15th July 2017
As our first sweltering week in Artena comes to a close, the four of us girls decided to spend the weekend in Rome. We booked an Air B&B during a sporadic moment of Wi-Fi at our hotel, and that was an adventure within itself. The owner was very cryptic and would not respond to any message of ours with direct answers, and was in a constantly bad mood about everything we tried to do. Fortunately, it ended up working out and we got a great room with – wait for it – dependable Wi-Fi! It was the most relieving and grateful moment of our trip so far.
As we decided to spend our first weekend being the stereotypical group of touristy American girls, we hit up some typical site-seeing spots and attractions. We first visited the Roman catacombs, which, as an anthropology major, were the most exciting sites for me to visit, probably ever. The long corridors seemed to stretch on for miles, which they actually do; they extend for more than a dozen miles, and that’s just the one! Bones of priests, important members of society and of religious purpose, and just some unexplained bodies, filled the stretches, decorated the mantels, and accented the doorways and arches around every corner.
Following this magnificent underground excursion, we took a cab to the heart of Rome. The area around the Coliseum was so crowed, hot, and full of various people from all walks of life – half of them were haggling tourists for any and all types of labor in exchange for unnecessarily-large amounts of euros. But for the outrageous price of entry into the Coliseum, we were able to get into a (arguably) better site for free: the Roman Forum. It was definitely the most historically-inclined site out of the touristy area, and was nowhere near as crowded as the rest of the area. It was not very busy because it is not the typical kind of “exciting” that people generally look for when visiting such an exciting city as Rome. There were many archaeologically-explained finds, with historical background and contexts, which was fascinating to all of us students on this trip.
The historical aspect and cultural aspect of this trip are two very different things in Italy, especially in Rome. The culture is different than what the history books lead us to believe. Compared to Philly, everyone here is so friendly and talkative; they actually care about small talk, and the communities would not survive without it. I’ve found the stereotypes about driving are sadly true, however: Italians have very different standards of driving compared with what I’m used to in the United States. No one obeys stop signs, and the “one car length in between” rule is very much not a thing that exists that here. It’s a completely different world, and it is startling but still fun – albeit scary when Professor Gadeyne laughs at us for being horrified at Italian drivers. Regardless of the fear, Italian customs are slowly being shown to us and we are slowly learning the etiquette rules and ways of the communities while we’re here.