July 26, 2012
The Vanderbilt bowling team is on a 10-day trip in Paris, Rome and Florence, the latest in a series of Commodore varsity squads to see a different part of the world. While the majority of the trip is educational in nature with tours and sightseeing, the Commodores will bowl the Italian National Team July 28-29. Rod Williamson will provide periodic updates of Vanderbilt's journey to Europe.
Photo Gallery | Postcard from Paris (July 24)
For the members of Vanderbilt's bowling team, Thursday has been a truly unforgettable day and experience. A day that began in the holiest of Christian shrines ended with raucous laughter as a street mime reminded everyone that humor is universal.
Rome. Could this be the most interesting city in the world to spend time? The history, the beauty, the variety, the spice of life! It certainly captured the hearts and minds of this fortunate group of travelers.
Where do we even begin to describe what we saw and learned? It is probably wise to not even try in this postcard so let's settle for a recap of activity since touching down Wednesday afternoon.
Our party of 21 was treated to a "Welcome to Rome" dinner at an excellent restaurant. Johan, our embedded host, got our group on the veranda on another perfect weather day. There seem to be no bugs, little wind, less humidity or any other possible irritants in Rome.
Thursday began with a short ride to the Vatican (pictured to right), where Johan had arranged for us to be led/taught by local historian Juan Carlos, a balding man of 62 years who spent an hour teaching us about what we would soon see once we stepped from the Vatican courtyard toward the Sistine Chapel. Juan Carlos made Michelangelo come to life and our stay inside the Chapel was both fascinating and moving.
We walked next door to the world's largest church, Saint Peter's Basilica. We know it's the largest because the other large churches are actually outlined on the Basilica's floor (this is two full football fields long!) and we are unable to represent its spectacular aura in a few words.
We had lunch on the Vatican grounds, then returned to the hotel for a quick change to comfortable clothing and then on to the heart of old Rome where we saw the Spanish Steps and the adjacent high-end stores of Gucci, Prada and Dior to name several unlikely neighbors.
We walked to the Trevi Fountain, a spectacular and crowded spectacle. We were treated to some of Rome's finest Gelato (ice cream) and as we marveled at Trevi, some of us said it was the most amazing sight in memory -- this on a day when we had already gazed at the Sistine Chapel ceiling!
From Trevi Fountain to Rome's most historic piazza, the Piazza Navona, where dozens of artists, posers, craftsmen and entertainers had set up shop as they do on a daily basis. We bought souvenirs, had our portraits painted and strolled the historic area until we went to a nearby sidewalk cafe for another dinner treat.
We strolled back to the Piazza once more, in time to drink in Rome's enticing atmosphere one final time. It was finally time for this tired but happy group to return to its hotel base. Tomorrow it's on to the Coliseum and then time to head north to Florence.
It will be hard saying goodbye to Rome but something tells us that the Italian bug has bitten hard and this might not be the last time some of us spend time here.
In fact, many of us tossed a coin over our heads toward the Trevi Fountain where legend has it that if the coin lands in the water, the person tossing it is sure to return to Rome. We sure hope so.
Nicole Chanin fills her water bottle at a public fountain in Rome.