RU Abroad

RU Abroad with Justin: Rome Sweet Rome

Oh, Rome sweet Rome. You’re a pretty cool city, but why are you under so much construction?! Trevy Fountain would be so much more impressive if you could see it through all the scaffolding. Not going to lie, I’m a little bitter about that one.

The Roman Empire is super impressive though. The city is so littered with history that they can hardly do anything anymore without destroying a historical site. The city itself only has two very short subway lines because during Mussolini’s reign he sanctioned the demolition of Roman ruins. Apparently there’s a quote that goes along the lines of “Rome has ruins to spare, but is in need of a metro”. They’re actually in the process of building a third line, but construction has been hindered by the mass amounts of historical sites that they dig into. I’m sure we can all agree that Mussolini wasn’t the best, however he shaped the entire modern city, calling for the excavation of the Roman Form, repairs to the Colosseum, and many of the other now famous sites within Rome. And lets face it, the addition of a subway was a good call because no one likes busses.

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Rome also houses one of the largest institutional influencers throughout a large portion of history: The Holy Catholic Church, which actually sits in it’s own country. Kind of a big deal. I feel like all I ever talk about is religion, but that’s because it’s incredibly hard not to when the majority of the world is shaped by it in some fashion or another.

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The Vatican City is one of the most disgustingly beautiful places on earth, which was probably the goal at the time. I can’t remember if I said this while talking about Paris, but for a religion that considers gluttony a sin, the Vatican definitely airs on the side of decadent. St. Peter’s is actually architecturally constructed to make you feel small and pretty insignificant. I don’t think I’ll ever stop marvelling at how an entire race of people can worship an unseen being that may or may not exist, while simultaneously ignoring the God-like creations that we make. A person alone may be insignificant, but a group of people are capable of shaping an entire world beyond that of any deity. Society is a God.

The presence of the Catholic Church in Rome is a little bit odd. In an attempt to preserve history, Rome falls under two major religious systems that have both been legitimized by their presence in the city. Catholicism of course, and then the adaptation of the Greek pantheon manifesting in the re-named Roman Gods (Jupiter, Venus, Mars, etc… see the pattern?). The global names for other planets are actually based on the original Roman religion, which I find rather comical, because when Catholicism was declared as the new religion of Rome you would think that they’d try to remove the previous competition. The Vatican is considered it’s own country, yet they couldn’t rename the planets? I wonder if they even tried. I feel like that would’ve been really important at the time as it becomes important when astronomers finally decide the universe doesn’t revolve around the earth… Enough of this though. Subject change.

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Colosseum! Damn, what a mighty fine death machine. Kinda weird that way back when thousands of people died in there and now tourists flock to get a happy-go-lucky photo in front of it. Even wedding photos, how romantic… people were slaughtered here. It is weirdly pretty though. Like a haunting beauty. And right next door is the Roman Forum! Downtown ancient Rome, with some cool temples and monuments. There’s a palace on the top of the hill that Mussolini used to live in. Pretty cool if you ask me.

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Rome just isn’t what it’s like in the movies. Paris was close enough, but Rome pulled up short to what they make it seem like in Hollywood. Dammit Lizzy McGuire. It’s either that or I was just in the wrong part of town. As usual though, definitely worth the visit.

Read more about Justin’s travels and studying abroad in the Netherlands.

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Justin Anthony

Hello, my name is Justin and I’m a third year arts student. I’m fortunate enough to be moving to Tilburg University for a year in the Netherlands on exchange, so I’m blogging about it for the RU Abroad series!