Ciao from Roma! My name is Emily Brill and I’m a junior from the University of Pennsylvania studying in Rome for the semester. The other Temple Rome students and I have called the Eternal City home for the past two weeks and we’ve already covered a lot of ground. I’ll recap a couple of the highlights so far.
Todi(e) For: Last weekend, we traveled to the hilltown of Todi as an end to our orientation. We boarded the bus (presto!) and arrived to the medieval town in the region of Umbria around 10:30. We explored the sleepy town and I tried my first Italian cappuccino. I learned that it’s déclassé to drink cappuccino in Italy in the afternoon, but luckily it was still the morning when I got mine. After exploring more of Todi, we arrived at this beautiful castle (!) in Titignano for a HUGE lunch. There was pizzete, crostini, prosciutto, risotto, pasta, boar, chicken, lamb, potatoes, white wine, red wine, dessert wine, etc! The tiramisu was the best I’ve ever tasted, and they cut it right from the pan, so I know it was homemade. The castle doubles as a hotel, and I hope my future Italian husband will find the location as fit for a wedding ceremony as I do. The castle, town, and breathtaking views looked like the pictures in the pages of a fairytale. It was the ideal way to spend my last day of summer.
Sapienza: On Friday, I took a tour of Sapienza, the largest university in Europe (150,000 studenti!). Gianni, the Temple Rome program coordinator and an alumnus of Sapienza, led the tour. There are a lot of differences between the American college system and the Italian college system. Firstly, a public university costs around 1500 euros a year with private universities costing around 7000 euros a year. Even with the crummy exchange rate, this is hard for Americans to fathom. Also, it is normal for students not to show up to class and just independently study for the big oral exams given at the end of each course. It sounds stressful, but if you fail, you can just sign up to take the test again and again until you pass! One especially interesting part we saw was housed in the basement of one of the buildings. It is a “museum” with replicas of many famous statues that serve as study material for the art history students. If the real version isn’t in Rome, they can go to the museum and study the fake version before their exams.
The Wall Walk: Jan Gadeyne, one of the professors here, started a tradition known as the Wall Walk that he leads every semester. This is a complete tour of Aurelian Wall, a series of walls built around the entire city of Rome that were used as protection beginning in 271 A.D. You won’t find this tour anywhere else (perhaps for good reason) as it’s roughly 13 miles long. For some reason, I felt as if this was something I should do. One good(ish) night’s sleep, a huge water bottle, and twelve euros worth of daytime snacks later, I found myself near the San Giovanni metro stop at 8:30 in the morning ready to begin. I wouldn’t call the tour fun, but it was definitely a thorough introduction to the city. We covered a lot of ground and saw many different sections, including San Lorenzo, Trastevere, and Testaccio, to name a few. My favorite part was near the area of Monteverde. This neighborhood lies on a hill and to the west and features spectacular views of the historic center of Rome. I’m definitely returning to this spot (by bus) when I’m less fatigued. After nearly eight hours of feeling like a weary nomad, we returned to the spot where we started. I’m glad I experienced a totally new way of seeing this city and learned a lot of interesting tidbits I would have never otherwise known. I also have a new soft spot for my previously unappreciated bed, which I occupied for the fourteen hours following the walk.
These have been a few of my favorite adventures from the past two weeks and I’m so excited to make and share more of my experiences in Rome, Italy, and Europe. A presto!