So NYU in Florence is super cool and gives the art history classes a budget for three days of field trips, meaning my Renaissance Art class took a one-day trip to Venice and a two-day, overnight trip to Rome! My class has about 15 people in it, so with us, the teacher, and our trip coordinator, we came out to 18 people (I guess that means my class has 16 people in it…). We got to stay in a super nice hotel, which was a welcome break from all the hostelling I’ve been doing, and had a HUGE free breakfast in the morning! Seriously some of the best pastries I’ve had in Europe. I’ve recently discovered a love of marmalade in my brioches after accidentally ordering it in Naples one morning.
Anyways, it was a long couple of days. We met at the train station to go to Rome at 7:50 am on Friday, then dropped off our bags in our hotel before immediately starting our tour. We saw the Pantheon, several churches, did a quick walking tour of Rome, and went inside two separate villas. Honestly it’s all pretty much a blur.
Saturday we were at the Vatican Museum by 8:30 AM, winding our way through the huge lines. Thankfully NYU in Florence paid for our group reservations everywhere, so we never had to wait longer than about ten minutes, marching past all the poor people that had been in line for about an hour already at that point. My flash of guilt disappeared as soon as I thought about the tuition check my parents had sent out at the beginning of the semester. Seriously, NYU in Florence does such a better job at using their resources for the students. We get free museum passes, tons of day trips and activities to help us understand and participate in Florence, field days, speakers coming from all of the world…I understand that NYU in New York has a lot more students and has responsibilities all over the world, but the money they receive is proportionally more as well. Part of their supposed mission is to incorporate New York City into their student’s education, but they don’t make an effort to actively engage us in the city. They leave it all up to the students, and we do a good job of it, but I think they could do better, especially after being a part of the awesome NYU in Florence program, I wish JSex would swallow his pride and realize he could learn a little bit from the Florence President, David Travis. Who, by the way, has come into three out of four of my classes this semester to say hi and ask how we like the class. I’ve never even seen JSex in the Gallatin building, let alone interacting with the students.
Ok. Rant over. Back to Rome.
Saturday. Vatican Museum. The Sistine Chapel for the second time in my life. I definitely recognize how amazing it is that this was my second time viewing this incredible room, when most people will never get to see it in person at all. We spent so long in there, which was lovely as I can barely remember the first time I was there. This time I had a Renaissance Art PhD with me to tell me all about it, too. Amazing. After the museum we went into the Basilica to see the Pieta by Michelangelo.
We saw the Pieta when I was there when I was ten, and I remember thinking it was the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. After the trip ended, though, I could never remember where I saw it or if it was even real, so when the slide came up in my class a few weeks ago, it was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened to me all semester. I’m not exaggerating. A work of art that really touched my soul when I was ten, that I then could remember so vaguely I thought it was a dream, turned out to be real. Not only real, but in Rome, and I was going to get to see it again. It was an incredible feeling.
After the Basilica (btw, did you know if the building is called a basilica, it’s because it houses the ashes of a Saint?), we had lunch, then saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and other really old stuff that used to be pagan and has seen been hastily turned catholic. At about 5 we returned to the hotel, where I hung out with my class until they left on the train. I then walked from that lovely place to my hostel, back to reality with six beds in the room and no mirror in the bathroom.
But staying an extra day gave me a chance to meet Lisa by the Trevi Fountain that night, where we ate dinner and debated for about ten minutes which shoulder to throw our pennies over. I think we chose to throw with the right hand over the left shoulder. The next day Lisa got up early to see a bunch of the stuff I had seen with my class and I headed to the Caravaggio exhibit in Rome. It’s been big news, as about ninety percent of his few masterpieces are all in the same building right now, which never happens in case the building catches fire or something. The show was incredible, though crowded and full of very pushy, large men who didn’t mind literally pushing me out of the way with their hands in order to place their large girth in front of a painting, then profess loudly that Caravaggio must have been gay. No joke.
I met Lisa at the Spanish steps for lunch (which btw, apparently Romans do not call the Spanish steps. I asked a policewoman where the Spanish steps were, but in Italian, and she literally couldn’t answer me because she was laughing so hard. Rude, and also made me so self conscious about my Italian that I asked the next police officer I found in English.), then spent several hours just walking around the city. It was nice to be back in an actual city, big enough that I was able to get myself good and lost just to wander before finding my way back to the train station.