It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it doesn’t quite feel like Christmas season yet. I discussed in my previous post how the lack of the typical American holiday markers throughout the fall has been a little odd for me. Without going through the progression of holidays that I have experienced for the past 20 years of my life, jumping through fall all the way to December with denial-of-end-of-the-semester thoughts, the Christmas season feels like a dream. It was as if overnight Rome transformed from the historical city of art and architecture to a festive city of lights and trees.
Being a predominately Catholic country, Rome makes a big deal of Christmas. Lights have been strung up between all the main streets in Rome. Near the Spanish steps and all the designer shops, chandelier-style lights in blue set the tone of the high shopping area. Stars hang between the twisty streets between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Walking along the streets surrounding Vatican city, simple lights create a pointed archway above you. I love how all the different lights throughout the neighborhoods of Rome speak to their personalities so well.
The lights make Rome feel more magical, which increases the sentimental feelings that are bound to occur right before leaving your semester abroad home. To try to soak up the last weekend in Rome, my friend and I decided to explore as many of the sections of Rome as possible. We shopped through the vintage market and shops of Monti, and took sunset pictures in front of the Colosseum. We tried as many gelato shops as we could and took our study guides to local bars (what Italians call cafes). Trekking through Rome with our textbooks in hand was a bittersweet experience. The twinkling lights of Rome were an interesting complement to our last weekend here.
In addition to exploring the streets of Rome, my friend and I headed over to the Christmas Market at Piazza Navona. We had planned our whole Saturday around ending up at the much anticipated Piazza Navona Christmas market. Perhaps it was because it was the first weekend of the Christmas markets in Rome, but the little shops did not match with the adorable Christmas decorations throughout the rest of the city. Geared more towards children, many of the Christmas stands held cotton candy and arcade type games. It made both of us wistful for some of the comforts of the holiday spirit back home.
The daze of the end of semester wrapped in a Christmas bow is a strange experience. It feels unreal to be ending my semester in Rome. In a lot of ways, I don’t feel ready to leave this place that has become my new home. And yet, I am excited to see my family and friends and to be welcomed back in with the Christmas spirit of the United States.