We ventured outside in the "pouring" down rain today. Rome is more like San Diego than any other international city I've visited. One, the weather is nearly identical. And you can take whatever the rain forecast is and decrease it by 60%. Two, it sprinkles and is 68 degrees and everyone bundles up like it's the arctic. I was talking to an Italian girl and she said it's mostly because Italians want an excuse to wear cool looking winter gear. (which is exactly why San Diegans do the same thing). Three, the roads and driving are like San Diego too. Not as crowded as NYC or LA, but they're laid out similiarly and every drives with the same sort of aggressive control (Italians definitely drive faster, stop faster and turn faster than us, but not by much IMO). I feel safer walking around in Rome than in Edinburgh. Mostly because cars aren't coming at me on the wrong side of the street.
The kids have been dying to play soccer since day one, but we haven't had any luck finding a park. Every "park" in Italy has a priceless building on it with no shennanigans allowed. Google told me Circus Maximas was a place where kids could run around an play in peace. Google also told me tourists hate the place because it's just a giant dent in the ground. A few thousand years ago, Circius Maximas was the large race track and arena that made the Colloseum look like small potatoes. The Colloseum fit 80k people, Circus Maximas fit 300k people. It's right next to the Colloseum and "downtown" ancient Rome, but because it was between two hills, over the years the hills have sort of slopped down into the race track mostly burying it. So it's still down there, it just looks like there are drifts of green snow on it. For fun, the kids all ran a lap on the same track that saw chariot races that would rival Ohio State vs Michigan.
Months ago, we tried to get tickets to the Borghese gallery and failed because they limit how many people can go in and there's a waiting list. It is a villa just outside the ancient city walls that houses some of Western Civilization's most precious art and statues. I really REALLY wanted to go, but couldn't seem to make it happen. Andria did what I wouldn't, and actually called the museum early in the morning (CA time) to see if we could get tickets. The villa is in a huge park with the city's zoo at the north end (so basically Rome's version of Balboa park). We got there early so the kids could run off some energy without annoying the locals (our apartment is located in the "North Park" of Rome). Andria and I were picking up the tickets and ran into a woman who was desperately trying to get a ticket, but couldn't. We had an extra ticket, and offered it to her (after triple counting to make sure we weren't counting wrong). I'm not above doing a good deed, although I'm usually too absent minded to notice who is in need, but today was like getting to play a part in a fairy tale. The girl gave it to her boyfriend who acted like he'd been given the keys to Atlantis. They hugged, they kissed. It moved me Bob.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces of art I wanted to see (and it rekindled my desire to write a classical sunday school curriculum or homeschool bible curriculum... I mean, why are we using bubble cartoon bible stories when we have two thousand years worth of geniuses to draw from?). I did however, not quite realize how much nudity there would be. Which led to an interesting discussion about whether or not nudity in classical art is ok or not. The consensus from the kids was that it looked so different that it seemed like a totally different category than the stuff they see (or shoudn't see) in our current culture. I feel like it's the same as other sticky issues like alcohol and drugs... it's not a dichotomy of all bad or all good. Some of it is definitely sinful, and some of it is earth shatteringly transcending. Regardless, good conversations to have with eighth graders (as much as you can possibly have between long days, blisters and gelato breaks).
I have to admit though, I'm so over Italian food. The food is amazing, I'm just sick of eating out and apparently Romans don't believe in eating vegetables (the Italians I've talked to swear that the northern Italians eat more vegetables... but they were from Northern Italy). I think it would be like someone visiting Disneyland and thinking everyone in Southern CA eats at restaurants like the ones in downtown Disney every day. On the plus side, we walk it all off here and end up starving three hours later. They sell pizza by weight, and Jamie is single mindedly trying to eat his body weight in pizza before he goes home. I love history, but don't love pizza (or gelato), so we found a Chinese restaurant tonight for those of us desperate for something other than pasta and pizza. It was amazing... but I felt a little guilty, so stopped for a homemade macaron to balance out the food fusion.
We're off to an old Latin church service tomorrow, so I should probably head to bed. (I can't wait... both for bed and church).