3/7/08 10:50 PM
Wow!!! What a day! We got to Rome safely and got through customs in absolutely no time at all Our flights were superb and on time, landing at 8:17am. However it took us 40 minutes to get our luggage but we did get it though, and after taking out some Euros we found the train station. With little hastle Joe and I got on the Leonardo Express. We got there just in time as we got our tickets at 9:33 and the train left at 9:36. Almost an hour later (the train ride was supposed to only take 30 minutes) we arrived at Roma Termini.
The countryside was beautiful but the area seemed dirty and slummy to me. Giuseppe commented jokingly to me that “Oh those must be Italian Rednecks.” On the train itself, we were sitting behind two Dutch women and in front of two French Women. The entire time, my mind was trying to revert back to French. Once we arrived at Roma Termini, Gashwin was there happy to see us. Apparently three separate men asked him if he was Arabic.
At Roma Termini it was raining so we hailed a cab to the place we were staying. It is a nice little hotel run by the Suore di Sant Anna. We have a tiny room for three, but it is plenty cozy and just perfect. Joe and I quickly learned that the Italians don’t mind small elevators. The elevator here barely fit us. We got to our room and Joe and I dozed off for an hour or two. Finally around 1, we emerged from our sleep and ventured into Rome for the first time. (Neither Giuseppe or I have ever been to Rome before).
At a local tobacconist, we picked up a train pass before heading towards the Chiesa Nuova or S. Maria in Vallicella. Following a brief lunch we met up with a fellow blogger and director of the Acton Instituto in Rome. The time just seemed to fly by as we discussed various topics from economics to conversion to Catholicism to the tombs of various saints. After leaving, we went off towards the Chiesa Nuova and went inside. It was amazing. The artwork was incredible, including three pieces of art by Rubens. Immediately one could notice the impact of Catholicism in Rome as we saw one man go to confession. In addition, Mass was being said at the side altar, over the tomb of St. Phillip Neri, founder of the Orotorians. This church was built by him when he did such a task. Upon leaving, we visited two other nearby churches, S. Maria della Pace and S. Maria dell’Anima, on our way to the Piazza Navona.
We wandered around the Piazza Navona for a while and wandered into S. Agnese in Agone. There we saw the relic of her skull. Following the Piazza Navona, we wandered towards the Pantheon. Joe was happy to see it as we were able to mark off one of the many sites on our list. I was impressed by the architecture. It is amazing that they were able to build such a large dome without a keystone. On our way out we noted a sign that said that rain does fall into the Pantheon and drains out through 22 holes in the floor. Who knew? Anyways, we left the Pantheon and found a place to get some coffee. It was rather cold outside, 5 C. Again we ran into more French tourists, as the café was swamped by middle school French children. I quite like the French and Gashwin teases me about it. Apparently until I arrived, Gashwin had not seen any French tourists and now they appeared to pop up everywhere.
Leaving the café, we walked towards the Largo di Torre Argentina, famous for its many stray cats. As we arrived the police were blocking off many of the roads around the area, preventing any cars from passing through. We wandered around looking at the remnants of ancient temples before deciding to skip evening prayer and grab dinner. We did so, eating at a pizzeria nearby named appropriately, Argentina. The food was decent and as we ate, a large protest passed through the area, explaining the random street blockades. Once we finished dinner though, it was already getting late and we were tired so we went home. The long day was finally done and now we can get some sleep.
As I finish typing this, it is almost midnight here in Rome and both Gashwin and Giuseppe are already snoring away. Tonight was amazing. It is hard to believe that we have only been in Rome for half a day and we have already seen a lot. As for me I need to get some sleep. We have an early morning tomorrow and I need my rest so that I am not jet lagged. Truly this is a special place and I look forward to the rest of my time here.