Zack Campbell ’18 – Waking up at 7:30 A.M. in Rome is so much better than waking up for an 8 A.M. in Crawfordsville. After a night of much needed sleep, the group set out on what would be one of the greatest and longest days of our lives. Our first stop was in the middle of the city at the Roman Forum. We walked among various ruins of Roman era architecture and even under a couple of imposing arches. From there we started to follow the Via Sacra (Sacred Road). The greatest of Rome’s inhabitants whether they were senators, conquering generals, or newly stated emperors walked the same trail that we walked on today. For me, the moment I realized the significance of the path my feet were walking on was the most humbling and appreciated moment I have had here so far. We were re- tracing the steps of men like Marcus Aurelius and experiencing similar scenery that he would have as we followed the Via Sacra through the shadow of Palatine Hill (which provided the most extraordinary view of the entire forum and city), by other structures such as the massive Basilica Nova, under the Arch of Titus, and finally leading us to the street by the Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum).
Pictures do not do the Colosseum justice. It is magnificent and left me not only speechless but also wondering how men 2,000 years ago accomplished creating such a tremendous piece of architecture. It truly makes one appreciate the history of the structure and the people who built it even more. The visit to the Colosseum wrapped up our tour of ancient Roman ruins just in time for a quick ride on Rome’s subway to a street close to the Vatican where we stopped to eat lunch at an amazing (and affordable) restaurant that served the absolute best Cannoli. After filling ourselves with some Italian cuisine, we headed to the Vatican Museums.
Being an Indianapolis native I felt that my experience in museums was pretty successful considering the quality of the Indiana State museum and the Children’s museum. Boy was I wrong. The Vatican Museum had a massive collection of thousands of pieces of architecture and artwork that ranged from early 2nd century to modern day contemporary pieces which could put the majority of museums to shame. We began our tour by walking through an exhibit that was normally closed to the public and had artwork form early the early Christian time period. We walked further and further into the museum’s maze-like halls until we reached the Sistine Chapel. For the third time that day I was left speechless. The Sistine Chapel forgoes no detail. Every inch of the walls, windows, and ceiling depicted a biblical story/religious reference which looked as if angels had descended from heaven and painted them there themselves. It was an absolutely remarkable and perfect way to end our day……except that being Wabash men, we don’t clock out at 5:30 P.M.
Instead of going back to our hotel we headed over to the Stadio Olimpic to watch SS. Lazio and Fiorentina duke it out in a European Soccer match. I think it is safe to say that all of us had a blast and were completely mesmerized by the entire experience. The game was good (Lazio winning uncontested 4-0) but I think the atmosphere created by the fans is what I enjoyed the most. The fans were fanatical. The crowd expressed their joy and displeasure in quick outbursts, and would rally and sing various songs throughout the match in unison. I couldn’t stop laughing at the emotional outbursts from an Italian women sitting two rows ahead of me. She was 4’5” of pure emotion and was not afraid to voice her displeasure (all of which was in Italian but cursing at sporting events seems to be easily recognized cross-culturally). Overall it was a great day as we got a taste of Roman history, Christianity’s history, and Italian culture.