While the first day we settled in and got to know people in our Maymester, the second day is when we started to get out on our own. But soon enough we were navigating the city by paper map and walking miles and miles to see the sights.
While I want to stop and take a picture everywhere, we have to keep moving on the busy streets so I’ve taken pictures of the larger monuments and scenery. But every street is picturesque with the bold shutters against the pale orange and cracked buildings and the cobblestone streets. The smaller streets especially are just as you would picture Italy with bistros every other shop and chiq Italians walking by where you might catch a frase of their elegant language.
On the third day is where my apartment mates and I started exploring, and our first stop was the Piazza del Popolo (the Plaza of the People) after our first day of classes. The most ornate white marble arch gave way to a huge plaza surrounded by all kinds of domed buildings, elaborate statues of Roman gods, and a large tower in the center engraved with old Latin surrounded by lion fountains. Within this plaza was places to sit so we grabbed delicious pizza and sat on the steps while we took in the scenery.
It was a perfect lunch before continuing on to our classwork of the day which was to find our assigned Roman ruin and sketch it while learning about it for the day. We were in small groups of three, but we teamed up to find all of our sites through identifying them on a paper map and following it through the whole Roman city. The twisting streets along the way were captivating, and suddenly we would turn the corner to find famous locations like the Pantheon or temples.
We then met our whole class and rode an elevator to the top of the highest building: the Altare della Patria, and looked over all of Rome at sunset. It was gorgeous and we could see everything below from the nearby Colosseum to the villas way in the distance. On top of this monument we gave our short presentations on our sites (ours was Octavian’s Mausoleum) and then we were free for the day.
Later I explored the Vatican city which is only a couple blocks away from our apartment. I followed the Vatican wall that extends all around the streets until I reached the entrance of St. Peter’s square which opened up suddenly before me to reveal a gazing sunset over St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope resides. To be in such a spiritual center with the white marble columns and a gorgeous building before me was breathtaking.
Seeing all these sights reminded me of the reason I came on this Maymester: to adventure. While we are learning, we are also exploring the city. This piece of having a first hand look at history while studying it has been a piece that I feel is missing from so many classes.It brings together the experience of learning while being present in the moment for unforgettable memories.
These are my apartment mates who are amazing people to travel Italy with! They will probably appear in many of my photos. Ciao!