Archive for April, 2006

A fresh reading

4 April 2006

This is my first post-trip post. I can’t promise that there will be all that many in the future, but when I experience something worth talking about, I’ll post.

So this morning was the first chance I have had to really sit down and read the Bible since my trip to the Holy Land. Before I left a bunch of people told me, “you’ll never read the Bible the same again.” Of course, being the self-conscious person that I am I thought, “Oh no, what if I go to Israel and it doesn’t change how I read the Bible?!” But as it happens I needn’t have worried. As I read Matthew this morning it was really strange because when it talked about the places that Jesus was, I could actually picture the scenery and landscape in my mind. Having seen the places made reading very different. I’ve believed the Bible was reliable and authoritative for many years, but as I read this morning, there was more of an experience of it being rooted in history and a real geography. So I guess it is true, I really won’t ever read the Bible the same again. I’m very grateful for the experience.


Unknown Soldier

1 April 2006
Next stop, Piazza Venetia. Across from the old palace where Mussolini stood on his balcony and preached his fascist blah-blah to the masses stands a memorial that includes the tomb of the unknown soldier. Like the one here in D.C., they have guards who watch it around the clock. I don’t know if they change regularly or not but they stare straight ahead and don’t blink like the one’s in our capital.

Afterwards, we ate some good pasta, shopped and had some of the aforementioned gelato (coffee and lemon). We then hopped back on the metro and headed home in time for a nap. All in all, a great day with good weather and great sites.

The Pantheon

1 April 2006
Next stop, the Pantheon. Originally constructed as a temple to a multitude of pagan gods it was redesigned in the second century by Emperor Hadrian and for centuries has served as a church. A couple of Italian kings are buried here as is Raphael (the great artist, not the ninja turtle).

The most amazing part of the building, though, is its architecture. At the top of its dome is a large hole or oculus (pictured). It is not filled in with glass but is open to the elements. So when it rains, water gets in the Pantheon. There are small holes in the floor of the building that allow water to drain out quickly. A large ring around the inside of the hole serves as a sort of capstone and helps keep the dome from collapsing. It is quite a site.

Spanish Steps

1 April 2006
Fist stop, the Piazza Spagne and the Spanish steps. Every tour books says you should see the steps and if memory serves, there is some famous old movie where the heroine sits on these steps and eats gelato. But aside from the Bernini fountain at their base, they are pretty much just steps and we have walked so many steps the last few days that they all start to look the same. That said, I’m glad I saw them.

The Metro

1 April 2006
I don’t know why, but I never quite feel like I’ve had the international experience unless I’ve ridden the public transportation. Today it finally happened. We had a “free day” which meant that the tour bus wasn’t going to pick us up and drive us from location to location. If we wanted to see any more of Rome, we would have to fend for ourselves.

I love opportunities like that. Armed with my trusty DT Top 10 Rome tour book and a few Euros I lead a small group a couple blocks down the street to the Metro stop. We all purchased 24-hour metro passes (good for all forms of public transportation), hopped on the subway and were off.

“Look lady, I never walk into a situation I can’t walk out of.”

31 March 2006
The quote is from Robert DiNero’s character in one of my favorite spy movies, Ronin. The movie has some of the greatest car chase scenes of all time in it. One of the characters drives a Citroën in the movie and I can’t help but think of the movie every time I see one driving around Rome. The side streets here are as narrow as they are in Nice, France where the movie takes place and it is easy to imagine one of these babies chasing an Audi around. Very fun. Oh, and our tour bus driver the first day looked exactly like Jean Reno who played Vincent. I almost asked him if I could take his picture but I didn’t want to freak him out.

The Senate and People of Rome

31 March 2006
For over 2,000 years, the abbreviation of the Latin for the title of this post (SPQR) has served as the symbol of Rome. It is still found all over the city today even on objects as mundane as water line covers in the sidewalks (pictured). It is amazing to be in a place where history and tradition has been preserved for so long. It makes you wonder if we will still see the letters U.S.A. in our part of the world in another 1,800 years.