This Saturday the Temple Rome program ventured to Todi and Titignano for a day trip before the start of classes on Monday. We drove off on three buses into the countryside in Umbria, soaking in the breathtaking scenery on the way. Once we arrived in the medieval hill town of Todi, we left our buses and began the climb up to the small town. Climbing up the side of the steep hill was a reminder of the historical significance of developing towns in this way: high up above the countryside, so that the inhabitants could spot foreign invaders headed their way. With each turn through the town, there was another small piece of history to be discovered.
At the top of the walk were viewpoints of the rolling hills and plains below:
After a cup of coffee, we explored the picturesque town, its small alleyways and panoramic views. Looking up we saw tiny balconies cluttered with plants and noticed lines of clothes hanging out to dry, filling the air with an atmosphere of slow living, free of anxieties or tensions.
This continued to be a theme throughout the rest of the day, as we moved on to our long 14 course lunch in Titignano, taking our time sipping wine and gazing out at the lake and vineyards in the distance.
It was the kind of idyllic afternoon that gives off the most romanticized impression of Italian culture; one that I have found (in the short week I’ve been here) enraptures me at times, even if the feeling is quickly halted with the honks of traffic or some other reminder of the more hectic aspects of everyday Italian life.
These moments allow me to reflect that while my daily life here won’t be exactly like this picture-perfect afternoon in Umbria, the overall Italian attitude we experienced here persists throughout my days in Rome. It is the attitude of taking time to enjoy each part of life, whether that be a three-hour dinner, a long walk to an on-site class, or even a brief moment enjoying the light through the trees along the river.
As I begin to settle in to Rome and prepare for the start of classes, I hope to adopt this attitude I am surrounded by, and not just revert back to the usual, more fast-paced and future-oriented lifestyle of the University system in the US. I hope for this not because I dislike the efficiency or productivity of American education/work environments, but rather because I admire the Italians’ enjoyment of the present. I so often find myself thinking ahead to what’s next: what grade I will get on my midterm, what summer internship I will find, and even what job I will look for after graduation. I hope that experiencing a lifestyle so focused in the present will help me to make each moment of life more enjoyable, inspiring, and significant, rather than constantly fixating on what lies ahead.