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Tarin: First Weekend: Via Ottaviano, Villa Borghese & Pantheon Mass

May 24, 2010

On Saturday, a few of us headed to Via Ottaviano, a shopping street. Gotta love the Italian goods. A lot of things were moderately priced, so I’ll be going back I’m sure. I bought a few articles of clothing from a street vendor. There, my roommate asked the man operating the store if there was any way to try on a dress she liked. He told her to follow him and took her to a van without windows and proceeded to unlock the door. Not wanting to be taken, she came back to us. I doubt anything bad would have happened, but we’ve been told to be very wary. We were near the Vatican, and tour guides continued to approach us asking, “Are you English?” (of course we are, that’s why you’re approaching us) “Need a guide so you don’t get lost” (we know where we are) “we can get you in to the Vatican without waiting in line” (we aren’t going to the Vatican) blah blah! SO ANNOYING. We ignored most of them, and one guy even said “I’m not a gypsy you don’t need to ignore me” which made me question if he really was one. I’m pretty sure they were all tour “guides” trying to make some money, but every street corner we got bothered. We just wanted to shop!

To get to Via Ottaviano we took the Metro (subway). There are two lines, A and B. We took A, the newer of the two, and it wasn’t bad at all. Then we decided to check out another shopping street, so we got on line B. No air conditioning, very crowded, pretty rickety, and covered in graffiti. Definitely a little different. We got off on the street where the shops were supposed to be, but after walking awhile we decided it was too far and headed back toward the Metro stop. We ate lunch at a ristorante and it was very good! I ordered spaghetti with bacon, cheese, and chilis. We shared bread, water, and wine, as well as tiramisu and a caramel creme pudding thing. It was nice being at this restaurante because it was outside of the city center and was very Italian. I don’t think our server really spoke english, actually.

After eating, we decided to visit the Villa Borghese park. It’s huge and beautiful. And I didn’t bring my camera. So, I’m definitely going back. People rollerblade, ride bikes, sit on benches and blankets, play soccer, and just relax and socialize. We people-watched for quite a while. Italians don’t have the same concept of PDA as we do. There were many couples laying around making out, intimately. Women walk around in 4 inch stilettos on cobblestones. You will never see a person wearing sweat pants in public in Rome. Everyone is very well dressed, and appearances are super important. They are definitely nice to look at.

On Sunday, we went to the Pantheon for the Pentecostal Mass. At the end, rose petals were dropped from the oculus, symbolizing the Holy Spirit coming to earth. It was really amazing to see a traditional Roman Catholic church service in a 2,000 year old building. This was the 1,401 time the rose petal ceremony has taken place. After this whole experience, I totally understand why churches were constantly being made bigger and more majestic. Hearing the beautiful Italian choir music and staring up at a ceiling with light streaming down through a giant whole was really something! And I’m not even religious.

Before going to the Pantheon, we went to the Porta Portese flea market, the biggest in Europe. It only operates on Sunday, and we were only there for a half an hour, so we’re definitely going back! Today is my first day of class. We’re having an overview/intro of the time period and then visiting the Vatican! I’m excited, and maybe a little nervous, to see how this part of my trip goes. I tend to forget that I’m here for SCHOOL, not for vacation.

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