Monday, July 25, 2011

Last Day in Roma!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Last day... I think we're all sad about that. It feels like we just got here! It's not only difficult to leave Italy, but the kids are sadly saying goodbye to new friends from Texas, Montana, and Iowa.

Today was chock-full once again - we began the day by visiting another country - the smallest country in the world as a matter of fact. It sits within the city of Rome but it is walled off and has it's own ruler. Still guessing? It's the Vatican - Vactican City, with a population of about 450 priests, nuns, Swiss guards, and a few civilians who work for the Pope.
Worst part of the visit - crowds. Best parts that made up for the crowds - the incredible art, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. There is just nothing like it and it's an experience we'll never forget. The incredible story of Michelangelo's painting of the Creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel makes you appreciate it all the more! Even for those who may not be Catholic, Christian, or even religious, the Sistine Chapel is a moving experience!

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the chapel because the paintings are fresco, and flash photography apparently takes its toll on that stuff.  So here is a link if you want to see a picture of the famous ceiling done by Michelangelo.

Some of the most interesting aspects of the story - 1. Michelangelo was a sculptor, not a painter, 2. Pope Julius II picked him specifically to do it, even though he had some pretty great painters like Botticelli and Raphael at his disposal (they did paint some other parts of the chapel), 3. Michelangelo had to take a 6 week crash course in the complicated and difficult technique of fresco painting so he could learn how to do it, 4. He didn't want to do it, and in fact refused several times until he was threatened with death,  5. He included a few of his own interpretations within the creation that were his way of getting back at the Pope for making him do it, 6. It took Michelangelo 4 years of painting standing on a scaffolding, painting above his head , yet the perspective can only be appreciated from the floor which is 120 feet below, and  6. When the Pope Julius II finally saw the finished work, he was so moved he fell to his knees in awe!

Here is a picture of the ceiling in the long gallery hall leading to the Chapel, and of St. Peter's Basilica:

The late afternoon and evening was spent even further back in time as we walked through the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The Colosseum was amazing! Well over 2000 years old - it was the ultimate entertainment center for Romans. While much of it has been ravaged by time, barbarians, wars, and pollution, it's really incredible what still stands! It was a feat of engineering what they were able to do in terms of keeping animals, moving props and settings (and dead bodies!).

After the Colosseum we toured the Forum - which at one time (over 2000 years ago) was the heart and soul of Roman political and intellectual life. Parts of many of the old buildings and temples have been excavated and are open to the public to walk through. It's like walking back through time- easy to imagine Roman streets filled with citizens, horses and the like!

If that sounds like a full day it was! We are NOT looking forward to our long travel day, saying good bye and leaving Italy, but probably it will be nice to sleep in our own beds soon!

Another successful and memorable adventure for the Tok World Classroom is coming to an end - and this group of students are now world class travelers! Wonder where we'll go next year??!!

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