Today marks the “official” last day of class, although there are some extra excursions planned before the weekend. Before meeting up with the class this afternoon I took some time to go on a “hike” on the Appian Way. As you recall from an earlier post, we walked a portion of it Monday, but there was still more to see. I set out on my own, since the family has no desire to do any additionally walking and ambled my way southward (and in this case upward, as in a hill) along the Via Appia Antiqua. Before reaching the terminus, I came to a place where it was fenced off, apparently due to an archeology dig. Over the years when I have been out hiking, walking or just plain wandering around and have come to dead ends, I tend to look for another road, which was what I did today. I found a small dirt foot path to my right that wove through a pasture end emptied into a dirt road. I kept walking. Along the way I found the ruins of some old structure that could have been an old home and barn. This is what makes Rome endlessly fascinating – treasures on every corner (or in this case pasture).
Down the path were all sorts of wildflowers growing including delicate purple blooms. I was reminded of a line from the novel The Color Purple that goes something like this: “I think it makes God mad when someone walks past the color purple and not notice.” Well, I noticed and snapped a picture for good measure. It was about that time that I noticed on the other side of the road a fence and hidden behind the weeds was a sign in Italia. My rough translation of the sign is: “Military Zone. No pictures.” About the same time, and I am not exaggerating, a military jeep with two soldiers (are they called soldiers in the Italian army?) road by, but fortunately for me they passed me by leaving my camera and me alone!
I wandered back to the apartment just in time for lunch. In the last day or so Amy’s heel spurs have been giving her trouble, so walking has been painful. She elected to forgo roaming along the Appian Way with its ancient tombs and catacombs and stayed at home which was in a twisted way fortunate for me. She fixed a lunch of eggs, bacon and tomato sandwiches! It is a good thing I am doing all this walking.
After going through email, making notes, and studying up for the afternoon class field trip, we all caught our bus to the city and center and meandered our way to our intended destination. Now that we have been in Rome for over two weeks we have a better idea of the more scenic alleys and streets. We are beginning to “travel as locals” as Rick Steve’s phrases it.
We met the faculty in front of the intended location and from there hiked over the Tiber River and made our way to the other side of Vatican City to meet the students. Michael had assigned them to plan and lead the field trip for the last day of class, so the students had us first walk to meet them in this one corner of Rome that I have not had a chance (or for that matter reason to visit). Our first stop was to look at a post-modern building, flowing with glass, curving facades of stone facing and exposed steel. It was a delightful building that looked a bit out of place as if it had rolled in from the tide of other buildings centuries older. Michael was pleased with the ingenuity of the class, stating that this particular building is Rome’s best example of post-modern construction.
Our next visit was a bit more complicated, both in transportation and destination. First we boarded the Metro, Rome’s subway. We have not needed to use the subway, only its busses, so this was a first for the DeLoaches since coming to Rome. The first line of our route was on what appeared to be a brand new subway. All the cars were gleaming, polished and clean with each car open so that one could look in either direction through all the other cars. When I remarked that this was without a doubt the nicest subway I have ever traveled upon one student looked at me and said, “Wait till you see the next one.” The next one we boarded arrived to a screeching halt and it was covered on the outside with bright and bold graffiti, which, I soon found out, matched the bright and bold graffiti on the inside! It was also packed with commuters and perhaps a few tourists.
The students were taking us to Palatine Hill, not far from where we get off from our bus to the city center, but we did not know today’s itinerary (neither did the faculty). It was of little difference since we got to experience Rome’s Metro and check that off of our “bucket list.” Disappointingly, we were not able to enter the gardens of Palatine Hill to some miscommunication with hours, etc. They had worked hard to get us here and now part of their “lecture” was gutted. They had one more location in mind, but this was going to require getting back on the Metro and taking off for another part of Rome. At this point it was nearing 6 pm, my family looked a bit forlorn and I decided that if I still wanted them to speak to me, I best bid the class goodbye for the evening and go with my loved ones in search of nourishment.
One of the students told Aaron that there was a place to get great nachos about a half hour walk from where we were standing. That was all he needed to hear and nachos was all the motivation he needed to make the trek without complaint. Sooooo…we walked to the west side of Rome to eat nachos in an Irish Pub. Yes, it is as ridiculous as you think it is and the nachos tasted as bad as you can imagine. They were served with a sauce that I can only describe as “guacamole-esque”. Yet, Aaron was happy with his nachos, Clark was pleased with his Irish stew, Amy tolerated her fish in chips, and I was grateful just to sit down.
We stumbled back to our bus stop, then to our apartment by 8:30 and called it a day. My feet are done!
Tomorrow evening we are invited to have a meal with the entire class and faculty as a way to celebrate the end of our study in Rome. It will be nice to sit and relax with these fine students and their skilled tutors.
Peace be with you all and good night, (of course by the time you read this it will be “Buon Giorno.”