Back to my roots
As our spring break began and coincided with Spain’s Semana Santana, I packed my bags for my own version of the Holy Week. I was looking forward to exploring other European territory as well as acquainting myself with my own heritage, so I decided to spend the majority of my break in Italy. My grandfather was born in the south of Italy, a region known for mass immigration to the United States in the early 20th century. I’ve been told time and time again of our family’s history, their experience coming to America, and life in the poverty-stricken south in the 1930s when my great-uncle and grandfather were born—the last members of the family to be born on Italian soil.
After landing in Ciampino Airport, a group of friends and I hopped on the bus to the center of Rome. The bus dropped us off at Termini station, the main railway station and bus stop in Rome. Luckily, our hostel was a 5-minute walk from the major transportation hub. While on the bus, and elderly couple began talking to me. I nodded and responded in Spanish, the language I know closet to Italian, and said that I do not speak Italian. They smiled, and from what I could understand, said something along the lines of me looking like an Italian. This exchange made me happy and feel proud of who I am because I not only look Italian, but I am Italian.
Day one of Rome was spent being a tourist. The city was jam packed with tourists and visitors from all around the world because of Easter, but we managed to make our way to some of the main sites. My first stop was the Trevi Fountain. The facade of the fountain was spectacular, and I was overall stunned by the classic roman architecture. Another magical piece of architecture that I visited was the Colosseum and Roman Forum. As a political science major, I was fascinated to understand and see first-hand the socio-political landscape and set-up of Ancient Rome within the Forum and Colosseum. Another stunning staple of my Rome trip was the Vatican. I was in awe by the Sistine Chapel and its great detail.
After days of exploring the streets of Rome and eating the amazing pastas and pizzas, I decided to head further south to both get closer to my roots and visit one of the oldest ruins of the world—Pompeii. The south of Italy had a very different, slower vibe than that of Rome. Pompeii was a treat because I love history and have always been interested in architecture, so I was excited to see the remains of ancient buildings. We learned that Mount Vesuvius destroyed the city of Pompeii in 80 AD. Think about that! The city of Pompeii was thriving with advanced technologies and with stunning architecture around two thousand years ago until the volcano’s wrath wiped away its inhabitants.
Overall, I was stunned by my experience in Italy and I left feeling very proud to be Italian…I already miss the food!