Written by: Brigitte F.
I have been to the Eternal City; Rome was overwhelming and awesome. I saw more monuments and ruins than I have ever seen before.
When we first arrived in Rome, before our group tour, a few of us explored the area around our hotel before our group tour. The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, ancient Roman ruins, and Trajan’s Column were all within a few minutes of our hotel.
We had a tour of the Colosseum; even though it was pouring rain while we waited outside, it was still a great experience. Our tour guide told us a lot of information about the Flavian Amphitheatre, gladiators, and the structure’s uses and abandonment over the years. We walked through the Colosseum, trying to imagine what it looked and felt like in its heyday. It is huge! Definitely a must-see place. Walked past the Arch of Constantine (with scaffolding) and Roman ruins everywhere.
In the evening I walked to the Isola Tiberina, a small, cute island in the river, with another girl from the program. It was a little difficult to find at first, but we understood the misleading map eventually. It was nice to see different parts of Rome as we looked for the island. A group of us ate at a restaurant with friendly staff, inexpensive prices, and TVs that played old 1980′s American music videos. That night we visited the Trevi Fountain beautifully light up. There were a lot of people circled around it throwing coins, making wishes and posing for pictures.
On Saturday we had a guided tour of the Vatican City, so technically I visited another country! My absolute favorite part of the tour was standing with my neck bent and face tilted upwards staring at the Sistine Ceiling. I spent so long gazing at all of the frescoes, trying to soak them all up. A few of us spent so long in the Sistine Chapel we actually got left behind and had to join another AIFS tour group (but we found our group quickly). I had very few words after experiencing Michelangelo’s work. The tour ended and we were let loose to explore on our own. St. Peter’s was amazing; it has so much detail to look at. The Pieta is one of my favorite sculptures and I finally saw it in person; sadly it has to be kept behind a protective barrier so I didn’t get to look at it closely.
I mailed two postcards to my mom from the Vatican City and then a group of us left on an optional walking tour. We meandered through Rome; ended up at the Pantheon. The Pantheon is such an interesting building! It’s thousands of years old and a tribute to Roman engineering, plus it just looks awesome. We walked to the Trevi Fountain and I made a wish!
After a short stop at the hotel a few of us headed out to stick our hands in The Mouth of Truth. We stopped for pizza before strolling down to the Spanish Steps and climbing to the top. It was a great nighttime view of Rome.
The next morning we packed up our luggage and left for the catacombs; but we didn’t want to miss the Pope’s weekly address so we changed course and made our way to the Vatican City. Even though I understood virtually none of it, I’m so glad I got to experience the Pope’s speech.
The crowd was full of people from all over so excited to see him, many had posters and screamed. After his address, we left for The Catacombs of St. Callixtus. We walked down steep steps and through dark, cold, windingpassageways that used to be filled with dead bodies. The catacombs were fun and creepy to walk through and the surrounding countryside so green and lush. Our tour started later than we anticipated so we were a little rushed after the conclusion of the tour. However, every taxi we tried calling said it could not send any to us. We waited at a bus stop but no bus came; so as taxis drove by we hailed them down and bit by bit our group made it back to our hotel. We grabbed our backpacks and ran down the hill to meet the AIFS group at the bus stop. A parade had just started and the buses were full… but we all made it to the train station on time!
It was a beautiful train ride home and nice to relax after a packed weekend. I have to go back to Rome, it is a really exciting city full of many things to do and see. Once again so many monuments and pieces of art I studied and longed to see, and now I have!
After an awesome weekend in Rome this week of school was very stressful. We all had to take tests and quizzes, turn in papers, and make sure spring break plans were set. Now it’s officially vacation and I can exhale! I leave for Croatia tomorrow; I’ll stay in Split and Zagreb then Budapest. I’m really excited because I know this is going to be a great adventure! I’ll return on Monday in time to crash and sleep for hours, then jump back into classes.