I woke up to a beautiful rainy day in Rome with the cold air rushing against my cheek. It’s finally beginning to settle in that I’m in a whole new country with entirely different customs. Everything seems so relaxed in Europe, where locals enjoy late night meals along every alleyway and dining experiences feel more like having a meal with your family at home. The streets are booming with people and the smell of cigars and roasted chestnuts fill the air with a musky aroma.
Our itinerary today allowed us to connect the masterpieces of Renaissance artists with their knowledge of the human body. We had the chance to tour the Vatican which houses the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Having the chance to view these venues in person provided me with a whole new perspective. I looked up at the magnificent ceilings of the Sistine Chapel and saw the Genesis depicted by Michelangelo. My favorite portion of the ceiling included the birth of Adam. If you look closely at the image, you can appreciate the subtle anatomical clues underlying the fresco of God who appears to be surrounded by a cross section of the human brain. Adam is depicted as this beautiful “creature” who has not sinned and is shown almost making contact with God. It appears as if they are about to make a connection similar to one between two neurological synapses. It’s truly amazing to observe the artistic and anatomical elements present in works of art that date back to the 15th century.
Along with touring the massive Vatican museum, we had the opportunity to walk through the Santa Maria della Concezione which houses the Capuchin Crypt. This venue houses bones from over 300 Capuchin’s which have been elaborately arranged as works of art. The Crypt has different shrines composed of bones ranging from the pelvis, clavicle, scapula, spinal vertebrae and the bones of the extremities. Walking through this venue gave me a feeling similar to walking through a cemetery. These bones date back to the year 1500 and belonged to 4000 friars. My favorite feature in the entire Crypt was an hourglass made of the pelvic girdle and scapula. Upon further conversations with my professor, he told me that the feature symbolizes that “time does not pass, it flies.”
It was a successful first day visiting these historic venues while having the chance to explore the cities of Rome. Every turn on a corner leads to a new experience and a new memory. I feel like I learn so much and discover more about the world around me when I step outside my comfort zone. So to end this blog post, I hope you all take a leap of faith next time you travel and get lost in a new city. For a moment you may feel overwhelmed and hesitant, but a new world waits for you to discover it. Don’t hold back!