whatever it is, it makes me feel alive and, to some degree, home.
We boarded a bus for the tour, and were already feeling a lot better. We went to these catacombs that I can’t exactly recall the name of?
But they were donated by a Christian relative of the pagan emperor. She was later exiled, but the catacombs were used for many years. Our tour guide, Graham, was adorable. It was fascinating.
All underground with small narrow slits where bodies would go. The passageway itself was extremely narrow as well. Emily got a little claustrophobic, I think, and she held my hand. I thought it was absolutely amazing. Christians were buried there for 100s of years - being cremated was a Roman thing which Christians didn’t follow. They believed they needed their entire body for the resurrection that would come with the Second Coming. As it is a holy burial site we weren’t allowed to take any pictures except for outside (which we then did)
Then it was back on the bus to the church of St. Clement (Basilica of San Clemente).
There was a courtyard outside the church where people would “purify” themselves by washing their feet and confessing their sins before they could enter the actual church. On the inside the church was decorated in a very medieval style. Except of course during the Renaissance, they had added a lot including a gigantic ceiling. St. Clement was martyred when the Romans tied an anchor to his feet and threw him into the Black Sea. The anchor became his symbol (as well as a symbol for Christ) and it was EVERYWHERE. Below the church is the ancient street level, and an old like 12th century basilica with amazing frescoes: all the columns were different and not uniform, because they had nicked them from various pagan temples. They keep compared Rome to lasagna, layer upon layer, and they all say they “recycled” old buildings.
Below that was an ancient Roman apartment complex. Wow! It even had running water, something they heard in the basilica for 100s of years without knowing where it came from.
One of the most popular old religions was the worship of Mithras…or something. We don’t know much about them because it was a little like a secret order, with a hierarchy. Although there was a small temple room to him, which was decorated to look like a cave (Mithras was born in a cave). Sooo cool.
Also, back in the catacombs, there was a part with graffit way back 100s of years. One sayd 1718 - another said:
WOW. Dude. Wow.
Anyway, lastly, we went to this church I think of the Immaculate Conception, where an order of Franciscan monks called Capuchin or something live. These monks take an extreme vow of poverty. There are 4 or 5 rooms completely covered in bones.
[We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but here’s one from Wikipedia]
It was eerie, almost unreal. No pictures were allowed there either, but it was amazing. When Italy officially became a country, using human remains as decoration became illegal, so whenever a piece of bone (and there must be THOUSANDS of skeleton pieces covering those chapels) falls now, it has to be buried - it can’t be put up again. Surprisingly, despite being a few hundred years old, mostly everything is still there. It smelled sweet, like flowers, which was strange. There were various whole skeletons, men in robes and all, lying in little alcoves or propped up on the wall. The ones from a few hundred years ago were very small - their diets weren’t as good as ours, so they didn’t grow very large. As the rooms went on, they got slightly bigger. The rooms were called, like, the Room of Skulls or the Room of Pelvises and, lastly, the Room of Skeletons, devoted entirely to a sort of “memento mori” idea. Remember, you will die.
Everything is earthly - you can’t take anything with you. Fascinating.
There were two young girl skeletons in that room, as well as a skeleton on the ceiling holding a scythe and a balance, representing the Angel of Death. A scythe is used to represent that everyone will be cut to the same size in death; the use of the balance is fairly obvious.
There was also an inscription on the floor that said something like:
“We were once as you are - you will be like us soon.”
[The actual inscription that I couldn’t remember then is “What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…”]
It felt…strange. Like words from our long lost ancestors. Not like the skeletons were speaking to us; I understood they were long dead. but rather they had left a message before they died, knowing completely well that people in the future - us - would see it. That impact was incredible and resounding to me.
In one of the rooms, there was a body tucked in one of the alcoves, and it still had skin on it, as if it had been mummified or something. But this body had been in the open air for 100s of years. The guide said there really was no explanation as to why the skin was still there. I don’t know how I feel about miracles but this was absolutely amazing and scientifically unexplainable. It was a little humbling.
[will pick up directly here with part 4]