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Italy at Last!, June 25th, 2000 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: June 25th, 2000
"Italy at Last!" [permalink]
    keywords: Italy, classics, Latin, graduation, traveling
    soapbox #: 247
    written: June 25th, 2000
    words: 1054

"Italy at Last!", an Essay

I think of it as the next level of my education. Now that I am done with the daily rigors of worrying about homework and studying textbooks and notes, I must proceed to the next level. Instead of having a regular schedule I am forced to maintain, now I have a learning experience that is wholly dependent on my action and my initiative. What one spends his childhood learning about from books must be reinforced with applying it and seeing it in person. Failing to make the next jump can lead to a sort of stunted life experience growth.

Very soon now, I'm going to go stay in Italy for a couple of weeks. It begins what I hope to be a strong start to life after graduation. And while I cannot say that it begins my international travels, since I've been to Europe before and most recently went to Stockholm (Anna, sigh...), it is, in a way, going to be much different than any previous trips. A lot of the time spent will be in Rome, one of the greatest cities on Earth, if not THE greatest. And to me, Rome carries a special importance to me since it's the center of the world I studied all throughout school. The sculptors and writers and poets and heroes and emperors and senators and all the miscellaneous people who show up in their lives went to or lived in Rome, and something about it provided inspiration to allow them to accomplish world-altering things. Everywhere I go in the city, I'll know that someone whom I greatly respect was there many centuries before me. And I'll be able to observe what they left behind for me to see.

Not only is this trip a start, but it's also an end, in a way. It is like a childhood dream. You slave over something (in my case, translating original text) and go to sleep thinking about a place, and eventually, you end up getting there. You've reached a goal. You've fulfilled one part of your life that you had long been working on. I'm reminded of parts in Fight Club that remind you that if you're not working towards your goal in some way, then you're not doing what you should be doing. Now, not everything has to directly relate to your goals, but giving everything in your life a purpose DOES help to streamline. I DO believe that everything I do is the right thing to do, and my going to Rome is some sort of justification for that. It helps me realize that I'm capable of doing what I fantastically believe in.

As an extension of all this self-patting on the back, I figured I would do something while I was there to cement it all. Something to lock a memory in my head about visiting Rome. So this crazy idea is to sit down in the Piazza di San Pietro somewhere and write a Soapbox. Maybe it will flood me with inspiration, maybe it won't. The point is that I'll always be able to say I did it, plus it'll make me stop and reflect on the work of the many architects who worked on the basilica and square and whatnot.

And in fact, I was planning to do some sort of little notable thing for each city that I visit from now on. Small chunks of time to remember later, to conserve for future memories.

It goes without saying that I want to stand on the Campidoglio and look out over Rome, enjoy the Colosseo just to piss Augustine off, walk the forums and Ways, and most of all, finally meet this great Vaticano I've heard so much about. I'm dying to see Bernini's fountains and altars, meet up with Michelangelo, whom I always considered a far better sculptor than painter, and hook up with the greatest painter who ever lived, Raphael. Hopefully I'll get to see the Disputa and School of Athens. I mean, seriously. How have I gone so long without standing in the Stanza della Segnatura? I'm also interested in seeing a little of Caravaggio if I can.

If you think I'm looking forward to this, you're fucking right. It's like a wet dream. Hope I'm not hyping it up too much. After all, Juvenal talked of dangerous streets full of drunkards and thieves, who, when they were not busy terrorizing the locals, were dodging the falling shingles off the crumbling buildings. Granted, that was quite a while ago, but I'm sure there's still room for an angstful cynic in Rome.

We are also going to the Amalfi coast, to see Pompei and the infamous Vesuvio, which are also near Ercolano, Capri, Sorrento, and Napoli. I have to spend a lot of time next week researching this area, since I'm less familiar with it and never thought I'd be going there so soon. But I am! This part of Campania is where the island of Ischia is, which, according to the Talented Mr. Ripley web site, is where part of the movie was filmed. If I wasn't gawking at Gwyneth during that movie, it was at the scenery.

I'm majorly pumped for this. Sometimes I would have liked to have taken a woman with me this time, but other times I think it would have distracted me from actually seeing Italy. Heck, when I met Anna in London, I only vaguely remember the details of going to the Globe with her...ahem. Okay, so that's not ENTIRELY true. Anyway, I'm going with someone who will teach me and prod me on to fully experience this trip, in my father, who is psyched about going as well. I have the feeling I wouldn't get as much out of this if my father weren't there to point things out.

Okay, that's all I want to say for now. Except that I'm also looking forward to after Italy, when I should be going to Philly to meet up with a good friend who's going to expose me to Philly's soft underbelly.

Damnnn, I love summer! And we're goin' ta Italy!


 
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