Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dough Vey=Oye Vey

Ok. Let's get to this biz-nas.  The short version was typed up in the last post, so that's where you can find the abridged version.

First thing I did was figure out how to get to Piazza del Popolo.  No, I hadn't been there yet, yes it was far away, and yes I had to take public transportation. Now this in and of itself is kind of a scary process. In fact, public transportation can be scary anywhere. But here in Rome, and I think I've said this before, buses often go where any normal person would think that buses shouldn't go.  So jumping on a bus that may or may not drive down an alley with 75 people crowded in front of it as it scrapes the paint off the side and on to the nearest building can be a daunting task for a morning. So I look up some information, get dressed, drink my coffee, and brave the elements of the tram and the bus.

And you'll be proud of me. I made it all the way there with no problems!  Once I got on the 119, and payed attention to where we were going/what the stops said, I was golden!  So I jump off the bus and begin walking toward the designated place I was going to meet my professor/classmates. Doobedoobedoo.... WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE HERE!!?!???!?!

I'm talking, holy cannoli. There were probably upwards of 500 people in this piazza. Now it was a big piazza, but they were all talking loudly and waving important and angry looking flags. After the last little spurt of unhappy crowds, I was kind of wary about actually walking into the middle to meet my professor. But all of the people were sort of gathered around this very official looking stage that had a bunch of electronic equipment that equally looked important. So I scanned the crowd and eventually found my intended meeting people.

And we trooped over to the museum that we would spend the next two hours looking at old pottery and fragments of Etruscan ruins and being stalked/followed by an older gentleman who probably thought this was an actual tour and not a class. Oh well. But we had a good time, saw some neat stuff, and I don't have to go on my own! That's a pretty good deal!

I then scampered off to meet my parents at the top of the Spanish Steps. Why I said the top of the Spanish Steps instead of taking my chances with finding them at the bottom?  I have no idea. I must have been delusional, but, I climbed the entirety of the Spanish Steps for the second time in my lifetime. And I think that's more than sufficient. But if I wanted to start a Roman exercise plan, that would be the first place I start. Actually it would be to run to the Spanish Steps, including dodging past the tourists, sprinting up the steps with no break, do that maybe twice, and maybe make a loop around the Colosseum and then back up to the Villa Borghese (to be mentioned in a minute) before taking your cool down back to where you started. If you doubt this plan, look up all of those places on a map, then tell me that again.

None the less I found them safely cloistered in the church (see what I did there?) and we headed out to find lunch. Lunch ended up at this cute little place that had about three floors once you decided to just keep going down the stairs.  Lunch was good, and we talked for a bit before deciding to head in the direction of the Borghese Museum.

Now let's talk for a moment about what is winning music to play when you want people to give you money. The Villa Borghese is basically a giant park with a few very important cultural buildings that house everything from cinema screenings to incredibly valuable works of art. But like any public park, there are lots of people doing what people do: run, sit, walk, read, beg, play the guitar-whatevs. As we are sitting there, I begin to hear the strains of a very familiar song. But something seems out of place, and it's not the fact that at least one string on the guitar was slightly out of tune. Oh yeah, that's the very famous song, "What Child is This?"

I've got a problem with this. The problem mainly consists of the fact that it is October. I love Christmas music as much as the next girl. Promise. I sing it, I hum it, I have several Christmas albums that I have memorized from the thousands of times I've listened to them. But Christmas music played before Thanksgiving is something that puts me in a relatively spiteful mood that is really only amusing for equally dark-humored cynics like myself. The nice version basically states that I think Christmas music should be saved for the blissful month of the holidays that lies between Thanksgiving and December 25th. That's not too much to ask for, honest. It's just that when the Christmas music begins in October, I have to kick rocks against trashcans and loudly sing various songs by boy bands from the 90s. It's really the only thing that helps the situation.

Luckily we escaped into the museum gift shop to wait for our scheduled time of entry.  The way that the Borghese Museum works is that you are allowed 2 hours to see the entire museum (pretty do-able if you prioritize), but that also means that you are only allowed to enter at certain times and only a certain number of people. So we got to go in at 5 with 200 other people. Snazzy huh? The Borghese is home to two very large collections of two incredibly talented artists: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio.

Let's start with Bernini. This is the kind of sculpture that takes your breath away. My mother commented, "I don't know how you make stone look like cloth." My thought is, "How do you make it breathe?" Bernini has this unsurpassed ability to make sculpture move. Literally quiver in space. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, I highly recommend the documentary in Simon Schama's series "The Power of Art" about Bernini (there is an equally good one about Caravaggio-yay educational things to watch in your down time! Vanessa knows what's up).  The collection of Bernini sculptures (there is also a beautiful Canova in one room as well as several lesser known works by other artists) is simply astounding. You can stare at any single one for upwards of 30 minutes without moving. Each one is in a word, entrancing. The movement, the style, the detail. We're talking detail ranging from the leaves branching from Daphne's fingertips, to the tears on Proserpina's cheeks. This is no ordinary chunk of marble. They breathe. They live.

Caravaggio has the same grasp over his medium: oil. There is just one room of almost entirely Caravaggio. One room. Maybe 6 very well known paintings. And I'm going to be honest right here. I cried. I mean looking at his last work, "David With the Head of Goliath," is just overpowering. Not because of its size (it's not very big) but because it's a self portrait. And that kind of visual representation of self loathing just comes in this giant wave of emotions. You can't help but pity him. (Again, Simon Schama does wonderful things in the Caravaggio section of "Power of Art." Watch it. You won't regret a minute.) Basic summary: It was awesome. My art history self was content.

After that we had the beautiful adventure of taking public transportation back! How swell! So once we found the bus stop, we're all standing there waiting. Keep in mind that this bus stop is about 50 feet from a McCafe (McDonalds).  This woman comes up to me and asks, "Doh-vey Mc-Donalds?" in a very stereo-typical I'm-an-American-using-my-limited-Italian-vocabulary-to-ask-people-where-things-are kind of way. To which I responded, "It's right over there" and pointed to my right. She understood the gesture very well, but it took her approximately two seconds to realize that I had responded to her in very clear English instead of Italian. "Thanks!" and she and her husband walked into the mcdream (not to be confused with McDreamy...).  This probably means at least one of two things: 1) I'm beginning to look like a native (questionable, but I'll take it) or 2) I just looked like the kind of person who would know where the McDonald's is. I'm really hoping it's the first one, but with my luck, who knows.

As we boarded the bus the "Italian sense of space" came into distinct play. Not only was it crowed, by the time that we got close to where we were going to get off (with in about 4 stops) there was a man who  decided to hold a very loud argument with a woman who was getting off the bus. Things like "you're uneducated" (in Italian) were being thrown around and even after the woman left the bus, he was still talking about. Well, being good Italians, everyone else joined in with their opinion. First the older woman sitting next to him. Then the younger one standing by him. Then the woman on the other side. Then finally (as he was getting off the bus) the guy who had been sitting quietly in the corner the entire time. From what I gathered, the angry guy was mad about how this woman said something to him and he thought she was rude.  Everyone else either a) couldn't figure out why he was still offended by it or b) didn't think it was that bad. I kind of laughed, my parents were somewhat confused. But eh, so is life.

Made it back to the apartment. Cooked some din din. And sat down for the first time to write this. But it's taken me until now to actually get it done.

For tomorrow:

123! easy as FBE! Ok, so I'm not the Jackson 5...

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