This weekend was the first time I left Florence since I got here. I have become comfortable in the city, but I was excited to see Rome and all its glory. I was happy that this trip was already organized by my study abroad program and was packed with sightseeing and tours. We left early Friday morning and got back later in the afternoon on Sunday, it was a four-hour bus ride each way which wasn’t bad. Thirty minutes into the drive, I had a realization that this was going to be an unforgettable trip. The drive had the most amazing scenery, filled with beautifully green rolling hills, rivers, and farm lands, Tuscany was one of the most charming places I had ever seen. This beautiful landscape made the ride very pleasant and it felt like we got to Rome in an hour.
Once in Rome, we got off the bus and started off on a tour of the city. First stop, the Spanish Steps. We were told some background information about them, their purpose and where they got their name from. At the top of the steps we got to see over the buildings and look down into the crowd and at the base of the steps, we got to see the beautiful church behind it. It is still hard to believe that locals get used to these views. It was also clear that fountains were very important to the Roman people as we encountered many as we made our way to the Pantheon.
I was mind blown by the size of the Pantheon and its inner beauty. It had architecture and art I had never seen before. We learned about how it was built, what it was used for, and who was buried there. From there, we moved on to another famous location in Rome, the Trevi Fountain (que Hey Now by lizzie McGuire). I remember seeing this beautiful fountain in the Lizzie McGuire Movie when I was younger and so my inner child was practically screaming when I caught a glimpse of it! We learned about who built it, why it was built and what it represented. I couldn’t take my eyes off it the whole time. I took a few minutes to take it and then proceeded to take many, many photos of it before making a wish, a tradition of this fountain.
The next day we took a bus tour of the city and learned a lot about the architecture of certain buildings and the history behind some famous ones. From there, we went to take a tour of Castel Sant’Angelo and learned about how the Emperors and later Popes lived there. We got to see an amazing view of the city from the top of the castle and then finished our day early, with some free time to spare. I was glad we were given some free time because this allowed me time to do something I really wanted: go to the Vatican City.
Going to the Vatican was in fact the highlight of my trip. Seeing all the art and history of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel left me absolutely speechless. I had to pinch myself that I wasn’t dreaming at least twice while I was there. I had taken an art history class freshman year of college and knew a lot of the art that I had studied was located there, but I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing it in real life. As the museum tour came to an end, I thought I had seen every amazing exhibit they had to offer until I reached the Sistine Chapel and found myself in awe yet again over Michelangelo’s skilled artwork. It completely blows my mind how talented these artists were and the impact they have left in history, in art and the world
During our last day there we saw the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. I was seriously impressed with the history behind the Roman Forum, but the Colosseum was even more fascinating. I still struggle to comprehend how people in ancient times created such massive and functional buildings like they did without the resources and technology that we have today. It felt surreal to actually be there and see these historic sights.
Overall the trip to Rome was unforgettable and I will definitely be going back. I never thought I was going to get the chance to see all the things I have learned in school, in real life. It was absolutely out of this world and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to appreciate and explore such amazing art and architecture during my travels in Italy. I feel like my brain is going to explode with all the knowledge I gained from this trip, but I can only hope for more opportunities to come.