Ciao Mounties! What a wonderful week I have had in not only Florence but also Rome! For Italian Life and Culture, my class and I toured the Uffizi Gallery, a place that holds the artwork from throughout the centuries and by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. As I walked from room to room, I could not hold back gasps of amazement. The hallways were lined with majestic statues while the ceiling was covered with paintings and gold details. Everywhere you looked, there was a new piece of artwork to admire. The Uffizi Gallery truly is one of the best places to visit in Florence.
Going to the beautiful city of Rome allowed me to live out my Lizzie McGuire movie dreams. Although I did not ride a Vespa or meet a superstar, I had plenty of my own adventures. After arriving in Rome on Friday, we went to Vatican City, which is technically its own country. On our tour, we explored the Pope’s private collection of paintings and spent time in the Sistine Chapel. After the tour, I went to the Trevi Fountain. Standing there at the fountain, I felt so calm and peaceful as if I could stay there forever and be content. I then threw a coin in the fountain and made a wish before heading to dinner with my friends. Following dinner, we went exploring and found the Colosseum. After seeing this place in textbooks for years, it was overwhelming to see it in person for the first time. It looked radiant all lit up against the dark night sky. The next day, I got up early for my official tour of the Colosseum. As we walked around, I tried to imagine what this place was like in its glory days, when people used to cheer for battles and beheadings. I cannot believe that I had the chance to explore this historic structure.
After the Colosseum, Dr. Cañadas took us to the Catacombs of Rome, an underground cemetery that once held the bodies of bishops, Popes, St. Cecilia, and many others. We walked down the steps with only the light coming from the skylight above and dim lights on the ceiling. At that moment, I was grateful for our tour guide, because I know without him, I would not be able to find my way out. Walking through the catacombs was similar to walking through a maze with no map, with narrow, dark hallways and twists and turns. Our tour guide showed us rooms that once held the bodies of bishops and popes and where Mass was offered. In the catacombs, certain rooms could be used to hold families or important people.
On our last day in Rome, we went to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and received a blessing from Pope Francis! Walking inside felt like a dream: Every inch of the Church was spectacularly designed. While I am not yet fluent in Italian, it was easy to follow along. After Mass ended, we walked outside where Pope Francis would be giving his blessing. Once he appeared, the audience let out a cheer as he waved to us from above. I could not believe that I was seeing the Pope in person! I stood there in amazement as he began to speak to us. After the Pope waved goodbye, my friends and I decided to walk to the steps of Jesus. In the 4th century, St. Helena brought the steps that Jesus walked on in Jerusalem to Rome. My friends and I had the opportunity to kneel on the steps that Jesus Christ himself walked on. At each step, I said a prayer and even got to see the dried blood of Jesus Christ on the steps.
This week I was truly reminded of how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I got to explore places I had previously only dreamed of seeing. Everywhere I went, I was overwhelmed with emotion. This week truly was magnificent, and I cannot wait to see what next week holds! Check back later this week to see my classmates’ reflections of our time in Italy so far.