We had a free day so a group of us went on a trip to the catacombs. The tombs were all underground and it was very humid, dark, and chilly when we went down. They had taken all of the bones out of the tombs because people had been stealing them. I was glad they took the bones out because it would be extra creep if they hadn’t. This catacomb was one of the bigger ones, it had three stories and had once had multiple popes buried there along with other important people. The older bodies were toward the top and then once they needed more space they kept digging down. It was extremely fascinating. After we finished the tour we walked back to the station and made our way back to Rome.The walk to an from the catacomb was pretty, there was a large field leading up to it and you could see the various opening to the catacombs along the way for oxygen to get down to the tunnels to harden the soil.
Once we got back to Rome they called a doctor to come to the hotel for me because of my throat. Apparently they still do house calls in Italy which is very convenient. He came within an hour and Kirk helped translate. The doctor told me to open my mouth and he went, Ah! And then proceeded to prescribe me drugs. This part was kind of difficult too because of my allergy but it was all worked out and yay for no strep!
Today we went to the Vatican. Once we got to the line we had to use their head speakers for the tours instead of the ones we had been using. This just reminded me of another example of how the Italian government creates more and more steps in order to get more money out of the deal. Once we got into the Vatican Museum we started learning about different pieces of art and the further on we went the more crowded it got. The coolest part was seeing pieces I had studied in school which included The Sistine Chapel. There was a ton of build up for it too because it was the last thing we saw. There were so many people, but it was cool to see the different styles Michelangelo used throughout the 3 different sections and 9 panels. In the ceiling paintings, the people gradually got bigger and the story got easier to follow with the large images. It was crazy to me to learn that the famous image of the fingers about to touch in the middle of the panels was inspired by a piece of art of a different artist. It is slightly weird to me to think that he generated different ideas from other artists, it seems like artists create ideas off of Michelangelo not the other way around. After we went to St. Peter’s Basilica and saw the Pietá. It was interesting to here how Michelangelo created Mary to be bigger in order for a grown man to lay on her lap. The sculpture is extremely life like in how the bodies are shown, the muscles and the depiction of weight shown through Mary’s hand when she is holding Christ’s rib cage are examples of that. Art is pretty cool. After we left The Vatican, I went back to the hotel and slept until dinner.
Today we walked around Rome. We first went to the Pantheon in and it was interesting to see where the Romans where the Romans worshiped their gods. The building is a perfect circle with a hole in the middle of the building so the people are that much closer to their gods. The architecture they created for this building is amazing especially because this building would have only worked if there was a hole in the top. Next we went to the Colosseum and walked around there. It was fascinating to here all the history behind the colosseum. How people could have actually done that to other people. We were then presented with the idea that this could be going on still today just in a different format like not giving enough money to the poor, which basically leaves them to die. After learning about that we went to roman ruins and Kirk talked about how the city was during the actual time of rome when it was in it’s high. I found it fascinating how the society had figured out how to encourage gender roles during that time through the women who volunteered to clean and take care of the building in the center of town. After lunch, we walked to our meeting with Libera and learned about the Italian Mafia and how they work to change society’s acceptance of Mafia. They attempt to do this by converting confiscated Mafia land into land that the public can benefit from. Education was also very important in their process. This kind of brings up similarities over many of the different activist groups. Education is a tool the different groups use to expand their ideas and movements.
Today we went to Siena! It was kind of a long bus ride but once we got there we went through a couple of buildings. We first went into a church that had a Saints head in it. I can’t remember her name but it was weird to think how body parts are important in their religion and how they venerate them. I also noticed the stain glass window looked like a child drew it it was completely different than what I was used to in these old churches. After we left that church we went into a museum and it had original paintings from the cathedral that we went into next. The next cathedral was beautiful too. It looked a little bit different though because it had black and white stripes and there were mulitple art pieces on the ground. Someone brought up the interesting thought that how could anyone during this time period walk into any of these amazing churches and not believe in God. I had never really thought about that but it is so true. After the cathedral we went to lunch, and I had a sandwich that was pretty delightful, and then we ventured to the main square.
Once our whole group had all gotten to the square we headed to Rome. In Rome, dinner was right down the street from our hotel and a man smoked at least 8 cigarettes during the time we were there. Ew.
We got to florence and walked to the main Piazza. My group toured the Duomo first and we saw the architecture used for the cathedral. It was very geometric and it had a large open area when you walked in that looked like tile carpet. It was explained that it was suppose to be kind of like an indoor piazza. The walls were pretty much bare except for a couple of pictures of mercenaries on the wall. An announcement came on while we were in there with the shhh noise and “silence” It was extremely creepy. After we left the main cathedral we went out to the baptistry and the doors were done by different people and we all different styles. The outside was under construction, so that wasn’t very fun, but inside, it was beautiful. It was a completely different style than inside the main cathedral. There many gold and mosaic embellishments. It used to have stairs down to a pool where you would be baptized and then go into the church. They would do this on easter Sunday and other days which I can’t remember. That was cool to know that was actually used to baptize people. After we toured that church, we went onto the Basilica. It was extremely beautiful inside. It was built using a softer and cooler stone on the inside than the other. This church had a private room for the Medici family. After we looked around the top level, we went around through a courtyard and down and we saw many different jewels that were used in different eras and you could drastically see a difference in the style of the different pieces. Some were very gaudy and the others ornate. All were made out of extremely beautiful material. We saw an important Medici at the time and it was obvious that he was extremely important because his grave was placed in one of the most important support spots of the cathedral representing his importance. Right outside his grave Donatello was buried and that was so amazing seeing his actual grave. Crazy. After we finished going through that church we all went back to the main piazza and then we were released for lunch. After we went with Kirk and went into the older part of the city and went to a small church that was a graveyard for little children. Life during this period was centered around death. We also saw where the river had once flooded up to on many of the buildings. Kirk also showed us many of the corridors where Michelangelo would have walked. It was extremely interesting to see how the communities were set up there because before Florence was one city, it was made up of different communities with there own currencies. It was taken over by the Medicis and then collectivized to make a successful city. After we walked around we went to the church where the David was originally placed, but now there is just a replica. I got a ticket of a dead guy dying and before people wanted to switch but no one wanted to switch with me because they didn’t want the ding guy and in the end it was of St. Francis so he was the most important portrait in the church. The church was beautiful just like all the other churches and basically every one you learn about in school was buried there. Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, and other famous people. After the museum we headed back on the trains to Arezzo.