Since arriving in Rome on September 3rd, I have been anxiously seeking little escapes from the busy crowded ways of the city life. Those escapes can often be hard to find in any city, especially when you’re in one completely foreign to you. Although i’ve been having an amazing time in Rome and I have been seeing and doing so many new things, I’ve found the past week to be stressful and full of bits of homesickness. The language barrier and cultural differences have found me at times overwhelmed and exhausted. I say this so you can understand why I was so relieved and excited when my creative writing professor told my class last Wednesday that we would meet in the charming and gorgeous Piazza Novana for class Monday morning.
I was delighted to wake up this morning and go outside to find that it was a perfectly chilly morning. Some of my classmates and I headed to the Piazza Novana around 8 am and met up with the rest of my class.
Our teacher gathered us together and gave us the best assignment a creative writing teacher can give his students in Rome – go explore the piazza and write! So with these words, I found a bench close to the center fountain and began to write.
I looked around me at the quiet and peaceful piazza and for the first time, I truly took in the beauty of this city. I felt the perfect combination of the sun and the breeze on my skin, I smelled the fresh morning air, I saw friends and couples walking together and enjoying each others company, I explored the wonder in the amazing history that surrounded me, and I heard a talented musician play familiar songs somewhere close by.
It was just then that an old man approached me with a joyful “Buongiorno! Come va?” and I replied with a “Bene! Y Tu?”. The man then explained to me in Italian that he was not doing so well due to the fact that he was old and his legs weren’t working so well anymore but that it was a beautiful morning and he was happy just to be alive. He took an opportunity to explain to me the story of the fountain I was writing about and he left me with a smile and a closing “Buongiorno, Bella!”
To this man, I was probably just another person he greeted on his morning walk through the piazza near his home, but to me he was a reminder that every day is filled with joyful interactions and beautiful moments that make the stressful ones seem a lot less stressful after all. It’s times like these, times where I slow down, look around me, and take a moment to appreciate where I am and the unique experience that I’m living out, that I truly find a sense of peace and all of my trivial moments of stress melt away. I have time to think and reflect on my experiences and grow as an individual on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in an ancient city. These simple moments make this semester in Rome something I will never forget.