Since my first study abroad program to London, England I have been unable to stop the constant desire to travel. I set my sights on my next trip only three days after returning to the United States. I decide to visit the birthplace of most European cities, Rome, Italy. Rome has become a city that I will never truly leave. I went to Rome during the summer of 2013 and studied for four weeks at the American University of Rome. I took an anthropology class - what better way to see the historic city of Rome than with a professor who knows about every piece of history? Through my class I was able to tour the city and explore ruins and sights that I would have never seen on my own, and I would have never discovered so much about Rome and its past without this class. I was able to become immersed in two time periods, the Roman Empire and the Renaissance. There was a stark contrast between the city’s ancient rulers, the roman emperor, and the early modern rulers, the popes. These contrasts between the time periods became blurred when it came to art and architecture the city, which mixed old gods with the new and reformed the great buildings of the past into structures of the present. Rome became an ever evolving city of beauty and grandeur, behind each ruin was a story and behind each masterpiece was a ruin.
Combing through museums, ruins, fountains, historical sights, piazzas, and churches, I was able to see the underbelly of Rome and discover the hidden mysteries of this ancient city. Places and sights I had only read about were suddenly standing in front of me as tall and real as the day. Icons such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps were suddenly right in front of me. I went beyond the usual tourist spots to find my most beautiful artwork in obscure galleries and tiny alleyway churches. Rome is a city that provides constant entertainment, I could have walked down the same street one thousand times and still have found something new to discover and gawk at.
Rome can be a leaping off point to other cities around Italy. While in Rome, I was able to take trips every weekend to a new city: Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, Siena, Florence, Venice, Capri, and Sorrento. I used the most of my free time so that I would be able to explore a new city within the walls of a fascinating country. Italy is a country that is so diverse because it was, at one point, broken up into many city states each wanting to outshine the others through art and prestige. Now these city states are cities with their own diverse history and culture to offer to visitors. Places that almost ooze with the unimaginable, paintings so real that the images seem to almost move with their own hidden life and sculpture so alive it is like watching a play as you stare at their life like movements frozen in time.
The people of Rome are the most helpful and gracious; most importantly they were always willing to give directions. The city’s population is only paled by the amazing friends I made while on this program. These people let me drag them around the city from one museum to another with pit stops at tiny shops and restaurants, and we did it all while sweating more than I imagined to be humanly possible, but laughing the entire way. These are people who are truly wonderful and I am thankful to have met so many people who share the same passions as me.
While I have long since left Rome, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t remember walking through the teeming streets of Rome looking for adventure and beauty at every turn. Rome is the eternal city with moments of time pressed between its pages I am glad to be a part of the city’s memory.