Where are the Roman Guards?

You know how “The Declaration of Independence” is protected behind bullet-proof glass, surrounded by armed guards, monitored by one of the top camera systems in the world, and lowered into a vault overnight? Well, today in Ariccia I picked up a 17th century painting laying on a paper towel. Big foot in the mouth moment for me.

In Italy, art and history intertwine everywhere the eye can see! Ranging from the city of Rome to the quaint village of Ariccia, I can’t help but feel like I am constantly walking around in a beautiful museum. As I conclude my first week living abroad, I reflect on how my definition of “old” is so vastly skewed to the place where I live. In America, when I go to a museum and describe something as old, it is most likely from the 20th century (young nation = young artifacts). Meanwhile, our tour guide in Rome pointed to a statue from before the birth of Jesus and declared it was “relatively new.” The Pantheon, Bernini’s Obelisk, and countless other priceless works of art are—by American standards—older than the existence of our country. This week, I found myself in awe of the tremendous number of ancient artifacts Italy preserves and possesses. I must confess that this cultural phenomenon burst my sheltered, American point-of-view bubble. Italy is truly spectacular; it begs no question as to why numerous artists and writers have depicted this area of the world in their works.

Storage room and workspace inside Palazzo Chigi (scene of crime where paper towel/priceless art resides)

Even though I have spent a limited amount of time here thus far, I can already sense a growing appreciation for the natural beauty this nation exudes, just as The Grand Tourists once proclaimed. It is a humbling experience to realize my ancestors may have seen the same sights and wonders that I am now studying. I am so excited for the weeks ahead and all the irreplaceable, expensive, old art I will accidentally leave my mark on.

In His love,

Abby Ivester