Rome by Jeff Tolman

When in Rome, for two days only, a night with  a hundred sites to see can be overwhelming.  We arrived after a four-hour bus ride through the early morning to the looming and numerous entrances of the Coliseum, as if we were being thrust right into a mental and physical battle, not to be consumed by any exotic African beasts, but to consume and retain as much information about Rome as possible.  At least that’s how I saw it.

Rome, like our late-night taxi driver repeated to us several times, is Rome.  Whatever that means.  To me, it is inspiring and beautiful, as well as chaotic and demanding.  It appears that Rome consists of a “hefty” portion of the entire population of Italy, which is to say it is crowded, and like any crowded city, busy.  Even the Gypsies in Rome move with a quicker pace, with a little more zip in their eyes, a little more zest in their quick pronunciation of the three words they hold in their English vocabulary: umbrella, fan, and water.

I wish I had watched Gladiator before I walked into the Coliseum because it was truly hard to bring back the roar of Pagan culture among the thousands of fellow onlookers who all take on the part-time occupation of professional photographer for the day.  Maybe I am being too negative; maybe I’m just tired.  Two days in Rome will do that to you.

In fact, after the push, shove, and arched (head back) spin of the crowd in the Sistine Chapel, one almost wishes to embody the stillness of Michelangelo’s frescoes which loom over the walls and ceiling like stars of another world gone by.  Or at least take a nap in one of the chewed out catacombs.

Rome was amazing but two days wasn’t nearly enough.  The last few weeks here have gone by quickly and I expect the last two to continue at the same unrelenting pace.  Our teacher Molly said that even though one of our classes is done in three days, our activities and non-stop routine goes up right until the very end. Even on the last day we have a final, a farewell dinner, and packing and cleaning to do. It truly has been a whirlwind of a trip and these past two months won’t close until my head finally hits the pillow in that momentary bliss of completion and satisfaction before I will wake up in an airport.

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