Happy Stupid Birthday to Me

I had big plans: my birthday was the first Friday in Rome, and there was no class and no other orientation obligations of any sort. So what if an 8am class was scheduled for Saturday? My grand plan looked something like this: go into Rome for a morning run with one of my guy friends (who’s a part of the running club back at school), freshen up back at campus, then head out to take Rome by storm.

Remember what I said about flexibility…first, a scavenger hunt was reschedule to Friday afternoon because of weather. I quote myself: “I’m not doing some stupid scavenger hunt on my stupid birthday.” Then, class was rescheduled to Friday morning.

Okay, cool. Guess I’ll just go into Rome, convince people to hang out with me instead of scavenging, and stay in the city later. Nope. The Roman transportation workers go on strike every once in a while, just to remind everyone what would happen if they aren’t paid or whatever. And they decided Friday, January 25, was the day to do just that.

So, great. At least school was providing transportation in and out of the city for the scavenger hunt. My team was easily persuaded to go off and not scavenge; I tried gelato and saw St. Peter’s with my glasses. I did the whole look at the ground until you get to the middle, which was fantastic. St. Peter’s in detail. For my birthday. What.

St. Peter's: Please note the glasses.

St. Peter’s: Please note the glasses.

We explored some more churches along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, including Santa Maria in Vallicella, Sant’ Andrea della Valle, and Il Gesu.

Barocci's The Visitation. My art history professor is cited on the Wikipedia page for Barocci, and I saw her exhibit on the altar piece painter at the St. Louis Art Museum over winter break, where my Barocci obsession was ignited.

Barocci’s The Visitation. My art history professor is cited on the Wikipedia page for Barocci, and I saw her exhibit on the altar piece painter at the St. Louis Art Museum over winter break, where my Barocci obsession was ignited.

Basilica di Sant' Andrea delle Valle has my favorite altar pieces so far, depicting the martyrdom of the apostle Andrew. He's being crucified on the left, his death is the center, and on the right he is being taken down. Expect to see a lot of altar pieces here...it just blows my mind how someone can paint something in a space so big.

Basilica di Sant’ Andrea delle Valle has my favorite altar pieces so far, depicting the martyrdom of the apostle Andrew. He’s being crucified on the left, his death is the center, and on the right he is being taken down. Expect to see a lot of altar pieces here…it just blows my mind how someone can paint something in a space so big.

A beautiful image of our Lady I found in Sant' Andrea della Valle, called "Madonna della Purità." It's a copy of another painting that can be found in Naples.

A beautiful image of our Lady I found in Sant’ Andrea della Valle, called “Madonna della Purità.” It’s a copy of another painting that can be found in Naples.

The ceiling of Il Gesu is so detailed they have a mirror so you can study it better. It was pretty dark, so I'm planning on coming back during the day.

The ceiling of Il Gesu is so detailed they have a mirror so you can study it better. It was pretty dark, so I’m planning on coming back during the day.

I did get to go on the first run of the semester, too, early in the morning before class. The run up the hill was awful. My stomach was complaining (probably all the celebratory brie cheese from the night before), and the road was not built for pedestrians: no shoulder, no sidewalk, and uneven ground. It ended up being more of a walk. On the way back down, though, the sun streamed over our shoulders, lighting up the valley below. The running felt like flying instead.

I love how much light matters. I’ve seen the Colosseum and St. Peter’s by both day and night, and that got me thinking about how other sights change depending on the lighting. I can’t wait to start studying paintings in art history, how the masters play with light, and to see Il Gesu by day,  and the Trevi Fountain by night.

I ended the day with an Italian beer, sitting in the lounge of the dorm. It was a little stupid, but mostly good. Most things are, I guess. The day, not the beer. The beer was all good.

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