Ciao everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I have a lot of exciting adventures in store, as today, I will be reflecting on my past weekend in Rome! This trip is one that I have been reflecting on all week, as we did and saw so so much in such little time. It was an amazingly action-packed three days that I have been looking forward to telling you all about!
Our travels began early Friday morning, as we all gathered at the local train station in Florence for our first-weekend excursion to the ancient city of Rome! Shortly after our arrival, we headed right to the Metro so we could make it in time for our first tour, which took place in an entirely different nation: the holy nation known as Vatican City! Home to the Pope and some of the most astonishing artwork the world has ever seen, this country, although extremely small, is full of many extraordinary things. Thankfully, we had an expert tour guide who showed us around remarkable museums that displayed impressive statues and artistic masterpieces from the Renaissance, many of which were designed by the famous sculptor, painter, and architect, Michelangelo!
The hands of this incredibly talented artist helped create one of the most beautiful places of worship I have ever entered: The Sistine Chapel. The walls of this breath-taking chapel that was built in the 15th century are covered in beautiful frescos that depict some of the most significant stories from the Old and New Testaments, including the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation, the Life of Jesus, and a gigantic painting behind the altar portraying Michelangelo’s interpretation of the Last Judgment.
Unfortunately, no photography is permitted in the chapel, so I am unable to share its beauty with you, which is hopefully motivation for you to try to see it in person for yourself one day! I could have spent hours in this stunning chapel, and although I was sad to leave, I was very excited to learn that we were making our way over to see one of my favorite paintings of all time: The School of Athens.
The period immediately following the Middle Ages in Italy saw a great burst of prosperity that was accompanied by an increase in enthusiasm for the subjects of philosophy, literature, and art, all of which are incorporated into this famous painting. The multitude of groups conversing with one another in this painting are said to have been debating matters of the spiritual world and the physical world, both sides attempting to prove where knowledge and authority come from. The two central figures that lead this discussion are widely recognized as Plato, who is portrayed pointing towards the sky, and Aristotle, whose hand is gesturing towards the ground. This philosophical conversation that these important men appear to be having depicts the inquiry of human authority that was prevalent in Renaissance society. While many associate questioning with doubt, the citizens of Renaissance Italy believed that examination, contemplation, and effective discussion did not impede their quest for knowledge, but rather shed light on pathways of human progress that they had not yet discovered. This magnificent painting is a phenomenal representation of the spirit of the Renaissance, during which some of the world’s greatest thinkers proposed some of the most fascinating notions about authority.
Saturday quickly came along and brought with it another tour, this time of the Colosseum, which was located right around the corner from our hotel!
After spending several hours touring this large ancient amphitheater, we unexpectedly received our next tour guide: Dr. Cañadas! Having been to Rome over twenty times, Dr. Cañadas made an excellent guide, taking our group to some of the city’s most notable attractions. Starting at the Catacombs and ending at the Pantheon, in addition to everything we saw in between, made for an incredible afternoon. Even though we were all exhausted after eating a delicious outside dinner, our curiosity about the rest of the city stirred a spirit of exploration inside my friends and I, leading us to roam around the streets for the rest of the night.
As we walked, we stumbled across some of the most important sights of the city, such as the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Ara Pacis. After hours of exploring and coming to the realization that we walked a total of fifteen miles that day, me, Kelly, Aubrey, Jake, and Kayla rewarded ourselves with gelato on our way back to the hotel where we gave our feet a break and rested before our last day in Rome!
Before we made our way back to Florence, we returned to the Vatican once more to celebrate Mass at the biggest church in the world in the smallest country in the world! I could not think of a better way to spend my Sunday and was absolutely blown away by the size and beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was definitely one of the most special Masses I’ve ever attended in my life. What made the morning even more special was the presence of Pope Francis! Every Sunday, he comes out on his balcony to preach to the crowd of people that gather from all around the world to hear his words of wisdom.
While we visited his home last weekend, he is coming to visit ours this weekend to say Mass at Santa Croce, a church located just five minutes from my apartment! Check back next week to find out if I was able to get a selfie with him!