01 settembre 2006
23 agosto 2006
132 manco roma
Culture shock. I know it seems ridiculous to have culture shock after returning to my home country after just 11 weeks abroad, but it's true.
My olive oil here tastes like motor oil in comparison to Italy. And it's way more expensive.
Going to the grocery store and seeing wine prices in the range of $10-$15 for the cheap stuff instead of 2 or 3 euros is very depressing.
The little guy on the walk sign here looks ill-proportioned.
I feel ridiculously safe when crossing the street and there is a strange lack of motorcycles.
The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial look teeny tiny and brand-spanking-new.
I miss 'Cultura Moderna'.
22 agosto 2006
21 agosto 2006
Well, I made it home safe and sound and am writing from my home in DC right now. It was a pretty miserable travel experience due to the new no-liquid and no-cream regulations for aircraft. The security people tried to take away my asthma inhaler in Rome and my ink pen in Newark, but I managed to negotiate for both of them. Insert comment about common sense here.
above: one of Rome's hundreds (thousands?) public drinking fountains - guaranteed to have cold, clean water. See the hole on top where the water spurts out if you plug up the main hole? It was always funny seeing tourists crouch down at the bottom like dogs because they didn't know how to use the fountain.
Last Friday, I was really looking forward to coming home. My presentation went well, and on Saturday morning, I began to pack with happy thoughts of coming home again. And then, right around noon, it just hit me. I was really leaving Rome, and I got really sad. Bipolary sad.
So I set off that afternoon in wandering nostalgia through the winding streets of the centro: I visited the Pantheon, of course; I even discovered new streets (very rare after 11 weeks of exploring); I made some shaky movies on my digital camera; I heard an accordian player (the Italian stereotype that isn't even true in the tourist areas) and even snapped a photo of this lovely couple looking for a restaurant on a very typical Rome street:
One final bonus tip for if/when you go to Rome. Go to the lake in Villa Pamphili with two apples: one cut in small pieces and the other whole. Throw the pieces in slowly to give all the turtles equal opportunity to swim over from all parts of the lake. Then, when you have enough swarming turtles in the water in front of you, throw in the whole apple. One of the big strong turtles will grab the apple and dive, but he will lose control, and it will bob back to the surface after a few seconds. The turtles will continue to attack the apple until it's all gone. It is hilarious and I guarantee it's not in any of the guidebooks.
18 agosto 2006
129 l'ultimo giorno
(above: Etruscan Lupa with Renaissance Romulus and Remus)
Well, it has been 11 weeks, 129 blog posts, and 1 division championship since I started my US/ICOMOS internship. Today is my last day at ICCROM and it's going to be pretty busy with my presentation this afternoon, archiving my work, cleaning off my hard drive, burning CDs, tidying up, and so on.
I honestly haven't decided what I'm going to do tomorrow on my final day to hang out in the city... the beach? the park? the city center? revisit a museum? treat myself to a nice dinner? I was going to buy a big vat of olive oil to take home with me, but with potential airport security problems, it's not worth the trouble.
I will miss living here, but I'm also looking forward to being home again. I can't wait to use an American-style shower. And eat Mexican food. And the one flavor of gelato that doesn't exist in Italy - chocolate and peanut butter. And just being in my new house, of course. And hanging out with the husband and cat as well. And having conversations about college football.
Will there be culture-shock? The last time I returned to the US after several months abroad, I remember being astounded at the quantity of billboards on the side of the highway. What will seem unusual when I get back to DC?
Also, I just want to say thanks to those that kept up with my musings. It was nice knowing that people out there were reading my posts. I plan on writing 1 final wrap-up once I get back home in a few days. Until then, make like a cat in Rome and chill out (in a flowerbox).
17 agosto 2006
On Saturday, Jason and I took a local bus north of Rome to the city of Cerverteri. Cerveteri has been continuously settled since Etruscan times (8th-7th c BC). The modern city is somewhat interesting - there's a really neat castle in the main piazza and apparently there are periodically shows with sharks and piranhas.
We were there mostly for the tombs, so we walked out of the city on a delightful winding country road with practically no traffic, past farms with grape vines and a few friendly dogs. About 20 minutes later, we got to the archeological site. The map below only shows about a tenth of the site.
Cerveteri, originally called Caere, is simply a city of Etruscan tombs. The nicer tombs have 3 or 4 different rooms, and are dug out of these manmade hill structures. There were also a multitude of cheaper tombs - just a single small chamber facing the road. Most of the surviving Etruscan artifacts, including the Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Sarcofago degli Sposi), were found here at Cerveteri.
(above: a view of one of the smaller, isolated tombs)
The guidebooks and websites all called it an 'Indiana Jones' type adventure, and advised us to bring a flashlight. Well, this wasn't exactly true. The best tombs - containing interesting architectural elements such as columns with capitals, cornices, frescos, etc - were illuminated artificially. And the tombs that were dark, spooky, and required a flashlight were usually flooded anyway.
So we didn't get much use out of the flashlight that JG brought from the US, and then the Germans gave him hell for it in his Frankfort security adventure.
(Above: corbelling the passageway into the tomb. Corbelling is considered a primitive type of construction, but it sure has held up better than anything the Romans did. Well, OK. Except the Pantheon, but that structure has definitely had structural interventions.)
All in all, it was a delightful afternoon. At the end of the path through the tombs, there's a little on-site cafe and picnic tables. We had packed lunches, so we bought some cokes and relaxed under the pine trees, enjoying the fresh breezes and sunny spots. At one point I tossed the heel of the bread loaf into the brush and a gray cat burst out of the woods and ran after it and tried to eat it! So we amused ourselves for some time by tossing bread for the cat to eat.
16 agosto 2006
127 una vacanza con il marito
I'm back! Jason made it into town without being affected by the Gatorate terror restrictions last Thursday. He even made his connecting flight in Munich (30 minutes between touchdown and takeoff). I got to act like a tourist, running all over town, seeing the sites, and taking lots of photos. For example, here we are battling the crowds in the Vatican Museums:
And here we are after a delicious pizza lunch in front of Augustus' mausoleum... una pizza bianca dei fiori for me and una pizza diavola for Jason. Ask him sometime what he accidentally called our waitress when he was speaking Italian.
Here I am with some travertine cannonballs in one of the upper courtyards at Castel Sant'Angelo:
And here we are just being cah-yute & celebrating our 3rd anniversary:
Thanks for all the comments for when I was gone for the Ferragosto holiday. One of the more interesting comments was from a blogger in New Zealand, who linked to me on Around the World in 80 Blogs.
Enjoy the picture pages today!
126 non mi abbandonare
125 san pietro alle 07,00
If you are going to the Basilica of St. Peter's, I highly recommend going when it opens at 7 am. It is so peaceful and beautiful without swarms of people.
A floor grate in the Basilica: the popes' tombs are in the grotto below, and the Necropolis is the level below that.
The elephant was one of my favorite mosaics.
The basilica faces east; it's beautiful when the sun starts to come in around 07,30.
The inappropriate use of quotes is now a worldwide phenomenon.
I saw this article in the NY Times today about Romans upping the prices on the 'stranieri' (foreigners). Good. It means I'm not just paranoid - this really exists!