Sunday, November 29, 2009

Return of the Empire...

Earlier, I described it as "reading a book for the second time", and coming back to Rome was exactly that (Ironically, I finished my third book of the semester Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol in Rome. I've read over 1,200 pages on my own this semester. Hmm... maybe less textbook reading isn't a bad idea at all. Profs, take note). It was wonderful to be able to share some excellent sites with my friends this time. We stayed literally a block from Colosseum. That was rather epic. Seeing that ancient sports arena lit up at night makes the Staples Center look like a joke. I ended up at Trevi Fountain 3 of my 5 nights in Rome, and every time I ended up seeing my friend Joy. She corrected me on my mythology every time we were there. Thanks, Joyful. We're also now apparently married, but more on that later.
Trevi has a pretty magical feel to it. I mean it's these perfectly sculpted Roman gods erupting from marble slabs and the back of this building. But honestly, it was the people that made that place so cool. My friend Pecos showed up again in Rome. My only words for that were: "Yes. Please." He had just finished up his semester in Cortona, and he brought his friend John to join us on their way out. So we spent two days hanging out. The best part was at Trevi though. The five of us (John, Pecos, Sam E, and Justin D) all bought Cuban cigars, and then sat on top of one of the massive marble side railings. We puffed away, and a haze of smoke left our area and floated above all the tourists at Trevi. We just sat there; smoking and talking. We laughed hard, and even got deep into conversation. It was the ideal boys night out. Other people agreed, apparently. Sam spied 6 or 7 people set up their tripods and take some photos of us; feet dangling over the marble, stogies in hand, mid-laugh. I'm just waiting to see myself show up on some Italian anti-smoking billboard.
Having Pecos around was again a breath of fresh air. He's got this "life" thing down, and it's just plain fun to be around someone like that. You know?
I ended up at the Hard Rock Café twice during that span. It was pretty great. I haven't really let myself enjoy any of the American "exports" here in Europe (besides the occasional Starbucks), but this was just too refreshing. I actually felt at home with a massive burger in front of me. With loud music and ridiculous videos all around. With Free Refills. I didn't realize how precious those words actually are. The feeling of comfortability was absurd. It was just so relaxing to be in a place where I didn't have to be conscious of the fact that I was in a group of loud people speaking English. Course, the most ironic thing about all of this is that Hard Rock started in London...
So clearly, going back to Rome was great, but in order to get a better picture of it, there's a bit more. You have to top all of these little magic moments off with two more magical places: the Pantheon and the Forum. Pantheon is just darn impressive. Awe is literally ripped from your lungs when you stare at its dome. It actually does not make sense. Plus, it has a wonderful piazza in front of it. I brought some friends to dinner at one of the restaurants that my mom and I ended up at right out front of Pantheon, and had one of the best dinners of the trip so far.
The Forum is kind of indescribable. As I was walking over the uneven cobblestone, I literally felt like I was wearing a toga, on my way to Senate. Sheesh...what a nerd. Anyway, going through the roads of the Forum for a second time was my favorite tourist part of Rome. The first time I heard about X number of the ruins and former temples, and the second time I heard about totally different ones. Combining the knowledge from both times seriously brought those old roads to life. We also went inside the senate building this time. Yeah, inside the senate building. You know how we think? Our entire mindset, our paradigm? Yeah, that is because of the people in that building. Rome is responsible for our history, and I was standing in the room where history was written. Not the books of history, but the events. They came forth from that place.
I was standing among Titans...

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