Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First Few Days in Rome

I arrived in Rome at 8am after an easy direct flight from Philadelphia. Two other students in the program from the University of New Orleans flew in on the same flight so we were able to share a taxi from the Fiumicino airport to our apartment. We were all very excited to see where we would be living for the next four weeks and were very pleased upon arrival. We stayed at the Trianon Borgo Pio, which is located just a few blocks from Vatican City. While the city of Rome, especially Vatican City, is packed with tourists during the summer, our street was quiet and beautiful.
Entrance to Trianon Borgo Pio
            The Rome program was made up of ten female students, one male student, two teachers, and one program director. The female students were split in to two apartments of five girls. After unpacking and taking a short nap we all met in the meeting room in our apartment to introduce ourselves and hear about the program. I was surprised how few students there were, however it ended up being a great aspect of the program. The teachers and director took us on a walk around the neighborhood, showing us the best grocery stores, banks, and other important places we would go. Later we all ate dinner together at a traditional Italian restaurant around the corner from our apartment. We sat outside eating pizza and drinking wine while listening to two men playing music on the corner. It was a wonderful evening. By the end of the first day I felt comfortable with my surroundings and ready to explore the rest of the city.
First Pizza in Italy
            The following day we went on a group trip to one of the most famous sites in Rome: the Colosseum. It was as large and amazing as I had imagined but I was surprised by the location. I knew that the Colosseum was in the city of Rome but I expected it to be a little secluded. This was not the case. It is located in the middle of a bustling section of the city with a subway station and busy road less than one hundred feet from the entrance. It is surrounded by hundreds of tourists and men and woman trying to sell sun umbrellas, water, and souvenirs. Once inside of the Colosseum I was immediately overwhelmed and forgot about what was going on outside. The best part about visiting the Colosseum in a group was that we had a guided tour and did not need to wait in the long line. We also got to see parts of the Colosseum that most people do not get to see. We were able to walk out on to the stage and then go below to the underground level were the gladiators and slaves would have been. These are two sections that are not open to the public. We also climbed all the way to the top, which provided us with a great view of the whole structure and the surrounding areas. One of the things that we could see was the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum consists of ruins from government buildings that were at the center of ancient Rome. A walk through the forum was included in our guided tour. Walking over stones and seeing pillars from ancient history was amazing but it was difficult to imagine what the city looked like over two thousand years ago. While it was hard to stay focused because of the intense sun and heat, I would definitely suggest taking a walk through the Forum. And, of course, anyone visiting Rome must see the Colosseum.
Exterior View of the Colosseum
Interior View of the Colosseum

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