Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Last Day

Today was our last day of sightseeing. Tomorrow, we just have a session in the morning, then we're done! I can hardly believe that it's almost over. It's bittersweet. That seems to be the consensus.

We began the morning at the Church of Saint Clemen. I think he was a pope, at least according to Church tradition. The current church building was built, I believe, in the 11th century. Under that is another building from the 4th century. And under that is an even older building. The original building was a Roman house, then an insula (apartment). Part of the insula was turned into a Mithraeum. Which we learned about the other day. Remember, it involved sacrificing a bull and was only for men. That was pretty neat.

There was also a room that had water running through it. Part of the wall was cut through, and the water was just gushing under there. It comes into Rome via aqueduct.

Next it was time to go to the Theater/Auditorium of Maecenas. He was a friend of Octavian Augustus. He was also a patronus/amicus of several poets including Virgil, Propertius and Horace. (You can Google them if you want to know more. He basically would give these guys a house or land or something, and they would feel obligated to mention him in something they wrote. Usually it was nice stuff, or at least a mention that was not totally mean. It sounds a lot like buying their work (free advertising!), but it was actually a little more complicated than that.

So Maecenas had this theater where people would go and read poetry and such. From the outside it looked like a nice place. Unfortunately, we couldn't get in. Even though the sign says that it is open every day from 9-1:30. And it was only, like, 11! So someone called, and they said that it wasn't open today (duh), but would be open on Saturday. Oh, well.

We then had some free time for lunch. Chanda, Jason, and I walked over to our next destination the Castel San'Angelo. After what seemed like forever, but was really only 30 minutes, we made it. We ate our "stolen" sandwiches (made at the hotel this morning, not really stolen) and sat in the shade. I also had a cup of watermelon, because that just looked GOOD!

At 2:00, we met the rest of the group. Sr. Therese gave us some background information on the site, which was originally designed by the emperor Hadrian. Remember him? Once his "friend" Antinoos (sp?) died, he got really morbid and decided to build himself a mausoleum. That's a place to be buried. It is pretty big, just like his villa was yesterday. It is also round, which is normal for that sort of thing.

We walked inside of it, all the way up to the top! It was crazy windy. As an aside, my skirt blew up several times, exposing me to the other people up there. Luckily, I don't think anyone was really paying attention, because they were looking at the incredible VIEW!! From up top, you can see most of the city of Rome. You've got a great view of St. Peter's basilica, and can see everything on top of each of the hills. I took lots of pictures, which will perhaps be taken from my camera today.

I left the castle with James, and accompanied him to Vatican City. We made it through the metal detectors and went into St. Peter's. As usual, it was completely immense and beautiful inside. I pretend not to be awed by the place, but in reality it is overwhelming. We wandered around inside for a little bit. Even went and had a look at Pope John Paul II, who is still lying in there, all waxed up. After we were finished, we went out and got to see the changing of the Swiss guard. That was neat. I took pictures.

Then we came back here to the compound, and here I am! Just a few more days, and the dream is over. Back to reality!

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