Monday, June 1, 2015

Flashback: Rome Update Ultimo

 Flashback: Rome Update Ultimo

December 16, 2004

Dear Ones,

My goodness, this is surreal - my final Rome update.

The past ten days or so, since my last email have been WONDERFUL and full of new adventures, revisiting old favorite places, managing some time to study and mentally preparing to leave Rome.

Last Tuesday, my last JCU class met at the Vatican Museums and I went to Vatican City early to go to the top of St. Peter's Basilica to see the surrounding view of Rome.  I was there nice and early - well, early by Italian standards and had no line at all.  I literally walked up to the ticket counter and then climbed to the top without having to stop.  It was the most beautiful sight.

The Vatican is built on top of a hill anyways, and nothing in Rome is taller than St. Peter's so the view is spectacular.  It was early enough in the day that the fog from the city had burned off but beyond the city and around the far off hills had a nice morning mist.  The sight was just breathtaking - not only because it is was so high and nice, but because I was able to overlook the entire city I had survived in for the past four months.  I knew I had less than two weeks left in this amazing place, and this sight - the ENTIRE city spread before me - was a nice commencement to the mindset of saying goodbye.  I was looking over the city as a city, but also as an experience - a good one.

From the cupola I met my class in the Vatican Museums where I had class on Raphael and Michelangelo - in the Sistine Chapel... that's something I can't say everyday.  :)

Last Wednesday was an Italian national holiday, December 8, the day celebrating the Immaculate Conception.  I went out to dinner to an awesome Chinese restaurant near the Colosseum and, since it is a little ways from where I live in Trastevere, on the way, I was able to see a lot of the city lights up for Christmas.  Lights are EVERYWHERE here in Trastevere - long dangling icicle lights, but with really big bulbs that light in a pattern to look a little like snow.  There is huge tree up in Piazza Venezia in front of the Capital building, and even the street musicians are in the holiday spirit by wearing Santa suits.  Oh, and there is a Nativity scene in the Vatican in Piazza San Pietro, but I do not know if they will unveil it before I leave.

Roommate dinners and activities have been an ultimate priority this past week as we have begun to hint at the fact we will miss each other a great deal.  We know that once we start getting sentimental, we know it will not stop, so we have been avoiding the huge heart-bearing good-byes we have coming.  Last week we had a roommate dinner at an Indian restaurant here in Trastereve which was recommended to us by local friends.  It was really good and we tried new things and felt like very grown-up, cultural people.

Sunday morning I went to a HUGE Roman flee market called Porta Portese.  It is apparently pretty famous and an instrumental Roman experience, but I had not been yet.  I met a friend early in the morning to avoid the HUGE crowds that come later in the day.  We bought some Christmas presents and had fun haggling with the vendors.  Then we split ways and I walked up to a church a W&L friend recommended to me - Protestant and English.  :)

The church was Episcopal in denomination and British.  The service was nice and it just felt so good to be in a church again and take communion and sing hymns.  Plus, the Sunday before exams is always a key time to go to church.  :)  My W&L friend, Jacob, was actually at the church that day also and so we walked back together and talked about how it feels to know we're leaving soon and things we have to do before we leave, and what it will be like to return to W&L.  It was really nice and we plan on going back this coming Sunday.  Plus, they are having a Lessons and Carols candlelight service on Sunday night before we both leave Monday morning, so I think several friends and I will attend that before going our separate ways in the world.

Exams came and went and produced stress, but all the roommates and I have emerged relatively unharmed.  One night, Monika, Liza and I were all up late working and Liza started fading and wanted to sleep.  Monika and I knew that she really had a lot of work to do and she needed to wake up and keep working, so we put a dance song on the computer (quietly because Christina was asleep) and danced in the family room to wake up.  The funny part was, it was not fun, dance-club dancing, but instead, come up with the craziest dance you can in order to make Liza laugh so she will not be sleepy anymore.  It was hilarious and put us all in better, more awake moods.  Gosh, I am going to miss those girls.

After my exams ended, Christina and I took the afternoon to wander around Rome.  We went to the Mouth of Truth (from Roman Holiday).  We took fun pictures of us with our hands in the mouth and then enjoyed the warm and beautiful day.  The temperatures here are still just delightful.  In terms of temperature and leaves changing colors, it feels like mid-October.  That is one reason it is probably harder to leave - it does not feel like four months because it does not feel like December.

This morning Christina and I met a friend, Regina at the Colosseum to accomplish a mission Regina and I have had from the beginning.  Our first weekend and Rome, Regina and I went on some tours of Rome offered through the school.  One of the tours ended at the Colosseum and Regina and I were intrigued by some Italian men who dress up as Gladiators so tourists and have their picture taken with a Gladiator in front of the Colosseum, for a price of 5 Euros.  Regina and I wondered if we could as the man to pick us up for a picture.  We decided that for 5 Euros, they should comply with our request, but we decided that we would probably look foolish in asking and since we were going to return to the Colosseum throughout our time in Rome, it would be something we should do nearer to the end of our visit rather than the beginning.  So we went this morning on the mission of finding a Gladiator to lift us up into his arms for a picture regardless of how foolish we looked.  It is sufficient to say:  Mission Accomplished.

I fly home on Monday leaving Rome around noon and getting in to Chicago by 6pm or so.  Lovely time changes allow that.

I have learned so much while I have been here and cannot even touch on everything because the email will never end but my time here has been amazing!  I learned as much about myself as I have about Italian culture or in any class.  I would come back in January for winter term if I could - a sentence I NEVER expected to write in the beginning.

I hope you are having a wonderful advent season and that you have enjoyed the Rome Updates.  This closes the section of my college life in Rome and I have loved sharing it with you.  So many people have written that they feel like they are right next to me at all these places, and just know that you were.  Many of the amazing things I have seen and done prompted my wishing a given person was here to see or experience it with me.  If you are close enough to me that you are on this list - at some point of my time here, I thought of you.

That having been said, I am excited to see friends and family again.  A piece of my heart, however will stay in Rome, and returning to this city in future years (just like in Muskegon, Lexington, or Vail) will feel like coming home.  If you ever find yourself in Rome (and I wish that for all of you), give me a call and it will make my day to talk to you about places I loved and things you should do.

I love you all.  Merry Christmas!

This is Brooke, author of the Rome Updates, signing off.

- B

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