Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope that this will be an excellent way for me to keep all of my friends and family up to date on my semester abroad in Rome. Please feel free to post any comments you would like, or shoot me an e-mail and I will try to respond as soon as possible. Also, if you click on each of the photographs below, it will display them at their full size.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Coliseum at Night

Today was a pretty relaxing day. I was able to sleep in a little bit and then I just went and explored. I met up with Monica and we decided to go to the Spanish Steps and spend a little more time in the north-eastern part of the center. As we were walking up a back road to the top of the steps, I walked by a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (to be honest I didn't really know anything about the car other than it looked really expensive and cool). Later I found out that it is equipped with a V12 and has over 534 horsepower. Not exactly a car I would buy and just park along the street (especially in Rome).

Here it is. The Ferrari 612 Scalietti. A beautiful looking car with a V12 and over 500 horsepower.

Just as nice from the back-side.

This is a view of the city looking out from the top of the Spanish Steps. It looks really dark but it was only about 4 PM.
The area below the Spanish Steps has been absolutely packed every time I have been there. The road that leads away from the steps is Via Condotti and it houses all of the really nice and ridiculously expensive restaurants like Prada, Gucci, BVLGARI, and the like (it is the same street I posted at night a couple of weeks ago).

At the top of the Steps, the area is lined with a bunch of street artists displaying their work.

At the top of the Steps rests the Trinita dei Monti. In this church there is no talking at all and you have to be properly clothed. Also, there are many signs that say that flashes are not allowed. So, being as sneaky as I am (remember the plane on the way to Rome), go up to the front and kneel down real quick and snap a photo. I thought I had turned my flash off. I hadn't. So again, I messed up. Instead of standing up slowly and waiting for the guy in charge to come yell at me (which Monica informed me later was standing right behind me when I took the picture) I just stood up really fast, turned around, and walked right out the door. Oh, and look how stellar of a picture it turned out to be. Not.

After I was done embarrassing us at the Trinita dei Monti, we started walking a little farther north to Piazza di Popolo. It is actually pretty close to the Spanish Steps and is a huge Piazza. None of the pictures I took really do it justice. We stayed here during sunset and even ran into a crowd of people decked out in Star Wars costumes before we started to head back.

Monica in the Middle of Piazza di Popolo. In the center way in the background is a huge balcony with a ton of people overlooking the Piazza. We plan to come back and find our way up there.

These were two identical builings on either side of Via del Corso, one of the largest, busiest streets in Rome that leads up to the Piazza di Popolo.

This was the best shot I could get of the Star Wars nerds. I didn't want to get too close, but looking back, I'm sure they would have liked the attention.

After the sun had set we were going to head to Villa Borghese but we decided to wait and check it out during the day. When we left Piazza di Popolo, we walked down Via del Corso and it was at this point that we realized how close and easy everything was to get to in Rome and how clueless we were of that fact. Basically when we started walking down Corso, we could see the Monument de Vittorio Emmanuelle at the other end (which is quite a ways away but still looked close because it is so huge). After making this realization and walking to Popolo from the Spanish Steps we started to put everything together. Everything is actually really close together. We walked all the way from Popolo to the Coliseum and checked out Vittorio Emmanuele and the Coliseum at night. I would have taken more pictures but the battery in my camera died after the first couple I took of the Coliseum.

The Monument de Vittorio Emmanuele at night.

The Coliseum at night. Even cooler to look at than it is during the day.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mini Car with Graffiti

February 12 through February 16

This week was pretty uneventful. The "car" that you are seeing above, I pass every day on my way to class. The cab is barely big enough for one person to fit in and it is covered in graffiti, even on the windows. I like how the motorcycle is right next to it because it really puts in perspective how small it actually is.

I am staying in Rome this weekend to take a bit of a break. Travelling is actually pretty exhausing.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Naples: Day 4

We woke up this morning and went straight to the Napoli Sotterranea, which is basically a tour of the old aqueducts that run underneath the entire city of Naples. The city began excavating the caves over 5,000 years ago and there is a lot of history surrounding them. The tour began with visiting a small portion of an old theatre that was only partially excavated. The tour guide took us to this old apartment with a trap door the lead into the old backstage area of the theatre.
Here is the entrance to the aqueducts. We walked around the corner a couple of blocks for the to see the portions of the excavated theatre.

This is a map of the old theatre. The Red part is the only part of the theatre that has been excavated. They cannot excavate any more of it because over the years, people have built their apartments into the remains of the theatre.

This is the old apartment room where the tour began. This trap door into the backstage area of the theatre was hidden under a bed.

The is part of the excavated backstage area of the theatre.

This is also part of the backstage. You can see at the top part of the picture the stucco and wood slats that look a little newer. These are apartments that were built right in to the old theatre structure.

Our tour guide then brought us outside and pointed out that the arch and wall above the road is the old back wall of the theatre.

This is the staircase leading underground. The guide said the steps were made flat and short so people could run down them quickly, as this underground was used for a bomb shelter during the second World War.

This is kind of hard to make out, but I was trying to take a picture of the floor in the aqueducts. It is really uneven and seems almost like clay. I found out that this was because before WWII, Naples decided to use these huge underground tunnels as a big garbage dump. So over the years more than 15 meters of trash accumulated on the floor of the aqueducts. When the government decided they could use these underground tunnels as a shelter from bombing during WWII a huge effort went under way to remove the trash, but it was almost impossible as so much had accumulated over the years. So they ended up just covering up all of the trash with a clay-like material. Originally the tunnels were close to 30 meters high, now they are only15.

This is one of the few openings that go all the way to the surface.

There were still carvings in the walls made by the people who used these tunnels as shelter during WWII. Along with the carving above that says "Aiuto," which means Help, there were pictures drawn of bombs and other notes made to different family members.

This was one of the small tunnels we had to walk through on the tour. I had to crouch down and take off my pack to fit through it.

At one time, the city of Naples had a contest to see who had the best idea for putting the old tunnels to use. One of the ideas was to make all the tunnels into a giant greenhouse. None of the ideas were actually made into a reality (except the little glimpse of that above).

The last part of the tour was through unlit tunnels that out guidebooks warned that "heavier individuals" may not be able to participate in. We each had our own candle (which is how people used to get around in them) and slid through these thin tunnels.

We lit our candles and we were off.

This is Monica sliding through one of the tunnels at one of the thinnest points.

This is me trying to work my way through. I could feel all of the pizza and pasta I had been eating over the past month catching up with me at this point.

It is a little hard to see in this photo, but Monica is looking at a little divot taken out of the wall. There were a series of these on both sides throughout this tunnel. Our guide informed us that these were for people to move through the tunnels as they used to be partially filled with water. If you look a little below the divot you can see the discoloration on the wall at the water line.

Me in the tunnel. My head looks a little shrunken for some reason.

When we finished at the aqueducts, we decided to go check out the bay. As we were walking in that direction we noticed that every single child we say was in some kind of costume. From Snow White to Power Rangers to U.S. Army Soldiers (no joke) to Princesses to Spiderman to Donald Duck. It was really strange. Here are a couple of pictures that didn't turn out too blurry (we didn't want to look to creepy taking pictures of other people's kids).

Here is a Power Ranger and Snow White.

Monica was able to get this great shot of Donald the Duck.

This was just a cool looking building that had no doors separating it from the outside. There were all sorts of vendors and restaurants inside.

This is Castel del'Ovo, a castle right on the coast. Unfortunately we didn't have time to go inside.

This was a building that looked like a museum right across from the the church of San Francesco di Paola.

The church of San Francesco di Paola.

The church of San Francesco di Paola a little closer up.

Below are just a few shots of the Bay of Naples. We were lucky to catch it on such a beautiful day. There are a couple shots of and island that we thought was Capri (which we sadly didn't make it to this time).

A black cat just jumped into the bottom right of this picture right before I took it.

These were a couple huge buldings on top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples.

After we took in the view on the coast, I tried to convince Monica and her roommates to come with me to the Aquarium in the middle of a park on the coast. They all told me that they had no interest in going, so eventually I just went to check it out on my own. My guidebook talked it up and made it sound like it was this huge facility with over 300 tanks and fish from around the area. I get inside and it is only one room and I am the only person there who doesn't have a small child. It was definitely something meant only for kids. I felt a little akward but I checked everything out anyway. Here are some photos:

It was worth the 1€ I paid to get in. So there.

We grabbed some lunch and then grabbed our bags from the hostel and made our way to the train station to head back to Rome.