Friday, June 25, 2010

Laundry by Lex Stathis

Laundry is not as easy as pressing a button. Today I learned the hard way how to wash you clothes the old fashioned way. Let's just say I have a lot more respect for my mom and the invention of the washer machine and dryer, as well as for everyone in my life who ever let me use their laundry facilities!
    I know what you are thinking: "How do you do laundry without a washer and dryer?" Here's my method. First, put the laundry soap in at the bottom of the tub, add your dirty clothes, and add just enough water to cover the clothes. Then, like "I Love Lucy" episode where she was making wine, stomp away. After about 20 minuets of stomping, rinse each and every piece of clothing.  It's at this point where you will see first-hand how dirty your clothes really get. It's gross. Then just hang them in the sun to dry. Its not really hard, but it takes a really long time. However, I'm left with a feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that my mom can’t claim that I'm lazy.

A Change of Pace by Lucas Otero

Yesterday we took an hour train ride north of Roma to a small Italian lake town called Bracciano. Once we arrived I could instantly sense the difference in lifestyles there compared to in Rome. There were no crowds in the streets or even at the station, and it was a quiet atmosphere everywhere we walked. There were no taxis or street hustlers begging for money or trying to sell me roses. It was a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We walked thru the street to the Castello Odescalchi Bracciano, which has been there since before the 15th century! I feel like we may have arrived to the castle during siesta because there was nobody in the piazza in front of it, or perhaps the town is just that quiet. While we waited for our tour of the castle we killed time in a small bar enjoying a glass of vino bianco. At first I could sense a little bit of discontent from the woman working it, who based off the pictures on the some of the walls appeared to be the owner. However once everyone began to clear out and it was just Lex and I, I started to talk to her and she pointed out the region of the wine I was drinking and then told me a little about the where my next glass of wine came from. We conversed with the woman as much as our language barrier permitted us, and I thanked her for hospitality; she warmed up to us!
We then began our tour of the castle which consisted of only 8 people, which was nice compared to the crowded museums in Rome. The medieval dwellings are still owned privately by the same family and its name is carried by only one last living princess.  We walked thru and the very first room was just filled with books and a table, our guide Barbara told us that they were all the original books that the family has kept.  Every part of the castle had images of a bear, lion and a rose which are symbols of the family.
As we entered the first bedroom we saw the walls all painted with biblical images and Barbara told us that this room is named for the pope who retreated to the castle and stayed in this room to avoid the plague. He and one of the prince's are the only people to have stayed in this room.
The next room was what they used for banquets and meetings.  The walls along the ceiling were images of roman emperors. There was a painting of Princess Isabella and the prince who married her, the prince was 12 and she was only 11. Apparently during their wedding reception the prince fell in love with another girl and killed her husband and Isabella in order to marry her!!
A few rooms later we entered Isabella's room. The bed had a large canopy and chest in front of it, pretty much how I imagined a princess' room to look except for one thing; there was a trap door that while she lived in this room had lethal spikes at the bottom. Isabella would allegedly dispose her "lovers" aka one night stands into this death trap!! Poor ol boys never saw it coming. That's is how she was killed by her prince husband; according to his story she was trying to throw him in there and he tossed her first.
We went behind the trap door and up the spiral stairs to another room which had a painting of the Good Samaritan; I really liked it because it was the first time I had ever seen an art piece of the parable. There was also a painting of St Joseph standing aside St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist. You could tell which paintings had always been in the castle and which ones were restored by the difference in color; the older ones did not have the same vibrancy as the newly restored or some duplicated pieces.
The next few rooms were just as big as the banquet room but were filled with medieval weapons and armor. The soldier’s suit of armor weighed nearly 70 kilos and the weapons were large too. Tough times for the king’s soldiers.
We saw the kitchen, the study, and other rooms but the best part of the castle was at the very top outside. From here we could see the entire town and had an incredible view of Lago di Bracciano. The large volcanic lake peacefully reflected its surrounding green hills and the boats and swans that floated upon it.
The tour ended and we walked down the hill towards the lakes shore and were able to eat right out on the lake. As we headed back towards the station saw little bambinos and bambinas running thru the piazzas and parks playing futbol, basketball, having a blast. After taking in the little town’s lifestyle for a while longer I went for a cappuccino by the train station which was even 10 cents cheaper than any place I'd been to in Rome!!!
The whole day was very enjoyable and gave me a whole other perspective of life in Italy.

 Ciao for now,


Castello Odescalchi

Lago Bracciano from top of castle

Town Piazza

Kathryn Jordan- The Colosseum and Roman Forums

The Colosseum and Roman Forums are both historical monuments and major tourist destinations. They both portray the incredible Roman architecture long before modern technology. It is amazing to look at these structures and think about how long they have survived and what they were used for.

The Colosseum is probably one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Rome today. The Colosseum was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was not known as the Colosseum until the 7th Century. The Amphitheater was designed to hold 50,000 spectators. It was completed in 80 A.D. It is known to be the first permanent amphitheater built in Rome. The incredible arches involved in the magnificent architecture speak wonders about Roman intellect.

With the eighty entrances the Roman people were able to manage, control, and entertain the large crowds quickly with ease.

Looking at the incredible structure of the Colosseum, that so many people enjoy every day, it is incredible thinking about the actual purpose for which it was built. The Colosseum was built to host gladiatorial games, combats and executions. It also hosted different games with wild beasts verse each other, as well as wild animals verses humans. The Roman’s believed that it was a sacred place because it was a place of martyrdom. Looking at the Colosseum today, it is incredible to think of the number of both humans and animals lives lost. There is no exact number recorded of the deaths in the Colosseum, however they have an estimated amount. During a single festival held in 240 AD the statistics say that there were 2,000 gladiators lost in a matter of a few days. It is strange to think that people enjoyed watching gory deaths such as the murders in the Colosseum. People took pleasure in participating in the rulings of live verses death.

. Gladiatorial combats continued in the Amphitheater until they were outlawed in 407 by the Christian emperor Honorius. The fights wild beats were finally outlawed in 523. The Colosseum went out of use after these bans.

People are still entertained by gory things today, however. Many people are grossed out by the thought of the Colosseum, but do not think twice about watching a gory movie. Movies are not the only gruesome form of entertainment in society today. Video games, such as Mortal Combat or Call of Duty, all include killing people. In many places such as Mexico bull fights are still held. People need to keep an open mind when entering the Colosseum and think past the gore and deaths involved.

Another incredible tourist destination is the Roman Forums. The Roman Forums were the centre of political, judicial and commercial life in Ancient Rome. The centre was also the home of many markets, shops, and taverns. Many people gathered in the Roman Forums as a place for social gatherings and for entertainment. The Forums were the heart and soul of city life. Entertainment was a major part of the Roman Forums. The architecture, although not as elaborate as the Colosseum, was built in Marble. The columns stood high above the ground. The Roman people used elephants to raise the columns to stand erect. To think of the labor and mathematics involved in the creation of the Forums is mind blowing. Many people look at structures such as these and think of their age. Sometimes people do look past the incredible amount of thought and planning to build formations such as these forums and instead look at them as decrepit and old.

People tend to think of buildings such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forums as ancient but do not realize the mathematics and intellect put into designing them. They are misinterpreted. It is mind blowing to actually look at these structures and think about how amazing they actually are. These buildings are absolutely incredible. Today these two destinations are a major route on the Rome tourist hot spots. They both have a entrance charge that helps the Roman community today. The Colosseum raises money to help feed the poor and the hungry. The Colosseum and the Roman Forums were and continue to be a major strength in the Roman community.

-Kathryn Jordan

Grocery shopping in Rome by Crystal Hernandez

Rome was a challenge in itself.  Changing worlds isn't easy to adjust to and one sometimes thinks that some things will remain the same.  One of these expectations was grocery shopping.  The first few days the excitement of being in a new place makes you want to go out and sample the great, much heard of cuisine.  Very quickly one realizes that is not very cost effective.  However, no one thought that grocery shopping could be a completely different experience.  First thing I learned was how to pick your veggies and fruits out.  Cashiers do not weigh them for you.  The process begins by grabbing a plastic glove and a plastic bag.  Make your selection and remember the number next to the food name.  At the scale weigh the food and enter the food number where a label will print out with a barcode and specifications and price.  In the Las Cruces, we are all accustomed to selecting our food without a glove.  We do not have to worry about numbers, labels, or prices.  The second thing that I saw different was the checkout process.  At the line you specify how many plastic bags you need if any. The cashier will throw the bags to the side and start scanning.  This is when you must race to bag the items before they pile up too much.  After many grocery trips the art of bagging is perfected!  Another thing that is different is the demeanor of the cashier's as they sit on their stools.  In all my job experience as a cashier I have never had a stool.  I must say I have wished for one but understand that it would not happen.  Now that I am nearing the end of the Rome experience, I have become a quick efficient shopper.  Although it is different it works for the people here.  I am glad that I was able to see and experience something different.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Donald Wiklund's Blog on Rome 2010

Rome has been an interesting experience.  Before I left for Italy, I felt very confident about getting around this country.  I purchased Lonely Planet's Italian translator, map, and tour book application for my Apple IPod.  I quickly found out this was a horrible application. When roaming through Rome, I found much difficulty using this application: due to the fact that it required a WiFi internet signal.  So here I was navigating and asking questions to people who knew very little English.  At first I was frustrated with this because I wanted the instant gratification of knowing my travel plan before touring the city or country.  After talking with the locals through bits of English and much body language, I began to learn the importance of communication in a foreign country.  

My first impression of Italians was the "stuck-up" stereotype.  The culture is much different here than the United States.  I have been accustomed to the various flamboyant lifestyles that I have been raised with.  Although the Italians may sometimes dress in flamboyant outfits, I have observed that most keep to themselves and act much more reserve than American behavior: with the exception of Italian men eyeing women down like a "dog in a meat market."  Having to rely less on my IPod and more through interaction with the locals, I began to change my opinion of the people.  Sometimes when I had difficulty communicating where to go, how to find a place, or what time the bus/train departed; the people of Italy were patient and often repeated directions as much as necessary.  I was grateful for their compassion and patience.  Talking with the locals was a huge benefit in the sense of finding out travel niches and tips.
although not everyone was like this.  I knew I had to avoid asking advice from anyone who profited from any tourist type of location.  It almost seemed like they would take advantage of you in order to up sell or lure you into buying their products.  I learned that if you went down half a block out of the tourist traps you could find similar products for less.  Traveling is an education of its own.  I was very glad to apply my "street smarts" and being resourceful.

My recommendations for traveling abroad are very simple.  If you want to have a great time, you must do your homework before you go.  I advise purchasing a hard copy of a tour guide such as Rick Steves', Lonely Planet, or Frommers'.  Read them before you go, so you have an idea what to expect.  I highly recommend Rick Steves' guide books of the three because it avoids a lot of the tourist trap sites and times when to avoid the crowds.  Secondly, I would advise learning the language as much as possible.  If you don't have the time to learn the language, I would recommend a good "phrase book."  Of the three, I would also recommend Rick Steves' book.  Many the other books failed to include simple yet important phrases like "Where do I purchase train/bus tickets?"  Simple questions like these are necessary for the average foreign traveler.  The last thing I would recommend is studying a map of the area before you head out.  Google has done an outstanding job with their Google Maps and Google Earth applications.  I can't imagine how people traveled without the use of Rick Steves' books and Google.  It has been extremely helpful having these resources available; they really have put the time and effort for travelers like you and I to enjoy ourselves in a foreign country.  It has been a privilege studying abroad and I recommend any willing student to study abroad.  This has been an "eye opening" experience and I have learned more about myself traveling abroad than the many years I have spent in college.  Thank you for reading along.


Donald J. Wiklund

Ciao Ciao Italia!

I cannot believe that our time in Rome is coming to an end. Five weeks ago I was looking forward to an amazing experience and today I can say that it has been just that. Each day brought new adventures while exploring the Eternal City. At times our adventures consisted of stumbling upon monuments, trying to ask directions with what little Italian we knew or finding out what you ordered to eat was not what you were expecting.  Living in a big city has its advantages including accessible and easy public transportation, unlimited choices for food, and gelataries at every corner.  I can say that my favorite part of this trip was outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. My roommates and myself traveled to various cities in Italy together and were able to see some of the most beautiful and picturesque sights.These locations include the Almalfi Coast, Cinque Terre and Greve in Chianti. These spots were my favorite because of the peaceful environments and the quietness that brought ease.  The Almalfi Coast had a ravishing coast line with jagged cliffs and cities somehow perched upon them.  Cinque Terre is a string of five lovely coastal communities which includes one of Italy's National Parks and an example of the preservation of their gorgeous environment.  Breathtaking views from the cliffs and brilliant blue waters were what we were able to see as we hiked along the coast from town to town.  Greve in Chianti was where we were able to take in one of Italy's finest attributes, Chianti Classico wine. When I think of wine country I imagine rolling hills, vineyards and generous Italians: this is exactly the things we found. Trying to find all of these things in the city are impossible with vespas zooming through the streets, cars honking, and numerous people on the streets at any given time. The weekend getaways were my favorite part of the our time here in Italy and I am so grateful to have had the time to enjoy these magnificent locations. As we all go our ways I think we can all end this trip knowing we have had one of the greatest opportunities of our lives and we will always have these wonderful memories of Italy

Roma By Stephani Warfield

Well we are done, and what an experience it has been here in Roma! I have never been outside the country before so to be away and in a foreign place has been quite an adventure to say the least. It was very overwhelming when I first got here I didn't really know what to expect so I didn't have my high or low standards for this place. But it has really turned out to be really amazing! It baffles my mind to think at only 21 years old I came to a different country practically on my own to study! WOW!! I will never forget this and apppreaciate every second of it! BUT I AM SO READY TO GO HOME I WANT SOME ENCHILADAS!!!! hahahah!! Thank you Dr. Blanch and Dr. Stathisis and the HRTM department for helping us all get to this point! Also a HUGE thank you to Stella!! You are the best!!! LOVE YOU!!!

Just a trim... by Kyle McCracken

Being in Rome for a long period of time can show you just how simple your normal life routines can be in the U.S. Just the task of going to get your haircut is an easy, problem free event. I knew my hair grew fast but thought I could get through the six weeks in Europe with out getting a haircut, if I got one the day before I left. This was not the case as the three week mark approached and my hair was longer than it has been in a long time. I decided I would go get my haircut at a place we passed everyday on our way to school. I thought it would be simple to communicate that I wanted size two clippers on the sides and size four on the top using hand gestures if they did not speak English. They did not speak English and apparently do not have numbers associated with their clipper sizes. The barber made a gesture with his fingers on the length I may want and it looked good to me so I said yes. He then proceeded to shave my entire head with what I am guessing is a size 1 clipper back in the U.S. At this point I was nearly bald and had never had my hair that short before. It was a shock but not terrible and I have grown to like my new shorter hair style, especially due to not having to use gel and styling my hair everyday. I guess that is just what you get when your barber and you do not speak the same language.

Roma: La Dolce Vita 24/06/10

My time here in Rome has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Thank you to all of my wonderful professors who went through countless hours of stress and anxiety. It was worth it.

Living in here in Italy was so nice. My route to school included: passing The Spanish Steps, turning right at the Trevi, and grabbing coffee across from the Pantheon. How great is that?!  Class was held right in front of the Pantheon in a room with high ceilings, beautiful wood floors, and large windows that filled the room with natural lighting.

Now taking the metro from our lovely residence at Megdalia D' Oro to the Spanish Steps area was a different story. IMPORTANT: If you don't want to be smashed up against some stranger and touched in every awkward place then make sure to be on the metro before 8:15. Any later than that and you can kiss your freshly-showered body goodbye. It took us a total of 40 min to get to class, 20 min on the metro and 20 min from the metro stop. I suggest to leave early so you can relax and enjoy the walk. The last thing you want to do here is run to school and be drenched in sweat, which happens anyway but usually in the afternoon.

Rome has many parks that are very beautiful like the Borhguese and Ginicolo Hill. The Borghese is the largest in Rome and has a pretty cool view of the city. It has all sorts of wonderful gardens that are great for taking naps in, (just be prepared for the Rose-Sellers). Ginicolo on the other hand is better visited at night because the scenic view of the city is incredible. If you don't want to take the short hike to get there, a bus runs straight to the top.

Rome was just as efficient and easy as living in any other big city. Except, I must say that the food is way higher of quality than any other city. This is because of their use of local products.

 The only thing that was an absolute pain in my side was doing my laundry. I know you laugh now, but wait until you are in a building that houses 300 students with only two washing machines! Your best friend will turn in to your biggest enemy over who's turn it is to use the washer.  So learn to hand wash or make sure to get in the laundry room super early. And for all of you who plan on taking "dry-clean only," don't do it.  At least try to limit if so, and don't go to the Dry Cleaners here. It is not the same as what we think it is and the price to have it done how we would expect is outrageous. Unless you are fluent in Italian, STAY AWAY FROM THE DRY CLEANERS! I guarantee you'll spend a small fortune end up disappointed!

Besides my laundry hassle everything was smooth sailing. Beautiful apartment, with great roommates, beautiful city, and tons of things to do every minute. Awesome sites, great dancing, and traveling to other cities is made so easy it would be crazy not to go outside of Rome.

One other tip: When choosing your roommates, choose wisely and remember you have to spend 5 weeks with these people. I was put into a flat where I didn't know anyone and it worked out great.

Rome Experience

      I know that I will remember the Rome experience for the rest of my life! I am so glad that I decided to come here and get to be involved in the first group of HRTM students to travel to Europe. I have enjoyed the culture and the experience. I know that this is something that I will be able to take home with me and share with family and friends. I hope that future students will take advantage of coming on this trip. This is a trip that you can never forget.

Alex Ellis

The Colosseum! - By Danielle Hassman

From my journal- May 28th. I woke up early to go to the Colosseum. To get there we had to take the line A metro system to line B. We were able to do this easily without any complications. It was a good feeling to know that we already knew the metro system so well in less than a week of being here. The B line was much dirtier and uncomfortable than the A line. The metro cart was packed and smelled terrible. It made us appreciate being able to take line A on the metro daily to get to class. I felt very uncomfortable on the B line and couldn’t wait to get off. However, as soon as I got out of the metro station, I could see the Colosseum and it made it all worth while. This was very amazing because I didn’t expect to see it right away. It’s so much different when you see any of these Roman sites in person after hearing about them for so many years. The view is just incredible with the rustic building and exciting to know that you are actually seeing history. Once inside the Colosseum, it was hard to imagine how it once looked and how fights would take place but once we read from a terrific, detailed guide book I was able to visualize how it once was and the guide book pointed out the only small section of seats that were left as well as the meaning of the cross in the middle of the stadium, which is where the emperor is believed to have sat. Of course it looks completely different than it did years ago. We were starting to walk around the Colosseum when it started pouring rain on us, ruining our time there. I was able to see everything inside the building and the old artifacts but the rain put a small damper on our day. I am overwhelmed with the sites I am able to see here and love that I can actually see and touch history. Even though the city is so rustic and tagged up with graffiti, I still think it’s absolutely beautiful!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Colosseum and Palatine Hill

Rome is full of amazing and historically significant buildings. Walking down the street I pass at least one ancient building with a compelling story behind it. I have never been so engulfed in so much history, so many myths, and such beauty in my whole life. Every day here in Rome is a breath taking experience. Two sites have especially captured my attention- The Colosseum and Palatine Hill.

The Colosseum is probably the most impressive building in Rome. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the era. The Colosseum was built in a span of eight years. The construction started in the year 72 by Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty. It was completed in AD 80, by Emperor Vespasian’s son, Titus. The amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake, which made the soil rich for growing numerous exotic plants. The exotic plants came from the seeds that the animals carried on them during the gladiator fights. Also, the lake provided running water up to the third level of the original Colosseum. The lake was part of Nero’s huge park in the center of Rome that also included The Golden House ( Domus Aurea) and the nearby Colossus statue, which is responsible for the Flavian Amphitheater’s nickname, The Colosseum (

The Colosseum measures 188m by 156m and reaches a height of more than 48m. It could hold up to 55,000 spectators ( The Colosseum’s main purpose was entertainment. Roman emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public so they were occupied and not causing trouble out on the streets of Rome. They did this by providing free games in the arena. These free games were actually fights between people and animals, women and midgets, and animals and other animals. Many people and animals were slaughtered in a gruesome way, solely for entertainment. People today have many different perspectives on these fights; however, it bothers me that innocent people and animals were killed for sport. These games were a symbol of an emperor’s prestige and power, and they also were a way for an emperor to gain popularity. Many times at the end of a fight the emperor would choose if the person lived. Oftentimes he would be guided in his decision by the people in the stands. He would simply give a thumbs up or a sideways thumb. This would of course make the crowd go wild and the emperor would enjoy short-lived acclaim and of glory while an innocent person’s life hung in the balance. Games were held for a whole day or sometimes several days in a row.

In AD 217 the Colosseum was badly damaged by fire, but the arena continued to be used for contests well in to the 6th century, with gladiator fights last mentioned around 435 (Oxford, 1998). Animal hunts continued until at least 523, when Anicius Maximus celebrated his consulship with some venations that were criticized by King Theodric the Great for their high cost (Oxford, 1998).

In the following centuries, the Colosseum underwent several changes of purpose, including a cemetery, housing, workshops, and a castle ( The great earthquake of 1349 caused the outer south side of the Colosseum to collapse. Finally, in 1749 Pope Benedict XIV took control of the Colosseum, making it a sacred Christian monument. The Colosseum today is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, welcoming millions of visitors annually.

Palatine Hill is a different kind f tourist attraction. It is the center of the famous seven hills of Rome. It is located between the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. Palatine Hill plays a very important role in Roman mythology. It is believed that on Palatine Hill the twins Romulus and Remus were found by the she wolf who raised them. This hill is where Romulus ultimately decided to build his city, Rome.

By the time of Rome’s Republican Era, Palatine Hill became the “fashionable” place to live, due partly to the amazing view from the top of the hill. It is believed that people such as Augustus, Cicero, and Marc Antony all lived at one time on Palatine Hill. At one time the hill was covered with imperial palaces. During the Middle Ages, churches and convents were built there. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese is responsible for the botanical gardens built on top of the ruins (

Today, Palatine Hill contains the ruins of ancient palaces and other buildings. As a former track and field athlete, the most intriguing site I saw was the “stadium”, built next to the palace of Domitian. This is where took place to entertain people living in and visiting the palace. The games were said to be similar to track and field games. Palatine Hill is incredibly interesting and evocative because this is where Rome began.

The Colosseum and Palatine Hill are both very important to the history of Rome. These two amazing monuments reflect a very important period in ancient Roman history and provide insight of the important history of Rome. These sights had a huge impact on me as I imagined the hard labor and the many deaths that took place there. To be able to stand inside these structures of such great historic importance and see with my own eyes the ruins of a great ancient civilization was fascinating and humbling. I am truly blessed to be here, learning, taking pictures, and really immersing myself in the history and culture of Rome.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last week in the amazing city of Rome

This trip has been an incredible experience. Looking back on all of our weekend travels, the sites we have seen and the great memories we have had I am sad to see the trip coming to an end. This city has allowed us to break out of our shell and experience life in Rome. I am very glad I was allowed this experience with the HRTM Department and I have learned so much through this experience.

I think one of my favorite assignments in the History of Food class would be experiencing all the open-air markets in the city of Rome.

The three experiences that we did as a class which were the Wine and Olive Oil tasting, Roman dinner, and the Cheese making all taught me so much about the Roman culture and History of Food. 

-Lauren Miller

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zeck Reflections

Burnt Orange-Siena

The trip was not without incident, a short layover, mistaken identity in Torrita di Siena, a bottle of wine and making the most of a truly not beautiful stopover. Torrita is an industrial city that is 30 miles from the city of Siena. It happened that we followed a group of teenagers, soccer team actually, off the train and off they went. We were left standing by ourselves on a very lonely platform, not a soul to be seen, not even a pigeon.

We did find a train schedule behind yellowed plexi-glass cover that announced the arrival of another train in two hours. We soon realized that we had an excellent bottle of Chianti Classico and a wine opener in our bag. We proceeded to drink it from the bottle, and no sooner than we started the pigeons arrived by the hundreds. I, being curious about old machinery, mostly of the agricultural variety, started sniffing around and discovered what may be one of the few remaining water stations from the days of steam engines. Now, that must be back before WW II or before my time at any rate. The spout and valves were in remarkable condition and it was a full 15 feet high and must weigh a ton or more. In our country some old codger would base a railroad museum around such a piece. We Americans are fond of what we think to be old things, probably because we are not very old as a country or people. Have you noticed that Americans collect everything, even old gas station signage.

Siena is not the oldest place in the world but it is pretty old. Our hotel was built in the 1500’s and amazingly everything still works. So, my bride and I decided to eat dinner and see Siena. What a surprise, the people were so friendly I was beginning to wonder if we were still in Italy, perhaps a little harsh. I think that Italians are mostly very friendly people and even some of the Romans are friendly as well.

To have a color named after you is a big deal, sky blue, Hookers green, and Siena. I think that Hooker was a person, not sure. A color named after a city, what a concept! After dinner we walked a short distance to the Piazza Il Campo, home to the famous horse races. It is still early, twilight, so we sit at the base of Jacopo’s beautiful fountain with 500 or so young people and wait for a sight that is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. When darkness came the something number wonder of the world happened. All of the buildings that seemed brown turned brilliant burnt orange and the contrasting sky was the color of bright peacock blue. Now, I am prone to some level of exaggeration and not being a photographer I have no real proof of any of this, but a week has passed and I am still in awe and my wife tells me that it was real.

We did see the old churches and wondreful museums that contained beautiful things, all of which I will never remember, sensory over load perhaps, but I will never forget that moment when the world changed color before my eyes. Thanks, Maurice

Rome is a vividly colored palette.

In my mind if you ask a thousand people what Rome means to them you will get a thousand different answers. I am a cook and I cook foods from around the world and for the life of me I cannot find one discernable difference from the food in Rome to that of central or northern Italy. The food in Rome is a mélange of everything good that can be found in the Piedmont or in the Tuscan hills .My having said this may lead the reader to wonder where the distinction will be made that separates the food of Rome and all other Italian food.

A good pizza is where you find it, much like a great plate of enchiladas. If you ask most geologists where gold is found you will get the same answer, gold is where you find it. Rome is a city that is famous for great food, a goldmine of tastes and smells that require very little digging to find.

Rome contains a society with a complex culture, much like New York or Paris. The citizens have developed an outlook on life that is represented not only in their art and architecture but also in their food. The produce must be fresh, picked when ripe and not green for the sake of distance distribution. The meat must come from animals that are not fed antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to reach the market place. Most preserved foods come in clear glass bottles so the contents can be seen. Olive oil must be fresh and balsamic vinegar must be aged, you will never be served a stale glass of wine or a stale piece of bread. These people have Intense pride in being Roman, in being Italian and in serving exceptional food. I have heard it said many times,” I have never had a bad meal in Italy”. The restaurants in Rome are completely focused on the food they serve, you may have to wait for it but that is because it does not come in a package or from a frozen food box.

In Rome when you are seated at a table you are never rushed so that the table can be turned for the next customer. This practice drives most of us to exasperation until we get used to it. We Americans have been trained to expect the check soon after the last bite has been eaten, in Rome you may wait for thirty minutes or longer for a check.

In the famous market, Campo dei Fiori, one can find the finest produce, sausages of every description, pasta shapes that I have never seen, incredible olives and olive oil that is fresh. The meat stalls focus on cuts from Sienese cattle from Tuscany and pork from Bologna. There is no shell game being played here, the products are exactly what they are represented to be. The produce stalls are brightly colored with fresh tomatoes and beautiful fruits, the cheese stalls with perfectly white fresh and aged cheeses, the green vegetables have not traveled thousands of miles in refrigerated trucks. This all stems from an attitude that nothing is too good and anything less than perfect will be rejected.

Simply Brushcetta

Fresh bread sliced into 1” slices

Vine ripe tomatoes

Fresh basil

Fresh garlic

Fresh Extra Virgin olive oil.

Grill bread slices on a char grill or brown in olive oil at low heat. Dice tomatoes, garlic and basil and toss mixture in the best olive oil you can buy. Cover the bread liberally with the tomato mixture and serve. I suggest a great Gavi di Gavi white wine from the Cortese grape.

The Tuscan Toll Goose and other reflections of Tuscany and The Langhe Hills.

The land of The Langhe hills is as beautiful as any that I have seen. These foothills of the Italian Alps are an agricultural paradise and the cities and people reflect this beauty, their passion is their land and their land is their passion. Their vineyards and orchards exhibit a level of stewardship that approaches perfection. The hill towns and cities of the valleys are remarkably structured and beautifully maintained. The architecture is more western European than one would expect and the people are quite cosmopolitan in their dress and mannerisms. It can easily be seen that this land has had many masters over the centuries and they all have left a lasting impression.

The old man and the steps, a reflection.

Our friends in the wine business back home told us that it would be nearly impossible to visit wineries and vineyards in Italy without first having an introduction from the large U.S. distributors. We found this to be a false impression on one of our first visits to a local wine broker who sells to American distributors.

We were told to take the steps down hill from the center of Diano Di Alba and we would find a place to taste and perhaps buy wine. It was not that easy a place to find but after asking several people for directions we located a huge and closed wooden door. The door knocker must have weighed 25 pounds so a few fast knocks later an old man opened the door. He invited us in and sat us at a twelve foot long table and with a few words of greeting he proceeded to open four bottles of wine, a Barolo, a Dolcetto and a pair of barbarescos. He gave us two glasses and motioned for us to drink. During all of this he had a phone call on hold which he returned to. He left us alone for the best part of an hour as he finished his negotiation. The wines were delicious and priced very reasonably, but there remained at least a hundred other vintages on the shelves that will remain a mystery to us. We asked the old man in our broken Italian mixed with Spanish if he had any favorites that he could recommend. With a big smile he pulled a dozen or more bottles from the racks and said here is the best of it all. With no question as to price we purchased them all and he gave us a few free bottles and a wine opener as a gift. We paid him a whole $125 and sat there for another hour drinking his wine and doing our best to make conversation. For those of us that have been to wineries in Napa and Santa Barbara, and suffered thru crowds of people, small pours and high prices this was a unique experience that will not be easily forgotten.


In the hill town of Barbaresco the Italian government has taken over a deconsecrated church and established what they call an “Enoteca”. This is a place that represents all of the wine makers of a given region and they sell directly to the public. Being the first and only customers in the shop we were afforded many newly opened tastings. With no small amount of amusement, having been raised a catholic and having assisted in innumerable masses. I truly enjoyed standing at the altar in celebration of a communion of a different sort.

The Tuscan Toll Goose.

The town of Greve In Chianti is just south of its famous neighbor Florence. We arrived with high expectations and some worry that we might not like it as well as the Langhe Hills. We were to stay in one of the popular Agri-Tourismo properties that are operated as working farms and lodging establishments for visitors. Finding a small farm in Tuscany is like finding a small fish in a big ocean, especially when using a map not unlike a child’s treasure map. The countryside is carpeted with small farms and vineyards. Our particular farm is called Podere Torre, or The Tower Farm. After some considerable effort we found a sign that pointed uphill towards our destination. The road was narrow, almost a car width, and wound between houses and stone walls. The road soon turned to gravel and sure enough, another sign pointing up the hill. We kept climbing for a few miles and saw a large pond on the left side of the road and in the middle of the road stood a huge goose with his wings opened as if to slap us away. The goose stood exactly in the center of the road and showed no inclination to move. We stopped the car, not wanting to hurt the goose or the car in order to formulate a plan of sorts. I was not about to get out and chase him away, I briefly thought that I might ask Linda to do it, but I held that thought. In a few minutes a motorcyclist came around the corner and the goose took off after him, pecking at his legs and flapping his wings, we took this opportunity for flight and made the rest of the drive without incident.

After checking into our lodgings we decided that we should go into town look around and have dinner. Before we head back to town let me briefly describe our accommodations. Nearly every Tuscan farm house is built on at least two and often three levels, the bottom level being for the farm animals this area is called the stalla and that was where we stayed, walls three feet thick and cold enough to hang meat The trip to town was uneventful and we had a lovely Tuscan supper of bean and bread soup and a nice wine of the region. Before leaving the restaurant I put a few pieces of bread in my pocket to hopefully placate the toll goose. Sure enough he was standing at his guard station. We pulled up and with some trepidation I rolled down the window and tossed the bread. The bread did the trick, as long as we had bread for him he never bothered us again, he actually seemed to look forward to our passing. We later learned that he had a family that was hiding in the reeds at the ponds edge. The bean and bread soup recipe is for you and for me to remember the toll goose.

Valentina’s gift.

We have all had the good fortune of meeting the type of individual that makes us feel better, for the moment or for a lifetime. Valentina is just such a person. She was born and raised in Albania and immigrated to Italy and Rome some 12 years ago. She and her husband own the Lavasecco near our apartment and we drop off our cleaning every few days. During the course of our business, while she folds my shirts and wraps them in tissue paper I ask her small questions in Spanish that she is able to understand and she answers in Italian which I kind of understand. I remember the day I asked her what her husband did for a living, she pointed at the television and intimated that he either worked for the station or possibly that he repaired or sold them. As the weeks passed we met her husband, she had told him about the Mexican with the pretty wife so he greeted us with a beautiful Buenos Dias. I asked where he learned his Spanish and Valentina chimed in ,with an exasperated look, that he learned it on the television of course. The answer became quite clear, she works and he watches television. The next day her husband called to us on the street with a perfect buenas tardes. I never walk past her shop with sticking my head in the door and it never fails, I always feel better for it. There is a lot to be said for a kind word and a ready smile. Thank you Valentina!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Colosseum and Pantheon

Rome is a busy city with an enormous number of monuments, churches, squares that are famous that it is impossible to make a short list of the absolutely must-see landmarks. I was fortunate enough to go and explore two of the most visited attractions of the eternal city which are the Colosseum and the Pantheon. In this essay I will be describing and comparing these two historical sites. The Colosseum and the Pantheon are two equally important buildings that are the bases in which has developed Italian culture by illustrating how ancient Romans’ controlled their land.

The Colosseum was built during the era of the Roman Empire and as it is well known the Colosseum was used as an entertainment arena. The actual name of the Colosseum is the Flavian Amphitheater, and Emperor Vespasian was the founder that started construction of the Colosseum in 72 AD and it wasn’t till 80 AD when it was completed. Emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public with games such as deadly fights between exotic animals and gladiators or between gladiators. The fighters were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. Emperors utilized the Colosseum to entertain the public by offering them free admission to watch the games. The games were looked upon as a symbol of prestige and power increasing the popularity of the emperor. I believe the Colosseum was used as a political tactic to manipulate the people in order to gain power over the population to accomplish other plans the emperors had in mind.

The immense elliptical building was reflected to Ancient Romans as human sacrifice at the dead person's funeral would appease the pagan gods and ensure a satisfactory entrance into the afterlife. It affected Italian culture by pleasing the people and bringing everyone together to watch free entertainment and helped emperors show off and gain their power. Today the ruins of the Colosseum are utilized to remind us of the greatest architecture made by the Roman Empire. In the days of ancient Rome, the oval shaped Colosseum was the largest public entertainment arena in the world, seating 50,000 spectators all with numbered tickets. Italian culture would be significantly different if it were not to the construction and the entertainment held at the Colosseum. My favorite part of the Colosseum was being able to stand where the Emperors would sit during the games. I felt honored to be able to stand where such powerful men once sat to enjoy the games at the Colosseum.

Another incredible site I got to visit was the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a magnificent ancient temple that was later converted into the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres. Dating from 125 AD, this is the most complete ancient building in Rome and one of the city's most spectacular and visited sights. Until the 20th century, the Pantheon was the largest concrete structure in the world and was also dedicated to all the gods. When the Pantheon became a church, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the sacrificial victims. The Pantheon is widely praised for its accomplishment of architecture and concept of space. What impressed me the most about the Pantheon was the huge dome and how it is a perfect circle hemisphere of cast concrete, resting on a solid wall. The Pantheon has no windows and the only light penetrates from above streaming from the dome called the Oculus. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is the most imitated buildings of all ancient works. The Pantheon also contains monumental tombs that are set into the walls, including the tomb of the artist Raphael. The Pantheon has not only had an impact on Italian culture but on the rest of the world, many of the engineering techniques that were used in its construction are still used in present day. Roman Pantheon in its current state allows us a glimpse into the marvelous and stunning world of Roman architecture.

 The Colosseum and the Pantheon are two recognized buildings known for their unique engineering techniques. Emperors Vepasian and Hadrian made two of the most prominent buildings of ancient Rome. These two buildings were utilized as inspiration for other buildings based on the imitation of their structure, expanding Italian architecture. The complexity and difficulty it must have been to construct these two buildings is incredible; each building has its own level of unique construction making them fascinating in their own way. Aside from the different forms of architectural design I believe the only difference these two buildings carry is what they were originally used for, the Colosseum was a violent arena while the Pantheon was utilized as a temple/church.

I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to have seen the Colosseum and the Pantheon because they are two of the most influential buildings of all times. The monumental sizes, sophistication, and technological designs make it two of the greatest architectural achievements of the ancient Romans. Even though both of the places had different purposes they are similar in a way that present day still influences Italian culture through its construction and influential purposes either through entertainment or religious purposes.

-Alma Balderrama
Reflective Essay # 2

The Colosseum and The Sistine Chapel


Lauren Wolf


While in Italy two sites have especially captured my imagination - the Colosseum, a secular building, and the Sistine Chapel, a sacred building. I gained a better grasp of the history of both sites because I took tours of them from very knowledgeable tour guides. In this reflective essay I want to compare and contrast them and discuss the impact the sites have on Italian culture.
The Colosseum is a well-known destination to people all over the world. It was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre; the nickname “Colosseum” came from the “colossal” bronze statue of Nero that was erected next to it. The Colosseum was built between 70 and 72 AD; construction only took about eight to 10 years because ancient Rome had so many slaves to help with the construction of the building. The structure was built for secular entertainment, hosting events that ranged from animals fights to gladiator battles. It could seat up to 50,000 people and was a strategic way to amuse Romans and keep them from rioting or creating other problems. Over time, this breath-taking structure deteriorated, but over the centuries, Romans realized its iconic significance and its reflection of the city’s rich culture. Recently, efforts have been undertaken to restore this structure, particularly to address environmental degradation. Present-day streets run along the sides of the Colosseum, and vehicle exhaust has eroded the walls. An extensive cleaning of the walls took place from 1993-2000 (Italy-Accom, 1996-2010). The Colosseum may be the most recognizable symbol of Rome’s history. Show a picture of the Colosseum to any person in the world and almost automatically the person thinks of Italy in general, Rome in particular.
The Sistine Chapel is another, very different building but one that also evokes an unmistakable image of Rome. It’s ceiling, covered with Michelangelo’s paintings, is a wondrous masterpiece in Vatican City. To imagine that one man could complete such a great work all those years ago is awe-inspiring. Artists today have technology to complete artworks “similar” to the Sistine Chapel, but even with our best work and best technology, it is difficult to believe that someone could come close to equaling that chapel. Michelangelo begrudgingly took four years, lying flat on his back, 100 feet in the air, to create this masterpiece, at the request of Pope Julius II.(Fay, 2009) Imagine what it would have looked at if he wanted to do the project? Michelangelo extracted nine scenes from the book of Genesis in the Christian Bible and turned it into a work of art no one who sees it will ever forget. As with the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel is a major tourist attraction.
These two iconic Roman buildings symbolize Rome. They are both similar in the fact that they have withstood time, but they represent two totally different eras of time, ancient Rome and the Renaissance. However both transport us back in time. Both sites give modern visitors a glimpse into the past. They connect us to something concrete, something that has withstood the test of time, and that greatly influenced our contemporary civilization.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vatican City by: Alma Balderrama

After many attempts Carina and I finally made it to the Vatican Museum. This time we decided to not to go in the early morning since that is when there are the most tourist and the line gets immense. Thankfully as we arrived we bumped into a friend Carina had made that was a tour guide. He gave us a great deal which included only paying 8 Euros and not having to wait in line.

The Vatican Musuem inside the Vatican City, is among the greatest museum in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries from all over the world. I know can see why people always say it would take years to explore the entire musuems because it is full of great pieces of sculptures, tapestry, paintings, etc. I was really overwhelmed by the size and the amount of art it carries, I did not know where to start exploring. One of my favorite pieces was the tapestry of the Ressurrection of Christ by Raphael. I am glad we had a tour guide to inform us of this piece since it blends in with the rest. As your walking by it Christ's eyes follow yours and his body and the marble stone he stands on shifts to the direction your walking giving an optical elusion. I find it remarkable that back then they had no technology and still managed to create images like that one. Of course the highlight of the tour was the Sistine Chapel. I believe Michealangelo was an extradinary talented man, the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the most remarkable pieces of art I have ever seen or will ever see. Our tour guide was great in giving us a deep explaination of the story behind the Sistine Chapel which helped me appreciate and understand it more. I found it incredible that Michealangelo hated painting the Sistine Chapel and that it would be his first time painting, but he had no choice since he was forced by the terrible pope at the time.

After the tour of the museum we headed to St. Peter's Basilica. St. Peter's Basilica is as well immense full of beautiful statues surrounding it. In the center is a huge thrown looking figure that really gives a dramatic look. We did not spend much time in the basilica since we had gone to mass a couple weeks ago and had already explored it. I am not a catholic but I find Vatican city to be extrodinary! When we attended mass it was really neat because they sang the entire time and the mass was in Latin. I was pretty upset because they had miss informed us that told us that the pope was going to make an appearance. By the time we headed to the other side of the basicila and crossed thousands of people we had missed the pope. Aside from that I found my experience at mass unforgettable, and I find St. Peter's to be a beautiful basicila that not matter what religion you worship it is worth taking the time to go out and explore.

After experiencing the tour of the museum and St. Peter's Basilica I can see why Vatican City is one of the most well-known places to visit. It has been one of the locations in which I have seen the most tourist out of all the sites I have visited in all of Europe. I feel very lucky and appreciative that I had the chance to go and explore Vatican City. Vatican Musuem and St. Peter's Basilica is one of the most important sites for the history of human civilization,I believe everyone should really take the time to learn and discover what great art is has to offer.

The Colosseum and Vatican Museum by Carina Vargas

The beautiful city of Rome is widely recognized for its historical background and breathtaking sites, reason for its nickname “The Eternal City.” I am lucky to say that the home to some of the most well known landmarks and artwork is also the place that I temporarily call home. I have visited many important sites during my stay, with some of the most memorable being the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum.

I arrived at the Colosseum with a lack of sufficient background regarding the site, and I thought taking a guided tour would be the best approach to my visit. It was a smart decision considering that my tour guide was very informative, energetic, and enjoyable. The Colosseum was built when the Roman Empire was at its peak in A.D. 80, and as we were told, it represents Rome at its grandest. We call this building the Colosseum, but its real and original name is The Flavian Amphitheater. The second word of its original name serves as a hint to determine the purpose of the building, which was for entertainment. During this time, killing was a spectator sport, and the Colosseum was the perfect arena for gladiator contests and public spectacles.

The design of the building was not created for aesthetic purposes, but simply for functionality. While the structure is Roman, it is mainly decorated with Greek columns. There was Tuscan style on ground level, Ionic on the second level, Corinthian on the next level , and on the top there was mixtures of all three. The different levels of seating was reserved for different classifications of people. The very top level above the rest was reserved for women. This was to ensure that they were kept away from all of the gore and confrontations that would happen in the lower levels. Right below the women were the slaves, which according to my tour guide, had the best view in the house. The levels below were all reserved for men. The tour of the Colosseum also included the Palantine Hill and the Forum, which were both very impressive sights and well worth the 20 Euros that I paid for the day. Overall I had a very educational and wonderful experience.

Looking at the historical sites is extremely important, but building relationships is just as important when diving into a new culture. I was lucky enough to have met and become good friends with an individual who very conveniently is also a guide at the Vatican. He was kind enough to allow me and a friend to take his tour of the museum free of charge. Considering that the tour guide at the Colosseum had done such an incredible job, I had very high expectations for this one, which also turned out to be a great experience.

The entrance of the building covers the ancient world, which is Egypt, Greece and Rome. At the far end, including the Sistine Chapel, the Renaissance is covered. The Egyptian art really impressed me, including the mummy of the woman who died three millennia ago and whose corpse was disemboweled. It is difficult to describe or discuss everything I saw at the museum, because the amounts of things to see are overwhelming, and according to my tour guide, it would take years to really get to see everything. Walking along I saw that the majority of the statues had fig leaves. We were told that those came from the years 1550 to 1800 because the church decided that openly displaying those body parts at the museum was obscene. Then we moved on to the tapestries, and I have to day that I was most impressed with Raphael’s Resurrection of Christ tapestry. It is so precise that it creates an optical illusion as you walk past it, making the impression that Jesus’ eyes, body, and stone in which he is standing follow you wherever you go. A couple hours later we finally made it into the Sistine chapel, which I was most excited to see. As expected, it was absolutely breathtaking, and just having in mind the amount of hard work and time that was put into the creation of the paintings that cover the walls of the chapel is mind blowing. Looking up at the artwork for just fifteen minutes made my neck and my back hurt, so it is difficult to imagine the struggles that Michael Angelo faced when creating this masterpiece. There are still many special events that take place in the Chapel, including celebrating mass with the Pope every so often, but most importantly, it is the place where all of the Cardinals gather when facing the difficult decision of choosing the next pope.

Vatican Museum

The Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon

Each day, as I walk to class, I get to gaze upon two incredible sites, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Words cannot describe how stunning these sites really are. Both of these monuments exemplify ancient Romans’ control over their environment. The fact that these were built without the aid of modern day machinery and technology is mind-blowing.
The Pantheon is a site that must be seen. Not only does is showcase the ancient Romans brilliant architectural minds, It also demonstrates their understanding of complicated geometrical concepts. The structure of the Pantheon is made up of many geometrical shapes including, triangles, rectangles, cylinders, and of course the dome. When I first was inside the Pantheon, and I looked up, I could not believe my eyes; I could not even begin to comprehend how this unreinforced dome was built in the second century. The dome is perfectly symmetrical with an oculus in the center, which serves as a light source and a view to the heavens. The dome has a diameter of 142 feet, and is 142 feet from the start of the dome to the oculus. It was constructed with such precision that a sphere, with a 142 foot diameter, could be placed inside the Pantheon. Till this day there has been no unreinforced dome that has superseded the size of the Pantheon’s. I find it incredible that, in almost 2000 years, nothing can compare.
Throughout the ages it has served a few purposes. The word Pantheon translates to “all of the gods”, so initially it was a temple that reflected the ancient Romans polytheistic views. In 609 the building was then converted into a Christian church, which was a reflection of how the Romans’ pagan views were pushed away and replaced with Christianity. The church is credited with taking care of the Pantheon, and keeping it in the shape that it is in today; it still serves as a church, and holds services.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest fountain in Rome; I also believe it to be the most beautiful. Although it was built much later than the Pantheon, 1732-1762, it is still a truly awe-inspiring feat. The fountain is positioned at the ending point of Aqua Virgo, which is an aqueduct that was built in 19 BC. In ancient Rome, a fountain of some sort was traditionally built at the ending point of an aqueduct. The Trevi stands 85 feet tall, and is 65 feet wide. When one comes face to face with this fountain it is easy to see why its construction took so long. It is a gigantic work of art, crafted from marble, rock, and cement. At that time there were no power tools, so the material had to be gathered, chiseled, and sculpted by hand. The gigantic size did not stop Nicola Salvi from incorporating a great deal of detail within the fountain, and its statues. In the center of the fountain there is a large statue of Neptune, the god of the sea; he is riding a chariot that is being pulled by two horses. One is mild mannered, while the other is angry and out of control; this is symbolic of how the sea can act in either manner. The other impressive thing about the fountain is that there were no electric pumps in that time, so all the water had to gain pressure solely from gravity and tapered pipes in the aqueduct system.
Today there is great superstition surrounding the fountain. It is said that If you throw a coin into the fountain, facing backwards, that you will return to Rome. It is estimated that around 3000 euros are collected each day. This money is used for a food bank that helps feed needy Romans. So if you pass by the Trevi be sure to stop for a few minutes and think about it. Look at its incredible size and the detail that was put in to it; then remember that it was built without the modern luxuries that many of us take for granted today. When you are leaving, do not forget to toss a euro into the fountain.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to see these sites at such a young age. When I looked at both places I began to think about things much differently. Often time people have the idea that those who came before us are also more primitive; however, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon have shown me that incredible feats can be done without modern technology. The Romans were masters of architecture, mathematic, and art. What they accomplished many years ago are still considered impressive feats today.


The Colosseum,
Today, the roommates and I decided to go see the Colosseum. We figured out which metro exit it wa on, and as soon as we exited the station, Bam!! The Colosseum was the first thing you saw walking outside. It took me by surprise... It was huge! Knowing that we were there, standing in front of one of the most recognized structures in the World was hard to take in. We decided to sit outside on the grass for awhile before entering. I could have sat there all day. The Colosseum was such a huege part of the Roman culture..Rich and poor would come everyday to be etertained, and it was the main event in most of their lives. Now, sitting outside, the Colesseum was stripped of all its brass and marble (used in Wars) and had holes all along the wall. It is being used for a different type of entertainment. Mcdonalds is right in front, tourists from all over the World travell to see it, and little souvenior shops are all along the walls.
It was hard to image how the structure would have looked when it was originally built. It would have beautiful! Its amazing to thing the Romans were able to build such a structure with so little resources. Sitting outside in the sun just looking at the Colosseum would have been enough for me that day! But of course we had to go inside
Once we entered we had to walk up what seemed to be a million steps until we were able to come outside. To be honest my very first impression was, "I thought it was going to be bigger!" haha. Its strange to think that back in the day this was one of the biggest arenas of its time (Now we have the Dallas Cowboy stadium) and everything in America has to be bigger and better now. Looking around the inside of the Colosseum was breathtaking though. I tried to imagine the stands filled with hundreds of people. Both rich and poor. And to think of the events that happened here (the Gladiator wars) was a bit grussome. There were so many people killed, in horrible ways, just for entertainment. I wondered if they had food stands like we do now! And what kind of food would they have sold? Lamb, and bread? haha! We walked around and read the little facts about the games held here, and saw what the gladiators would have worn when fighting. It was a great experience, and Im so lucky to be here. For now, just walking around and seeing the Colosseum was great, but I want to go back and actually take a tour and learn as much as I can!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adventures in Rome so far 6/09/2010

Living in Rome has been amazing so far! The first week my roommates and I visited many sites throughout the city. We took the tour of the Vatican, and I'm so happy we did. It was so surreal looking at the amazing art work and trying to grasp how important all the pieces were. Our tour guide was great, and the whole group learned a lot that day. We also went into the Basilica, and wandering around the square for the rest of the day.
The Colosseum was also a great experience.  We went inside and walked around reading all the facts about the history, and got to see what the Gladiators wore. Its crazy learning about the Colosseum in school, and watching so many movies based off it. To actually be there, and be able to say I saw the inside of the Colosseum is something I'm very thankful for.
I have also really enjoyed taking the Italian history and culture class. I did not know very much, if not anything really about Italy's culture and history. Learning about all the historical sites, and being able to go to them on our days off is incredible.
We have been in Rome for almost three weeks now, and time is flying!! My roommate and I only take the class on Monday (Italian History and Culture) so we are privledged to be able to go explore other parts of Italy, and it has been amazing so far!! So beautiful!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gusto in the Gusto Lab 6-1-2010

Today was a great day in Rome. After my first session in The History of Food, a few of us went out to the Villa Borghese. The best way I could describe this is the Central Park of Rome. In the center of the city there is a massive park with ponds, trails, trees and statues. We were really exhausted so we found a nice little spot of grass and took a brief nap.  
We returned to the Pantheon Institute and took a field trip down to the Gusto Lab. The Gusto Lab is a very modern/ chic wine tasting lab. Upon entering, we were greeted by the owner, Sonia, a very bold younger Italian entrepreneur. We entered the wine tasting room, which was able to accommodate all of us. We had a world class server, sommelier, who has credentials from professional resorts, and serving institutions. We tasted various wines and olive oils. We were instructed on presentation, matching, tasting, smelling, pouring, and even opening the bottle. This was very informative and we were able to taste some fine wine paired with delicious cheeses and breads. 
I was actually able to enjoy some of the red wines. I am usually a white wine person, and cannot drink many red wines, however, their wines had a great flavor and were very smooth to the tongue. I could get used to this. 

-G. Mario Ulibarri

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6-6-2010 Mass at the Vatican

     It's been a couple of day's since i've contiplated going to mass at the Vatican.  Two views that held me back from making my decision was, first-the news on the radio reported the Pope was going to be in the Middle East and second- i'm not Catholic, although it's been assumed by many that I was Catholic because of my race. 

    My arguments: I have journeyd to Roma for the purpose of education and to experience a culture that was not my own.  Also, I was brought up in a bible reading, faith based christian church, which through history has been separated through religious opposition, yet... share the same biblical foundation-Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The fact that the Pope was not going to preside over this particular mass, brought up the question "why go?" (culture); and yet I'm a believer...of God as Father, Jesus Son and Savior and of the Holy Spirit (faith).  
It was'nt until late yesterday evening (June 5) that I decided to go.  While on a walk I began to meditate through the streets of Rome, I realized that I should'nt be concerned about who presides over mass,  but why mass is being celebrated.  To gather as the people of God under one roof (in this case theVatican) to worship God and to rejoice over the saving grace of Jesus. I was intrested in seeing the Pope but... what I was most intrested in- was the man that represents a slice of Religious History.  A few hundred years ago I would have been one of the heritics that would have been burned at the stake, by this same same appointed seat.  I arrived early sunday morning to beat the crowds...

No lines, no crowds just two hand-full of tourists waiting for the first mass to begin, in portuguese.  Along with studying Italian I also studied Portuguese so I entered with the faithful from Brazil. Back at home I'm used  to going to church on sundays for two and some hours, so I decided to remain seated and listened to the second mass in Italian.  When this mass was over the masses of people were already snapping pictures and observing the third lituragy.     

It seemed to me that the Romans have forgotten of what it's like to have such a magnificint structure in which to worship in.  I have heard from scholars that the Roman Catholic Church in Italia is losing it's parishoners, but not to other denominations but rather to their own free wills.  I realize that the Vatican is rich in history, however in my opinion the faithfull gather to see a man rather than the purpose of the structure.  Worship


2nd week into Roma! By Sarah Bryant

Hey All!

Im writing you two weeks into my amazing visit of Rome, Italy. Today we went to the tiniest country in the world with the population of 300!!!! (If you guessed Vatican City, you guessed right!) It was so amazing I cannot even find the words to explain it to you all. When we walked into St. Peter's Square it took my breath away and did not even care about the heat, the line, the cost of getting in ( although that one is not so true haha), the people screaming, nothing, just true peace. This place was almost magical it was weird how it had that affect on me. So the line is really long to get in but its all good because we just took pictures and absorbed the fact we were at the place where the Pope lives!

So we finally got in! Then there were more lines but we decided to climb the steps all the way to the top of the dome in St. Peters Basillica and wow I do not think I have ever seen so many steps! There were like 400 - 500 steps we were told but when we got to the top the view was to die for I have attached some pictures in this email for you to see. After that we went to the Vatican Museum and saw the Sistine Chappel and all I can say is WOW! I do not even know how Michelangelo was able to paint that it just was simply marvelous!

Thats all for now...
Sarah Bryant

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Second Week in Roma

It is Friday June 4, 2010, 11:47 pm. It’s our second week here in Rome and it has gone by quite fast. Even though it seems that we've done a lot here and have seen so much, there is still much more to see and do. Since I've been here I've already taken in so much. Many events have occurred like the Day of the Italian Republic that was this past Wednesday. Is was great being a part of this day and watching the parade. Different groups of the military and the Italian president marched down the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, right along the Coliseum. It was amazing! What a long parade it was but quite an experience. So many people showed up to this parade and getting out of this area was a little bit of a hassle but we managed to stumble right out of the crowed.

I don’t think this has ever happened to me before, it just had to happen to me in Roma, but maybe it was a good thing. Well, you might think that this is just unfortunate but think again. As a group of us were walking back to our flats from the parade that same day, I felt a splash coming down from the sky and Jonique who was behind me saw the splash too but she couldn’t quite point it out. This all happened in a split second and as soon as I turned to my left shoulder I saw a little puddle of Wight bird poop sitting on my black t-shirt. It was discussing and I yelled out loud, "gross!" Yes, everyone laughed a little bit and Nicole quickly got a paper towel and whipped it off her me. Thank you Nicole! An Italian older man saw the whole thing and as soon as he walked passed me he said "good fortune" in Italian, "good fortune." I didn’t know what he meant at the time but Jonique told me he said good fortune and when a bird poops on you it means good fortune Italy. Well, I guess I'm a lucky one then.

Later that night, Sarah, Nicole, Jonique, and I had all purchased our monthly metro tickets and we thought to stop somewhere we haven’t been before, so we picked the San Giovanni stop. There arent very many tourist sights around here but we did see many shops. We even had one of the greatest cappuccinos in this area. It was only a euro and very sweet with just the right amount of crème. We walked and talked through the streets of Rome, sipping our cappuccinos. It was great!

This day was quite eventful and everyday is like this. Everyday we discover something new. I love being here and being around the people that I'm with.

Crystal Holguin