We had another half day of sightseeing Monday afternoon and it was absolutely fantastic.
We first visited Le Domus Valentini. Beneath Palazzo Valentini lay the remains of ancient Roman houses and Renaissance buildings. Fragments of dinner scraps, dining ware, floors and sculptures were found in these nearly 2,000 year-old ruins of homes, bath houses and lounges. For example, there were shards of flooring excavated and pieced back together to exemplify what the colorful and varied marble floors looked like when these houses were full of conversation and life. This is a beautiful example of how people lived hundreds and thousands of years ago, and I would definitely recommend it.
Outside of the ruins stands Trajan’s Column, which is a 126-foot marble pillar that depicts the Roman emperor Trojan’s victory over the Dacians. One hundred fifty-five pictures of Dacian’s troops are carved scene by scene on this pillar, which are meant to be read from bottom to top. It is likely that the pictures were originally colored, making it one of the first examples of a colored comic/story book.
Once we were done with the one-and-a-half-hour tour of the ruins, we headed over to the Monument of Victor Emmanuel, the Altare della Patria. This building was created to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It is also the tomb of the unknown soldier. Apparently Romans think this is one of the most hideous and offensive buildings possible due to its non-Roman white color and refer to it as the wedding cake. We climbed up as far as we could go, and then took the elevator to the top, which was 7 euros. Professor Hillebrand pointed out where several points of interest were as we took in the views of the Eternal City.
After we were done exploring, we said “Goodbye,” to our teachers and we had nothing on our agenda for the rest of the night. We decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant, as a suggestion by our Taiwanese graduate student, Amy. It was actually very satisfactory and did not break the bank. After dinner, we worked on our homework assignment together, which was to brainstorm ideas we can suggest for Shoot4Change.
After our very successful brainstorm session, we went out and tried Roman nightlife. Most of the clubs that we heard about or found on Google were a fifteen minute walk, and a large portion of the group was not up for that. So, we decided on a pub called Morrsion’s, which another study abroad student staying at St. John’s recommended. It actually ended up being a really fun night. Everyone ordered drinks at the bar and then sat in the back room, which had booths and tables. We had the whole room to ourselves and it was nice getting to chat with everyone and become more acquainted with one another.
There’s nothing like celebrating America’s Independence Day by eating at a Chinese restaurant and going to an Irish Pub. I was unsurprisingly in the first group of people to leave the bar and head back to campus. The five of us who went back early stayed up and chatted in one of our dorm rooms before turning in for the night.