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      I’m finally here, here in the city of ancients. Rome stands for everything I’ve ever wanted: sophistication, intellect, history, purpose, beauty…everything I could ever dream of is here. The city is alive with the glory of modernity, yet amid its restless streets lies the dormant legacy of time long past. For so long I sought to find this land, and for so long I saw it only in the distance. Yet here I am in the present, staring at the past and reveling in the future.     Rome somehow becomes everything I ever wanted while simultaneously reminding me of everything I hate. The public transit is a joke and the city is overrun with tourists. The atmosphere is all wrong and I never feel that Copenhagen community I’ve come to love so much. As a city of dreams, Rome fails to be the untouched  ancient city I have always imagined. With ‘progress’ comes consequences, and the destruction of the communal space and personal intimacy of our society is never more present than in Rome. The contrast is outstanding: on my left are the remains of an ancient civilization stubbornly declaring their immortality while on my right consumerism tightens its hold on us with its useless tourist trinkets.

Ok, enough philosophical rant. Rome is filled with spectacular sights. Trevi Fountain is indeed a beautiful place, and as the legend dictates, you must toss coins into the fountain. One coin brings you safely home, two finds you an Italian lover, and three transforms your Italian lover into your Italian spouse. Although I only wanted to toss in two I ended up doing three because I wanted to send one in long distance from the steps!

The Colosseum Palatine, and Roman Forum were also cool but they’re mostly just ruins with nothing spectacular. Honestly, my favorite part was seeing them at night. Their beauty was astounding…I no my pictures will never do them justice! The Pantheon was similar, and it was exciting to be there but not terribly interesting. I feel like that is how the majority of Rome was: my excitement of finally being at each location eclipsed my actual excitement for the place. Around every corner an old, architecturally amazing building stood waiting for discovery. The beauty of these buildings was soon lost on me, and the allure of the city began to fade. What really got me going though were three of the places we spent the most time in.

First, the Vatican Museums. No quick tour could do this place justice, and without a tour guide it was further reduced. Despite these shortcomings, our trip was beyond description. The power and wealth of the Catholic Church, fluctuating greatly but always present in the last millennium shows in this massive collection spanning the entirety of the Old World.  Rafael’s School of Athens was my first major excitement, and I was quick to point out all the philosophers I knew. My memory from senior year of high school was a little fuzzy but I could still pick out some of the greats like Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates!  The Sistine Chapel was surprisingly not as fantastic as I would have hoped, but I attribute this to my severe memory lapse and the huge crowds.

St. Peter’s Basilica, another part of the Vatican, was another excellent experience. The main area in the apse is a tourist zone and is accordingly ridiculous. The Piéta teases me from a corner as it draws out just enough memories to make me lust for more information while full recall lies beyond my fingertips. The true draw to this area though, besides the magnificent vaulted ceilings, was the small Chapel of the Holy Sacrament on the one side. Here Bernini statues dominate your eyes while the grand organ sneaks into your periphery. A sign before the entrance warns “Only those who wish to pray may enter,” so I donned my spiritual hat and knelt down in front of the grand altar to perform my own form of prayer. I doubt the Catholic Church would have approved of my infiltration, but I silently observed the spirituality of the sanctuary and basked in the glory of Life.

The Vatican was a marvel, but without any religious significance it could not even come close to comparing with the Capitoline Museum. Here, in the world’s oldest museum, lies the glory of Rome. I turned absolutely giddy at my first sighting of the statue of the She-wolf with Romulus and Remus. I mean seriously, my excitement was not contained…I even did a little dance! Whenever I talk about Rome, which has been often since arriving in Europe, I always mentioned the statue. Finally setting eyes on this epic rendition of the glory of Rome was enough to make me squeal like a schoolgirl.

Following the She-wolf were many excellent exhibits which I have learned about, such as the statues of the mounted Marcus Auraleus and the black and red pottery. We eventually found the terrace and found ourselves overlooking a breathtaking view of the city.  All this beauty surrounded me, yet nothing compared to the temporary exhibit that awaited us on the fourth floor…

No pics allowed…this is not mine.

A collection of Leonardo and Michelangelo’s sketches, letters, and other materials happened to be on display at the Capitoline while we were in town. I was so inspired by the pieces…they made me want to research Leonardo and really learn more about his legacy. I want to remember everything I’ve forgotten and learn all that I’ve never known. Leonardo was a pure genius…his designs were sometimes centuries before their time. Flying wings?  Hah, nothing of this sort would come to be for centuries!  Seeing his genius in person was more inspiring than all the other great works I’ve seen combined. This will be one of my new hobbies: I will read, watch, and learn everything I can about Leonardo and the setting of his life.

Seeing these artifacts and considering the immensity of skill and knowledge contained within these great renaissance men, I feel as if I am wasting the gift of intellect I was given…this needs to change.

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