April 10, 2012

Roman Holiday

Our final weeks in Rome combined all the aspects of our trip we had come to love. We spent some time with a family, getting a focused glimpse into daily life in a new place, eating delicious food, sharing recipes, drinking the local drink and partaking in the culture. We were also tourists, venturing out to historical sights, navigating public transportation systems, practicing our Italian and soaking up the living historical and cultural sights. In our very final days we were able to share this journey (complete with a night spent in the airport), with Kathi, David's mom. 

Before Kathi's arrival, we took a few day trips to visit Grotta Ferrata (a neighboring town), the ancient city of Pompei and to Rome, the eternal city. 

Navigating Italian streets, whether on foot or by car proved to be a scary endeavor.  Here, Christina is plastered against the wall, saving herself from the speeding vehicles.  It was no wonder the caretaker at Castelli International chuckled, shook his head and murmured something about "you Americans" when we told him we were taking a walk to Grotta Ferrata. These roads are no place for a pedestrian. 

Grotta Ferrata's claim to fame was this beautiful active monastery. These were not the beer brewing German monks. 

A trip into Rome always began here, at the Marino Laziale train station, Here, David demonstrates the ubiquitious Italian gesture we wrote about in our last posting. 

Our first day in Rome, we stumbled upon this beautiful basilica, Santa Maria Novona. Here is a picture of the back of the church.

Here is a view of the baldachin and knave. Although it's not clear from the picture, the knave is filled with detailed and beautiful mosaics.  Below the baldachin we saw our first reliquary.

The reliquary at Santa Maria Novona. According to the guidebook, behind this glass case is an original piece of Jesus' manger.

Before Kathi arrived we took a day trip to visit the ruins of Pompei, an ancient city once buried in the volcanic ash of Mt. Vesuvius. We took the advice of our guidebook and purchased a separate Pompei guide. This was a prudent decision as the ruins are inconsistently and poorly labeled. Many of the more interesting areas were blocked off, but we would not be deterred. 

Are you not entertained?! David in the center of the arena at Pompei.  

Pompei: A Re-enactment

After jumping a few barriers, we came upon these preserved bodies in situ.  A grisly sight. 

An early pub and fast food joint in Pompei.  The sunken areas on the counter were heated and filled with cooked foods for purchase. 

David. A view of Pompei in the background. 

The forum. Christina sits on the entryway of a large cloth factory. Just in the entrane were huge containers for collecting urine, which Romans used to launder clothes, and dye and bleach clothes. 

A preserved body. According to our guidebook it is likely many Pompeins died from the toxic air and smoke inhalation.  Their bodies were preserved in the ash that settled upon the city.

When Kathi arrived we had just a few days to explore the city and enjoy the final days of our epic journey. Armed with individual museum guides, we hit the pavement, spending countless hours reading about, analyzing, understanding and becoming awe struck by the impressive works of art found all over the city. 

Christina and Kathi at the Vatican Museum pondering a truly breathtaking work of art, Raphael's Transfiguration. 

The Romans collected Egyptian art and also created a lot of their own Egyptian inspired art. The Vatican Museum has a great collection including the mummy featured here. 
Kathi and David outside of St. Peter's Basilica. 

We ended our first day in Rome with a trip to Pizzeria Buffetto. Here they serve deliciously thin pizza hot from the oven, and of course pitchers of delicious Italian wines. 

Day 2 took us to Florence.  Here's Kathi, warm and comfortable in first class. 

Legend has it if you touch the boar's nose, you're certain to return to Florence. We'll be back! 

Il Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. This square is the site of the orignal bonfire of the vanities when Savonarola, a Dominican priest had books and works of art burned in the name of purity. A year later he was burned alive at the very same site. 

David and The David ( a replica). 

A view  of Il Ponte Vecchio from The Uffizi art museum. This covered bridge was the only bridge in Florence the Germans did not bomb during WWII. 

A common site in Rome. Scooter lined streets. We were amazed to see these vehicles speeding past us on highways as well as streets. 
Our third day into Rome involved a detailed tour of the Forum and the Colosseum.  

"Kill him!"
Thousands of Romans filled this stadium eager to watch gladiator fights, the slaughtering of exotic animals and epic sea battles.  

We ended our final trip into Rome with a taste of delicious gelato. 

We were able to give Kathi the full experience of Our Year.  She was a tourist with us, a worker living with a family and finally a weary traveler. Due to a snow storm, we spent the last night of our trip on the benches in the Manchester airport.

It has taken us a while to write this final blog entry. Truly we should have written this entry as soon as we returned, but we didn't. The weeks have dragged on and this final entry has loomed.  In the last weeks we have tried to process this momentous experience.  Writing this final entry meant closure on something we began planning over a year ago and accepting our return to daily life. What we have come to realize as we put together our scrapbook, retell stories and relive moments is that this trip has been more than just a break from the mundane.  Our farming experiences have shaped the way we look at food, what we eat and where and how we want to live. The people we met and the stories we heard have shaped the way we hope to influence the world and who we count as family and close friends.  The history we learned and the art we enjoyed has inspired us to say more, do more and learn more.  As we return to search for jobs, find housing and reconnect with our families and friends,  we are ever aware of how fortunate we are to have had this experience and we are ever grateful to our families for supporting us and to the families who shared their lives with us and to the friends who  shared moments with us along the way.

Although "Our Year" the blog will end with this entry, Our Year continues as we find jobs, housing and communities of which we want to be a part. Thanks for following our journey! 

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