Ciao!!! I am so sorry I haven’t posted in a few weeks, a lot has been happening and I didn’t want to post just for the sake of posting. I finished my sophomore year of college, moved out of my dorm and into my first apartment, drove back to Indiana, celebrated my sister’s high school graduation, and flew off to ROME for the next 6 weeks!!! I am currently studying abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center (JFRC). So for the next several weeks I will be updating you on all of my travel adventures and experiences while in Italy!! I have had such an incredible first week, met so many new friends and seen so much beauty. I am feeling like a lucky lucky girl.
I feel like I have done and seen more in this first week than I have in my entire life. I am already so in love with Italy and the culture here. Traveling here was quite a journey to say the least. The nine hour flight was the longest flight I have ever been on but honestly not as bad as I thought it would be considering it was at night so I slept (or attempted to sleep) for most of it. We got into Rome around 9am, which is 3am in America. I was VERY jet-lagged for the first few days but I didn’t let that stop me too much because I wanted to take it ALL in. Our first few days on campus were packed full of “orientation” activities to welcome us to Italy and help us get to know our peers. We went to many community dinners and day trips to see some of the sights. I apologize for the extremely long post but I didn’t want to leave anything out!!!
Saturday, May 19th 2018: Day One in Roma
Our first day we were settling in, unpacking, and walking around our neighborhood of Balduina to see what was around. We got some pizza for lunch which they cut with scissors and weighed to see how many euros it would cost. There were about 10 different kinds all just laid out on sheet pans. We went to the local grocery store to stock up on some essentials including breakfast food because I wasn’t sure if I could do croissants every day (but I have pretty much and I was wrong because they are delish). We went to a welcome meeting and had a buffet style dinner with all sorts of pasta and meats and prosecco to drink to celebrate our arrival! After dinner we headed out for a scavenger hunt in the Centro! We took pictures of little tasks to get the most points, saw the Spanish Steps, rode the bus for the first time and got some super yummy gelato. Although it’s always a little terrifying to just get thrown into a new place like this it was a great way to quickly learn how to get around and help us get accustomed to the city. It was a great way to end our first day! (AND fast forward a few days….after tallying up all the points WE WON the scavenger hunt so YAY!!!)
Sunday, May 20th 2018: Villa Farnese
Day two was our orientation trip as a whole campus! We went to Villa Farnese, a breathtaking palace, about an hour outside of Rome (and JFRC). We had our own bus thank goodness and didn’t have to take public transportation which was nice. I was on the green bus which was my group for the tour. We had whisper boxes with one earbud to listen to our guide who graciously and may I say quite impressively talked through what must have been close to 25 rooms or more all in great detail and painted like the Sistine Chapel. I have so many pictures of each and every one. After this we went for literally a 3 1/2 hour lunch. Which was so so good but so dang long. I knew meals over here lasted a lot longer than ours back home but WOW. We had four courses: meats, lasagna, turkey and veggies, and cake all with plenty of wine. After being stuffed to the max by this meal we made the trek back to JFRC for the night. We had dinner in our little cafe, Rinaldo’s and hung out with some of our new friends. What I love about this campus is we are meeting people from all over, not just Loyola. We have made friends from Marquette and College of the Holy Cross. And the best part is they all traveled with us this weekend to the Amalfi Coast!!
Monday, May 21st 2018: The community dinner, the train disaster and first day of classes
Today was our first day of classes. And while I was excited to get started in learning about Rome (and honestly just knock off those credits) I was not looking forward to sitting in lecture for 3 hours a day. Today I had literature. I really like my professor, she is originally from Italy and specifically Rome, which is a very cool opportunity as a student. The class will probably be a little dry but we started a documentary about migration which seemed interesting. After class we went to lunch in the Mensa, our dining hall here, where we had pasta and salad. It was delish but I’m not sure how much of the same thing I am going to be able to handle for the next 6 weeks here and we’re only on day three. Then Krista and Anna a few of my friends went shopping for some breakfast food since they don’t serve that for us. We went to Simply & OVC for some towels for Amalfi & face wash for Anna. When we were done shopping and trying to cool off from the hot walk back up the hill we found a movie/lounge room so the three of us all sat in there and watched the Change-Up with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman. Similar plot line to Freaky Friday but I was not a fan so we went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. I initially was little bummed because the dinners were split by last names so A-L and M-Z so I was split up from Krista but I got to know some other girls from Holy Cross a lot better and it ended up being so much fun. To get to our restaurant we had to take the train, I was looking forward to this since I hadn’t done it before. We scanned our tickets and got on board. I was immediately impressed, they were way nicer than the L. BUT I spoke too soon. The train had some “technical” issues and we were stuck for almost an hour and a half. We didn’t get to the restaurant until 9:15 and our reservation was at 8pm and that’s only because we got off and took taxis four people at a time. It was a huge mess but we finally made it there and had a super yummy meal. We started off with a massive wooden board of meat and cheeses. There was only myself, Carolyn, Lily, and Angela at my table so it was a little challenging to finish. The second course was a delicious pasta with a marinara and cheese. Our dessert was a lemon icey drink. While this was so good I was hoping for something like tiramisu not gonna lie. After lots of yummy food and wine we headed home in another taxi. We were in bed by 12:30. It was a successful first day!
Tuesday, May 22nd 2018: A Night on the town
Today I had my first theology class and I am so excited!! My professor, Colby Dickinson seems like such a cool guy and so knowledgable. I think this class will be my favorite! We walk around a bunch of cool churches and theology related locations for our class. Our first “on-site” class is on Thursday and I am so pumped. After class we decided to hang out for a little bit before going downtown Rome for shopping and dinner. We spent what must have been a couple hours in ZARA, which yes they do have in the states but I wanted some more clothes for my weekend trip, everyone dresses so well here! I got a really pretty longer dress and a pair of white flared pants which I can wear with a lot of different things. After a very long time spent there we finally headed to dinner. One of my friends here, Carolyn, recommended Old Bear, apparently a favorite of her family’s from when they had visited before. We went there and got seated rather quickly. She recommended the truffle bruschetta and the truffle lasagna. In retrospect was it too much truffle, maybe. BUT it was soooooo good I loved every bite. We got a pitcher of the house white wine for the table and we were set. We were sat in the “American area” which I found hilarious full of other tourists and blasting Katy Perry. It was definitely an experience. We had to stop for some gelato on the way out and then proceeded to go to a karaoke bar, Scholars, with a bunch of my other classmates and study abroad students from other universities. We took the bus home from the bar and being new to the area still, got off a few stops too early and got caught in the rain. It was something I will never forget.
Wednesday, May 23rd 2018: The Infamous Pear Pasta
Today wasn’t all too exciting in the morning, just another class from 9-12, lunch in the mensa, and studying in the IC for a little bit in the afternoon. The evening was the exciting part! We started off the night by going to a beautiful mass just for us Loyola JFRC students in a breathtaking church of Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio in the Centro Storico. We then headed to a community dinner with our whole campus where we had wine ricotta stuffed tomato, pear pasta, veal and veggies, and gelato for dessert. The pear pasta was as delicious as everyone had told me it was. I still can’t get used to these dinners though, I think we got there around 8 and weren’t done until at least 11. That’s a long time. After dinner we stopped at the Trevi Fountain for a late night wish. It was stunning.
Thursday, May 24th 2018
Today I woke up super excited for my theology class. It was the first on-site class which meant we were going down towards the Colosseum to visit different churches. We left campus around 7:45am and headed down on the bus, then connected to the train until we eventually ended up where we needed to be. We started off at St. Clemente a beautiful location with 3D ceilings, multiple side alters, and a “jewel” of archaeology digs. There were underground tunnels and passages built by the thin Roman brick which are very supportive and still very much intact. There was an active stream of water where people used to come get water, this really represents ancient Rome.
The next location we went to was Stefano Rotondo. The roundness of this building was unique it was common for mausoleums but not for churches. It was modeled after a holy church in Jerusalem. St. Stephen was the first martyr, stoned to death. The whole church is based on the ideas of martyrs, showing 16th century detailed murals of how they died. These paintings were commissioned by Pope Gregory.
Lastly was Geovanni y Paulo. A church built on hop of a house church or “domas ecclesia” to commemorate. The church above took the names of people who had the house church below, that’s where Geovanni y Paulo come from. They gave the idea for a titular church. Run by the passionists in 1783 it was conservative and pious. The men wore all black in perpetual mourning of Christ.
We finished off the afternoon with a yummy pizza lunch and headed back to the Colosseum for some more pics!!!
After we got back from our class/lunch I just chilled and starting packing because this weekend we were headed to the AMALFI COAST!!!! WHAT?! I know. I could hardly believe it too. We all packed up our carryons and headed to Roma Termini Train Station to meet up with Bus2Alps, the company that we did our weekend with, and headed off on the 3 1/2 hour bus ride to Sorrento, Italy. We got in late and night and slept in hostels. They were actually a lot nicer than I was expecting and it was perfect just for sleeping.
Friday, May 25th 2018: Capri
Holy moly was this the most incredible thing I have ever done!!! Yes, definitely quite possible. We left our hostel pretty early this morning and got on a boat to head to Capri. We passed by all of the incredible mountains and scenery. It didn’t seem real. Once we got on the island we took a long and sweaty walk up to the top to get a refreshing orange drink and explore. I had heard a lot about this specific sandal shop and I was determined to check it out. Our guide told us that Jackie Kennedy went here and made it famous. They size your foot and make you a custom sandal with the style and color of leather you want. I picked a dark grey leather and I am obsessed. We got our sandals (which only took 15 minutes to make!!!) How cool like omg?! We got some quick paninis for lunch and then headed up to the tippy top of the island. We were told we had to take a chair lift to get up there and it was a must do experience. It was about a 15 minute ride up and down and boy oh boy was it worth it. I was actually blown away by the beauty around me. Then of course we had to stop for gelato before we left because duh.
When we got back it was just about time for dinner and we were feeling seafood so I got a delish seafood spaghetti with mussels, shrimp, and squid. SO GOOD. Dessert was tiramisu because duh Italy. And yes my spaghetti had a full shrimp on top and it was huge.
Saturday, May 26th 2018: Positano
This was such a good day. It was a total boat and beach day which is what I wanted. We left the hostel around 9am and took about a 2 hour boat ride to Positano from Sorrento. It was a magical day of relaxing on the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean. I am constantly more and more blown away by these places.
Sunday, May 27th 2018: Pompeii
This day was our last day of the tour and we stopped in Pompeii. This normally isn’t my kind of thing but I will say it was pretty incredible, despite the sweltering heat. We checked out of the hostel and took a bus about an hour or so north until we reached the ruins. We had a guided tour through it all and man history is incredible. It was so weird to think that people actually used to live there, right where I was standing. After our tour we got some pizza for lunch. This was my favorite one so far, the crust was absolutely stellar. Then we hopped back on the bus and headed back to JFRC for another full week ahead of us.
**My posts over the next several weeks will most likely not be going up on Sundays but really just whenever I can get them up in between classes and travel!! This post alone has taken me so many hours just because of lack of wifi so bare with me pls!!!