Tag Archives: Sistine Chapel

“Non vedo l’ora di vedere Julia Roberts.”

Well, this post has quite the story, but it will have to wait until I’ve covered the lame stuff.

Leisha arrived on Friday and we had a wonderful time crashing some free dinners. At the Law, Societies and Justice Program Dinner we sat next to a law professor and an art historical guide discussing their educations. One had gone to Yale and Harvard and the other went to Stanford and Harvard. WOW.

Sunday was another free day at the Vatican Museums, so Leisha and I woke up early and waited in line. This time we had a game plan. As soon as we were let in, we rushed through the museum, taking all the short cuts and got to the Sistine Chapel before it got crowded. There were about 25 people there when we arrived and over 100 when we left. I think my favorite part of the Sistine ceiling is the large figures of the prophets and sibyls. We spent an hour and a half enjoying the chapel and then we headed home and lounged all day.

Julia Roberts on set, which also happens to be my front yard.

Julia Roberts on set, which also happens to be my front yard.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for:
While studying Italian in our apartment, Leisha and I learned a new phrase: “Non vedo l’ora di…” It means “I can’t wait to…”. So, when Sabrina walked by, we asked her to give us an example of how to use it and she said, “I can’t wait to see Julia Roberts.” AND, I kid you not, less than five minutes later we heard the girls in the next apartment screaming, “Did you see her?” Leisha asked who and they said, “Julia Roberts!” NO JOKE. Sabrina is prophetic. As it turns out, Julia is in Rome filming scenes for her new movie based on the book Eat, Pray, Love. It just so happens that three of the scenes take place right in front of my building. The film crew blocked off the whole piazza and all of the students and office staff and I spent the better part of the day staring out of our third-floor-windows down at the top of Julia Robert’s head. She filmed one scene walking through the piazza, one eating in the Restaurant on the ground floor of my building and one dialogue scene walking past my front door. In the evening when I left to go to Federica’s house for dinner, the were still filming the last scene. When I came down to the front door, I asked a crew man if I could leave and he shushed me. I didn’t realize they were filming a scene right in front of me. So, I watched Julia Roberts complete a scene of dialogue and then the crew man said I could go. In the confusion of trying to get out, I ended up smack dab in front of Julia’s gigantic body guard. I asked him if I could get by and he moved to the side while I passed between Julia Roberts and the guard. I was within twelve inches of her! My mom is so proud. The next day Leisha and I walked through the piazza and got “souvenirs”, remnants of the fake flowers they used in the restaurant scene. Ah, what a wonderful conclusion to my first celebrity siting.

Anyway, Wednesday was quite an adventure as well. Leish and I decided to go to the British School library so that I could check out books for my research project. It started off well; we found an international grocery store and bought the ingredients for burritos, enchiladas and sushi. Success! However, the address I had for the library was wrong. Failure. But we wandered around for hours and eventually found it. Success! But when I tried to check out books, the stuffy British librarian denied me because I’m an undergraduate. Failure. But we found a bus and didn’t have to walk home. Success! But it was the wrong bus and we had to transfer. Failure. But we finally made it to the AutoGrill for lunch. Success! In our irritated, post-lunch coma we made it all the way home for some well-deserved naps before hosting a film screening for UW and RISD students. We screened Caterina va in cittá (Caterina in the Big City). It was a very cute, coming-of-age story about a girl who moves from a small Italian town to Rome, the “big city”. Kind of like me. Except that I’m not Italian. And I’m not 12.

Anyway, it’s been an exciting week now that Leisha is back. It promises to get even more exciting; I am going with the Law, Societies and Justice program on their field trip to Orvieto on Friday.

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Dana in the Land of Pizza

The Campidoglio at sunset

The Campidoglio at sunset

Dana came to visit Leisha and me this past week. She was a nanny in Spain, but it didn’t work out, so she did a “nanny and dash” and headed to Rome. She arrived on Wednesday night and we took her to all the sights in the neighborhood: the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain.

On Thursday morning while Leisha and I were at work, Dana and Joey bonded while visiting the Vatican Museums together. As I suspected Joey’s favorite part was the map room. I suppose getting kicked out of the Sistine Chapel was pretty memorable as well! That night we went back to the bar in Trastevere and had another giraffa of beer together.

Day of Morbidity: Jenn, Dana, Joey and I in front of the Capuchin Crypt

Day of Morbidity: Jenn, Dana, Joey and I in front of the Capuchin Crypt

Joey designated Friday as the “Day of Morbidity” and forced us all to dress in black. Then he took us on a surprise adventure to Parrochia Sacro Cuore in Prati, a small Neo-Gothic church near Castel Sant’ Angelo. There is a small Purgatory Museum here with objects marked by people stuck in purgatory. They burn hand prints into bibles so that people will pray for their souls. The creepiest one was an altar that caught on fire and a face was charred into the frame.

Capuchin Crypt

Capuchin Crypt

That evening Joey and I escorted Dana and Jenn to yet another surprise location to bring an end to the day of creepiness. We took them to the Capuchin crypt where bones are arranged decoratively. The sign in the final room reads, “What you are now, we were once. What we are now, you will be.” To lighten up the mood a little, we visited the Spanish steps and Piazza del Popolo.

Saturday was Leisha’s last day of work so Jenn, Joey and I met Leisha and Dana down at the Colosseum. We walked along the forum and up to the Campidoglio before having dinner at the worst Irish pub ever.

Joey, Dana and Leisha at the Colosseum

Joey, Dana and Leisha at the Colosseum

On Sunday Dana and I woke up at the crack of dawn to experience St. Peter’s before mass started, before the hour of tourists dawned and before the heat set in. It was wonderful to get there so early because it seemed like the basilica was ours alone. We even saw the Pietá without having to elbow through the crowd. After seeing the church from the ground level, we climbed the hundreds of stairs up the cupola. Dana kept saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.” And sure enough, we made it. First we walked along the inside of the dome where we saw the mosaics up close and personal and heard the Sunday sermon echo through the building. After a few more stairs we were on top of the dome enjoying the view of city and examining our sweat stains. Dana won.

View of Piazza San Pietro from the top of the Dome

View of Piazza San Pietro from the top of the Dome

After the church I went with Joey and Jenn to the Porta Portese flea market. It is here that I was swindled. There was a pet store booth selling bunnies, guinea pigs, love birds and all sorts of furry friends. Being me, I naturally bought a companion for my year here in Rome. He is a miniature turtle about the size of a silver dollar. When we got back to the apartment, I was excited and began looking up information about caring for my new pet. I quickly found a website with some sobering news. “There is no such thing as a miniature turtle. If you were sold a turtle under this pretense, then you have been fooled. Your turtle is a baby and it will grow.” UH OH. In other news, my soon-to-be-gigantic turtle still has no name. Please vote below to help me choose one for my friend.

Turtle without a name

Turtle without a name


After the market, Leisha met up with us and we all watched Amelie on the big screen lying on my mattress in the middle of the conference room underneath the air conditioner. Afterwards we shared a few beers in the Campo before saying goodbye to Leisha and Dana. They will be traveling in Italy and Spain together for two weeks. Then Dana will fly home and Leisha will become my roommate.

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Joey sarà Giovanni, un romano.

On Sunday I woke up bright and early because the Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of every month. A few boys living across the hall, Brian, Chris and Tye from the U of O Architecture Program, joined me for their first trip ever to the museums. I kept trying to explain to them how large the museums actually were and if we expected to finish any time today, we would need to speed up, but it didn’t really hit them until we reached what I like to call the “halls of no return”. There’s a point in the Vatican were you can no longer roam around at leisure, but you have to follow a one-way-only track with a group of delusional, exhausted tourists packed in like sardines. My dad equated it to being driven like cattle when we visited two years ago. It also doesn’t help that there’s no AC. By the time we got to the Sistine Chapel, the boys were ready to leave. We snapped a few photos, Chris yelled, “NEXT!” and we were on our way.

The Sistine Ceiling

The Sistine Ceiling

On Monday morning, I finally had to address my sprained ankle from Greece. The swelling had simply not stopped, so Jennifer, my boss, made a doctor’s appointment for me. After running all over town and spending too much money getting meds and xrays, I now have to wear a brace for a month, a MONTH!

That afternoon, Joey flew into Rome and I met him at the airport. He said he wanted a “decadent night”, so I took him to get gelato (of course), which we ate by the Pantheon. Then I took him to Piazza Navona where an Estate Romana (festival called Roman Summer)  event was taking place. We saw a group of opera singers performing on a stage in front of one of the smaller fountains. After the opera singers, a group of dancers came on stage.

On Wednesday Joey and I took a short walk to the Trevi Fountain and ate the best gelato of our lives–San Crispino. In the evening Leisha and Jenn, the new library intern at the UW Rome Center, met up with Joey and I to go to Letture d’Estate at Castel Sant’Angelo. It was a book fair that surrounded the castle with vendors selling new and old books alike. I didn’t bring money on purpose.

On Thursday, I had the morning off, so Joey became the tourist and I became the guide. First I took him to the Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo. Then we walked out the back to see the beautiful view of the Forum from the Capitoline hill. We walked along the Forum (you have to pay to get in now) all the way to the Colosseum. We sat up on a hill there, looking at the Arch of Constantine. On our walk back to the apartment, we saw Augustus’ Forum and Trajan’s Forum. What a full morning! After work, Leisha, Jenn, Joey and I went to Scholar’s Lounge, an Irish Pub to see a Beatles cover band play. Italians faking Liverpool accents. Wonderful.

Arch of Constantine (note the ankle brace)

Arch of Constantine (note the ankle brace)

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