Rome Sabbatical – Day 3

Coffee Time!

Coffee Time!

I have an apartment full of sleepy-heads – but then again they may think Dad is an insomniac. I, however, slept well and there was ready to go pretty early. Amy and I let the boys sleep a bit while we walked a few blocks to grocery shop. I am not sure how clear I have been in describing where we live, but let me add one other detail: no one speaks a morsel of English. In fact my Italian (which is nothing more than a Rick Steve’s cheat sheet) is better than local’s English. I have discovered that Clark has quite a knack with languages and has done a much better job than dad in helping us communicate. Yesterday he was very embarrassed by me when I said to a waiter: “grazie ya’ll.”

Anyway, back to the grocery store: we bought some meat that looked like bacon but we found out tasted like prosciutto; some eggs; ciabatta bread; and some very tasty strawberries. No great surprise, but few things were recognizable including milk, juices, or even basic cuts of meat. Every meal is a surprise!

After a late breakfast or early lunch, we walked to our bus stop and soon boarded. It is fun mixing with locals, especially when they are patient in showing us the basics, like how to properly insert your bus card and when your stop is approaching. It makes me feel good that we can provide the good citizens of Rome with so much entertainment and so many stories that they can share with their families at night.

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Our first tour/lecture did not begin until 2 pm which began with Michael Schwartz leading a group jog through Rome in order to reach the Coliseum by the deadline to pick up reserved tickets. We made it, but a few in the group blew out flip-flops.

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For those of you that have traveled to Rome, please bear with me with the overused adjectives to describe its many marvelous sites. The Coliseum is not only a massive site, but an interesting study of the sociological dynamics of the Roman Empire. It is also a rather grim symbol of how far humanity will sink for the sake of entertainment. One would hope that there are no modern parallels, but I wonder…

The Arch of Constantine stands just outside of the Coliseum as does the Arch of Titus – both memorializing Roman conquests in its expansion of power and submission. Rome was such a powerful and well ordered empire but eventually disintegrated over time. There were many contributing causes, but history reminds us and our faith teaches us that nothing on earth remains eternal.

Teaching (well I am learning) at the Arch of Constantine

Teaching (well I am learning) at the Arch of Constantine

We then walked a mile or to San Clemente Church (it actually is much closer to the Coliseum, but we took a few wrong turns). Inside this simple church were stunning (another overused adjective) frescoes and architectural features. In the apse was a fresco that was classic medieval depicting the twelve apostles. In one of the chapels, however, we an early renaissance piece showing a beautiful (there goes another overused adjective) fresco depicting the annunciation on one wall followed by the crucifixion just above the altar. The arrangement was stunning when you consider its metaphysical intent upon the congregant.

The afternoon was late and so we trekked back through Rome looking for a place to eat. We tried so hard to avoid tourist traps and over-priced “ristorante.” Down an alley we found a great little place where the menu items were reasonably priced. The waiter encouraged me to try their lasagna, their specialty, and I was glad I did. Clark had bruschetta with anchovies and Amy and Aaron had pizza. All was well until I discovered I had not checked all of the prices. Three of us, including yours truly, ordered “Fanta Orange” which is not like the orange soft drink we have in the US. This is made with real fruit juice and has much less sugar. Imagine a diluted orange juice that fizzes. To my chagrin our three soft drinks cost 15 euros – about 20 dollars! Yes, I know someone will write me and remind me that wine would have been cheaper.

A weary bus ride home

A weary bus ride home

It is now almost 9 pm, the evening is pleasant and cool, and I am about ready to sleep off my Fanta Orange. Good night, and peace be with each of you,

Greg