Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ostia Antica

On Saturday the 17th, with my friend Ella from Baltimore, and then again on Sunday the 24th, with our friends Nathan, Tim and Bethany from Belgium, we went to the ancient Roman seaport town called Ostia Antica, which was more or less abandoned at the end of the 4th century as the river silted up.

Among the highlights were an open tomb full of jars for ashes,

an extreemely well preserved bar,

the piazzale of corporations, which had mosaics identifying what the corporations did,

several baths with impressive mosaic floors,
an amphitheater,

and a tower with a view of the tiber and much of the town.



Yesterday, I gave Denis and his visiting friend, Nathan Miller, the language arts/social studies assignment of writing a poem in 6 couplets about a feat of ancient Roman engineering. Here is the result, along with a photograph from our recent trip to the ruins of the ancient Roman port city of Ostia Antica.

Roman Toilets

by Denis Bauerschmidt Sweeney
and Nathan Miller

When you need to wee wee

You see a bathroom -- whoopee!

You have no modesty,

Less than in the Odyssey.

The pipes are made of lead

So you'll find yourself dead.

In there it was so cold

There may have been mold.

Where would be all the poo

If there were no sewer below you?

The world is full of so many gross things,

We Romans will never be kings.

We hope you have enjoyed this literary moment. -- Maureen

Monday, February 25, 2008

Knife Sharpening

One morning last week we heard a strange cry outside our window. It turns out that it was a traveling knife-sharpener. So we gathered up the extremely dull IKEA knives in our apartment (when you're renting to strangers you don't exactly invest a lot of money in cutlery) and took them down to have them sharpened. He had his grinding wheel hooked up to the wheel of his bike, so he could turn it by pedaling. He also had a contained of water set up to drip onto the blade as he sharpened it, to flush away the filings.

Now our knives are so sharp that we live in constant fear of slicing off a finger.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Feast of the Chair of Peter

Some of the fun of being Catholic is having feastdays for pieces of furniture.

I went to the 5:00 Mass this evening at St. Peter's, which was celebrated at the "altar of the chair," which stands before Bernini's exquisitely over-the-top sculpture of the chair of Peter, symbol of his authority and the authority of his successors.
For this feastday, they cover the sculpture with candles; I was only able to get a blurry photo:

OK, so it's not really a feast day for a piece of furniture, but rather one that celebrates the role of Peter and his successors in strengthening the faithful, but the furniture does get a lot of attention.

The Mass was very nice, with music by Palestrina and large clouds of incense, which always makes me happy.

The famous statue of Peter by Arnulfo di Cambio (it's the one that everyone touches/kisses the foot of) was specially decked-out for the occasion.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Days At The Market

I can't put in any images because I am on the pictureless computer. We went to the market at the Campo de' Fiori. Anyway, we had fun and the only thing that went wrong today was that when my mom touched some random vegetable and a scary lady yelled at us. We then got some eggplant. Yesterday we went to the market and the only bad thing that happened that day was that we walked by some fish and it really stunk. I tried to pay with only coins but I couldn't do it even though coins have much more value here in the E.U.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Quest for Ella's Boots

Sophie's friend Ella left this morning after a week with us. Yesterday was spent in a whirl of boot-shopping for Ella. We started at the Rome flea market, which grew out of the black market during WWII and is reputed to be the best flea market in Europe. If you've never been, it's quite a scene.

We found lots of hats. . .

. . . and neon-colored bras. . .. . .but no boots.

Maureen and Sophie and Ella then scoured the area around Trastevere and the Campo di Fiore but, since it was Sunday, many shops were closed. After the footsore and dejected shoppers returned home, I went on one more foray with Sophie and Ella to the used clothing shops near the Piazza Navona where, lo and behold, we found boots:

So Ella left this morning happy (though, of course, sad to be leaving) and well-shod.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Vatican and Borghese Gardens

A few days ago we went to St. Peter's and the Vatican museum.

St. Peter's was impressive as always,

We saw alot of cool things at the Vatican museum.

including this map of Italy.

and the School of Athens

My dad got yelled at for taking this picture of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

There were alot of cool statues.

The next day we went to the Borghese museum and gardens. The museum used to be the palace of Cardinal Borghese, who was a big patron of Bernini and Caravaggio. You aren't allowed to take pictures in the museum, so we don't have any pictures to post, but everything was amazing.

After the museum, we went for a walk in the Borghese gardens.

We rented a couple of pedal carts, and rode around in them for a while before heading home.


A picture is worth a thousand words

We have had a marvelous week of exploring Rome high and low with Sophie's very dear friend, Ella Gensheimer, who is here visiting us. We haven't had much time to write, but we'll let the pictures do the talking....


Trajan's column -- adventure comics in marble.

Trajan's market, early shopping mall. (Denis has a great powerpoint presentation on the market's history. You might ask to see it sometime if you're interested.)

Sun in St. Peter's.


Fun in the Borghese Gardens....

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen...." Sophie and Ella at the Rostra, the scene of Marc Antony's famous speech about Julius Caesar (the Shakespeare version):

Umbrella pines and palatial ruins on the Palatine Hill.

Ella contemplating great architecture and blood sports.