Alumni Travel: Rome

November 5, 2017

Rome: November 3 – 5
Submitted by Holly Paulson ’87 Sereni

Did you know Michelangelo originally turned down the job to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel because he thought of himself a sculptor rather than a painter? Luckily for us, Julius II finally talked him into it. It took the artist three and a half years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512) – he stood upright on a scaffold the entire time, looking up as he painted. Try that for a few minutes, let alone three and a half years!

Looking up at that ceiling was a thrill and supreme privilege last night. Twenty-two of us on the Punahou Alumni Travel Program Italy trip were treated to our own private tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Our guide through Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice) is Dr. Sean Nelson ’99, a professor and art historian based in Florence. So far he has brought the art and architecture of Rome to life for us by weaving in its rich, storied history. What an extraordinary way to travel!

The Punahou alumni group on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel for an incredible hour with Dr. Nelson providing context for the masterful work of Michelangelo's ceiling and the art along the side walls telling stories of Jesus' and Moses' lives.
The Punahou alumni group on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel for an incredible hour with Dr. Nelson providing context for the masterful work of Michelangelo's ceiling and the art along the side walls telling stories of Jesus' and Moses' lives.

While in Rome we've enjoyed tremendous dining and seen so many of the city's iconic sites: the Spanish Steps, the incredible Borghese Gallery and the St. Clemente Church which reveals 2,000 years of Italian civilization through four floors of excavated history. At the Colosseum this afternoon, the skies suddenly opened up with thunder, lightning and rain – a live show from the gods!

Members of our traveling group hail from the class of 2007 up to 1961. Alumni brought along their spouses, parents, cousins and friends as traveling companions. They come from all around the United States and one from France. It's a group as diverse and delightful as you'd expect from a Punahou crowd.

Tomorrow morning we head off to Florence. Can't wait to see what Dr. Nelson has in store for us there! Watch this space for the next travel blog.

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