Rome was my 6th stop. I thought I had seen enough history in the past 20 days to not be overwhelmed. But oh boy, Rome ruffled that belief. There is just so much to see in Rome. Every 50 metres there is this fountain, or this statue, or this monument, or this tomb, or this church, or this ruin. It’s just so majestic that all I can think of is this bimbo of a woman saying, ‘Shutt uppp!’

Rome ignited a lot of mixed feelings about religion. Religion is such a history-shaping concept that is so prevalent not only in Europe, but everywhere sunshine touches. The fact that Rome is the home of Christianity just gives me more leverage to magnify my heresy. The first major part of any tourist’s Romexperience is Vatican City. The Vatican is the home of the Pope, the home of Christianity and the home of all controversy. It is beautiful, historic, rich and the cause of all the madness history has to offer. On a superficial level, the Vatican museum is insightful. The Sistine Chapel is serene. The works of Michelangelo and Raphael are full of double-meaning, precision, depth and character. Leonardo Da Vinci is an absolute genius. The Last Judgment is even more incredible when you know what all its elements stand for. The School of Athens in the Raphael Rooms was my favorite. The fight between fact and belief, thought and blind faith, is so daunting. All this makes the Vatican truly wonderful. But what the Church stood for and stands for, is such a mess.

I am not religious. I dislike the Pope. Yes, today’s progressive correctness involving matters such as pro-choice and gay-marriage makes the Popes job hard, but he needs to get with the times. Being a ‘leader’ of a major chunk of the world, you cannot go to Africa, an AIDS-ridden country, and tell them not to use condoms. ‘Sexual abstinence’? You’ve got to be joking. And it’s not just that. The Church is a sexist, selfish, backward-thinking enterprise that has led to more wars than anything else. It is corrupt and severely money-oriented. The public can’t take pictures in the Sistine Chapel because the photography rights have been sold to a Japanese Corporation, in exchange for ‘restoration money’ and God-knows what else. Literally. Here’s a quote from this article:

“The Vatican avoids Ici tax on about 100,000 properties, classed as non-commercial, including 8,779 schools, 26,300 ecclesiastical structures and 4,714 hospitals and clinics.

Estimates of its annual saving from avoiding the levy range widely from €600m to €2.2bn.”

Why does the Vatican get to evade Property Tax and then charge 15 Euros for entry? Why do you have to cover your shoulders and knees to enter St Peter’s Basilica? Sign of respect? It’s so hot in Rome right now God, respect our God-given warm-bloodedness. Yes, I am biased and supremely skeptical, but I see little rationality in religion.

I could go on endlessly about this.

There were three monuments that I really enjoyed for reasons more than just their awesomeness.

The Colosseum, obviously, was fantastic, especially because it was fantastically old. I loved how its origin revolved around political power. Kings and senators wanted to win the people over, and so they gave the people what they wanted – blood. And, they loved the kings for it. Humans were the same even 2000 years ago. Yes, the last bit is kind of from Gladiator, but that’s my favorite movie of all time, so it’s okay.

The Trevi Fountain is beautiful but what it stands for makes it that much more spectacular. For once, a monument was not named after the Pope or the artist or its fund-ers. The Trevi Fountain was named after its most important facet – the spring that fed it its water. It’s design is inspired by the spring’s discovery and commemorates how the spring was a reviving relief of water that Rome needed. Nicola Salvi, then a nobody, was given the honor of building this symbol of Rome. There was so much pressure on his shoulders to perform, especially because he was chosen over other more renowned sculptors like Bernini. And he really delivered. I like this underdog story. I can relate to it. We all can.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is just so friggin’ majestic. It’s snow white and stands tall in front of a cascade of Roman towers – so grand, so commanding. It really leaves an impression.  I stumbled upon it while getting lost in the city and yes, that did help make it mean more to me than the usual monument. But seriously, why can’t more architecture today be so bold?

Besides all this sightseeing business, I continued to meet some wondrous people. The stand out was this pretty and petit woman. She is a film-editor based in London pursuing her dreams of becoming a feature-film editor. We spoke for hours. I also ran into a Turkish folk-dancing group that comprised largely of girls. They thought that my random friend and I looked like a couple of Turkish actors. They took our picture and promised to send us a picture of those super-handsome Turkish actors. Oh yeah, baby. I’ll see them in Istanbul someday. I also had some awesome Mutton Biryani. Twice. I miss home.

Paree next along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

P,S, Local beer = Peroni = eh.