They call it the “Eternal City”, and eternal and magical it is. I had the pleasure of spending 4 days in Rome last weekend and that was not enough time to spend in the city. There is something to be said about spending time in such a dirty city, where people and trash are everywhere, and public transportation is always packed and unreliable. But the city is full of wonders, it was for a long time in the history of the world, the center of civilization. From the moment we arrived you could feel the pulse and buzz of the city. They say that “all roads lead to Rome”, and it is true! In Europe there are over a 1/2 million roads that lead to Rome.
The architecture and food were amazing! I had the best Carbonara in Rome at a wonderful restaurant called Polese, located at Piazza Sforza Cesarini, 40 Roma. And bonus they had a framed note from the Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball team from a meal that they had while playing in Roma. Also Christine took me to this little Take Away Pizza Shop and it might have been the best pizza I have ever tried, and it is right across from what the Roman’s call the “Cat Sanctuary” which are ruins from 3 old temples, and is right across from the Theater where Caesar was stabbed before being carried to the Roman Forum.
While in Rome, Christine who had lived in Rome for a total of 8 months, was my tour guide. This was both good and bad as she had a lot of good insight, but also was so excited to show me everything that we were always on the move. We started off by visiting the Trevi Fountain, which was probably my favorite moment. It was gorgeous! I threw 3 coins in the fountain; the legend is 1 coin and you will return to Rome, 2 coins and you will find love, and 3 coins for marriage. We also visited Campo di Fiori, translated to English as “Field of Flowers” because the entire piazza was covered in flower boxes hanging from the windows as this was the place where unfortunately, people were burned at the stake. During the day it is an awesome fresh food market, and by night the area where many American students hang out one of the many cool bars in the piazza.
In Piazza Navona there is a beautiful statue by Bernini that represents at the time, the 4 continents, Europe, Americas, Africa, and Asia. The piazza used to be a circus for water sports and now is a great artsy area. For those that may have seen the show “Rome” on HBO we visited the Aventine Hill, as well as visiting Capitoline Hill which features a HUGE Monument to Vittorio Emanuelle. This was built by Mussolini as his capital building which is known as the “wedding cake” building, and the piazza is where he held his military addresses and training.
We also visited the Colosseum, the Pantheon, walked the streets of Trastevere, which is an area rich in culture where Christine lived while studying in Rome, as well as visiting the Jewish Ghetto, which is where ISU Rome Campus is located. This area still has strong Jewish roots as it was the area the Jewish were confined too during the 2nd World War. On our final day we visited Castle Sant’ Angelo and The Vatican and took in the beauty. It was absolutely gorgeous! They were setting everything up for the Jubilee which started the next day, and unfortunately were not able to tour it.
It is hard to put into words the feeling you get from seeing these views and feeling the history everywhere. It was such an amazing experience and I cant wait to go back over New Years. Also while in Rome we hung out at a few pubs that Christine was familiar with from her time there called the Abbey Theatre and Scholars and I got to meet some of her awesome friends from her time there before. They were all extremely friendly and just a lot of fun to hang with. I have to say that when we left Rome we fully exhausted from long days of walking, and fun nights with friends.
While there I met a very cool girl from Australia who was traveling Europe on her own and was feeling a bit lost (no physically but metaphorically) and I feel like I met her at the right time to help her see value in what she was doing but giving her some advice and letting her know about my story. We invited her out that evening with Christine’s friends and she had just the best time and ended up staying a few extra days in Rome. She happened to meet us at the time she needed it most, the Universe gave her the sign she needed. She is also a Marketing professional and she is interested in Grad School at MIP Polimi.
We also meet people from all over and have stories from our conversations with each one of them, but to me this is what traveling offers, rich experiences, and pure human interaction. Where people from all over the world can meet and share stories and bond and enjoy life. Traveling offers such a unique perspective and teaches you a lot about yourself and about others. I like many others used to say I will travel when I have the time, money, etc, but I am learning there really is no “perfect” time, you just have to do it! I am very thankful that I have this amazing opportunity not only to study in Italy, but also travel Europe. Once here it is very inexpensive to travel thanks to trains, Ryan Air, Easy Jet, public transportation, and AirBNB. I challenge those who are thinking about taking a trip or to study abroad to do it. You will never regret doing it and taking the chance!