Roaming Rome in the Rain 1/20-1/21

It has been a week and a half since we have all landed in Rome. We have settled in and started to call Rome home.  
Venturing out from the dorm, we have found our favorite bars (coffee shops), gelato stands, and dinner spots. We can report- with confidence- that the food is amazing here. We have seen most of the tourist sights and sites, and have begun to get into what we really came for: the architecture.  This past Tuesday [January 20th 2015] we ventured into the city to the Ancient and Imperial Fora to conclude our final leg of the Hills of Rome tour and commence our first field study class guided by professor Kavalierk and professor Gruzdys. Welcomed to Rome by the gentle Mediterranean winter and sunny days, we were all greeted at the forum with a chilly 50° rain. However, this did not stop us from having our rite of passage through the forum. We all became witnesses to what had been shown to us in paintings, pictures and drawings since we were little children watching PBS specials on Rome. Our fingers chilled and the rain threatening to ruin our precious sketchbooks, we were all eyes on the ruins- each cast in a muted light with no shadow. Stopping from time to time, we were shown exemplary examples on the use space, form, materiality, proportion, scale and much more.  To be taught these things from buildings that have fallen apart and become exposed was a new way of seeing that has oiled our gears of imagination. Our exploration was abruptly ended in the Domus Flavia, when the announcement came over the loud speakers that the forum was closed. Wet as dogs and feeling our fatigue, we returned home, and prepared for the next day to see the ancient colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre) and the Imperial Fora, but before we did many took part in another ritual: the ceremonial gelato stop.

The only thing that got us out of bed on the rainy, cold Wednesday morning of January 21st was our excitement of seeing the Colosseum and the Imperial Fora of Caesar, Augustus, Nerva, and Trajan. The Colosseum was unbelievable- professor Kavalierk described it perfectly when she said that what is left is like the bones of the structure that once was there. We learned about the naval battles that used to happen there; and about how the maze of passages underneath the Colosseum housed the wild animals they used to release for the gladiators to fight. One has to imagine the great sails that used to shade the entire arena, and the 70,000 people that may have crammed inside to watch the games. The Colosseum, built in ten years from 70-80 A.D., is adjacent to the Imperial fora, that predates it, which we visited next. Though a large portion is still buried beneath the city, we were still astonished by what is left- the massive chunks of marble that indicate mammoth structures. A favorite monument of our group was Trajan's column, an elaborately carved dedication to a war victory for the emperor.

Tomorrow we visit the Vatican, and our first review is on Monday for project 1! We can't wait to see, learn, and draw so much more this semester- be sure to follow our adventures here!

William Sullivan & Jaclyn Nagy