All posts by Bella Roma

About Bella Roma

I'm a Junior at Villanova University spending the semester in Rome, Italy studying at Roma Tre University and working as an Intern at the Vatican. Hoping to share my experience abroad through blogging!

A Week of Lasts

This week has been a week of many ‘lasts’ I wanted to go to all my favorite places for one last time, as well as do a few new things. Sunday started with our last journey back home to Rome, I don’t know if I’ll ever again be able to say “I’m going home” and have that home be in Rome. But Monday was actually a first, Natalie, Caroline and I met Father Joe Farrell who used to work at Villanova and he gave us a tour of the OSA HQ in Rome and took us out to lunch which was awesome. Later I had my last class in Rome, Performance in Rome which was actually such a nice relief, but the work wasn’t over yet. After class some of us went to our last aperativo at Doppiozeroo, one of our favorite places for dinner.

Tour with Father Farrell
Tour with Father Farrell

Tuesday I spent all day pretty much working on my last assignment, a 10 page research paper for Performance, finished it and turned it in a day early so I could enjoy my last few lasts in Rome. For dinner, the Benzoni Girls (our whole apartment: Care, Pallavi, Meghan, Caroline, Natalie and I) went for a last roomie dinner at SPQR….it might have also been our first…haha it was so cute having our whole apartment together! Later that night Natalie, Caroline and I celebrated our papers being done by going to one of our favorite bars that is in Garbatella called Why Not. We hung out had a few drinks and talked with the bartenders (no one was there since it was a Tuesday). We got some pictures with the awesome bartenders there and had a fun night for our last time at Why Not.

Why Not Pub
Why Not Pub

Wednesday I went to my last Papal Audience with Pope Francis, I have now been to 11 and this was the first one that I wasn’t working at, I could just enjoy the atmosphere in the square. This was my last time seeing Pope Francis (for now at least), after 15 events with the Pope, starting at week one with the Prayer for Peace. I’m going to miss Wednesdays here, they have been crazy, it’s always my busiest day with work, class all afternoon and a usual night to go out with everyone. This Wednesday after the audience Natalie and I went to the office to say goodbye to TJ and Jose Miguel and everyone in the office. We said bye to Monseigneur Tighe and Archbishop Celli. Archbishop Celli was so sweet, he gave us rosaries blessed by Pope Francis, and wished us and our families well in the future. He then asked us if we had boyfriends and said, “you have to start thinking about these things.” Such a funny way to end a wonderful experience there. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone, especially TJ and Jose Miguel, but it was an amazing experience and I’m so happy I got to work with them this semester. After, we went to Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori did some shopping around and taking it all in again. We walked that route so many times this semester, from the Vatican to Piazza Navona and then Campo and it’s always been a blast. Wednesday night some of us girls went to Dar Poeta for dinner for once again another last. Dar Poeta was my favorite pizza place in Rome hands down. We all split a dessert which I elected myself to cut into 8 pieces since it was right next to me…clearly my counting skills were off becasue I somehow managed to only cut 7 pieces…no one should have trusted me with that job haha. After we stayed out in Trastevere and went to the bars there for one last time. We went to Almalu, a bar with another one of our favorite bartenders, Alessio. We took an absurd amount of pictures there, went behind the bar, we really made ourselves at home. Jess started to create her own mixed shots and the other bartender let her make us all a drink! We hung out for a while and said our goodbyes to Alessio.

Last audience!
Last audience!
Almalu with Alessio
Almalu with Alessio

Thursday I went on my last run to the Colosseum, I really took the time to enjoy it one more time. It was actually one of the best runs I’ve been on here, it wasn’t too cold or too hot. There weren’t many people around and I could just go, it was therapeutic. Then Jess, Barrie, Natalie and I went to walk around a few places. First we went to a new place, the mouth of truth thats in the movie Roman Holiday, you stick your hand in it, in ancient Rome there was a ritual where you put your hand inside the statue and if you were not telling the truth you couldn’t take your hand out and it would be bitten off. We stuck our hands in the mouth (luckily we kept our hands), took some photos and went into the church that its in the courtyard of, Saint Mary in Cosmedin and saw a medieval crypt. Then we went to the Orange Garden that we went to our first night in Rome, we hung out and enjoyed the view. Everything has come full circle, we started out there all as literal strangers, and we went back after a semester and getting to know each other as great friends, it was sort of poetic. Our next stop was this keyhole garden, you look into the keyhole and you are supposed to be able to see Rome, the Vatican and Malta a small country off the coast of the Mediterranean. It was really beautiful but I didn’t see Malta. The other girls went back and Barrie and walked around Trastevere for a while going into shops, into the Santa Maria church there and just walked around and chatted about the semester and how weird going back home and to school was going to be. That night was our farewell dinner and the Museum class’s exhibition. They also had on display the photos from the CLC as well as showed the Video CLC projects. Our Performance class was supposed to do our performances but sadly only half could fit in and I didn’t get to go…I did not mind one bit. It was nice to get everyone together one last time because not everyone was going to be around on Friday.

My last run to the Colosseum
My last run to the Colosseum
Mouth of Truth
Mouth of Truth
Orange Garden
Orange Garden

Friday was my last day in Rome, I wanted to walk around and take everything in one last time. I walked around Testaccio and Garbatella for a few hours in the morning before taking some time to pack. Later I went to Basilica San Paulo, or Saint Paul Outside the Walls, it is a Papal Basilica in Rome only one metro stop from Garbatella. The basilica was so incredible, I felt so small inside. Lining the top of the inside , there are mosaic medallions of each Pope, Pope Francis was just put in a few weeks ago. The front facade was so beautiful with painted scenes and statues in the portico. Later for our last dinner about half of my program went to SPQR, then we went to the Colosseum to hang out and take it in one last time. There were some tears, but no ‘goodbyes’ only ‘until next time’. I can’t imagine not seeing the people I spent the past four months exploring Rome with, we have a shared experience that not many other people will understand. I made some incredible friends these past four months and had an amazing time. After two hours of sleep I went to FCO airport for one last time for my long journey home.

Basilica San Paulo
Basilica San Paulo
Last night shenanigans at the Colosseum
Last night shenanigans at the Colosseum

Last Weekend Abroad!

Last weekend abroad!
For my last weekend in Europe we decided to go to Dublin, Ireland! I wasn’t planning any more trips after Barcelona but my roommates were talking about going so why not? After a 2 hour delay at the airport Thursday night Natalie, Caroline, Meghan and I finally arrived in Dublin!

After four hours of sleep, Natalie and I had to wake up for a tour we booked to go see the Cliffs of Moher, they are all the way across the country so it was a long day. On the way our we made a bunch of stops while our tour guide/bus driver, Jim, gave us some history or let us relax on the bus to Irish music, it was great. He told us the first settlers in Ireland were in the Stone Age, followed by the Bronze Age, Iron Age then Keltic settlers, Vikings and Normans. Ireland was never taken over by the Roman Empire because they didn’t think that the country who always had winter weather (so they thought) was worth their while so it was a Pagan country until Saint Patrick. He was taken from his family in Wales and was brought to Ireland to be slave, after 6 years he finally escaped back to his family became a priest then a bishop. Legend has it that in a dream it came to him that he was supposed to go back to Ireland to convert the Irish from Pagan to Christianity. We also learned some fun facts: that president Obama has ancestral roots in Ireland in a small village called Moneygall where he visited on a trip to Ireland and met his 8th cousin. Ireland also didn’t have a ‘motorway’ or highway system until about 15 years ago! Off the motorway our first stop was in Limerick to see King John’s Castle across the River Shannon, the river splits Ireland into east and west. Here we also saw the treaty stone between the English and Irish.

We finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher and had about an hour and a half to walk around the beautiful cliffs. They were absolutely amazing and are one of Irelands largest tourist attractions. We got lucky it was a fairly nice day except super windy because it’s right on the Atlantic Ocean. Natalie and I walked around, took tons of (very windblown) pictures. The cliffs are 5 miles long and the visitor area is not that large so we decided to leave the high fenced in area and continue to walk along the cliffs. We wanted to take a cool picture on top of the cliffs where there was a ridge, it wasn’t on the edge so we figured we thought it was a good idea. Well, a gust of find came and we hopped right off that ridge freaking out even though we were fine…it was a little scary haha. We walked (off the ridge) down a little more saw some goats and took some more pictures because the view was just too amazing. After the cliffs, we went to the town of Doolin for lunch and had some authentic Irish food which was delicious! After lunch we continued on back but around a new way to see some more! We stopped at Burren a Karsk/Limestone which was right on the water and had a unique lunar terrain, it looked like we were on the moon! Then just a short while away we went to the Corcomroe Abbey, the remains of a 12th century abbey that was really cool looking, it was getting really cold so we walked around for about 10 minutes and hopped back onto the bus. Our last stop on the journey was Dunguaire Castle at Galway Bay, I accidentally fell asleep while Jim told us about this but there was something about the wood boats called ‘hookers’…I did wake up for the part where he said this was Columbus’s last call to port on the way to America! One more interesting story Jim told us was about Slane Castle, in the 1970’s it needed repair and the family didn’t have the money to do the upkeep. The son just inherited the castle and decided to hold a rock concert to raise money, the concert featured a band called Thin Lizzy who was big at the time in Ireland. They concert had a not well known band for the opening act, this opening act band was actually U2! Now Slane Castle is an international venue for rock concerts. We finished the tour ride listening to U2 music. The tour was awesome and we got see a lot of Ireland which was exciting.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Wind-blown at the cliffs
Wind-blown at the cliffs

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Lunar Terrain
Lunar Terrain

After the tour we met up with Meghan and Caroline for dinner before going on a pub crawl! The pub crawl was around Temple Bar which is a big area, it was awesome and included a drink at every bar. We first met at this bar called Mercantile where we were given a half pint of Guinness which I had never had before, I was surprised that I liked it [must be because I’m Irish]! Then we went on to the first pub called The Old Storehouse which had live traditional Irish music. The band was great and we were called out multiple times while we were at this bar by the band. One guy made Natalie dance with him, then they asked us where we were from, naturally we said New Jersey, (Natalie is the only one not from NJ) and were instantly know as the girls from NJ for the night hah. Then they wanted the ladies in the bar to tell them what song to do by just looking at them…of course the singer singled me out and stared me down, he actually then played an Irish song I knew (I didn’t know I knew any Irish songs haha). The band and the bar was super fun! Then we moved onto Peadar Kearny’s Pub where Caroline and I ruled the beer pong table for the time we were there. The last one I loved solely because this is the setting for the Pub in the movie P.S. I Love You. We had fun and danced until they told us it was time to go to the club called The Village. The club was cool but it was jam packed and super hot and we were tired so after like 20 minutes we decided to head back to the hostel. (Unfortunately we were having too much fun to stop and take pictures)

The next morning Natalie and I went on a free 3 hour walking tour offered by the hostel we saw a lot of Dublin, learned a lot of history and all for FREE! It was freezing cold, windy and raining so it could have been better but the tour guide, Ian, was awesome and made the weather bearable. We started at Dublin City Hall, then over to Dublin Castle which he said he usually tries to set up as a dark and scary place but there was Christmas music blasting in the center so that didn’t really work out too well. We walked to Christ Church, around where old viking settlements used to be, Temple Bar, Trinity College, Over the Ha’Penny Bridge to the River Liffey and ended at St. Stephen’s Green (we definitely saw more but I can’t remember it all).

Christ Church
Christ Church
River Liffey
River Liffey
Trinity College
Trinity College
St. Stephen's Green
St. Stephen’s Green

We then met up with Caroline and Meghan to go on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. We went through the storehouse and saw an exhibit that shows they use only 4 ingredients (water, yeast, barley and hops), an advertisement exhibit, did a taste experience where we learned how to properly drink Guinness. Last we went to the Guinness Academy and learned how to pour the perfect pint and received certificates, it was a lot of fun. We then went up to the top floor to the Gravity Bar on the top floor which had a 360 degree view of Dublin to drink our pints. It was a lot of fun, we sat there for about an hour just hanging out and recapping our days.

Pouring the perfect pint
Pouring the perfect pint
Dad says I look 'very Irish' here hah
Dad says I look ‘very Irish’ here hah

That night we ended up getting burritos for dinner (random hah) and meeting up with Meghan’s friend from home who is studying in Dublin. We went to a fun Pub and talked hung out, she told us in Dublin they call having a good time with good conversation and people is called ‘good craic’. It was definitely good craic, but we were exhausted and called it an early night. The next morning Natalie and I got up early-ish to go see St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On the way some young 20-something man came up to us with his friends and says, “good morning I’m spreading Christmas cheer and giving everyone hugs!” and continued to hug me, it’s very possible he was still out from the night before and drunk. The skeptic in me grabbed my purse and Natalie also made sure no one took anything (this is what Rome has done to us) but then he gave the next person a hug too. It was odd and funny but kind of how the Irish people were the entire time we were in Dublin, so friendly and welcoming. Anyways, the Cathedral was beautiful! We walked around the Church and the park behind before doing a little shopping on Grafton Street and meeting up with the other girls for brunch. We went to this place called Bewley’s on Grafton that Monsignor Tighe, one of the bosses from our office who is from Dublin, told us we HAD to go to. It was so cute and a great atmosphere I got a Traditional Irish Breakfast which was so yummy (I didn’t try the blood pudding though…) We then had to head to the airport for our last journey back to Rome. The flight home was quite interesting, it was so rowdy! There were a lot of Italians talking for the entire 3 hour flight. A family in front of us kept moving around seats to see the sunset out of the window literally the entire time, it was so loud and so very strange. However, it was a great weekend, think Dublin was one of my favorite places I’ve been to. The people were great, it was so much fun and a great way to spend my last weekend in Europe.

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St. Patrick’s

Bewley's
Bewley’s

My Internship

Today was the last day of my Vatican Internship at the the Pontifical Council for Social Communication (PCCS). Having this internship was one of the most amazing parts of my experience here in Rome. I did a lot of work with social media which was fun and interesting and confirmed that this is what I want to do when I graduate. This wasn’t a very typical internship, first off it’s in Rome and at a Pontifical office, but it wasn’t like some internships you hear about where interns are doing filing and busy work and making coffee. Natalie and I worked together and were given daily assignments for our boss, TJ, that was actually useful, I learned a lot of practical skills for this field.

My favorite part of the internship was every Wednesday Natalie and I would be sent out to the Papal Audience to take pictures. Before the audience begins, the Pope comes out in a car and is driven around St. Peter’s square for about 20 minutes. We would take pictures on our phones for Instagram as well as on the Villanova Photography equipment. Yesterday was our last work audience day and we got the best spot in the square yet, we saw Pope Francis drive by twice, kiss 5 babies and put on a skull cap someone handed to him! It was the best audience yet. We stayed for the whole audience this time and listened to his whole address (which is then translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and Arabic). Then at the end everyone reads the Our Father prayer in Latin (it’s printed on the back of the Audience Ticket). This is also when the Pope imparts his Apolistic blessing on all those present, to our families and loved ones, especially those who are sick and suffering and also any religious articles brought with the purpose to be blessed. So, yesterday I was blessed by the Pope and so were you, my family and loved ones!  For not being a very religious person this really moved me, I think because I have spent so much time in the square seeing the Pope, but also because by staying through his address I really got to reflect on my time here and appreciate this amazing opportunity that I am so lucky to have had these past four months. This wasn’t my last papal audience, Natalie and I are planning to go again next week because, why not? We’ve been to almost every other one this semester!

Papa Francis!
Papa Francis!
Our favorite day is Wednesday!
Our favorite day is Wednesday!

I loved working for my boss and with Natalie for pretty much every assignment haha. I think this once in a lifetime experience has really prepared me for what is to come in my future and really helped me grow a lot. I’m really going to miss seeing St. Peter’s Square on the way to work everyday, it really hasn’t gotten old. Waking up early every morning was sometimes a struggle but it was 1000% worth it to have such a great opportunity and one I will never forget!

My desk
My desk
Nat and I so sad to go
Nat and I are so sad to go

Vita di Quartiere

As a part of my study abroad program, Arcadia offers optional Co-curricular Learning Certificate programs during the semester. When I found out that there was one for photography I knew I wanted to do it. What really stuck me when we were talking about our theme for the project ‘Vita di Quatiere’ was the element of community commerce, which became the basis for my theme food roots. Food roots is that every different type of food comes from different places. This doesn’t mean different types of culinary culturally but literally the different categories of food are all found in different shops. They all have their own origin of either being grown (produce), from land (meat and poultry), from the sea (fish), being baked (patisseries), then there enotecas (wine stores), and another shop for spices, the list goes on. What is really more interesting about all these specialty shops is that because they are more community oriented than I am used to. They aren’t commercialized shops that have one stop shopping, but there is a sense of community in a lot of these places. The owners of the store run their business and are involved with customers and have meaningful interactions with them.

They know their customers like friends because they see them several times in the week. I’ve become a part of this culture in a small part, the woman and man who run the produce stand on Via Benzoni know my roommates and I. We go there and always get a warm welcome, I always see them interacting with their customers, they help us out in the stand. I hadn’t been confident enough in my Italian skills to say anything more than “Boungiorno” or “Ciao” up until recently, I asked the woman how she was and we had a small conversation with the Italian I have learned just this semester, but it really meant a lot to me to feel apart of this community just a bit.

I found myself thinking about these nuances that create a community a lot as I developed my theme. I would look into storefronts when walking around to see if the community aspect was present in other places being a ‘fly on the wall’ wondering what some of these interactions were (since they are usually in Italian). This project and my theme helped me have a deeper understanding the meaning and creation of community.

The photos that I have selected were originally not my favorite; I saw that in one of the first ones, the proprietor of the shop I was photographing was blurry which made me want to discard the photo. But then I was looking at the rest and noticed that in all of the ones with workers in them were blurry, but it wasn’t just blurry the image is clear the person is just in motion. You see how hard they are working for their job and with a smile too. This was not part of my intent but these became my favorite images and opened my eyes to even more about community.

In the Macelleria (butcher shop) this man is picking up something for dinner.
In the Macelleria (butcher shop) this man is picking up something for dinner.
Di Maurizio Bar, having a chat with some regular patrons.
Di Maurizio Bar, having a chat with some regular patrons.
Fresh bread and pastries from this joyous, hardworking man.
Fresh bread and pastries from this joyous, hardworking man.
Working with speed and care.
Working with speed and care.
A child and her dad watch as their order is being prepared.
A child and her dad watch as their order is being prepared.

Scavi and Field Study

Here are two really different things I did last week, there’s some history thrown in there, it was all really interesting!

Scavi

Last Monday the interns were able to go on a tour of the Scavi, the excavation center of the Vatican. We went to see the levels underground of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica was built on top of a Pagan Cemetery on the Circus Nero. The cemetery was completely filled in with dirt next to the Capitoline Hill to make a level foundation for the basilica. We walked through the monuments of the cemetery which were at 98% humidity…it was HOT, but awesome to see the different ways these cemeteries were created for people of different classes. The coolest part of the tour was seeing where St. Peter’s remains were. They are directly under the top of the Dome; he was buried in a “poor mans” grave. The tour was really cool and is really hard to book; usually you have to months in advance! But our office got us an in 🙂 haha. The entire tour I could hear the choir singing up in the Basilica which was very fitting background music. After the tour we went into the Basilica for a bit where they were holding mass before returning to work! Unfortunately no pictures were allowed.

Field study

Saturday and Sunday was my field trip to the south of the Lazio Region for my class, Performance in Rome, these two days were jam-packed. It started our very frantic Riley just made it to the station on time for the train to Anzio. The excitement continued when only Natalie and Abbie got off the train and the doors closed behind them as they watched the other 8 of us and the professor head to the next stop. Just a short setback to our first stop! We started in Anzio and went to a museum of the military landing in Anzio in 1944, it had authentic uniforms and other items donated by people for the museum. We watched a documentary about the landing in Anzio of US and British soldiers.

After we drove to Sabaudia to look at examples of Fascist Architecture. On the drive over my professor was using the microphone in the bus (he loooved it) and was pretending to be a tour guide, he told us about a mountain in front that you can see the face of a woman and then he said, “on the right you will see the Mediterranean, to the left trees” we all thought it was so funny (I think it was a ‘you had to be there thing’). This was one of the five cities Mussolini built in five years, with a completely modern style. He had the land made suitable for living, drained out the water (it was by the sea). The Fascist symbols that used to be there have mostly been removed, but we saw some remnants of fascism in the city. We were split into 2 groups to take pictures of examples of symbols of fascism. The buildings were utilitarian style, all the same color and structure the same, square way. The streets were grid-like for organization and there were many open green spaces, which were good for “mass gatherings” these spaces were needed to for people to get together to hear about the fascist movement. We saw on a pot-hole cover the symbol of fascism the fasch which is an Ax and Bundle, an Ancient Roman symbol for strength. We also looked at the church there which had a mosaic of Mary being told by the angel she was going to carry the Son of God. But in the background you see the city of Sabaudia with workers one of them is Mussolini. He was often depicted working in the field with  others as a sign of his physical strength. After we had a really nice lunch right on the water (I had seafood again). The sun was already going down and it was such a pretty view, when the sun wasn’t blinding me…

Fascist Church
Fascist Church
Sun setting in Formia
Sun falling in Sabaudia
Sun Setting in Formia
Sun Setting in Formia

After lunch we bussed to Formia, the city where my professor lives actually, for a theater workshop. We worked with a theater company “Imprevisiti e Probabilità” our professor directed the workshop. It was really funny because we had to all make a sound that described how we were feeling, then we had to use that sound to “drill a hole in the wall” then to “caress a baby” then add a movement it felt super silly but it was fun. Then we made a sound machine with out sound and movements, it turned out cool and sounded nice(-ish) haha. Our last task was to be in a group and we were assigned an element to come up with a sound and movement for, I was with one other student and 4 Italians in the theater we were wind “Aire”. We used one of the movements I came up with! I think we were the best element to be honest…hah. Walking out of the workshop we saw a fight break out between 2 girls about 15 years old one was from Formia, she was telling the other one from Napoli to go home, cursing at her, pulling hair it was a physical fight. My professor actually ran over got in the middle and calmed the girl down and to walk away, (Go Rafe!)

Last stop before the B&B was to Itri Museum of Brigantaggio. It took about 20 minutes for me to figure out what they were talking about and then we were all still really confused why we were there. What I understood was the Brigantaggio were rebels… ? We all were staring at each other like what is going on. We were tired and no one had learned about this before so oh well. Our professor was translating things from the Italian guide and sometimes he would just kinds drift off and shrug his shoulders because the lady was talking so fast he couldn’t catch it all. I’d say this was my least favorite part of the trip.

We went to the B&B Villa Olga, it was gorgeous the rooms were huge we had a beautiful view of the sea and mountains over our balcony, below orange, clementine, lemon, and apple trees. That night we had a meeting with representatives from ANPI the National Association of Italian Partisans. The president from the Formia region was 20 years old, the others we met with were in high school. ANPI is an anti-fascist political group they told us their platform and how they got involved. They were all very impressive so involved and passionate about ANPI and politics, especially at such a young age.

View from our room in the B&B, Me, Natalie, and Abbie
View from our room in the B&B, Me, Natalie, and Abbie
View from the B&B
View from the B&B

Sunday we also has a jam-packed day, starting with going to Sperlonga to visit an Archeological museum and Emperor Tiberius’s Villa by the sea. We saw the grotto where the Emperor used to hold dinners and where the statues from scenes of the Odyssey used to be. Once there was the collapse of the Roman Empire priests came in, made it a church and destroyed the statues by throwing them into the pool. In the 1950’s the Grotto was found again overgrown with grass and trees etc. but archeologists found pieces of the statues in the pool of the grotto. The statues were reconstructed and put in the museum we went into. Here there is the only statue deprecation of Ulysses, a bust.

Bust of Ulysses
Bust of Ulysses
Inside the Grotto
Inside the Grotto
My girls, Abbie, me and Natalie
My girls, Abbie, me and Natalie

Our next stop was Gaeta, (before going there we made a pit stop in another city to see a fresco mural on a wall, it was very beautiful) in Gaeta we had a walk around the historic center and walked up to these two old castles. It was so windy we thought we were going to blow away, water from the sea flooded the street at sea level. My professor said they thought a hurricane was coming which is unheard of for Italy.

street flooding
street flooding
a bit windy!
a bit windy!

After we had a 2 hour lunch at a place that had “slow food” advertised, it was slow (but this really means all prepared fresh and on site which makes it worth the wait! We had two more stops after lunch, to Maranola to see the Madonna del Latte crypt where there are ancient frescos of the Virgin Mary feeding baby Jesus. Then they took us to another church around the corner to see an ancient nativity scene. Last we went to Il Cancello to visit the underground water tank, Il Cisternone. This is one of three ancient Roman water tanks that can be visited, it was built in 1BC and has the original waterproofing still on the walls. It was really muggy down there but was cool to see what used to provide water to the area. That was our last stop before the train home to Rome!

Madonna del Latte crypt
Madonna del Latte crypt
Ancient Nativity Scene
Ancient Nativity Scene
Il Ciscternone
Il Cisternone

I really enjoyed the field study for the most part, at points it was a little dry/boring, sometimes it was difficult to pay attention because a guide would speak in Italian and our professor would translate so everything took twice as long and some times things would get lost in translation (or I would forget to tune back in for English). Overall it was a very tiring yet enjoyable field study!

Visitors (part 3)

The last of my visitors was TYLER! My parents left Wednesday and I had a short break until Tyler came Saturday. She got to my apartment around noon and was exhausted, later I showed her around Garbtella and we went to apertivo with Natalie and her friends that night before going out to Trastevere. Sunday we went to the end of the Year of Faith mass in Saint Peter’s Square, it was cold but the highlight was Pope Francis holding the box with Saint Peter’s remains in them. Then we walked around Trastevere, went to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. It was a fun day walking around showing Tyler the lay of the land and just hanging with my sister!
Out in Trastevere!
Out in Trastevere!
End of the Year of Faith Mass
End of the Year of Faith Mass
Monday Ty went to Florence for the day (and again Wednesday after the audience) to see everything there…I think she saw more than I have there!
Papal Audience!
Papal Audience!
Out Wednesday Night!
Out Wednesday Night!
Tuesday Ty did a Vatican tour while I was at work and after we covered a ton of ground together. I took her to campo de fiori and showed her the market, then we walked to the Trevi Fountain which was quite eventful, we saw some young girls getting caught by the police for stealing! After our photo shoot we went walked down Via del Corso to the Spanish Steps.
Trevi!
Trevi!
Making a WIsh
Making a WIsh
Spanish Steps!
Spanish Steps!
Thursday was Thanksgiving! My apartment decided to host Thanksgiving which became a huge potluck for 27 people. Around noon Natalie Tyler and I went to the butcher to get turkey breast because we were told we wouldn’t find a whole turkey. WRONG, we go to the butcher and ask for turkey for 25 people and he goes into the back and grabs an entire bird. We explained to him (through a nice man who spoke Italian) that our oven wasn’t large enough to cook the wholes thing, well he fixed that problem by chopping it into four pieces. Well we had our turkey and walked back to the apartment and on the way the turkey leg kicked a hole in the bag…this was going to be interesting to say to the least. My roommate Care and I took charge with the turkey she cleaned out the inside while I plucked the remaining feathers off, this was a farm fresh turkey. We managed to cook it and set up the living room for our dinner. Everyone brought other Thanksgiving fixins and it was an authentic Thanksgiving in Rome! We invited some Italians as well, it was some of their first Thanksgiving dinners ever. It was a great night with friends and food, I can’t believe we managed to pull it off, dinner for 27!
Sister Selfie
Sister Selfie
Thanksgiving Buffet
Thanksgiving Buffet
Friendsgiving!
Friendsgiving!
Friday was out last day together 😦 we walked around Trastevere, Campo, and Piazza Navona to do some shopping first. Then we went to the Jewish Ghetto for Hanukah they lit the Menorah at 415 in the center I enjoyed seeing the tradition here. Then (ironically) we went to see some churches, the Francesi Luigi with Carvaggio paintings, Santa Maria sopra Minerva to see the Michelangelo statue, and finally the Augustine Church in Rome. I had never been to this one, my parents found it walking around when they were here. It had gorgeous blue ceilings and they had a chapel on the side for Saint Thomas of Villanova! Others included Saint Rita, Monica, and others that are names of buildings at Villanova, it was so cool to see. Friday night we had a nice sister dinner together in Testaccio, Ty had an early flight Saturday and I had my field study for class overnight. It was a quick trip but so much fun to show Ty around when I could. I was so happy she could come (miss you already Ty!) see you in 3 weeks!
Jewish Ghetto for Hanukah
Jewish Ghetto for Hanukah
Saint Augustine Church
Saint Augustine Church
St. Thomas of Villanova Chapel
St. Thomas of Villanova Chapel

Visitors (part 2)

It has been one crazy week and a half for me, crazier than usual even. Sunday morning my parents arrived in Rome, after a little bit of travel troubles they made it to their hotel around the corner from my apartment, I couldn’t wait to get over there and see them. I was so happy when my dad opened the door to their hotel room, I could not wait to give him a hug. I missed my parents but I haven’t had much time to think about since getting to Rome because I’m always so busy doing a hundred different things. I was excited to see mom too of course, she was pretty out of it from the flight and getting bit by some weird bug or something, I knew she was tired. We went out to Trastevere for dinner one of the best pizza places I’ve been to here called Dar Poeta. We didn’t do much else because they were tired.

Monday they met me for coffee at the Bar I go to every morning before work (and they have every morning since) Dad loved the place and said it has everything you would ever need! They explored some, went to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Forum; I got a selfie from Trevi and met up with them after work and class for dinner. I took them to Monti, we found a cute restaurant where we all squeezed into the table and after we went to the AMAZING cannoli  place.

Tuesday was gross and rainy so it was lucky we had our Vatican tour booked for then. We started in the Vatican Museum, went to the Sisiten Chapel and made our way into Saint Peter’s Basilica which I hadn’t actually been inside until Tuesday. We had a great tour guide, Niccolo, who was a historian and had an incredible amount to tell us over the 3 hours. He told us a lot about the history, obviously, but there were also some more interesting stories that he told us that other tour guides may not have known. One of the first was that Pope Pio (Pious) (IX or X, I forget ) went around to the statues collected by all the previous Popes and cut off their genitals (and kept them all in jars) because it wasn’t the place to have nakedness. He said this is where the saying “don’t be so pious” comes from. He showed us all the illusions of the museum and the Rafael rooms. One of the coolest things he showed us was the Van Gogh painting that was sitting in the room of Borges before the Sistine Chapel. He said no one really knows it’s there, it’s just sitting on the wall with no attention drawn to it, it was amazing to see! I loved the Sistine, it was so massive and Niccolo gave a great introduction for what to look for in the massive masterpiece of this room. Then we went into the Vatican which was just striking it was immense, I really felt so small inside there, Niccolo told us that the Statue of Liberty could fit under the Dome inside there. I couldn’t even absorb all that was there, I don’t know if I’ve seen anything that could even come close to the majesty of the Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica
Wednesday we went to the Papal Audience which I think they enjoyed! We also went to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the church where Michelangelo’s statue that you can touch is. It was fun to be their little tour guide and show them some cool things I have seen in Rome. I left them to do some shopping while I had class, and we later met up for apertivo at Doppiozeroo. Early night because we had a long weekend ahead: Barcelona!
Audience with Mom and Dad
Audience with Mom and Dad
Barcelona:
We left Thursday morning for the airport at 5am (joy) and arrived in Barcelona with the whole day to explore! Before we could get into the hotel room we walked around a nearby square with the Cathedral of Barcelona which we went into it was very beautiful. After we walked around the side streets and did some shopping! We went into one store called le coq sportif which was mom’s favorite tennis brand that they don’t carry in the states anymore. By the end of the trip we had gone there multiple times and the people working there knew who we were (embarrassing haha). We walked to La Rambla one of the main streets in Barcelona and they had Dunkin’ there! It was exciting but we didn’t get any :(. After checking into the hotel we walked about a half hour to the beach Barceloneta. It was a little chilly but the sun was out, it was gorgeous. I stuck my feet in the water, it was too chilly to actually go swimming, but I have now been in the Mediterranean Sea from both east and west coasts! After relaxing by the beach we later went to the Picasso museum which was very interesting. It traces his artwork from when he started very young to his work as an older artist. We then went to dinner; a woman mom works with is from Barcelona and told us to go to a tapas place near the museum. It was called El Xampanyet and it was SO GOOD. It was intimidating at first because it seemed like no one spoke English, and there wasn’t a menu you just told the waiter what you wanted. We were a little hesitant to go in, but I went in and found someone who spoke English so we could order. We ate at a standup table and the guy brought us a bunch of little plates that we pointed to that looked good. The place was so busy and crazed, it was a lively atmosphere and a really delicious and unique experience! After we went back to the hotel and had a drink at the bar, mom and I wanted to try churros, so dad and I went on a hunt for them but everywhere was sold out! Dad noticed an ice cream place that had a special “gelato canna bis” we didn’t go in but we wondered if it was real or not!
Barceloneta
Barceloneta
Toes in the water
Toes in the water
Picasso Museum
Picasso Museum

Friday we went to Segrada Famailia, which is a Church designed by Antoni Gaudí. Construction started in 1882 and they are hoping to finish by 2026! The line to get in was long but it was worth the wait. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The stain glass windows had the entire place illuminated in color it was brilliant! We did the audio guides tour which was interesting there is so much symbolism within the structure and statues, it was absolutely breathtaking. After we spent some time there, we went to Park Guell which was also designed by Gaudí. The guy who sold us the ticket told us the actress from the show Castle, Stana Katic just went in (unfortunately we didn’t see her). Later that night we went to dinner and got churros finally! Before leaving for the airport Saturday afternoon it was rainy so we went to the Palau de la Música, a famous concert hall. We went on a short tour, I didn’t find it all the interesting it was a beautiful building though.

La Segrada Familia
La Segrada Familia
La Segrada Familia
La Segrada Familia
La Segrada Familia
La Segrada Familia
Selfie on the tower
Selfie on the tower
Dad enjoying Park Guell
Dad enjoying Park Guell
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I only was able to meet up with mom and dad for dinners because of work, class, and doing schoolwork but there was a lot of togetherness in Barcelona haha. We had some really nice meals in one at their hotel, in Testaccio, and Campo…we were able to just enjoy spending time together!
Tuesday after work was our last day together. I got caught in a torrential down pour walking from work to their hotel so that was fun (as soon as I got to the hotel it got sunny). We walked all over town in Trastevere, Jewish Ghetto, Piazza Navona, Campo doing our fair share of shopping on the way :). We got caught in the rain on the way to dinner by the Pantheon that night. We had some wine and some laughs, it was a great way to end our loooong 10 days together haha.
I loved having Mom and Dad here it was so much fun showing them around (it was also exhausting). We have some amazing memories that I’ll never forget. It was so special having them here, showing them the city that I’ve called home for the past 3 months. Thanks for coming Mom and Dad and for giving me the opportunity to be here in Rome, LOVE YOU!
Dad, me and Mom by the Roman Forum one night
Dad, me and Mom by the Roman Forum one night