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Europe : Italy Rome Random Thoughts - March 18

Completely random takeaways that really fit nowhere.

The colosseum is pitted with those large holes because they used to be filled with metals, but during the Dark Ages they were stripped and melted down, apparently for weapons. The same goes for many of the classical greek statues in Rome, which were of bronze. The marble statues we think of as the original classic style are just Roman carvings that survived the Dark Ages. Our tour guide in Vatican City constantly referred to these beautiful Roman marble statues as 'copies', meaning, not the larger bronze Greek statues.

One of the pope was a fan of the Egyptians, Pope Gregory. So he decided the year would have 365 days just like the Egyptians, so two very Roman sounding months July (Julius) and August (Augustus) were squeezed in before the original seventh month, SEPTember. OCTober, NOVember, DECemeber were simlarly knocked down 2 pegs. This feels like a factoid I once knew with a weird pride, but having rediscovered it, while walking through the halls of the Vatican Museum, is doubly interesting.

Several times I've googled lens random churches we pass by and am always amazed by the incredible artwork inside. On our last night I even saw one open, with a chamber choir singing some renaissance era songs, and actual horns in the balcony playing. Unreal.

You have to be pretty assertive to get across any crosswalk in Italy. The drivers don't seem overly concerned about running you over, they all seem pretty confident that if it came to it, the pedestrians would just dive out of the way.

The cars here are, generally, absolutely tiny. Which, ecologically, makes sense  (we hardly need any car at all to do most of the things we want to in modern life.) But when I saw the price of gas here, about 3 dollars a litre, it made even more sense.

There is, and I didn't think this was possible, too many restaurants, too many gelato shops. Servers will hail you down as you walk by and ask you, 'table for how many'. With this much competition, the restaurants that stay alive have to have some hustle, I suppose. 

The water here, as in London, is not up my Canadian standard. Granted, there are few things that Canadians can be snobby about, and maybe this is particularly only BC Canadians, I'm not sure, but if there is one thing, it's tap water. Everywhere I've been, as I tell my children, it's garbage water for garbage people (this is only in jest, and in reference to a hilarious quote from an indie game that Owlet plays). But on our last night we finally found a bottled spring water that tastes almost like BC water, I was unreasonably happy about this.

The obelisk in St. Peter's Square is 4000 years old. It was really ancient, 2000 years old when it was put there. Time is whack.

Rome's history is like : THE ROMANS! Whoa! Here comes Christianity! Strife! Battle of ideas! Constantine sets things to rights! Oh, dear, Dark Ages. Lots of handwavy who the heck knows. Renaissance! Absolute silence. Italian Unification. FINI. At least, that's the parts that get repeated again and again. Clearly some gaps. But the jump from Nero to Constantine, the transformation of the Renaissance, all seem to come into a bit more focus, and their relationship to each other. Clearly they can't cover the entire enchilada, but it's notable how often the same spans of history are absolutely skipped over.

I do feel a bit down when I hear other folks with North American accents. I guess thinking that having a Canadian accent was interesting or set us apart; but honestly you hear Italian only slightly more often than literally any other language. Speaking with a North American accent makes us typical if not Somewhat Annoying.


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