Tag Archives: christmas

The things I do when I’m not gallivanting around the Italian countryside…


Two posts in two days… it’s a new personal record!

So I realized that most of my posts have been about my weekend adventures outside of Rome.  I think it’s time (or maybe past time) to tell you about some of the adventures I have here IN Rome!  Now that the semester is coming to a close, I’m doing the best to soak up all of Rome that I can before it’s time to leave… with the amount of money I’ve spent here, it could be quite some time before I’m able to make a return trip!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tag along with one of the other Art History groups to St. Peter’s Basilica, since our group didn’t go there in the semester.  It was HUGE and very interesting to see. Unfortunately I went after dark, so I’ll have to go again in the next few days so I’ll be able to see it better in the daylight.  I learned that St. Peter’s Basilica is a full six acres in size… that’s ENORMOUS!

Looking towards the Vatican and St. Peter's

St. Peter's Basilica

Interior of St. Peter's

Michelangelo's La Pieta

Last week we had a couple days off thanks to Thanksgiving, so Tuesday (December 1st) was the perfect opportunity for me to visit the Vatican Museums here in Rome.  I knew I had to go before I left, and I can’t believe I hadn’t been yet! Pathetic. Anyway, my friend Megan and I made our way to Vatican City bright and early.  We spent about four hours there touring all the different works of art and sculpture the Vatican has obtained over the last 500 years or so.  It was pretty neat! Probably would have been better had we paid extra for a guided tour, so we knew what we were looking at, but it was pretty cool all the same.  I got to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, which was cool, but nothing like I had imagined.  I thought it would take my breath away or bring a tear to my eye, but it was more of a huh-this-is-it? reaction.  Not that it wasn’t neat, it just wasn’t what I had imagined! My favorite thing that I saw that day was the Egyptian stuff–specifically this 3,000 year old mummy–it was so cool! She still had toenails and everything!

3000 year old mummy toes!

mummy: 1070-945 BC

The Christmas spirit is starting to show itself in the streets of Rome, and it’s so exciting and beautiful to see.  The other day while doing some last minute souvenir shopping I stumbled into a huge Christmas market in Piazza Navona.  It was like a Carnival!  Carousel, Santa and his sleigh, Christmas decorations for sale, games to play, entertainers to watch, stands where you could buy everything from jewelry to toys to leather to watercolor prints–everything you can imagine!  Reminded me a lot of Greater Slater on the 4th of July, plus a few Italians in Santa suits! 🙂 I went once at night, and a couple times during the day…

The carousel at the Christmas market--the kids loved it!

Hehe, Heather wanted a picture with Santa 🙂

Trying to get a picture of one of Bernini's fountains at Piazza Navona, but look at this Italian guy! Haha! It's hilarious!

A few days ago we discovered we were able to get to the rooftop terrace in our apartment, so I went up to see the sun set of the Tiber River, and got some really pretty shots.  I’m going to miss this place.

Sunset over the Tiber

A view of the courtyard at my apartment in Trastevere (Chair sculpture courtesy of CalPoly architect students from across the way)

After spending some time on the roof, my roommate and I decided to find St. Cecilia in Trastevere, a church that is embarrassingly close to our apartment–about a minute away–can’t believe I hadn’t been there before.  The story behind St. Cecilia goes like this:

Cecilia is one of the most popular of Roman saints. She lived in the 3rd century and the first legend of her life was written in the 6th century. A noblewoman from a senatorial family, Cecilia took a personal vow of virginity and pledged her life to God. Unfortunately for her, Cecilia’s parents still married her off.

On her wedding night, Cecilia told her new husband (Valerian of Trastevere) about her pledge of virginity and persuaded him to be baptized. Valerian’s brother Tibertius and another man named Maximus were converted and baptized as well, and the three men began a Christian ministry of giving alms to the poor and arranging for proper burial of martyrs. Eventually they also became martyrs for refusing to worship the Roman gods.

After burying her husband and his brother, Cecilia was persecuted as well. According to her legend, she was first locked in the caldarium of her own bathhouse for several days. This failed to suffocate her as planned; in fact, she sang throughout the ordeal (Cecilia is the patron saint of music). Next a soldier was sent to behead her, but after three hacks with an axe she was still alive. However, she died of her wounds three days later.

Interior of St. Cecilia in Trastevere

St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music--there's a mark along her throat if you look closely

Yesterday I took some time out of working on my final project to do some exploring and shopping.  I swung by Campo dei Fiori, Piazza Navona (again), the Pantheon, and made a stop at a church called St. Ignazio on my way back to studio.  St. Ignazio is probably one of the coolest works of art I’ve ever seen.  The entire ceiling is frescoed in perspective! What looks like a huge tall high ceiling with high archways and a tall dome is all an illusion! The ceiling is flat!  The dome is a stretched canvas! How neat is that??  I spent a lot of time in there, just looking up.  I like doing that.

The "dome" of St. Ignazio--a complete and total optical illusion!

The pictures can't do it justice, but here you can see that the oculus of the dome is nowhere near center--if you stand at one point in the back of the church, though, it's SO convincing.

So that’s a little taste of what’s been keeping me on my toes lately.  Tomorrow I’m going to the Caravaggio/Bacon exhibit at Galleria Borghese in the morning, then exploring the gardens at Villa Borghese.  Afterwards some friends and I are going to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica–guarantee you’ll get to see some awesome panoramics of the Roman skyline (I’m just blessed that I get to see them in real life!)  In a little over nine days I’ll be home again, not that I’m counting down or anything… heck, I can’t wait to be home.  It was a little chilly in Rome today, about 60 degrees.  Don’t you love hearing that, Iowa?  My Aunt Sandy just sent me a picture of the winter wonderland (or Blizzard of 2009, as some are calling it) that’s going on at home, and it looks beautiful! Can’t wait to be there (as long as it doesn’t cause me trouble getting home on the 19th)!

Granddad's house--it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Can’t wait to see you,