The Old Inspiring the New
We spent Saturday, our first full day, in Ancient Rome.
Our first stop was the Colosseum. We wandered through, thinking about the history of the place: how it had gone from a display case for Rome's riches, to a source of building materials, to a cherished historic monument. Later, the group gathered on the top level and looked out over the arena as Dr. Weldon read lines from Lord Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage." Byron, too, pondered and wrote about the effect of time on the rise and fall of empires.
The Baths of Caracalla were our next destination. This spot, too, was a source of inspiration for the Romantic poets. Percy Shelley often came to the Baths to think and write. While we were there, Abbey went on a quest to find the exact spot featured in Joseph Severn's famous portrait of Shelley composing at the Baths of Caracalla. She didn't find what she was looking for, but the Frankenstinians nevertheless enjoyed an hour relaxing in the sun and writing a few works of our own.
We finished our long day with a leisurely stroll through the Roman Forum before returning to the hotel for dinner and discussion.
A Romantic Ending
The house where John Keats lived during his short time in Rome is located in the Piazza di Spagna, right at the foot of the Spanish Steps. The house has since been turned into the Keats-Shelley Museum. The group spent Monday morning listening again to Keats' sad story, then exploring the rooms where he sat, slept, and eventually died.
Later that afternoon, we took the Metro out to the Protestant Cemetery, where Keats, his friend Joseph Severn, Percy Shelley, and Shelley's son, William, are all buried. The cemetery's shady trees and thick walls provide a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of Rome's bustling streets, and, as we felt the trip growing to a close, the group took time to sit and reflect on the lives of the young poets buried there.
Tonight, at our last evening check-in with Dr. Weldon, the sense of ending grew even sharper. We laughed and chatted about our day, simply enjoying each other's company, for nearly an hour--until we decided we had to go to bed if we had any chance at catching our 6:40 flight tomorrow morning. It has been a truly spectacular experience. Thank you so much for following along!