Ciao! It’s been a week since we’ve been in Roma and if there is anything I’ve learned, it is to always seize an opportunity when it’s presented to you.
Temple Rome offers a lot of great events the first week of orientation. At first, I was tentative to go to a few, being tired from jet lag and unsure how to make my way around the city. However, on the third day of being in Rome, I decided to go to the Temple Rome Walking Tour. That decision made for one of the best days of my life.
I, Tara, am from Arizona and go to school in California so the rainy weather in Rome was quite the shock to me. With the cold weather outside and the exhaustion of traveling settling in, my roommate and I hesitated on whether or not we should go on the walking tour. Thinking the walking tour was just getting to know the area around campus (best coffee, best lunch, etc.), we decided it would probably be good for us to go. So we rolled out of bed and made our way to campus. The tour started off pretty standard, passing by the necessities around campus.
Although I had been in Rome for 48 hours, I was still in denial that I was actually in the city that was so prevalent to my studies as a Classics Major. That day I finally realized I was not only in Rome, but I am and will be living in Rome for three months!
After the standard walk, we were led into Piazza del Popolo next to campus where there was a beautiful church with two Caravaggio paintings inside. Seeing those it almost hit me that I was in Rome…but not quite yet. We climbed steps through the Villa Borghese park that were steep and quite slippery. When we arrived to the top, my breath was taken away-not by the climb but by the view. There lied a view of ALL of Rome. Every monument peaking up along the skyline. Despite being completely mesmerized, it still didn’t fully hit me. Somehow being up so high made me feel like I wasn’t in Rome yet. I was just absorbing all the beauty as a spectator but I didnt feel like a participant quite yet. I was unaware that I was looking at countless monuments I would be seeing firsthand later that day. Our tour continued on and led us down some steps. Descending the last few steps, my roommate paused and said, “Wait…did we just walk down the Spanish Steps?” We turned around and sure enough, there were the Spanish steps. But still it didn’t quite hit me-the beauty was amazing but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around being in Rome.
On our way to the next site, we lost our group. We could see the Pantheon in the distance so we figured they were heading there. However, when we saw a sign saying “Fontavi di Trevi”, we thought we`d our own thing. When I turned the corner and saw the Trevi fountain I nearly died. I think it hit my roommate and me at the same time. We could hardly contain ourselves- exclamations were spewing from us, we were jumping up and down. Of course we made our wishes and threw our coins in.
For lunch we found our group again and I had my first Italian pizza. The shop was so crowded and no one was in line. Everyone was screaming out their orders. Whoever was loudest got their food. So I plucked up my courage and did as the Romans do- shoved my way in and yelled for my food. It was the first moment I felt a bit like a local. Then we headed to the Pantheon and saw Rafael`s tomb.The dome was filled with such serenity and history that it somehow forced you to be silent in awe.
On our way back to the bus stop, we lost our group again so we had no idea where to go. My roommate turned to me, “I’m not ready to go home- do you feel like exploring Rome today?” So we picked a random monument on her map and headed in that direction. We walked through the streets of Rome finding little shops in the back streets.
When we turned the corner to our destination, it started to hail. And yet, the Altare Della Patria was brilliant underneath the stormy sky. When we crossed the street to get there, the hail had cleared and the sun was streaming from the puffy clouds onto the monument. Call me cheesy, but the monument looked heavenly. The marble had no way to drain the water so we were standing in a pool of rain on the marble, gazing in awe at the immense building. I`m not Italian but the monument was so gorgeous that I swear I felt a little patriotic.
In the distance we saw a bit of a building. I thought it was….no, it couldn’t be. But sure enough, it was the Colosseum! I had told my roommate the day before that I felt like it wouldn’t hit me I was in Rome until I saw the Colosseum and there it was in the distance. We couldn’t believe how easy it was to accidentally stumble upon so many monuments! As we were approaching the Colosseum, we passed by the Roman Forum. The heavenly storm cloud light was still streaming down and the cold wind was so strong. And yet, it was the most magical thing to see.
It finally hit me. As a Classics major, this was a defining moment for me. I realized everything I have been studying is real. It happened. They aren’t just stories- it’s history. I was looking out onto everything I have only heard professors lecture about. There it was, right in front of me. People spoke Latin on those steps, people wore togas next to that column. I felt so privileged to get to study the Ancient Romans in the very place the lived in! Seeing the Colosseum just confirmed my love of ancient history. The immense size of the Colosseum was so overwhelming. So over 15 miles of walking and hundreds of “WOW”s later we headed back to our apartment in awe.
What we thought was going to be a day of walking around campus turned out to be one of the most best days I’ve ever had. In the one week I have been in Rome, I wake up everyday not knowing what amazing experiences the day has in store for me. Whether it be noticing cultural differences or stumbling upon another monument, each day is an adventure.