Thursday, 29 August 2013

People Punching Horses: Rome Day I

Rome, Italy

Good morning. 
Today's post will be about the first day we went to Rome. For context, we were staying in Orvieto and taking the train in each morning. Also for context, my favourite Roman emperor is Marcus Aurelius, followed closely by Hadrian. 
This column had Marcus Aurelius on top of it, which is one reason why I like it. Another reason is that there was some sort of elaborate story going on all around it in a spiral pattern. Parliament was nearby and there were several Italian politicians walking past us here, looking official. 

We thought we'd stop off at the Trevi Fountain along the way as it was close by. I was pleasantly surprised, as I expected to be underwhelmed by it, thinking it was overrated. However, it was quite stunning. Brilliant sculpture (there's even a guy punching an aquatic horse in the face, at least that's what I think is happening), mixed with tasteful slabs of roughly cut stone. 

The Pantheon was our first intended destination. It was enormous. The concrete dome had me rubbing at my neck afterwards as I kept straining it to see the top. Everyone was backing away along the walls, vying for space to take a picture that even remotely took in the sheer size of it. Good ol' Hadrian built over Marcus Agrippa's original design, and it's now "the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome", or so Lonely Planet tells me. 

The Piazza Navona had three fountains and this one was the largest. It was in a similar style to Trevi, with the masterful sculptures (mounds of muscle and larger than life) and unrefined stones that were probably sculpted to look just the right amount of rugged. At the top you can see an obelisk that was stolen from the Egyptians. There were quite a lot of those hanging around. 

The Vatican Museum held many splendours, not least of all this giant pinecone flanked by regular sized peacocks. 

This ancient sculpure had a Renaissance head put on it. I think it works rather well, especially that beard. Bacchus on the left looks cheery but needs to give his feet a good scrubbing. 

Recognise this? Even seeing it in person, I couldn't remember if the middle figure was a giant or if the smaller figures were children. The descriptive plaque told me they were children, as well as a very nice myth about those snakes. They have oddly adult proportions for children.

Hadrian! 

We had just enough time to see the Egyptian section of the museum (or part of it, this place was crazy big). There was a selection of excellent hieroglyphics, but also. . . there was a mummy. It was shrivelled and sunken, but you could still see whisps of its hair. Its hair. It's fingernails were still pink. Needless to say, it was a little bit mind blowing and I'm not over it.
We stared at the mummy for too long and had to run to catch our return train. We made it but I was sweating so much I refused one of the lasts available seats (not wanting to sweat onto adjacent passengers). A man offered it to me and I kept shaking my head saying no and he kept saying 'prego', which is meant to mean 'you're welcome' but is used a lot to mean please. Eventually I had to say prego back to him just as insistently and he reluctantly took it, falling asleep promptly after having a conversation with a stranger across from him.

My First Kitsch: Rome Day II