Rachel Weisman

Let the Semester Begin!

Today marks my first full week living in Rome! It’s unbelievable, as the past seven days were full of adventures and new faces. Orientation seemed to fly by! Classes have now begun, and everyone has their schedules. My Baroque art history class met at the Vatican Museum this morning, and we saw the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, many incredible paintings, and countless sculptures. There were no words to describe the feeling. I wasn’t looking at my textbook; I was face-to-face with the masterpiece. I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of the museum- it’s MASSIVE!

I am completely over my jet-lag and my legs are no longer sore from walking! I’m must more familiar with the area, so I packed away the map. I know where to stop for lunch and morning espressos (I don’t know what I’d do without them!), and I’m not too shy to use the subway. It’s a great feeling, and I’m beginning to feel like a Roman!

To mark the end of orientation, the whole program was taken to Umbria, the province to the North of Lazio. It was about a two and a half hour bus ride to Todi, a beautiful medieval hilltown in the heart of Umbria. It was very cold (I should have worn my heavier jacket!), but the mesmerizing view and the cute, romantic alleyways more than made up for it. There was not a cloud in the sky, so the view was spectacular, and we could see all the way to the mountains in the distance.

After a couple hours in Todi, we hopped back on the bus and were taken down a winding (VERY curvy) road to Titignano. The Titignano farm sits nestled in the Tiber river valley, and has its own vineyard.  It’s a very charming little villa, and I would definitely recommend visiting if you get the chance! There are rooms available for guests in the Castle building, where we were treated to a delicious, fifteen course meal of pizza, risotto, pasta, wild boar, chicken, salad, homemade French fries, tiramisu, biscotti and much more! We even got a taste of the wine, bottled right there on the farm. With our bellies full, we waddled back to the bus ready for the ride back.

One of my favorite experiences so far occurred early yesterday morning during my painting class. We were told to pick a spot anywhere in the Piazza del Popolo and draw whatever we wanted. I chose to sit on the edge of a fountain on the east end of the Piazza, closest to the Borghese Gardens. I leaned back against the wall and casually began to sketch the obelisk that powerfully stands in the center of the Piazza. The air was cool, but the sun was warm and bright and I sat with my jacket unzipped.  The running water of the fountain was to my left, and was the only sound I could hear, as there were not many people in the Piazza. It was complete serenity; I was so relaxed and I took it all in. Here I was, sitting in one of the most famous spots in Rome, sketching for a class. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and I realized how lucky I am to be studying here this semester. I will definitely continue to take advantage of opportunities and moments like this one!

I’m excited to meet the rest of my professors, and for this weekend’s excursions. On Friday, I am going to Tuscania with my painting class, and on Sunday I’ll be walking around the ancient walls of Rome with the school. There’s so much to look forward to! Ciao for now!

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