Salve! That means “hello” in Latin. I was very pleased to learn that the greeting is still used by modern Romans!
I arrived in Rome after a long journey that started on Saturday morning and ended on Sunday morning. After three in-flight movies on two flights, I was ready to get up and stretch my legs. After a short cab ride from a man named Mario, I arrived at the Centro (pronounced chen-tro) along with another girl from my program who happened to be on my flight.
I was pleased to be welcomed by a friendly English-speaking Italian staff at the Centro and met many of the other students in my program as I unpacked in my room. I quickly found a group of students who wanted to explore Rome with me. Having only been in the city for a couple hours, I was able to try Italian gelato for the first time. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to try it.
Later that evening, I went with a number of students deeper into the city in order to find dinner, since it is not served within the Centro on weekends. We crossed the Tiber, passed the Pantheon, and found a nice restaurant that served us some pizza. We came back to the Centro after nightfall, having seen the Vatican on the way back. I was so surprised and delighted to learn that so many wonderful places are so close together in Rome!
The program itself started on Monday after some much-needed rest. On the first day, the professors for our program took us right into the action, giving us a tour of some historical sites in our neighborhood and of the businesses that we would be likely to frequent. My favorite site that day was a monument that displayed the famous she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.
On the next day, we were assigned an Obelisk Project, for which we had to, in groups of three, visit two obelisks in the city of Rome and report to each other that evening on what we had learned. Our principle obelisk was in the Piazza Navona atop a beautiful fountain. The experience not only allowed me to see some beautiful sites in the city, but also tested my ability to navigate a busy city without knowledge of Italian.
On Wednesday, I had my first experience with reading real Latin and Greek texts. It was daunting, but I was up to the challenge. Fortunately, the day itself was pretty laid back, so I was able to recover a little bit from the program’s busy scheduling.
Today was the best day I’ve had so far in Rome. We visited the Forum Romanum. I was able to see evidence of ancient Roman huts, the Temple of Saturn, where Pliny the Younger worked for four or five years, and the Lapis Niger, to name a few things. I’ve never seen such an impressive or historic place in my life. Our professors made the experience incredible by explaining the history and purposes of the different things that we saw. We returned to the Centro for lunch and this afternoon, I played frisbee with two people in my program in Rome’s largest and finest park, the Villa Doria Pamphili. I have gone running in this park twice already and I’m incredibly satisfied with its paths. Not only are the paths well-kept, but the park also houses magnificent statues and structures to view as you make your way through it.
Rome is an incredible city and that’s all I have to say for now!